Preferred Browsers for Smartphone Users

When one owns a smartphone, they are treated to a relatively good-sized screen with touchscreen capabilities allowing web surfing and checking of emails. But it is also interesting that many smartphone consumers go for the “look” and image of the phone, rather than its actual functionality. In general, if it looks good, then the purchase is pretty much worth the money spent on it. Because of this, many smartphone users are stuck with using whatever default, pre-installed software and applications are available.

In an interesting comparative study between cellphones (which included the Nokia 5800, the T-Mobile G1, the iPhone 3GS and the iPhone 3G, the BlackBerry Storm, the Nokia N97, the Palm Pre, and selected Windows Mobile gadgets) the different operating system on each was studied along with the corresponding browsers. These browsers include Google’s Android, Apple’s Safari, Palm’s WebOS, among others. Let’s see how the different browsers performed when they were tested against each other.

Browsers that are all the rage

Understandably, smartphone manufacturers claim that the browser built-in into their phones are the best application to surf the internet. However, market research have been consistently finding out that Apple iPhone’s mobile browser has been used the most in accessing the internet with one study claiming 36 percent share while another mentioned that 66 percent of all mobile phone web browsing  was used by an iPhone.

Third-party browsers and their strengths

Smartphone web-browsers are not only limited to software that come bundled with the mobile device. Software manufacturers like Opera make web browsers that are compatible with most brands of mobile phones except the iPhone and the Palm Pre. Opera is the most popular third party browser because it integrates well with the mobile device’s operating system resulting in a faster browsing experience.  Opera utilizes compression technology to lessen transmission time between the server and the mobile device.

Browser speed evaluation

The most important factor influencing browser speed is hardware specs. Browsing on the Apple iPhone 3Gs is faster than the iPhone 3G simply because the newer 3GS model has a more powerful processor and more memory. Availability of 3G signals is also another important consideration when comparing browser speed as well as real world variations in available bandwidth caused by devices connecting to or logging off from the internet.

Judgment of the best smartphone browser

All three leading mobile web browsers have good looking interfaces but have features needing improvement. For one, Flash applications on mobile phones do not run as well as that on desktop browsers. Some mobile browsers even have serious incompatibilities with the popular interfacing application. The iPhone, the BlackBerry and the Palm Pre do not run Flash at all and this is one of the major complaints of the owners of these brands of mobile phones.

Windows Mobile devices and Nokia S60 phones offer limited support for Flash applications. For Android phones, it is only the HTC Hero that is capable of displaying Adobe Flash while other Android powered devices do not have this feature.

Since Adobe Flash is a very important component for web browsing, it is not surprising why most manufacturers are taking steps in Flash compatibility. Google Android and Blackberry are working on similar lines while Nokia is moving towards a mobile Linux flavoured OS that will power the N900 tablet.

Were it not for the serious lack of compatibility for Flash applications, most mobile browsers have succeeded in making web browsing an enjoyable experience. Apple’s Mobile Safari, Google’s Android and Palm Pre’s WebOS were able to make their browsers functional with easy to access menus. The Palm Pre has a simple user interface and has built in Google and Wikipedia search on one of its toolbars. Android phones offer a radical voice-enabled search technology which comes handy when both of your hands are occupied.

The iPhone has perfected it polished interface, no thanks to its touchscreen. Navigation between windows is very intuitive using a tabbed interface. Resizing and zooming pictures is slick and happens very smoothly.

The Palm Pre is able to load windows side-by-side or it can be layered together.

It is somehow surprising though that the Android, which is made by Google which is also known for the very spare user interface on its search engine, takes the most number of steps when saving an image downloaded from the internet.

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