In this world where we can hardly imagine ourselves without staying connected to social networks, our favorite online services and the Internet in general, browsers are one of the most essential app categories for mobile devices.
And it’s not just about browsing speed and a pretty interface either. A good browser will also respect your privacy, at least as much as possible without compromising on functionality and be merciful with your phone’s battery.
Android has a ton of browser apps and there are plenty of alternatives to try. In fact, I think there are so many browsers available in the Play Store (and outside of it for that matter), that searching for the perfect one, might feel like too much of a chore.
In today’s post, we aim to make this quest a bit easier for you, as we analyze what some of the best Android apps for surfing the web have to offer.
If you love Chrome’s flawless Android integration and its lightweight set of features, you might as well go for the next best thing – Chrome Beta. This is the browser app you should use if you want to get all of Chrome’s latest features as soon as possible.
Chrome Sync works perfectly and so is the Data Saver and the built-in Google Translate among other useful features. Of course, there may be some occasional bugs and stability issues as it is common for beta versions of apps, but for some, it’s worth paying this small price.
Flynx is a great pop-up style browser that may not be fit as a daily driver but certainly useful for quickly loading links from third-party apps. This browser actually loads links in the background while you’re still using other apps – it sure beats staring at a progress bar right?
Once the link you’re interested in finishes loading, you can tap the on-screen indicator and that web page will open in a pop-up window. You can also have several tabs open at the same time. Another one of Flynx’s features which may come in handy is its quick read mode, which can load just relevant content, ignoring ads. This of course, will help you save both time and data.
APUS is quite an attractive browser if you like the minimal looks and the app size is on par. However, it does come with some interesting features – for example, when you copy a portion of text on your phone, APUS can prompt you to search for it online.
Despite its lightweight architecture, APUS had a select collection of features that make it a solid alternative. Among them you’ll find a night mode and an no-image mode that loads pages without images and videos for data savings and faster loading speeds, several search engines you can set as default, easy navigation between multiple tabs and more.
Another thing that makes this particular app worthy of your attention is its good performance. It may not be at the top of the list, but it sure makes page loading blazing fast.
Dolphin Browser is one of the few third-party browsers that managed to acquire millions of downloads, and Android users still love this one. It comes with tons of features, gesture controls and makes it easy to share content and transfer settings between devices.
Also, it has a large add-on library, where you can choose between numerous plugins to truly customize Dolphin. However, it has plenty of capabilities even without installing add-ons. Some of the most interesting ones are the ability to change the user agent to load desktop versions of websites, the automated pop-up blocking function and syncing between multiple devices and desktop browsers via Dolphin Connect.
Support for Flash Player is another feature well appreciated by many users, as there are still great websites still using this standard, as old as it may be. Dolphin Jetpack – an alternative browsing engine you have the option to install – can make this browser even faster than it usually is, at the cost of it using a bit more power and resources.
Our smartphones are resembling desktop computers more and more, but mobile data plans are expensive, and it’s a major annoyance. If you want a web browser that’s focused on saving data, Opera Mini can help in this department.
It comes with most of Opera’s features, that are normally found in browser apps, but what distinguishes it are its data compression capabilities, that allow you to browse the web without using so much data. Ok, maybe the quality of displayed images is a bit lower, but it’s an acceptable compromise if you don’t want to reach your monthly data cap too soon.
Moreover, Opera Mini has a clever download manager that lets you postpone large downloads until you can connect to a Wi-Fi network.
Puffin is a innovative browser, and in more than one way. It currently offers the fastest browsing speeds and it’s not just a marketing scheme. Somewhere in the cloud, a powerful server machine is doing all the hard work instead of your device, thus webpages that use a lot of resources will load ultra fast. Who doesn’t want that?
It also has a trackpad function that lets you browse the web like you would on a notebook and support for Adobe Flash, which allows you to view Flash media and games that are still used by a large number of websites. Another unique feature is its ability to download files directly to your cloud service, saving both your time and bandwidth.
Puffin bundles even more neat features, including support for add-ons, just in case you’re not satisfied with its default capabilities. The free version is ad-supported, although it does let you try the app for as long as you want and upgrade to Pro if you decide it’s worth it.
Link Bubble Browser
Link Bubble works in a manner similar to Flynx – when you click on a URL in an another app, Link Bubble loads that webpage in the background and lets you know when its done so you can view it in an instant. No more wasted time watching pages load.
To make things even better, the app can load multiple links at the same time and it also allows you to quickly share URLs or add them to services such as Pocket. The browser can also handle YouTube links as it can load the videos directly in the YouTube app.
Anyone that uses third-party apps featuring lots of URLs can benefit from having a browser such as Link Bubble. It’s not suitable for browsing the web aimlessly (or to perform searches for that matter), but it can save you a ton of time!
Not to say you should have already heard about UC Browser, but you probably did. It’s that popular. Besides essential features, UC Browser has a very good download manager which resumes downloads from the breakpoint in case your connection drops.
The app also provides a fast mode that compresses data to speed up page loading, a Facebook mode designed specifically to make Facebook faster (an interesting solution in case you were thinking about ditching the Facebook app and using just the web version), an adblock module and gesture controls for videos among others.
UC Browser managed to remain popular because it’s highly customizable (themes and add-ons are available), it has a great set of features and offers great page loading speeds.
Maxthon is a clean looking browser with a decent set of features which include a customizable speed dial and gesture commands, cross-device syncing, URL/text/image sharing between devices logged into the same Maxthon account, content sharing options, a reader mode that gets rid of ads and reformats web pages and support for Flash.
It also has good performance and page loading speeds although it’s not the fastest (that would be Puffin). If you need a capable browser that’s not obnoxiously full of features you’re not interested in, Maxthon might just do the trick.
It may be the last browser in today’s roundup but it doesn’t mean it’s not a quality app. If you’re already using Firefox as your default desktop browser, than it certainly makes sense to use it on Android as well. The app comes with add-on support – yes, the giant library of Firefox add-ons is at your disposal including popular extensions like AdBlock Plus, Readability and LastPass among others.
Firefox for Android also has a clean interface and not overcrowded with too many elements. You can customize your home panels and share buttons, use private browsing, open numerous tabs and still be able to find your way through them, sync content between devices using the same Firefox account and the list goes on. On top of that it plays videos flawlessly and comes with the same powerful privacy controls Mozilla has gotten us used to.
There are many other browsers for Android devices – some of them actually had great potential but seem to be in an abandoned or semi-abandoned state right now (such as Javelin).
To be honest, this niche is somewhat saturated and it’s very difficult to rise between the well established titles. Nevertheless, we do hope you’ll be able to find your favorite in today’s picks and if you know other quality browsers for Android, please mention them in the comments section below or leave us a message on Facebook, Twitter or Google+. We’re always excited to hear from our readers!