When Does WebKit Not Equal WebKit? On Mobile Devices!

webkit-logo_200x159I’m in agreement with James that WebKit is arguably the best basis for a mobile browser today. Apple, Google, and Palm have embraced it, while Research In Motion appears to have “bought” it for future BlackBerry builds. But why then does the browser on my iPhone 3GS offer such a different experience than the one on my Palm Pre? I’ve pointed out some flaws in the Pre’s browser — no scrolling indicator nor do hyperlink bookmarks work — but if they’re both WebKit-based, why the big variance?

QuirksMode answers the question about my two phones — and most every other WebKit browser out there. In a test comparison of 10 mobile browsers based on WebKit, they found that no two are alike. Since the code base is open sourced, there are bound to be various forks but the breadth of differences is staggering. Other summary results include:

  • The best WebKit available is Safari 4; the worst is S60v3.
  • The Android G1 and G2 WebKits score rather badly; it’s the worst mobile WebKit except for S60.
  • Regressions are fairly common: iPhone 3.1, Android G2, and S60v5 all (partially) dropped support for something their predecessors did support.
  • The closest relation of a desktop WebKit to a mobile WebKit is between Safari 3.0 and S60v5.

Bear in mind that “best” and “worst” were determined by an arbitrary point scale for this effort. Points were assigned for usage of standard functions, ACID scores and such. Speaking of ACID scores, the Palm Pre actually scored the worst — on a scale of 1 to 100, it earned a measly one! Have a look at the various tested function for each WebKit browser and see what works and what doesn’t.

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