Browsing the web on your Mobile device doesn’t have to be an exercise in futility. Sure, some of the stops along the information superhighway butcher its best practices, as anyone who’s had the displeasure of encountering undissmissable ads, oversized typography, and confusing graphics can tell you. But a good browser app can make even the least intuitive webpage or website better. Unlike the smartphone browsers of yesteryear, some of which omitted even basic pinch-to-zoom controls and support for tabbed Browsing, the modern cream of the crop augment perusal in ways that were previously inconceivable. Some speed up the web by compressing unoptimized images and code on the fly, or by retrieving stored usernames and passwords from the cloud. Others convert content encoded with Flash, a proprietary plugin, into a form interpretable by smartphones. And still others offer support for third-party plugins — e.g., note-taking apps and sharing tools — that further beef up your browsing experience.
Indeed, perhaps the most overwhelming element of the mobile web today isn’t taking care to avoid its many tangles, but choosing from the wealth of browsers that do so exceedingly well. They run the gamut from refined to prototypical, from proprietary to open-source, and from privacy-oriented to data dependent. There’s Opera, a desktop stalwart that’s made the successful jump to mobile; Chrome, Google’s long-in-development effort which is matched in polish and flexibility perhaps only by its desktop namesake; and Firefox, a mobile effort by nonprofit foundation Mozilla with a focus on simplicity. And that’s just scratching the surface.
Choosing a browser is a challenge, to be sure, but hardly an insurmountable one. To simplify things, we’ve picked the most streamlined, intuitive, and robust mobile browsers we could find. It’s not an exhaustive list by any means, nor a definitive one — after all, like the web, the number of mobile browsers grows by the hour. But it’s a good starting point.