As InformationWeek recently reported, mobile web browsing is a market with a substantial amount of upward growth potential.  More and more mobile phone customers are swapping their ‘dumb’ phones for smartphones that feature mobile web browsers and other data-centric applications. There are many mobile web browsers […]

As InformationWeek recently reported, mobile web browsing is a market with a substantial amount of upward growth potential.  More and more mobile phone customers are swapping their ‘dumb’ phones for smartphones that feature mobile web browsers and other data-centric applications.

There are many mobile web browsers featured on various smartphones, but which are worth the most attention?

Let our round-up give provide you guidance.

WebKit based browsers:

WebkitWebKit is an open source application framework that was originally taken from Konqueror browser’s code base.  Many popular web desktop browsers today are based on WebKit technology including Apple’s Safari, OmniWeb, Shiira, and others.  Additionally, many mobile browsers are also based on WebKit including Nokia Series 60 browser and Google’s Android platform.  WebKit is known for being a W3C standards based and exceptionally fast browser.  In recent months, development on WebKit has been focused on making WebKit increasingly faster in rendering webpages.

Opera Mini

Opera has long been a force to contend with in the desktop browser market.  Opera is known for delivering a compact, feature rich browser that is quick and responsive.  Their mobile browser is a Java based application, meaning it can run on a wide array of mobile phone platforms.  Opera Mini boasts a full web experience, an included RSS reader, and synchronization with your desktop computer via their Opera Link application.

Opera Mini 4 has made strides to take on Apple’s Safari browser and its sexy user interface.  The mobile application allows you to view pages in landscape mode, offers native BlackBerry menus on BlackBerry devices, and enhances web content for small screens.  Opera Mini makes it known they support CSS to further situate their browser offering as a natural extension for web content to the mobile screen.  Opera Mini 4 requires a download from their Opera Mini homepage.

Apple’s Safari Browser

Safari iconApple has made a huge splash in the mobile world with the introduction of the iPhone. Being able to harness the iPhone’s revolutionary touch interface, Safari has redefined the users perspective of the mobile web.  Apple’s Safari is different than many mobile browsers in that it doesn’t try to reformat web content for the mobile screen.  Instead, Safari renders the entire webpage and allows users to zoom in using a very intelligent and slick double-tap motion.  Safari also supports AJAX, bringing native functionality to Gmail, Google Reader, and other AJAX-intensive applications.

Because of the iPhone’s market dominance, many mobile services and websites have written custom websites to take advantage of the iPhone’s touch interface and capabilities.  Additionally, Safari allows tabbed browsing, a popular feature among users.  Like Opera Mini, the iPhone features a landscape view for wide-screen viewing of websites.

Mozilla.org’s Minimo Browser

MinimoThe Mozilla Foundation, the organization behind the wildly popular Firefox desktop browser, is bringing a mobile web browser to market.  Hoping to capitalize on the adoption of Firefox, Minimo is currently in beta at version 0.2.  Currently only running on Windows Mobile 5.0, Minimo runs on Mozilla technology and features:

  • support for today’s web standards (javascript and AJAX)
  • tabbed browsing (like Safari)
  • RSS Reader
  • Social bookmarking via Del.icio.us
  • Widget and Extension support

Minimo is being marketed as an alternative to the native browser that Windows Mobile includes, similar to Opera Mini.  While fans of Firefox will likely install Minimo to try it out, the secondary browser faces an adoption challenge.  Many proponents of Firefox advertise the browsers’ support of extensions. Minimo’s support of extensions will be a driving force for those who wish to have this functionality.

As you can see, the mobile web market has plenty of competitors, ensuring competition that will give users a continued attractive mobile experience.

Which mobile web browser do you use?  What features do you most enjoy…please chime in below in the comments.

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  1. Opera Mini is the true leader here. I won’t buy a phone now unless it can run it.
    If I were Mr Jobs I’d buy Opera a close it down as their browser is the iphone killer for me.

  2. Steve ‘Chippy’ Paine Thursday, April 17, 2008

    Just wanted to highlight that Firefox 3, a modified desktop version, will appear on mobile internet devices based on Intel’s Moblin/Atom soon. Many of these devices will be 3G/voice enabled too and could offer mobile web workers are real desktop-grade mobile option. Basically, you’ll be getting the full browser in an E90/Advantage/Universal type form factor and as time goes on, these will merge right into the smartphone market.

    Its an emerging area but one for mobile internet users to really watch carefully in 2008.

    Nice overview of the browser options there though i’d add NetFront, Silverlight, Opera Mobile and Skyfire as options to think about.


  3. Deepfish has been really great to me. I’ve used it for about a year now. I think it is very fluid and lightyears better than IE mobile on a Windows Mobile phone.



  4. Minimo Still Alive? [Updated: Nope] » Solo Technology Thursday, April 17, 2008

    [...] anyone happen to know if the Minimo project is still going? I saw it mentioned in a post over at Web Worker Daily this morning and decided to go check it out. Somehow this one slipped under my [...]

  5. Psst, Buddy! Need a Mobile Browser? – GigaOM Thursday, April 17, 2008

    [...] April 17, 2008 at 7:34 AM PT Comments (0) More smartphones means more mobile browsers, and Web Worker Daily has a rundown on several, including the latest effort from Mozilla, the guys behind the wildly popular Firefox [...]

  6. Nima Negahban Thursday, April 17, 2008

    “wildly popular Firefox desktop broser”

    should read “browser”.

    also its worth mentioning that ‘Apple Safari’ is based off of the Webkit engine.

  7. Nima Negahban Thursday, April 17, 2008

    oh nm u do mention that, my fault.

  8. The most powerful mobile browser I’ve seen so far is Skyfire. It will render practically anything, any flash, javascript, you name it. I’m in the beta now, and it’s not without it’s flaws (can’t edit multiple lines of text, can’t copy and paste, etc), but the horsepower is impressive.

  9. Eric S. Mueller Thursday, April 17, 2008

    Of all the mobile browsers I’ve tried over the years, by the far best is Safari on the iPhone/iPod Touch. Windows Mobile does not have much to choose from at all. Opera Mobile is the best I’ve tried so far (can’t find a JVM for WM5, so the free Opera Mini isn’t an option.)

    Minimo is promising, but development is painfully slow. Minimo .2 is slow and unstable, and sucks up just about all available memory to run. I would love to see some development on Minimo, which has been stalled at .2 for close to a year now.

  10. Sebastian Moser Thursday, April 17, 2008

    I’m sorry but this is kind of lame. You missed a lot here.

    1. Mozilla’s Minimo is NOT the mobile browser Mozilla is working on. They said that over and over again. They stopped working on it, it was an experiment on how things could work.
    The mobile browser Mozilla’s working on is called “Mozilla Fennec”.

    2. There are at least two projects I know of that try to get Webkit to the browser:

    If you’re doing an overview of mobile browsers, do your homework. Articles like this are something I’d expect from Techcrunch, not GigaOm.

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