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Browsers on Android can have different rendering engines, so some browsers can be faster than others. We benchmarked the popular Android browsers to figure out which are fastest and which are slowest.

What We Measured (and What We Didn’t)

To try to give you an unbiased benchmark, we ran Rightware’s Browsermark here. This tool lets us compare how different browsers perform with actual hard data and not subjective opinions like “this browser seemed to scroll more smoothly.” Browsermark measures JavaScript performance like most browser benchmarks, but it also loads pages, scrolls around, renders 3D graphics, and stresses the browser in other ways.

These benchmarks were performed on a Nexus 4 Google Nexus 4 Review and Giveaway Google Nexus 4 Review and Giveaway Even though I am an iPhone user and have been since the first generation iPhone was announced by the late Steve Jobs back in 2007, I've tried to keep an open mind about viable alternatives.... Read More running Google’s official build of Android 4.2.2. The numerical scores here are useful only in comparison to each other — a higher score is better. The version numbers we provide are the same versions displayed in Browsermark.

Chrome

Tested: Mobile Chrome 34 with Webkit 537

Result: 884

Chrome is the default browser on new Android devices. We might expect it to be speedy on Android, as it is on the desktop. It’s the baseline here because you’re probably already using it. Chrome has struggled with performance and was probably introduced as the default browser too early, but it’s improved a lot. Scrolling performance has improved quite a bit in the last year.

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browsermark-chrome-for-android[4]

Android’s Stock Browser

Tested: Mobile Google Chrome 30 with Webkit 537

Result: 432

Most Android phones and tablets don’t include the default — or “stock” — browser anymore, so we had to install it with the AOSP Browser Installer app, which requires root access How to Easily Root, Unroot and Unlock any Nexus Device How to Easily Root, Unroot and Unlock any Nexus Device The great thing about the Nexus devices like the Nexus 4 and Nexus 10 is that they're easily upgradable, they're free of any bloatware provided by vendors and carriers, and they're made to be tinkered... Read More . This app installs the Browser app included with the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) code on devices that don’t come with it.

Android’s stock browser was widely considered to perform better than Chrome before Chrome was released. It’s clear that Chrome has now caught up and surpassed it. This browser’s rendering engine is clearly outdated.

browsermark-stock-android-browser

Firefox

Tested: Firefox for Mobile 29 with Gecko 29

Result: 644

Unsurprisingly, Firefox performed noticeably slower than Chrom Android Firefox Now Faster With Fantastic New Features [Updates] Android Firefox Now Faster With Fantastic New Features [Updates] If you were one of the users frustrated by the problems with the Firefox app on Android when it first launched, then you are in luck. Mozilla just issued a massive update that overhauls every... Read More e and other WebKit-based browsers. Firefox uses its own Gecko rendering engine, and Firefox on Android was quite slow when it was first introduced. It’s improved by leaps and bounds, but still falls noticably behind other Android browsers in performance.

browsermark-firefox-for-android[4]

Opera

Tested: Mobile Opera Next 21 with Webkit 537

Result: 867

Opera performed fairly similarly to Chrome. Chrome has a bit of an edge, but that may be within the margin of error. Opera and Chrome are both WebKit-based, and Opera is now even based on Chrome. However, there may still be some differences under the hood that affect performance here.

browsermark-opera-for-android

Dolphin (without Jetpack)

Tested: Mobile Google Chrome 30 with Webkit 537

Result: 465 (Not representative)

We had to run this test with “Dolphin Jetpack” disabled. This means that the test won’t be representative. With Jetpack enabled, the browser benchmark failed at a certain point and wouldn’t continue. We ran it several times in a row and encountered the same problem each time, but the test ran just fine the first time we tested with Jetpack disabled. Jetpack should help Dolphin perform faster — it makes Dolphin use its own rendering engine instead of the one built into Android — so Dolphin should be faster in real use than it performed in this test.

The slow performance and version number suggest Dolphin uses the stock browser’s rendering engine when you disable Jetpack. We wouldn’t be surprised if Dolphin performed similarly to Chrome or Opera with Jetpack enabled, as it would be using a modern WebKit engine.

browsermark-dolphin-without-jetpack[4]

And the Fastest Browser Is…

Google Chrome was the fastest browser we tested, but Opera wasn’t far behind. Firefox is noticeably behind, but it’s certainly usable. Dolphin may be competitive with the top browsers if you leave Jetpack enabled. The stock Android browser comes in last, so it’s time for you to upgrade if you’re still using that.

You may choose to use a “slower” browser because you like the interface or because it has features that let you work faster. For example, if you use Firefox on the desktop, Firefox for Android may be the “fastest” browser for you because it lets you work with your same bookmarks and open tabs. You may also prefer Firefox for Android because it supports extensions Unmissable Addons For Firefox On Your Android Device Unmissable Addons For Firefox On Your Android Device Firefox for Android has a trick up its sleeve: Add-ons. Just as Firefox offers a more powerful extension system than Chrome on the desktop, it beats Chrome for Android by supporting extensions. You can install... Read More , while most other Android browsers don’t.

Do you prefer a different browser, or does one of these browsers just not feel fast in real use even if it benchmarks well? Leave a comment and let us know!

Image Credit: Karlis Dambrans on Flickr

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