There may be tens of thousands of native apps that offer awesome user interfaces and functionality, but none of them can match the experience of browsing the Internet without any restrictions. The number of browsers available for download in the Android Market is huge, with new ones launching frequently.
Each browser is unique, and pushes the limits of mobile browsing, taking it closer to the desktop counterparts. Dolphin is one of the notable browsers that is leading the mobile Internet revolution from the forefront.
Dolphin Browser is available in two different versions: Mini and HD. Dolphin Mini is ideal for older devices that run Android versions 1.6 and above. The HD version, on the other hand, was developed primarily to run on phones with more horse power running Android 2.0 and above.
Mini is available as a free download and the HD version will cost you $4.99. However, the HD version comes with a free trial period. After evaluating the app, you can buy the license separately from the Android Market.
Set Up: Dolphin HD
An End User License Agreement (EULA) shows up upon first launch so, if you have some free time, take a look at it before accepting the terms. Dolphin Browser employs a setup wizard to make your life easy. This setup wizard will help to customize the browser to your preferences.
Flash Plugin Support is the first option you will have to choose to optimize for better browsing experience. You are notified to take into account the page load speed and the sizable data transfer before making your decision. It is good to see that the app reasons why this option is offered in the first place. The recommended setting is On Demand and I suggest you choose that too.
Gesture Settings (explained later) follow next, and you can choose where to place the gesture toolbox. Then comes the Cache Storage option. You can either store the cache on your phone memory or on your memory card depending on the amount of storage available to you. You can also set how the volume rocker controls the browser — you can use it to switch between tabs or to scroll the page.
By the time you come to the User Agent Preference screen and the Other Settings page, you might get the feeling that you are wasting time choosing some not-so-awesome settings too. And then there is the nag screen that asks you to submit your email address for notifying of new updates and release. Thankfully, you can skip this step!
On first glance, Dolphin Browser looks like Google Chrome with the tab design and the placement of the new tab icon. The colors are a bit harsh on the eyes, but having the icons, tabs and the address bar on the larger side does make it easy for those with fat fingers and tiny screens.
Dolphin Browser is very responsive to inputs and the browsing experience is smooth. New tabs open up pretty fast and, depending on the screen real estate available, one or more of the tabs will be displayed in the foreground. To bring them all to the focus, just swipe across the screen.
When you open a new tab, it will show the list of recently closed tabs and the featured add-on (more later) available for download. The Pinch-to-Zoom and volume rocker controls worked like magic on the browser. I have always wondered why anyone would want to use the volume keys to supplement the browsing experience on a smartphone that supports multi touch — but without doubt it adds to the fun.
Gestures save you a lot of time on a touchscreen device. Dolphin Browser comes with a bunch of gestures built in to make the browsing experience a blast. Use the gesture button at the bottom left corner of the screen to activate them and start drawing on the screen to do a task. From the Gesture Settings screen, you can learn about the available gestures and the functions they perform. You can also edit a gesture to make it simpler for you to remember and use.
Add-ons enhance the core functionality of the browser, and you can pick and choose the ones you find useful. When you try to download an add-on, you are redirected to the Android Market to let you grab it. Once the download is complete, the add-on is installed automatically and you can start using it without having to restart the browser. Themes can be downloaded in the same way to spice things up.
Dolphin Browser Mini is a lightweight version of the browser designed to run up on Android 1.6 and up. With a light footprint, Mini aims to provide faster user experience for you on devices with less processing power and memory.
Just like the HD version, our journey begins with agreeing to the terms and conditions of the app. Then comes the setup wizard that helps customize the browser to your needs. Once the setup is complete, you can quickly start browsing, taking advantage of the Speed Dial option. Mini also supports gestures and multiple tabs.
Dolphin Browser offers a lot of customization options. Now, it’s always good to have options, but in this case we might have a bit too many. The Setup wizard is very helpful, but the developers could cut down a step or two. For example, how many users will be interested in choosing the user agent setting even before using the browser? A lot of people might not even know what that feature does in the first place. But both the Dolphin Browsers perform like champs, and are must-have apps for users who want to surf the web on older and newer Android handsets alike.