Review: The best browsers for Android smartphones

InfoWorld compares Chrome, CM Browser, Dolphin, Firefox, InBrowser, and UC Browser on speed, features, and HTML5 support

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It has now been 12 weeks since “mobilegeddon,” the day that Google’s search algorithm started judging the browsability of a website on a small mobile screen and rewarding the sites that make life easier for smartphone users. This as much as anything marks the day when the smartphone became an official Web citizen, and mobile browsers attained all of the rights and privileges as their desktop counterparts.

All hail the mobile Web! And which is the top mobile browser? Now that they have earned their place in the Web, it makes sense to push them through the wringer and see what they can do.

The first thing that many people will notice is how many choices we have. While this review tackles six browsers for Android smartphones, there may be at least another half dozen or more serious contenders. Then there appear to be several dozen battling for a tinier slice of market share.

The second thing that is apparent: The game is different. While the desktop browsers tend to be feature rich and all things to all people, the developers of smartphone browsers aim to simplify them. The screen real estate is small enough and the fingers are fat that enough that the mobile browsers can’t offer many features at all. If anything, features get in the way and become anti-features.

The goal for the smartphone browser is to render the page, pop it onto the screen, and get out of the way. Even tabs are controversial, as not everyone wants to trade those precious pixels for their advantage. Every feature has to justify its value in screen space, and many features seem to lose out.

Third, you realize the competition is stiff. All of the browsers here do a good job of rendering Web pages for the small screen. It’s not likely that you’ll fail to read a Web page merely because you were using a different browser. Every one of them gets the job done.

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