The Ultimate Mobile Web Browser Shootout!

Saturday, August 16

Not sure what's the logic behind it, but every internet-capable mobile phone comes with a crappy browser built into it by the manufacturer. These browsers are not suitable for surfing anything other than tiny WAP pages that are not much fun.
This problem can be solved, thanks to third-party software. There are a lot of web applications available today that can help you browse large web pages with ease. However, for this to work, your phone must support the installation of third party software (Java or Symbian).
Here we are looking at the most popular Java Web Browsers available for Mobile Phones today. All of them are tested using my Sony Ericsson k750i.

Now, let's look at the options... Many browsers are out there but we concentrate on these three:
Opera mini, TeaShark, UCweb. In that, we'll be looking at two different versions of Opera mini. So, here goes:

First, let's see two browsers that display web pages in full; i.e. just like they appear in a normal desktop browser:

Opera Mini 4

Yeah, this one is the most popular mobile browser today. Like the desktop version of Opera, the mini also looks and runs smoothly on the mobile. It is also the most professional looking among the four browsers discussed here. They support a great range of devices (I have a friend of mine using it on his not-so-spectacular LG C2500, it works flawlessly).
I recommend you to use the version 4.0 since v4.1 is somewhat buggy with a completely useless download manager.

What's good about it:
* You can view web pages in their full glory. There's even support for CSS! I'd use this one for the eye-candy alone!
* Surfing is extremely fast, thanks to the high degree of data compression.. more so than in previous versions.
* Features Opera Link, that lets you sync your bookmarks with a PC.
* Create searches from web pages.
* All the typical browser features : Bookmarks, History, etc. In v4.1 you even get a download/upload manager, support for saving pages, and even an integrated RSS feed reader.

What's not so good:
* If you are on a mobile with limited memory, you will get an 'Out of Memory' error often. The way to prevent this is to surf with images turned off.


Another application that sports full-screen web browsing. It's seen a sudden spike in downloads lately because of the fact that many people were able to get free GPRS internet access using it in some networks.

What's good:
* All the Typical browser features available.
* Ability to select and copy text like you'd do on a computer.
* Bookmarks can be tagged with color, a cool feature that I just loved!

What's not so good:
* Not many features, hence not suitable for a power user.
* In Zoom mode, most of the images don't display.
* Runs out of memory very quickly. This is more common n AJAX pages where the phone gets stuck after loading just one or two pages!

Now, on to the two browsers that don't have the Full view feature. Surprisingly, these are the ones I use most of the time!

Opera mini Mod v2.06

Another reason I love hackers and modders! Look what a bunch of russian modders have done this time: They took the old version of the Mini (v2.0) and literally Pimped it Up! The features built into this mod should leave you drooling right away. Check it out:

* Multiple Windows
* File Manager . it can even play most media formats * right within the browser *
* FTP Manager
* Download Manager - Excellent and Full-Fledged - Supports list dowloading, download history, and much more.
* Backup/Restore Browsing Sessions
* Multi-Clipboard
* Saving and Loading of pages
* Alot of settings and Tweakability, I mean A LOT!
* Color Schemes, adjust, export, or import.
* Shadow Connection prevents the GPRS connection from being cut off.

OMG if I wanted to list all the features, this page wouldn't be enough! You better download it and find out all the cool features yourself.. then you'll understand why I use this one profusely.

What's not so good:
* I couldn't find anything that I hate about this great app. You can even prevent it from running out of memory by clearing the cache and available memory regularly.


Another very good browser, this time from the Chinese. Yeah, it does'nt look too compelling, looks half-baked... but I use this one whenever I'm not on the mini mod.

What's Hot:
* Multiple Windows
* A Really good Download Manager
* Alot of great links they've provided in the homepage itself. Most of them are in Chinese, but most of them are free download links that are just rich in content!
* Extra tools like RSS feed, bookmarks, an Online Hard Disk (yeah), and loads more.

What's Not:
* There's serious problem with the language. Every webpage you visit treats you as a Chinese and serves you with the chinese flavours of the web pages. You'll have a hard time using this with Google products, you will be instantly teleported to Google China!

Well that does for the review.
Now, for some websites, some of these apps are more suited than others. I have been using Internet from mobile phones for five years now, (first on a B/W Nokia 2280, then a colorful LG G1800, then Nokia 6600, finally on a SE k750i, and occasionally on an N70 and an N73), and I gotta say i'm pretty addicted to the internet by now. Let me summarise you on how these nifty little apps continue to help me maintain my Web Presence:

* Just Reading Websites and Blogs - Opera Mini 4
* Commenting on blogs - opera mini mod, UCWeb
* Downloading - Opera mini Mod - hands down!
* Making a Blog post - opara Mini Mod (Reason? Mod let's you type way more than other browsers do, after you cross the 400 letter limit of characters that can be entered onto a text area in a site, simply select more => Next, you can go on typing as much as you want in this fashion!)
* Orkut - Opera Mini 4 - Orkut is fully supported!
* BlogCatalog, Weblogian, etc - UCWeb.
* EntreCard Dropping - Opera Mini Mod.

Do some experimentation and find out what works best for you.

So, the other day, when I told a chat friend of mine that I do almost all my surfing with my mobile phone, she was asking me, "How can One do that without an iPhone?"!
See, this is what most people believe! But I tell you, you don't need a goddamn iPhone to surf the net, it's just a myth!
Just go try these apps out, and watch this space cause I will be writing about more cool apps soon!

Update : Orkut is currently not working with Opera mini 4. There are 2 solutions to this:

* Use TeaShark: It lets you use most parts of Orkut, including communities. If it gets your phone stuck, use it with with images turned off.

* Use UCWeb: You can just check and reply to scraps, because it shows you the mobile version of Orkut.


Related & Recommended Read : Essential Java Software for Mobile Phones

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