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Best Android browser 2011: which should you use?

Firefox 4 for android

Compatibility with Mozilla's cross-platform bookmark, history and password syncing tools makes this the ideal choice for people who haven't embraced the app world and demand an advanced browser on their mobiles.

Sadly there's no Flash Player support in Firefox 4 for Android at the moment, but if you only crave speed and desktop-like features rather than video clips of fat people dancing, it's a good alternative.

TechRadar home page load time: 25 secs

SunSpider test total time: 3071ms

Webkit 2.2

Otherwise known as The Standard One Google Puts On The Phone. The default Android browser's strength is its compatibility with Adobe's Flash Player - as long as you're on Android 2.2 or above and have a phone deemed powerful enough to run it.

WebKit

The number of settings to play with has increased with each Android update, with the browser now featuring the ability to turn off images, JavaScript or Flash to save data, plus password and form data management options to help stay secure. Sadly there are no bookmark sync or management options, which seems odd as that's one area where Google's Chrome desktop browser excels.

It really is a superbly simple tool - plus it was the second fastest at loading the TechRadar home page, a single second slower than the blistering Opera.

TechRadar home page load time: 18 secs

SunSpider test total time: 5303ms

Miren Browser 1.2

The Chinese-made Miren Browser is an odd little wildcard, offering a clean, Apple-inspired design that's focused around a desktop-like tab system. It has some crazy options to play with, like its own in-built brightness setting slider, volume button page scrolling and a simple gesture navigation system.

Miren browser

Miren was the slowest in the SunSpider test scores and not the best at manipulating pages via multi-touch zooming, but it has a nice floating icon system that puts back and stop/reload over the corners of the pages, freeing up extra screen space. It's a quirky one for the outsiders who don't play by the rules.

TechRadar home page load time: 25 secs

SunSpider test total time: 5416ms

The best Android browser is...

For high-powered phones, the Opera Mobile browser is by far the fastest at manipulating pages. It's so comically fast at scrolling and zooming that you start doing it for fun.

If you're running a tablet, it's best sticking with the Android standard Webkit option for now. None of these browsers feature specific tablet optimisations, so don't bother yourself with the hassle of switching sides just yet.

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