4 Of The Fastest Tablet-Optimized Browsers You’ve Never Heard Of [Android]

robot featured1   4 Of The Fastest Tablet Optimized Browsers Youve Never Heard Of [Android]Android tablet browsers, generally speaking, are not that great. Most of the big four browsers suffer from poorly sized buttons and sluggish performance. The tablet-optimized alternatives mentioned in this article, which you may not know about, provide improved performance and usability over the so-called “mainstream” browsers, Dolphin, Opera, Chrome and Firefox.

In this article I analyze four dedicated tablet browsers, Puffin, Lightning, UC and Maxthon using Matt’s methodology. Essentially, we look at each browser on the basis of their benchmarked performance, permissions and bloat. Additionally, in order to gauge real world performance, I tested MakeUseOf’s load speeds for each browser.

The Contenders

  • Puffin: Puffin claims superlative speed, achieved through “proprietary” cloud computing and JavaScript rendering technology. It also purports to have the fastest JavaScript benchmark scores out of all browsers. Puffin pre-processes the websites that you visit on its own servers, before sending it back to you in an easier to load form. Theoretically, this method should increase browsing speeds.
  • Lightning: Lightning was developed by an XDA developer to compensate for the lack of lightweight, tablet-optimized browsers available. It functions similarly to Naked Browser in that it strips away all the browser bloat. It renders using the WebKit engine inside of the Android operating system, which saves on its total installed size.
  • UC Browser HD: UC claims to be the fastest running browser on the Internet. It offers a number of novel features, such as the ability to load a light version of a webpage. It can also preload the next page on a multipage site, improving load times.
  • Maxthon HD: Maxthon browser uses a “cloud engine”, meaning it offloads a great deal of activity to its own servers. Additionally, it syncs users’ data across devices. To read more about Maxthon, check out Jessica’s great review of it.

Benchmarks

I used the following benchmarks on each browser – SunSpider, BrowserMark and Peacekeeper. For the curious, SunSpider times how long each browser takes to render JavaScript – the lower the milliseconds, the better. Browsermark and Peacekeeper run a battery of tests, the higher the score, the better. To round out the synthetic tests, I’ve also timed how long it takes each browser to load MakeUseOf.

I realize that my methods lack scientific precision, so take the results with a grain of salt. Also, if you have not already read it, Matt did a fantastic speed trial for all the major Android browsers. His procedures were stolen borrowed to produce the results below. For the curious, the tests ran on a Transformer TF700 Infinity.

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SunSpider

SunSpider is the Gold Standard of mobile browser benchmarks. The results represent only JavaScript rendering. The lower the score, the better.

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Puffin blew away the competition, scoring 317.6ms. It was followed by UC, then Maxton and finally Lightning. However, keep in mind that these are synthetic benchmarks. They’re only a model of reality.

BrowserMark

BrowserMark runs a battery of tests, unlike SunSpider, which only gauges performances on JavaScript.

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Puffin, again, absolutely crushed the other three browsers.

PeaceKeeper

Like BrowerMark, PeaceKeeper runs a battery of synthetic tests on each browser. It focuses on HTML5 performance, which is probably the most important web technology aside from JavaScript.

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Puffin absolutely destroys the competition on PeaceKeeper. It’s not even close. However, it’s worth noting that both Maxthon and UC were appreciably ahead of Lightning. It looks a lot more even than the results show, primarily because Puffin performed so well.

MakeUseOf.com Run

MUO runs a great deal of JavaScript, so in theory Puffin should have loaded the fastest. It’s important to note that UC and Maxthon both blocked the JavaScript ads that showed up on MakeUseOf.com’s site. This probably contributed to the faster load times.

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Out of the bunch, it’s clear that Puffin did the absolute worst. These unexpected numbers may have been caused by my horribly small sample size, or the fact that UC and Maxthon didn’t load any of MUO’s ads.

Permissions & Bloat Analysis

Permissions: An analysis of each browser’s requested permissions failed to reveal any potentially outrageous element. No browser asked for permissions outside of its scope of operation. The most crucial of permissions, READ_CONTACTS, isn’t requested by any of the apps. The READ_CONTACTS permission remains the most important for Android – apps can request access to both your email address and your friends’ addresses. For me, it’s a deal-breaker if it shows up in any permissions request.

Bloat Analysis: All four browsers were relatively bloat free. Both UC and Puffin lacks startup receivers, meaning there no triggers led to the apps starting up, without your knowledge. Maxthon has two relatively trivial startup receivers.

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Out of the four browsers, Lightning possesses the slimmest imprint. Its tiny downloaded size and lack of autostart entries make it an ideal browser when your tablet lacks an abundance of flash memory or RAM. Also, its overall performance, while far below Puffin, isn’t appreciably less than Maxthon and UC.

Conclusion

I’d like to conclude that Puffin came out the winner on the basis of its dominating performance in the synthetic tests. Its scores did not simply win, rather, they were multiples better than the competition. Unfortunately, on the all-important “real-world” test, Puffin came out sluggishly behind, taking twice as long as Maxthon, the fastest browser for loading MakeUseOf.

After using each browser for ten minutes each, my overall impression is that Puffin and Maxthon feel the fastest of the bunch. My guess is Puffin simply has issues rendering a particular element within the MakeUseOf site. Or it could be that Maxthon and UC loaded faster because they failed to deal with any of the site’s ads.

Ultimately, my favorite browser is indeed Puffin. It’s relatively lightweight, light on permissions and provides one of the fastest experiences out of all the browsers around. On the downside, the free version is trial only, although the paid version is well worth it.

Image Credits: Pregnant Shadow via MorgueFile.com, Robot via MorgueFile.com

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10 Comments -

0 votes

Rudi Pittman

Why was naked browser not included in this list? (also created by an xda user)

0 votes

Kannon Yamada

You’re right, Naked does have a tablet optimized mode.

I wrote a stand-alone review for Naked Browser just a short while ago, though. And I ran it through Sunspider, BrowserMark and Peacekeeper. I did single score comparisons for Naked.

Naked scored 1180 on Sunspider, which is about the same as the other browsers. On PK it scored 565, which placed it right in the middle of the pack. For BM it scored 1654, again right in the middle. Keep in mind these are single tests, though, so there’s plenty of room for error.

0 votes
0 votes

Pax

Talk about plot twists! I was pulling at the leash and excitedly ready to download Puffin after reading the first three tests. So sad it ended on a couple of sour notes (MUO Test and Free vs Paid version).

Good, objective review touching on the key elements. For now, I think I’ll stick with the browsers I already have (Android, Opera (my default) and Naked Browser (testing)).

0 votes

Kannon Yamada

Thanks for the compliment!

Honesty, I can’t figure it out. Puffin really does feel faster, though. It just choked on MUO for some reason. Ideally, I should be doing testing at all hours of the day, since internet traffic may contribute to slower load times.

My personal favorite browser remains Naked Browser, however.

0 votes

Harshit Jain

It would have been better if you posted the screenshots as well.

0 votes

Darren Shipp

I agree and I use Puffin and Maxthon only I have tried all the rest and these two are the best

0 votes

Garris Rago

A really good article. I’ve got an android and will look at getting one of these browsers for it. One night I wanted to watch a movie online on my ipad so I just looked for what I can get, and have been using puffin free for any flash things on it since (not often) and chrome for everything else.

0 votes

Mar Viv

I love puffin, I have been using it for about a year and a half or so, and I love it.. I love the fact that it also lets you play flash video. That was one of the reasons why I purchased it.

0 votes

Rexis Aguilar

I’m gonna test Puffin since I dislike Silk! I also have Chrome and works way! Better than Silk… But I will check out Puffin and Naked browser as well… Thanks guys…