Android Means Choice
There’s a flurry of activity in the mobile browsing market. Cult-favorite Dolphin continues to lap the competition with rapid-fire updates to their Mini and HD browsers. Mozilla recently released Firefox 4 for Android alongside the desktop release. And, in the same week, Opera revved their Mobile browser to version 11 and refreshed their massively popular Mini browser. Now is the time to consider out the fruits of the competition.
Regular or Mini?
For this roundup, I’ve explored five alternatives to Android’s stock browser: Dolphin Browser HD 4.5, Dolphin Browser Mini 2.1, Firefox 4, Opera Mobile 11, and Opera Mini 6. The easiest way to sort these browsers is by cleaving them into two categories: traditional, full-featured mobile browsers—Dolphin Browser HD 4.5, Firefox 4, and Opera Mobile 11—and smaller, data-frugal Mini browsers—Dolphin Browser Mini 2.1 and Opera Mini 6. Mobile browsers tend to deliver a more desktop-complete mobile experience with advanced feature sets and support for embedded video, whereas Mini browsers tend to prize performance and backward compatibility.
However, boundaries prove porous with closer examination. For example, while Firefox 4 isn’t classified as a mini browser, Mozilla disabled support for embedded video in order to improve performance. Dolphin Browser Mini 2.1 wears the mini moniker but supports Flash, and, in my testing, failed to miniaturize load times.