Since the age of Netscape Navigator on the desktop, people have been seeking out better ways to surf the Web. And that hasn't changed since the rise of smartphones. While the default browsers that ship with Android and iOS devices (Chrome and Safari) are already quite good, there are many other options that provide more distinct features to demanding users. Here are 10 of our favorite mobile browsers.
Google's flagship browser Chrome (iOS, Android) provides the impressive performance and the same minimalist stylings seen on the desktop version. It's Chrome, squeezed into mobile, with a unified search/address bar omnibox, Incognito mode for private browsing, and smartphone-friendly features such as voice search. If you're also a desktop Chrome user, you're in luck, as Chrome on mobile features some of the best syncing of tabs, history and bookmarks in the field, making for seamless transition between desktop and mobile browsing. Google continues to add cool new stuff to Chrome, such as a data-saving feature for compressing incoming media to speed up browsing and save on mobile data rates.
Firefox for Android's streamlined mobile version has long been an excellent alternative for smartphone and tablet users, with its tabbed browsing, desktop sync, and access to a selection of excellent addons. Now, iOS users can also join in with the new Firefox for iOS. The iOS version includes private browsing, a predictive search bar, cross-device syncing, and a visual tab management system. Notably absent on the iOS version though is the rich ecosystem of addons such as password managers and adblockers. Still, if you're a fan of Mozilla's nimble Web browser and own an iOS device, Firefox for iOS is sure to be a welcome addition.
The pop-up style browser, Flynx is currently one of our favorites. It pre-loads links in the background with a floating on-screen indicator while you continue operating your other apps without wasting your time watching pages load. Once done, you can then tap the indicator, with Flynx displaying the Web page pop-up style, with support for up to four pre-loaded tabs. Flynx also adds a lot of neat features, such as an intelligent ad-blocker, double-tapping links to save pages for offline viewing and easy link sharing. More for opening in-app links rather than a standalone browser app, Flynx is still a handy addition to your app tray.
Opera has a good reputation for being a fast, responsive browser most notable for its built-in data compression, automatically compressing media such as images and videos in order to speed up browsing. In addition to data compression, Opera for Android comes with a bevy of other features such as private browsing, cross-device sync and gesture controls. iOS users can also turn to Opera Coast for a gesture-driven, iOS-centric experience.
Dolphin (Android, iOS) stays strong when it comes to powerful, feature-packed mobile browsers, packing a variety of tools options, and addons that let you make the most out of a mobile browser. Standouts include gesture bookmarks that allow you to draw letters to jump straight to your favorite sites, as well as Sonar, a voice-driven search tool. Addon support, custom gestures, tabbed browsing and more are also available, making for a highly configurable, feature rich mobile browser.
Mercury Browser is a free cross-platform browser by iLegendSoft available on Android and iOS that's based on the Webkit engine. It's got a rich set of features to make mobile browsing easier for mobile users, such as a regularly updated ad-blocker, tabbed browsing, gesture controls, private mode browsing, a customizable search bar and more. A variety of plugins add extra features, such as a reader mode and integration with a variety of cloud storage services, and a desktop extension allows you to sync Chrome or Firefox bookmarks to your mobile device.
A feature-packed browser, iCab trades elegance for power in a slightly clunkier, desktop-like package. iCab includes tabbed browsing, a customizable URL-based filter for adblocking, a full screen mode, download manager, private browsing, user-agent spoofing and more. iCab also includes a fair amount of mobile-oriented features, such as multi-touch gesture support and page compression to save on your mobile data cap. It could be accused of feature bloat, but chances are, if there's a browser feature you're looking for, iCab's got it built in.