12.28.2010

Android App Review: Dolphin HD and Mini - Best Web Browser on the Market

Dolphin Browser Android
Pop quiz, hot shot. What is the number one application I use on my smartphone? If you said web browser, you're a winner (I need to get some prizes out), and I suspect others would agree that despite being called a phone, today's smartphones are used more for mobile browsers than for making calls. With that said, the browser that ships standard with the iPhone and all Android phones tends to be rather dull. Leave it to third party applications to improve the experience, and today, we focus on a set of browsers in particular for the Android: Dolphin Browser HD and the newly released Dolphin Browser Mini.

Features Galore
The full browser (Dolphin HD) provides a ton of features that can enhance your web browsing experience. I am particularly fond of tabs, as this has become a mainstay on all desktop browsers nowadays. Dolphin HD handles this quite well by including tabs at the top of the browser. Sliding to the left will reveal your bookmarks, and to the right will open up add-ons (themes, bookmarks to SD, and more), a full screen option and the settings menu. The Dolphin user interface is very smooth and intuitive for each of those options. Gestures are also incorporated as there is a special button in the button left that allows you to use a signature gesture to denote a navigation command (go forward, back) or even load a specific website (G is for Google and it's good enough for me...) Pinching and double tapping to zoom are both extremely fluid, more so in my opinion than the stock browser.

Fast with Flash when you want it
Speed is the name of game when it comes to desktop browsing, and it is even more vital with mobile versions as you may find yourself in precarious positions at times when browsing on your phone (walking, taking public transit, driving - not recommended!) The Dolphin Browser promises and seems to deliver on its speedy loading of web pages. I particularly like the option to choose when to load flash items on a webpage. Often, I just don't need to view a flash ad banner or a live link to a video. With flash allowed but not automatically loaded, I noticed a speed increase over the stock Android browser. Overall, the browser seems snappier, and efficiency is improved as a result of the included gesture system.

Mini Me, Both for Free.
In addition to Dolphin HD, there is the browser's little brother called Dolphin Browser Mini. Built for speed, the mini version does not contain the full set of features included with HD. Still, I found most if not all of the features that interested me the most to the HD present in the mini-version. Tabs? Check. Gestures? Yep. Flash? Still there! With a simplified interface (no sliding for bookmarks or settings), there's less to do on the screen and more to focus on with content.

What's the best part of Dolphin's twin set of browsers? The price: Free. You've got nothing to lose except for some storage space. I've found that the mini-version serves me well, and for a more streamlined interface that reminds me of Google Chrome, I've opted for this version as my go-to browser. Still, when I'm looking for a more featured experience (maybe something like Firefox), I have Dolphin HD as a backup, and then there's always the included stock browser as well.

Dolphin Browser HD (Android 2.0+) and Dolphin Browser Mini (Android 1.6+) are available for free on the Android Market.


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2 comments:

tyang said...

do you realy that dolpin hd can load a flash object?

I've instaled dolpin in my eclair phone.

what is your device, froyo isn't it?
can dolpin load flash object in eclair?
please help me. I need a flash player in my phone.

David Chan said...

Hi, I do have Froyo, so it's very possible that Eclair was not supported for Dolphin.

Here's one thread from Android Forums that discusses Flash on 2.1.

Hope it helps!

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