Popular Android browsers like Firefox and Chrome tend to be bloated with extraneous features. This can seriously compromise performance, as these browsers tend to require more RAM and processing power. Furthermore, these bloated apps tend to take up quite a bit of storage space on your device. Fortunately, there are slimmer alternatives that have a much smaller footprint. In addition, these lesser-known browsers tend to focus on one thing: speed.
1. Opera Mini
While Chrome and Firefox may hog the spotlight, Opera has been quietly doing its thing for over two decades. Opera Mini is an offshoot of the Opera browser that focuses on data conservation. Opera Mini aims to save you gigs of data through data compression. It was obviously designed for folks who are on a metered data plan. However even if you have unlimited gigabytes to burn, Opera Mini can still speed up your browsing experience significantly.
Opera Mini has two preset data-saving modes: High and Extreme. Both of these modes target heavier elements of the Web such as images and videos. By enabling these modes, Opera Mini will reduce the quality of images and videos or even eliminate them altogether, allowing webpages to load faster. Be aware that some sites won’t play nice with data compression, resulting in broken pages.
2. Via Browser
Are you sick of browsers trying to force news articles on you? Sick of your browser trying to integrate with other apps and devices? Do you yearn for a browser that doesn’t take an “everything but the kitchen sink” approach? Look no further because Via Browser is an app that can appreciate the less-is-more doctrine.
Via has a very simple and easy to use layout without the superfluous features other browsers include. This enables Via to be incredibly small, coming in at just over 700 KBs. The advantage that such a small browser has over other “heavier” browsers is speed. Due to the small size of the APK, Via can be launched and ready to go in no time. Additionally, since Via is designed to operate using very little RAM or CPU power, it can be run smoothly on lower-end devices.
3. X Browser
Like Via, X Browser takes a minimalist approach to web browsing. It has a clean and simple user interface and is unobstructed by news articles, notifications or other distractions. Instead, X Browser has a single address bar which users can access or dismiss with a flick of the finger. This design makes web content, not the browser, the star of the show.
X Browser weighs in at a paltry 1 MB, making it quick to launch, even on older devices. To achieve such a small footprint, the features included in X Browser are fairly basic. An ad-blocker tool and a night-reading mode are about as fancy as X Browser gets. However, if you’re after a browser that is small, light and does what it says it will do, X Browser is one to check out.
4. Puffin Web Browser
The developers behind Puffin Web Browser make some seriously lofty claims. According to them, after using Puffin, all other browsers will “feel like torture.” Now that may be a bit of hyperbole, but Puffin does feel incredibly fast. It achieves these speeds by routing all traffic through the cloud, as well as using a proprietary data compression algorithm. They claim that Puffin can save up to 90% of the data normally consumed when browsing. As an added bonus, Puffin also fully supports Flash.
The major downside to Puffin is that the free version is ad-supported. The ads can be intrusive and can crowd the user interface, resulting in a less than fluid experience. Of course there is a paid version of the app that removes all of the ads.
5. UC Browser Mini
UC Browser is one of the most popular browsers in the world with over 500 million users. However, most people outside of China have never heard of it. UC Browser utilizes cloud acceleration and data compression technology in order to make webpages load faster. It accomplishes this by sending traffic through the UC servers which act as a proxy. It then compresses and renders webpage data before sending it back to the user.
UC Browser Mini operates with the same technology; however, it has been stripped back to include only the core features. This results in a much lighter alternative, weighing in at less than 3 MB.
The apps mentioned above aren’t the only “mini” browsers available for Android. Did we leave your favorite off the list? Let us know which browser is your favorite and why in the comments below!