The Best Mini Browsers For Android

Anything “mini” seems to be so popular these days. We have mini cars (think Mini Cooper), mini animal breeds (think toy poodles and Chihuahuas), and even mini candies (think miniature Snickers, etc.) Did you know there is such a thing as mini Android browsers? You may have come across one of them in the Play Store and thought the same thing I did the first time I saw one: “What in the world is a mini browser and what would you use it for?”

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What Are Mini Browsers?

Basically, a mini browser, as denoted by the name, is a miniature version of a full-fledged browser. It takes up less space, uses less resources, and because of all that, will most likely run faster on your Android device. It is also clear that most mini browsers will run on older versions of the Android operating system.

Simply put, a mini browser is good to have if you have an older, slower Android device. This way, it would run better and faster and you’ll still be able to browse the web with ease. You no longer have to use the default Android browser that came with your device!

Opera Mini

The Opera web browser has been around for quite some time now and has arguably been one of the leanest, meanest out there. In many ways it was also setting the bar for the other browsers on the market. When I found out that there was an Android version of the Opera browser, I just had to check it out. Although it didn’t make it to being my default browser of choice, its certainly one of my favorites.

Opera Mini

The Opera Mini browser is just what it sounds like: a mini version of the great Opera browser with Opera Link support, multiple tabs, and Opera’s signature data-compressing abilities amongst other features. Since the full browser comes weighing in at 8.5 MB and the mini version is under 1 MB, you can clearly see the size benefits.

Dolphin Browser Mini

Dolphin really made a splash in the Android community when it took on and surpassed the stock browser. Even today with features such as gestures, sonar and add-on support, Dolphin is still improving and making waves.

Dolphin Mini

Dolphin Mini

Imagine the disbelief people would have when they find out that Dolphin’s developers figured out how to pack much of what makes their browser great into a tiny package with just a sliver of a footprint! Yes, the mini version slices off close to 4MBs making it fit nicely on smaller devices.

Boat Browser Mini

Boat browser is not as well known as some of the other Android browser replacements in the Play Store. However, It does have a few things going for it, such as flash support — although I was not successful in getting flash to work on my Nexus 7.

Boat Mini

Boat Mini

Even the mini version has many of the standard capabilities the other browsers have. It also supports gestures, much the same way Dolphin does, but you can use them without having to tap to a special screen to use them.

Are Mini Browsers Still Relevant?

In this day and age of superphones being released to the market every couple of months, is there really a point to these mini browsers anymore? Our smartphones can do everything from making phone calls to walking the family dog! So are mini browsers a step back? Probably, for some people. For others though, they open up new doors.

Take for instance the rise of affordable prepaid plans in the U.S. that allow consumers to be free from 2 year contracts. However, with no subsidies, you often have to pay the full price for the phones. The answer to that is smaller, more affordable Android devices that don’t run the latest Android versions and lack the newest processor speeds. When you opt to go this route, you sure deserve a good, small and fast alternative to stock browsers, don’t you?

So whether you’re sporting an older Android handset model that you just don’t want to give up quite yet, or you’re on a month to month phone plan with a cheaper low-end device, give these mini browsers a try. They surely are are better than the stock browser you’re using now.

  • Mark LaFlamme

    I use Dolphin, but I still maintain that the most overlooked browser of them all is Boat. It’s a beauty, both the full version and the mini. I don’t tend to use my browser a lot for some reason. If I did, I’d probably switch back to Boat. Really sleek.

  • Murshid

    I stumbled apon a newby, UC browser. theres a full and tablet HD and mini version. I actually use the HD one on my tablet. Definitly worth a look as well.

    • Rita El Khoury

      Actually that’s a very timely comment Murshid. I actually had heard of UC Browser too, and asked Tim to check it out for this roundup. He did and found the Mini version to be lacking compared to the 3 alternatives here. However, he was pretty impressed by the HD version and he’ll probably review it later.

      • timmyjohnboy

        Still putting it though the proverbial ringers but I’m still planing on reviewing it soon!

  • Dan

    I never use the stock browser on any system, when I get a new system I use their browser only once to download Firefox or chrome.

  • edyro

    i use opera mini on htc one x not for being light but for slow network signal situations. Is the only browser i know to be able to deliver the informations i need when i am in 2g networks an it does it fast. That is because it dispalys just text and some precompressed jpgs. Also light in data traffic.

  • Jeff

    I used to use Opera mini on my POS first Android smartphone a few years back. It was prepaid, and it was terribly slow. Mini browsers are also good for slow connections (like what I had with Boost Mobile), or those who simply have extremely limited data plans or have already hit their cap and are being throttled. If I recall correctly, they hit a server first, which compresses the sites down to take up as little of your precious bandwidth as possible. Pictures look terrible with all of the compression artifact, but sites load reasonably quick even on edge speeds.

  • Albin

    Being one of those pay/go users with an older phone, I spent today off and on (no interesting NFL games) looking for something to improve on the stock browser and ended up with Dolphin Mini, though haven’t yet tried Boat. The most important thing was the stock browser clogs up my limited internal storage with its cache, while Dolphin Mini provides cache to microSD. With a fast Class 10, big 16GB microSD card, anything I can put on it goes on it.

    It’s quickly getting to the point that even cheap pay/go phones will have enough storage to obviate this problem. I probably won’t care for my next phone, but for now the ability to move both browser and cache to microSD is the killer for me.