Samsung is generally considered the measuring stick in the Android space, so the tides have turned.
Samsung made some waves in the web space recently by rolling out its beta mobile browser to all Android phones, rather than just Samsung, and a select few other phones. Believe it or not, “non-Samsung phones” represents a pretty large number of phones, contrary to what the people who ride my train represent. So, if you’re in the market for a web browser, Samsung’s just might be the browser for you. But should you switch to it? That’s the question we’re here to answer.
The best way to answer that question it to pit it against its stiffest competition – Chrome. Google Chrome is the go-to browser for over half of the Android phones out there. So, if you’re going to compete in this space, Chrome is your measuring stick. This is interesting, because Samsung finds itself in a weird position. Samsung is generally considered the measuring stick in the Android space, so the tides have turned. So, should you uninstall Chrome and start feasting on the Samsung browser teat?
To begin, Samsung wins in general UI. The company is doing things the smart way by putting most of its UI on the bottom of the browser – you know – where your finger/thumb is. At the risk of reigniting my Windows Phone fandom, that is UI done right. The hamburger menu button is still at the top of the screen, but your normal back, forward, home, etc. buttons are all at the bottom. Plus, Samsung adds a Quick menu which is used to access some other functions with a couple of taps. This quick menu floats, much like Facebook’s chat heads on either the left or the right side. It is also optional.
Keeping your privates private
There is a virtual buffet of ad blocking apps...
Privacy/security/ad blocking are all winners for Samsung’s browser as well. Samsung’s browser does support “Secret mode” a.k.a. incognito (read: porn) tabs which is cool. You can also password protect Secret Mode. Add to that, DuckDuckGo is an option for default searching in the app. If you’re not familiar with DuckDuckGo, it’s a search engine that emphasizes privacy, and doesn’t feed you personalized ads based on searches. Basically, it’s the anti-Google search engine.
Plus, Samsung’s browser makes it simple to include ad blocking to your web browsing experience. There is a virtual buffet of ad blocking apps linked from within the extensions section of settings. Personally, I never use ad blockers – I know how my bills get paid after all, but I know a lot of our readers out there do, so this might be a big deal.
Another upside to the Samsung browser comes when you’re watching embedded videos. When you come across an embedded video, Samsung Internet Browser has a video assistant that allows you to quickly go full screen, or even play the video in a pop-out player. I don’t think I need to tell you how rough it can be dealing with embedded videos in mobile Chrome. But if you find yourself visiting websites with embedded videos – and I think you do – then this can also be a handy feature.
Now, I don’t want to seem like I’m heaping an undue amount of praise on Samsung’s browser. It doesn’t win in every category after all. You’re going to find much of Chrome to be familiar and that fact alone can’t be understated. Some gestures that you can use to switch between tabs in the Samsung browser can be hard to learn. And the UI across the top of Chrome is very slick itself. Google also does theoretically use less data for typical surfing. Chrome’s ability to transfer information from one browser to the next is a benefit I enjoy heartily.
But overall, Samsung is making a very, very strong case to become the default web browser for your Android devices. The fact that this is a beta also suggests that there are improvements to come. With an already pretty solid foundation, Samsung is in really great shape to take over the mobile browser market, much like it has done in the smartphone world. There are two major obstacles in Samsung’s way – one under Samsung’s control, and one that isn’t.
...please Samsung, name this browser...
First, Samsung needs to gather mind share. In that respect, well, I guess I’m helping out. Samsung needs to get its name out there to let people know this browser is out there, and objectively better than Chrome in many ways. Perhaps the Samsung advertising juggernaut can set its sights on Samsung’s Internet browser to get its name out there. And speaking of names, please Samsung, name this browser. Because, now we run into the other problem Samsung is facing.
Samsung Internet is still a third-party web browser. That is a significant hurdle to clear in and of itself. Samsung Internet only ships as the default browser on Samsung’s phones. Other phones use Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and others. Getting users to install a new browser might be a tall order. That circles back to the marketing, I suppose. But if Samsung is planning on getting non-Samsung users to install this browser instead of the default, it will have to be head and shoulders above the rest. After less than 24 hours on my phone, I’m not 100% sure it’s there, but it’s pretty close.
But what do you think? Have you tried the Samsung browser yet? Is there a new browser in your future, or is Chrome still your browser of choice? Sound off in the comments.