Android browser head-to-head: Chrome vs Dolphin vs Firefox vs Maxthon vs Opera Mobile vs Skyfire
We put the most popular Android browsers up against the default offering to see which offers the best performance and HTML5 compatibility.
Available as a smartphone-oriented standard release and an HD version aimed at larger-screen tablets, Maxthon prides itself on performance. According to the team behind the Maxthon browser, it's the "fastest and smartest internet browser" - but does it really live up to the hype?
Packing cloud synchronisation for bookmarks, gesture control, a private browsing mode and social networking integration for Facebook and Twitter, Maxthon remains popular - but its biggest competitor remains the far more popular Dolphin. That could change, however, with add-ons being released to extend Maxthon's capabilities and adding features like screenshot taking, RSS reader functionality, and even a file manager.
Opera was originally a paid-for browser, with a free advertising-supported version. The firm made the decision to go completely free some time ago, in the face of dropping market share against the likes of Firefox and Chrome. Its mobile variants have long been popular options for smartphones and featurephones, however, and continue to perform well on Android.
Opera prides itself on compatibility, sticking as close to the HTML5 specification as possible. That's not to say that the company doesn't innovate, however: Opera Mobile includes clever compression technology designed to reduce mobile data charges by routing data through Opera's own servers, although this can be switched off if desired.
The first browser to offer Flash support on Android, Skyfire is a novelty: sites not supported by mobile browsers, such as video streaming in esoteric formats, are instead rendered by Skyfire's cloud-based servers and then the content streamed to the mobile browser in a format it can understand.
The result, in theory, is a browser that supports almost all the content the web has to offer - but if you want to take advantage of that support, you'll need to pay for a license as the free Skyfire browser only comes with a three-day trial of the video streaming system.
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