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5 best alternative web browsers for Android – TechRepublic

Looking for an alternative for the default Android web browser? Look no farther than one of these five.

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Image: Jack Wallen

Out of the box, Android offers just about everything you need to get your mobile work done. But if you do find your device lacking, the Google Play Store is ready to serve. Of those pre-installed applications, the Chrome browser does a fantastic job. But for some, Chrome might not be the be-all-end-all browser.

And … we’re back to Google Play.

That’s right, open up the Play store, and you’ll find a plethora of third-party web browsers, all ready to fight for your attention. But fear not, TechRepublic is here to help you narrow down the list to five browsers, each of which would serve you perfectly well.

Let’s find out what five browsers made the list of five best.

SEE: BYOD (bring-your-own-device) policy (Tech Pro Research)

1. Firefox

I was tempted to include the more privacy-focused Firefox browser, Firefox Focus. However, not every user is as paranoid about security as they should be. For those that are (and you should be) pretend this entry is actually for Firefox Focus and not good ol’ vanilla Firefox. Why Firefox? Simple: Firefox not only competes with the default Chrome on every level, it’s also open source, includes a syncing feature (so every instance of the browser you have is in sync) as well as tabbed browsing and sharing, add-ons, built-in tracking protection, master password, and much more (Figure A). If Firefox is your primary desktop browser, then it should be a no-brainer to make the switch.

Figure A

Figure A: The Firefox Settings menu.

2. Opera

I’m going to preface this by saying, it’s a shame Vivaldi hasn’t made it to the mobile space. However, even if Vivaldi were to make it to Android, it might not oust Opera Touch. Opera Touch is the lightweight version of Opera and, wow, does it make browsing incredibly fast. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more responsive and quick browser on the mobile market. One of the best features of Opera Touch is its ability to allow the user to work with one hand. From the browser’s main page, tap the search button and type what you’re looking for. Or, tap one of the Top Sites, or go to your History tab to easily find a site you need. Opera also includes one of the easiest ways to share websites between desktop and mobile versions, with My Flow (Figure B). With a click or tap, you can send a website to any Opera Touch browser connected to My Flow – from desktop to mobile, mobile to mobile, or mobile to desktop.

Figure C

Figure B: The Opera Touch My Flow feature.

3. Brave

The Brave browser is what you want if you’re looking for an app with powerful, built-in ad blocking. Not only can Brave block ads, but it can also block third-party cookies and scripts. This new-ish browser (it was released in 2016) also includes HTTPS everywhere, so you can browse with a bit more security. And because Brave keeps track of ads blocked, trackers blocked, HTTPS upgrades, and estimated time saved (Figure C), you know what’s happening in the background. Brave also includes a sync feature (which is currently in beta), and the ability to add payment methods. Brave renders quickly, offers the standard features found in most browsers (bookmarks, history, private tabs, download manager, and more), is free, and doesn’t include ads.

Figure C

Figure C: The Brave Browser reporting stats.

4. Kiwi Browser

The Kiwi Browser is based on Chrome. That would be fine in and of itself, but Kiwi ups the ante by including an ad blocker and a Night mode feature. Both of these features would be enough to intrigue many users, but Kiwi doesn’t stop there. Kiwi makes it easy to select top news pieces in different languages (Figure D) and allows you to switch the address bar from the top to the bottom of the window. By shifting the address bar to the bottom, Kiwi can be used more easily with one hand. If you’re looking for a Chrome-based one-handed browser, Kiwi should certainly top your list.

Figure D

Figure D: Changing the address for news items in Kiwi.

5. Dolphin Browser

The Dolphin Browser has been around for some time and has developed into a fantastic mobile browser. With a unique sidebar control panel (Figure E) to access features like fullscreen mode, tabs, night mode, desktop mode, incognito, and no image mode, Dolphin is an incredibly efficient browser. Dolphin also includes the ability to theme the interface, with a theme store, which includes hundreds of possibilities. Tap on the address bar to reveal Bookmarks, Trending, and Most Visited tabs. The Trending tab is unique, but would mostly only appeal to those who follow the trends du jour. Kiwi also includes one of the better bookmark managers on the market.

Figure E

Figure E: The Dolphin sidebar control panel in action.

So many options

Within the Android browser market, there are so many options. You’ll find a browser for just about every possible need, many of which will seem quite redundant. However, any one of these five browsers will do a great job of serving as your new default tool for browsing the vast space of the internet.

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