This story was originally published and last updated .
Your Android smartphone probably comes with one of two browsers as the default: Samsung Internet, or Google Chrome. If you've ever found yourself wondering what life is like back in the world of Firefox or lesser-known alternatives like Kiwi in 2020, though, you're not alone. And there are actually substantial differences between the various browsers you can get on Android. Unlike Apple, which requires all third-party browsers to use the Safari rendering engine (and doesn't allow other browsers to be the system default), Google allows any web browser with any engine to be published to the Play Store — giving Android phones and tablets more options for browsing the web than any iOS device.
Over the past few months, websites have begun to capitalize on the increasing value of cryptocurrency in not-so-great ways. Numerous websites have started to include scripts that use your device's processing power to mine cryptocurrencies. While the scripts usually aren't as noticeable on desktop computers, they can slow smartphones down to a crawl and drain the battery.
There are plenty of great choices for web browsers on Android, but if you have a cheaper (or older) device, you may find the top picks unsatisfactory. For example, Chrome can slow down quite a bit on low-end phones and tablets, and Firefox isn't much different.
Luckily, there are several browsers designed to be as fast as possible, squeezing every bit of performance out of whatever they're running on. For this post, we'll be taking a look at three of them and comparing their performance and features.
If you live somewhere where a fast, reliable, and cheap internet connection isn't a given, or if you own a smartphone that crawls at the mere sight of a 5MB+ app, there's no arguing the benefits of Opera Mini as a go-to browser. The app also gets very frequent updates that improve its usability, like a QR code reader, night mode, different data compression modes, and more. Now Opera Mini is ready to join its big brother by adding the video compression feature that Opera users have been enjoying for the past months.
Opera uses its own Rocket Optimizer technology to compress up to 60% of video data, which results in faster loading and less consumed bandwidth.
I love Opera Mini, not just because of its light size and data saving features, but also because the app keeps getting updated frequently with new things to check out.
This last update for example adds a QR reader and generator to the browser so that you can scan any QR code you might come across and immediately go to the linked page, or create codes to share with nearby users or online. I haven't been seeing lots of QR codes around me lately, but in the 1 or 2 instances where I came across them, I wished I could scan them easily.
Opera Mini's claim to fame, beside its low footprint, has been its ability to compress data on its servers and serve websites to you faster and with lesser bytes than more traditional browsers. If you're on an unreliable internet connection, in an area with nothing but GPRS or Edge, or with an operator that charges you for your consumed Megabytes as if they were rare diamonds, Opera Mini was and still is essentially your safest bet.
The app is getting even better today thanks to the version 11 update. Instead of a single Data Savings mode, there are two. Extreme is what Opera Mini has used before: it significantly compresses websites and images. High is the new addition: it shrinks the size of images and sites, but not as much as the Extreme mode, allowing for a richer and fuller web experience.
Oh, Opera. You've been around for a long time (considerably longer than Android or Google, in fact) but aside from a great showing back in the J2ME days, you've never managed to break into those competitive browser markets. The latest financial figures and projections, as reported by Reuters, don't look particularly good for the Norwegian software company. Though Opera Software's revenues grew in the second quarter, they didn't meet analyst expectations, and adjusted earnings missed the target by a factor of $1.6 million. The projection for total 2015 revenue has been cut from $630-650 million down to $600-618 million.
If all those numbers make your head spin, just know that they're not good.