The Best Browsers For Windows Mobile Phones
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Smart phones are getting popular amongst the busy working class. It is now the portable computer for people to send email on the fly or surf the net for the latest news. Those who have already bought a Windows Mobile phone would have found out that the Internet Explorer in the phone really sucks big time. The layout of a web site is no where near comparable to a desktop PC. Luckily there are a few alternatives for us to choose from that are able to load the whole web site in full and not in mobile view. I have tested these on a HTC TYTN II and HTC HD 2 to see how these mobile browsers compare.
1. Opera Mobile 10 beta :
Opera has been the first to create a decent browser for mobile phones and has not been disappointing in every version of its release. Other Challengers like Thunderhawk, Minimo or Netfront pale in comparison when taking into account the flash and java support. Until now, Opera beta 10 has improved by leaps and bounds since it’s predecessor beta 9. When I tested it, I expected it to be slower, yet it started up faster than it previous versions & although it has more features bundled with this version, the loading time was acceptable. This browser had the best graphical interface I have ever come across in mobile browsers.
Pros : Fast and responsive to touch screen contact; single touch to zoom in & double to zoom out. Sliding up and down was smooth and quite impressive; this could match up to iPhone’s safari browser. The start page has a quick dial menu similar to many desktop browsers that allow you to add a shortcut to it so that you can open up your favourites real quick.
Cons : It does not support flash fully and is unable to manage flash applications like those in Facebook. Only simple ones can be played. Complex ones like Battle Stations can only display the game, but you can not really play it as some of the options are displayed in flash.
It only supports 1 x zoom in and zoom out. This makes it limited to just reading the text to a certain zoom size. It must be zoomed in before you can touch any links. Even if the icon is large enough to be clicked, you will stick need to zoom in once.
HTC HD 2 [ 1 Ghz Snapdragon processor ]
Start up time : 2.5 secs
Loading time : 11.5 secs [ The time it took to load one full Facebook home page ]
HTC TYTN II [ 400 MHZ Qualcomm processor ]
Start up time : 5 secs
Loading time : 30 secs [ The time it took to load one full Facebook home page]
2. Skyfire browser :
Skyfire is new to the mobile browser world. I must say that this browser totally blew me away in terms of speed and capabilities. I would recommend this browser to every one out there. This browser supports flash in full animation. You can play flash videos from Youtube website right off the mobile browser and even flash games in Facebook. I can even hear the sound as the video is being played. I could not believe my eyes as I played my favourite Facebook game right off my mobile phone.
HTC HD 2 [ 1 Ghz snapdragon processor ]
Start up time : 2.5 secs [ another few seconds for it to load the main page ]
Loading time : 5 secs [ The time it took to load one full Facebook home page ]
[ It took 5 secs to load one screen load of stuff in Facebook home page. But if you scroll downwards, it would be a wallpaper of square boxes. You will need to wait half a second to load the next load of page you wish to view.]
HTC TYTN II [ 400 MHZ Qualcomm processor ]
Start up time : 3 secs [ around 15 more seconds till it reached the main page ]
Loading time : 8 secs
[ To load a full page load of content but another 2 secs per scroll down before it starts loading more content ]
Pros : It is able to open up a link without the need to zoom in first unlike opera but provided you have ultra aim. It has multi-zoom, means you can zoom in a bit at a time unlike opera which has only 1 zoom in and 1 zoom out. If your phone has a directional pad, a mouse cursor will appear and you can use the mouse instead of your finger. It supports full flash which even iPhone does not support at the moment. The menu interface is not blocking any part of the web page and you can view the entire screen.
Cons : The support for java seems to be a little flawed especially for those drop down menu boxes. It would freeze sometimes and I had to try repeatedly, in fact more than 10 times to eventually bring out the menu. This browser refuses to load if there is totally no connection. The loading of a page seems slightly longer as compared to opera; perhaps it has a lot more flash content to load then opera.
There is one more mobile browser out there developed by Firefox which is called Fennac browser. But I don’t recommend using it now as it is not officially completed yet. It is only a prototype. The loading time for it on a HTC TYTN II took so long that I almost gave up on it. Almost close to a minute. The loading of a page is not fast either; it seems to be stressing the device a lot. Eventually the page was loaded, but you cannot really surf without feeling a sense of frustration. I gave up after just a few minutes.
Using it on the HTC HD 2 was a disaster. It could start up within 10 secs, but it could not even start surfing. It crashed with a box asking you if you want to send an error report. What’s even worse is that it seems to screw up your Opera 9 browser’s settings that were bundled with HD 2 and even opera crashed as well. I had to uninstall Fennac and reboot before everything went back to normal.
The evolution for mobile computing is going extremely fast and people will soon be expecting a full scale computer right in the palm of their hands. With such powerful Windows mobile browsers already capable of displaying more than just a basic web page, we can expect people to depend on these handsets more than a desktop in the near future. Just imagine, watching a news broadcast while commuting on a train and reading the latest news online. It is a lot more convenient that trying to hold on to a newspaper on a moving train.
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