A growing number of users around the globe use their Androids not only to call and text but also to connect to the web. Among those who do take their mobile web browsing seriously, the choice of browser app is very crucial.
What makes users prefer one browser to another? Several subjective considerations include feature set, intended use, and esthetics. Another crucial factor is speed and performance. In this post, we will be discussing this particular factor.
We subjected 11 of the best Android browsers to a series of tests and benchmarks to find out which one is the top performer. Which browser is the “fastest Android browser”? Continue reading to find out.
Our aim for conducting these test was to provide extensive (but not necessarily exhaustive) objective and measurable data helpful in deciding which Android browser to favor for daily use.
We tested the following specific browser versions:
As of this writing, the browser versions listed above are the most current. We consistently used the same version of each browser throughout all the tests. If a browser updated arrived, we installed the update and performed the tests again for that updated browser version.
The browsers were tested using a Google Nexus 4, a Google Experience Device designed and optimized to let you experience Android as Google intended it. The operating system running on the test device at the time of testing was stock Google Android 4.4.2 KitKat.
The Nexus 4 was factory reset before use for testing. No other app was installed on the phone, apart from updates to the pre-installed apps, the browser apps to be tested, and a system monitor app for determining memory use. We wanted to limit the possibility of the results’ being influenced by stray, leftover, or inessential processes.
Before each test, the Nexus 4 was rebooted to ensure that the tests ran on a clean slate. Browsing data, history, cookies, and other browser app data were also cleared before each test was run, except in the cached page loading test. We wanted to minimize the possible influence of other apps or data upon the test results.
Also, to improve data accuracy, we ran each test or benchmark three times and computed the arithmetic mean or simple average of the three recorded results.
Our series of tests covered these general areas:
Puffin Web Browser aced the SunSpider test (236.900 ms), while the next fastest was Chrome (1,223.000 ms). That’s an amazing lead time / difference of 986.1 ms and a huge feather in Puffin’s cap!
Next Browser and Baidu took third and fourth places, respectively. Naked Browser Pro, Boat, Opera, Maxthon, and Firefox stayed within the vicinity of 1,300 ms to 1,500 ms, a range that was still a far cry from Puffin’s superfast performance.
The two slowest browsers were Dolphin Browser (1,771.700 ms), and UC Browser (2,127.133 ms).
As in SunSpider, the score is in milliseconds; smaller score means better performance.
Registering the shortest time in this test, Puffin continued to stay on top (2,406.267 ms) while UC Browser (84,165.400 ms) was still lowest in rank. Dolphin kept its place as the second slowest (at 20,663.300 ms), just as in the SunSpider test.
The “in-between” apps’ scores stayed within the 14,000 ms to 21,000 ms range, but their rankings changed a bit in this test. Chrome, for instance, performed more slowly than Firefox in the Kraken suite, although in SunSpider, it performed better than Firefox.
The race this time is not about who gets the lowest score but about who gets the higher score.
Puffin still held on to its crown as top performer, earning the highest score (3,879.667). Opera came in second (3,210.000), and the rest registered scores lower than 3,000. UC Browser, meanwhile, continued to stay at the bottom of the heap (2,016.000).
The averaged scores are shown below. Higher score means better performance.
Boat Browser emerged on top (543.000) in this round. Naked, Maxthon, Baidu, and Next followed in rank (in that order) and were the only other ones that got above-500 scores.
While Dolphin (355.333) moved up the ranks a bit — besting Firefox, actually — UC Browser stayed consistently the lowest (202.333).
Puffin disappeared in this round. Peacekeeper just wouldn’t finish running in Puffin, despite several attempts. It ran until the web worker test, and from there, it would stop responding. We have inquired about this from the developers of Puffin, but we received no reply at all.
Puffin performed superbly in SunSpider, Kraken, and Browsermark, but it wasn’t able to prove its worth in the Peacekeeper suite, giving away the top spot to Boat Browser.
So far, Puffin has bested the other browsers in all of the synthetic tests that we’ve run (except Peacekeeper) and has proven its promising potential for great performance. But, practical tests such as page loading and memory usage tests can also shed light on a browser’s power. The next sections talk about such practical tests.
To avoid the potential negative effect of network lag or flaky connections for our page loading speed, we set up a simple mock Android Authority website hosted on a local network server.
In this test set we measured how fast a browser loaded our test
website’s homepage completely for the first time (i.e., uncached loading or “cold loading”). The browser cache and browsing data were cleared first, then the Nexus 4 was rebooted before opening the locally hosted website in the browser.
Google Chrome reigned with its fast average page load time of 2.550 seconds. Naked Browser Pro followed closely behind (2.584 seconds), while Opera came in at third place (2.822 seconds).
The other browsers registered average page loading times greater than 3 seconds. Dolphin finished the race last and was the slowest (6.317 seconds).
Again, we couldn’t include Puffin in this set because it wouldn’t load our locally hosted website. Instead, we got a “connection refused” message each time we attempted open the page. Perhaps this behavior had something to do with Puffin’s use of cloud servers for pre-processing and data compression — the very same technology that made it lord over the other browsers in the other benchmarks and tests that we conducted. We reached out to the developers of Puffin in order to elicit a comment or clarification. Until today, all we got from them was deafening silence.
Next, we performed the hot page loading test to see which browser “hot loads” our test webpage fastest. Hot loading or cached page loading usually runs faster than uncached loading. This happens because the some of the webpage’s elements have already been stored or cached in the browser, so they don’t need to be re-downloaded anymore.
In the hot page loading test, we first opened our test webpage in the browser, then exited or force-stopped the browser without clearing its browsing data. Then, the app was run again, the test page was reopened, and the loading time was recorded. The steps were performed thrice per browser. The chart below shows the average load time per browser.
Naked Browser Pro topped all other browsers in hot page loading (1.580 seconds). While Chrome aced the cold loading test, it slid down to second place this time (1.599 seconds).
Dolphin (2.456 seconds) was the slowest in the cold loading test, but Firefox took its place in this round (3.343 seconds).
Hot loading scores for Naked, Chrome, Maxthon, Baidu, and Next all went above 2 seconds, while those for Boat, UC, Opera, and Dolphin stayed above 2 seconds but below 3. Only Firefox earned a hot loading score above 3 seconds.
Puffin has no score for this test for the same reason as already explained in the section on cold page loading.
The chart below summarizes the cold and hot page loading scores for all browser apps (except Puffin), as well as the differences in each browser’s scores.
Although it placed last in the cold loading test and second to the last in the hot loading test, Dolphin registered the biggest drop between its cold loading and hot loading times at 3.861 seconds. This could possibly mean that Dolphin made the most significant and advantageous use of its caching mechanism among the other browsers in this group. And, because of this, subsequent reloads of a previously loaded page in Dolphin will be perceptibly much faster than its first-time load.
Chrome, Opera, and Firefox registered loading time differences less than 1 second. This may mean that if you use these browsers, it won’t matter much whether you’re cold loading or hot loading a page — the page load time difference is minimal and could possibly not be very perceptible.
Memory consumption is another crucial factor in browser selection, especially among users of low-range and mid-range Android devices having limited memory. Our last set of tests measured how much memory was used by each browser.
We first measured how much memory was consumed by each browser running without any open tab or page.
To ensure result accuracy, we cleared the browser cache first, then rebooted the Nexus 4 before launching the browser. If the browser had popup dialogs, “tours”, or “getting started” prompts, we first dismissed those. Then, we terminated the browser and relaunched it. Only then did we take a reading of the browser’s memory use. Three readings were taken for each browser, the averages of which are shown in the graph below.
Next Browser used the least memory (51.700 MB), which was less than half of that consumed by the greatest memory user in the group — Firefox (113.767 MB).
Except Firefox’s, memory usage of all the test browsers fell below the 100-megabyte mark. These can be considered relatively lightweight, with Next, Naked, Baidu, and Chrome as the most lightweight (lowest usage range of 50 to 60 MB) in the group.
Which of our 11 browsers uses the least memory even when multiple pages/tabs are open? This was what we wanted to find out in the next set of tests.
The procedure for this set is similar to that for the zero-tab test earlier. First, browser app data were cleared, the device was rebooted, browser startup dialogs were dismissed, and the browser was terminated and relaunched. Then, 5 real web pages were opened one by one in the browser while observing a 7-second delay between tab openings. After the last page has loaded, the memory use of the app at that point was recorded. Three readings were taken for each app and then averaged.
From top position in the previous test, Next Browser slid down to fifth place in this test. Taking its place was Naked Browser Pro (117.233 MB), which ranked second in the zero-tab test.
Maxthon jumped several steps to second place, while Chrome climbed a step higher to third place. Firefox remained as the most memory-intensive browser in this group, with memory use very close to 200 MB. UC trailed close by at 197.800 MB.
After conducting all the tests for this post, we affirmed a notion that we’ve always held to be true: “the fastest Android browser” doesn’t exist in an absolute or universal sense.
Popular, solid, and stable browsers such as Firefox, Chrome, Dolphin, Opera, and UC registered variable performance scores in the different tests. They weren’t the fastest performers in our tests. They weren’t even the most lightweight in the bunch, although Chrome did show memory usage that stayed within the lightweight half of the list.
Maxthon, Next, Baidu, and Boat are rising stars in the browser market. Though still building up their user base, some of these browsers actually fared better than some of the highly popular ones.
Next Browser, for example, bested the others in the SunSpider test, although it showed average performance in most of the other tests. The same can be said of Baidu and Boat.
Maxthon, meanwhile, flexed its muscle in some of the other tests. For instance, it placed second in the 5-page memory usage test, outrunning even Chrome and Puffin. It also fared well in the Kraken and Peacekeeper tests.
Puffin caught our interest as we went through the rounds of testing. It effortlessly registered speeds and scores that left the other test browsers eating dust. It registered the fastest performance in synthetic tests such as SunSpider, Kraken, and Browsermark.
But, we were annoyed because it refused to play ball with Peacekeeper and refused to open locally hosted web pages. Those made our data incomplete. Worse than all these is that the developers never replied to our emailed inquiries.
Naked Browser Pro also caught our eye. Before working on this post, we’ve only heard of it twice from an obscure acquaintance, and then completely forgot about it — until we saw its potential with our own eyes. It landed on top spot in two tests (hot page loading and 5-page memory usage tests) and ranked second place in three (Peacekeeper, cold page loading, and 0-page memory usage tests).
Based purely on measurements and scores provided by the tests that we used, it appears that Puffin and Naked Browser Pro have earned enough proof for us to recommend them — with caveats, of course — to those who are looking for “faster browsers.”
But, as has already been noted earlier, browser speed is just one of several considerations when deciding which browser to stick with for a long time. In this article, we provided you with objective and extensive — although not exhaustive — data to help you with your decision making.
What browser do you use on your Android phone or tablet? How long have you been using it? What made you stick with it for a long time? What makes it better than the other available browsers? Let us know your browser-picking stories. Sound off in the comment box.
(with contributions from Alvin Ybañez)
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I think Chrome might be faster on the Moto X due to optimizations. There may be other examples where a browser works better depending on the device used.
samsung said no to butter smooth. we need more lag to prove
that our professional 8 cores is still not powerful enough. in 2014 , we will
increase to 16 cores and wait for lag fix in the next android 5.0
Dude, Samsung is not all of Android. Troll be gone!
dont feed the troll
Yah, we just like to downvote them. :)
Opera is fast.
I use Chrome and Chrome Beta depending on the device.
You know that android sucks? Let’s be honest, Lag, Stutter,
Force closed are all u need?
What in the hell are you doing in this site? Troll.
Awesome comparison Android Authority thanks! I am using AOSP browser in kit kat, and everything is working fine. Not that fast, not that slow, ok
Thank you Jayfeather787 – we had these beautiful dynamic charts before, but sadly, they don’t play well with the new design. This took a lot of work. Glad you appreciated it!
android has malwarezzz and lagzzzzzz. sold mine alrady coz
You suck. It doesn’t lag you must have had some crappy Huawei from 2007 with a 600 MHz single core processor and 256 MB RAM. If it had malware, its your fault, not Android’s.
Don’t feed the troll, you have encouraged him, should’ve ignored him. Thanks a lot now that he knows he can get a reaction he will probs do it again
2014 already, we don’t need cheap plastic toy from Samsung
Where did I mention anything about Samsung?
Mobile browsing is about smooth scrolling, adobe flash and memory footprint so Dolphin goes straight to the 1st place for me (naked following).
It’s 2014 dude.
I don’t really trust this tests. In my phone Dolphin is flying, is even faster than Google and I have plugins like Lastpass installed. It’s faster on opening pages and is faster on scrolling. Then Chrome have issues like the impossibility to login into Disqus account with Twitter.
Was the Dolphin test done with Jetpack enabled? I don’t think so!
Htc said to samsung: “cheap plastic is not fantastic my
I know 2 browsers that deserve to be tested. Lighting Browser + and Adrenaline Browser are both very fast and lightweight. In some of my tests even faster then Chrome, Firefox, Naked, and Puffin.
Dolphin always used to be my go to browser. Unfortunately it always used up so much memory on my old phone and I removed it multiple times. I used it on my Nexus 4 for a few days and it started to do the same thing. Waisted more memory then it needed and slowed down terribly. Chrome, Firefox, Lightning+ are 3 that work wonders for me. And a new one called Mercury browser isn’t that bad either.
I wonder how Lightning browser would have stacked up as that is my browser of choice and the fastest one IMHO of all the ones I’ve tried.
Lightning is pretty evem with Naked browser in my experience
I actually enjoy Opera, felt it was faster and smoother than Dolphin in my N10, because Chrome used to reboot my tablet once in a while. I do use Chrome in the N5
With the exception of Baidu, I’ve tried and used all of them. But the one I have found most useful is Angel Browser. Things I look for in a browser: 1) a close button; 2) a direct, one click access to Bookmarks; ability to lock the address bar in place – I hate having to scroll up to get back to the address bar. The closer to a desktop experience in the browser… The better.
I’m surprised Dolphin Browser came low in these tests; Its incredibly fast of my phone….
I’m with Next Browser, although I’m a hardcore Maxthon on desktop. fast can be measured but most of all I crave for satisfaction, which can be a bit subjective.
please dont use mozilla kraken as it will be bias,has the same mozilla name,and lack of trust from users.
elmer montejo-do you enable reduce data usage in chrome?please reply.
correction-hot loading=cached page.and please correct mispelling.
You have a quick eye! Thanks for catching that germ. Typo now corrected. :-)
I’m using Habit. It’s terrific. Sad it’s not on this test.
Of these tested, which have the option for a bookmarks icon that remains on the screen?
is 8 cores enough for fithting the lagg in samsung crap?
No Yandex.Browser :-(
Dolphin, boat and UC all spy on you. You have to be crazy to use those browsers
Exactly, and also Baidu, Maxthon, Next, and Puffin. Just look at the permission requirements and the (crappy) privacy policies. Most of this list should be disqualified as spyware.
So which browsers don’t spy on you?
I use Opera Mini as my “first” browser. It doesn’t support Flash, and some website layouts get affected, but it really is fast. One great feature is that it doesn’t refresh the previous webpage when you go back. Yet another speed advantage
Firefox now more slow dan using big memory consumption, uninstalling from my android. Now I’m more conservative, only use Chrome as default browser, because sync with my google account, easy to use.
But after reading this article, I’m interesting to try Puffin, and back to my old favorite browser: Opera.
chrome all day
It’s weird that Firefox uses so much memory.
I’ve tested many web browsers on this website on desktop mode:
most web browsers fail to show all animations when I scroll all the way to the bottom, having too much memory being used.
only the newest Opera (beta) web browser can do it (and iphone 4 safari web browser), while firefox almost can (scrolls about 80% till it crashes).
if you wish to test it out, do it on a similar device as i’ve tried – SGS3 with stock samsung based rom , android v4.3 , with 1GB of RAM .
this test won’t show anything special on devices with 2GB of RAM.
I don´t care about the speed. I care about the smoothness. That´s the most important thing for me. Dolphin is the smoother on my Nexus10.
There is so much wrong with these benchmarks.
- Please, start all your graphs from zero. You are bloating the differences up to a completely different scale by cutting parts off. A difference of maybe 10% can be made to look like it’s twice as bad, or worse.
- Stop using Sunspider in general. It’s an outdated benchmark that isn’t worth crap these days.
- “Perhaps this behavior had something to do with Puffin’s use of cloud servers for pre-processing and data compression”. It’s very obvious that Puffin is executing the JS on a server and not on the device. That makes comparison worthless.
- “Although it placed last in the cold loading test and second to the last in the hot loading test, Dolphin registered the biggest drop between its cold loading and hot loading times at 3.861 seconds. This could possibly mean that Dolphin made the most significant and advantageous use of its caching mechanism among the other browsers in this group”. No, it means that Dolphin had the most to win. Other browsers couldn’t even win 3.8s, because it’s lower than their cold load time. You should compare the speed-up percentage.
- Firefox has a higher base memory usage, because it has to load up Gecko, while Webkit/Blink (which all other browsers of that list that I know use) is already loaded by the OS. Here too you should compare the rise of memory when more tabs open, not only the exact numbers. You’ll see it performs about the same as other browsers, but just comes with a higher base cost.
In general: people, please don’t base your browser choice on a handful of benchmarks a guy has executed without actually knowing what he’s doing. Use the browser you like best for its user interaction. Most of the speed difference will probably be negligible in daily usage anyway. You can use them to get to know new browsers and give something else a try, but don’t jump on conclusions based on this badly written story.
Im waiting for new test. Which browser have the best data compresion
I have 3 browsers I use on mobile. Firefox (rarely), Opera(mainly to read news than browsing. My main browser is Sleipnir. I recommend to everybody.
Thanks for the tip. Sleipnir actually looks pretty awesome. CNET has a 5/5 rating!
No problem. Sleipnir is especially good for large phones as its gestures and the way it handles tabs make one-handed browsing easy.
Boat. And it’s not even close. I used to be a huge Dolphin fan, but not after I found Boat. It fared well in these tests also.
+ it has floating browser option! :))
open source FTW!
it’s so sad that everyone forgot the AOSP browser.
it’s the best i have used. very battery friendly.
A lot of times the synthetic specs are less noticeable in actual use than other considerations. If navigation is clumsy or it hogs resources, what’s a few milliseconds? I’m using Dolphin as default because it can run completely from the microSD, including the cache, and cleans itself up on exit. But Dolphin fails on some sites, for which Opera Mini works, though with more resources.
I use dolphin as I can set a homepage and sort bookmarks into folders (something which chrome and Firefox lack). Dolphin has got many other features but it’s failings for me are it’s inadequate copy/paste, poor text imput (in chat boxes, some words get stuck together when they hit the far right part of the box) and the fragmented releases at the Google play store (unlike most apps, Dolphin has a completely seperate app for Japan, with the English language version only able to be accessed via a web link).
There is an amazing browser called Octane Browser in Google Play. It has super high ratings and quite honestly (I’m using it right now), I have never seen such a fast browser as this!
I’ll stay with Dolphin. It supports LastPass addon and has the best UI (tab bar, speed dial).
Why didn’t you test dolphin with the Dolphin Jetpack added to it?
The plain jane one that came with your phone. No, not Chrome. The one that just says “Internet”. And yes I know it doesn’t exist anymore, past Jellybean on Nexus devices.
Well said buddy, “Internet” is the fastes, no doubt.
Well said buddy, “Internet” is the best.
It’s also the most stable one.
The standard internet browser on my galaxy is very nice to use…wonder how it stacks up…I use chrome for all the shared tabs and bookmarks, but do internet searches on my standard browser!
somewhere in the comments people were talking about spying and privacy.
please do a test on that as well, as it is nice to have a fast, stable, low memory browser, but one that is secure is just as important. guess one can sort of use BitDefender’s Clueful and network traffic tracking apps to determine that as well, but professional input from you guys would be great. you know some people that can do this better than we mere mortal consumers can.
Speed is not the primary reason for my every day browser selection. First and foremost, for me, is readability and image clarity. That is why, after extensive testing of the best rated browsers included in this article, I consistently choose the stock Android browser (currently 4.3) for my Samsung Galaxy S3-4.3. Sometimes, Chrome loads and runs faster (sometimes not) but it’s always been a disappointment when it comes to text-wrapping particularly with text enlargement and page zooming. Chrome would be my standard browser IF it had the text sizing/wrapping settings that are basic features of the stock Android browser. My second (or third) browser preference would be Firefox, but as is pointed out in this article (and in just about every browser review), Firefox is a ram memory hog–an unnecessary flaw, in my opinion (it always was my preferred desktop browser, though it seems to me that its developers forgot or for reasons that I cannot understand left the ‘fat’ of the desktop version in the mobile version). As a retired documentation and occasional programming consultant, that longstanding weakness in Firefox could be fixed at any time and, again in my opinion, could/should have been fixed a long time ago. Lastly, I do like Puffin (still have the purchased mobile app), but use it infrequently for the very reasons clearly pointed out in this review article.
I think this is a thorough review of mobile browsers, and thanks for a great job.
For those that want to compare,On IPhone 5s Safari
The Sunspider is 418 and Browsermark is 3764. The peacekeeper is a 1734
Also the Puffin browser is fast and available cross platform but previous commentators are correct in that it is cloud based.
My opinion u should remove puffin from than test coz puffin depends all on the connection
technically not using phone hardware but using server browsing that means u are browsing from another pc (with complete different hardware ) but this will expose ur sensitive data like mails. passwords. etc
I prefer Firefox. The fact that I can sync tabs between my home PC and my mobile is a huge plus. It has a Quit button (via PlugIn) and seems fast enough on my device.
Puffin boots jslinux in 6.7 seconds on my 1.5Ghz A7 Dual-core Moto RazrHD. That’s faster than Google Chrome boots it on my Ivy Bridge I5 2.5Ghz laptop. :-O
i have used all browser and you havent test opera classic and opera mini , they can make the difference beacuase they are very fast and opera classic can adjust the text and the deskpot mode is amazing . good article
Opera.. The Best browser.. I just love it.. :-)
Puffin is the Best. You can still play flash using Puffin, like watching online movies. Unlike in Dolphin you still have to install adobe flash to make it work. The rest are useless anyways even chrome especially on watching online movies using Kitkat.
I use Puffin as my main browser on my Ipad mini RT. Happy to the app in apple store. I wanted a browser that has built in Adobe Flash. I can honestly say it is much master then the Safari browser that comes on all IOS devices.
I use Maxthon. Love it to the core. Its full of surprises and its fast. Also I trust that it is safe. Privacy is a major concern. That’s the reason I don’t use a certain browser. And guys you can actually bypass security in college with Maxthon :) I used to video chat with my gf using Maxthon, cos Chrome & FF couldn’t get past the security of her college. How many browsers can claim to do that? :D
The comments are forcing me to re-consider having puffin on my phone. I’m gonna go for maxthon or firefox next.
Don’t forget that Dolphin is the only one that shows flash on kitkat!
Chrome is best of you are using it for a long time on your PC, just syncs so easily, but it needs a native page saving feature like the one in Stock Browser, but for me, Chrome is Best!!!
I always used dolphin but pinch zoom doesn’t work on my moto x. I switched to boat. It has everything I liked about dolphin and pinch zoom works. I’m not going back to dolphin.
what about google Chrome Beta? The beta has a benchmark slightly higher than the stable version of chrome? It works better and is a tad faster.
Puffin browser is the fastest of all. I did the speed test with puffin , chrome , uc web and dolphin browser . Though the downloading is slower in puffin compared to uc web .