Top 10 Android Smartphone Browser Alternatives

Tired of the stock Android browser? Check out these great alternatives.

There Are Alternatives

There are plenty of browsers you can use in place of the stock browser that comes with your Android phone. Here are 10 that are free (and not riddled with ad banners), have been updated within the last six months, are primarily meant for viewing English language sites, support Flash video immediately after you install them, and utilize a tabs UI for managing multiple open Web pages. (The Android stock browser doesn't use tabs.)

Boat Browser

Just like a desktop Web browser, with Boat Browser, tabs are set along the top. To open a new one, you tap the "+" button on the right end of the tab toolbar, and enter a site's address in the URL box below the tabs. Once a page is fully loaded, the browser automatically scrolls the tab toolbar and URL box up, off-screen, in order to show you more of the Web page.

To switch to another tab, you can also tap an icon on the toolbar that runs along the bottom of the browser. This brings you to a GUI where you swipe side-to-side through thumbnails of the pages you have open. Tap a thumbnail to see that page.

Dolphin Browser HD

Tabs work exactly like the way they do in Boat Browser -- and when a Web page is completely loaded, the browser will scroll it slightly down the tab toolbar and URL box off-screen.

The Dolphin browsers feature gesture user interfaces -- for example, if you scribble a "<" on the touchscreen, the Web browser will return to the previous page you viewed.

There’s also a Mini version which, oddly enough, has more features than the HD one, including extra tools like screenshot capturing, data backup and private browsing, although HD can use add-ons. Mini works on older versions of Android, starting from 1.6, while HD requires at least 2.0.1.

Firefox (Android version)

Swiping the browsing window toward the left unveils a sidebar that shows thumbnails of your active pages. Though these are not necessarily "tabs," the way you interact with them is the same. At the bottom of this sidebar, you tap an icon marked with a "+" to open a new page.

Like its desktop counterpart, the Android version of Firefox has its own add-ons functionality. Developer Mozilla also provides a separate beta version with bugfixes and experimental new features, which is frequently updated.

Maxthon Browser

Tabs are set along the top. You open a new tab by tapping the "+" button on the right side of the tab toolbar, and enter a URL.

Like the Dolphin browsers, Maxthon features gesture interactivity. And like Firefox, Maxthon also uses add-ons, although there were only seven available to install onto this Web browser when we tested it.

Miren Browser

Pages are listed as tabs along the top of this browser. Tapping the "+" button on the right side of this tab toolbar opens a page with a URL box.

Miren shows pages in full-screen mode by default. Tapping a button on the lower-right of the screen summons back the Android OS status indicator bar that runs along the top.

NetFront Life Browser

In lieu of traditional tabs, NetFront Life goes for an unconventional way to help you navigate through your open Web pages. This browser shows off your bookmarks and browsing history through a 3D graphics user interface that works like how you would flip through folders in a filing cabinet, or record LPs in a rack.

Set above this fancy 3D GUI, thumbnails of every open page are arranged in a carousel-style interface. You swipe through the thumbnails side-to-side, and tap on the one representing the page you want to see.

Ninesky Browser

Tabs are set along the top, and the browser scrolls down to hide them whenever it completes loading a Web page. You can also jump to another tab by tapping an icon on a toolbar along the bottom. A window will pop open showing thumbnails of your active pages that you can tap to access them.

Ninesky features extensions (i.e. add-ons) capability, but there was only one available -- a news reader -- when we tested it.

Opera Mobile

A prominently displayed navigation bar appears along the bottom (but can be set to go away when you view a Web page). Tapping an icon on this bar summons a pane showing thumbnails of your open pages. From here, you can tap on one to jump to another page, or open a new one.

Opera Mobile can take a few seconds longer to start up, compared to the Android stock and most of the others in this slideshow.

Skyfire Web Browser 4.0

To switch to another tab, you tap an icon on the toolbar that's above the browsing window. A smaller window then opens in the center of the app, showing thumbnails of your open Web pages that you can tap on to jump to a particular one.

Skyfire has a toolbar along the bottom with a few mini-apps that you can tap to directly access certain features of your Facebook and Twitter accounts (such as "liking" and sharing links).

xScope Browser

XScope's default skin makes it look like what could be an Android-ized version of Google's own Chrome, right down to its colors and the shape of its tabs. Tapping an icon on the toolbar that's along the bottom opens a window showing thumbnails of your open Web pages. From here, you tap a thumbnail to jump to its corresponding page.

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