So you’ve all heard of Opera Mobile and Skyfire. Opera tends to be the “most reliable” of the third-party mobile web browsers available for most smartphones today, whereas Skyfire comes with coveted Flash support for silky smooth YouTube playback.
If you’ve had no joy with either of those, or simply love to have your phone loaded with every possible browser available then you may want to try Bolt, yet another mobile web browser for your Blackberry, Symbian or other Java-friendly handset.
Delivering a familiar dose of “real web on your phone” much like Opera and Skyfire, Bolt has been developed with speed in mind. The developers have strived to reduce loading and rendering times, whilst at the same time managing to include video support and a decent home screen.
If you already want it, then head over toon your mobile device now. You will be able to download a one-for-all Java archive as well as a dedicated Blackberry version of the application.
If you’re still not convinced, then take a look at what Bolt offers. Utilising Flash and HTML5, YouTube is fully useable, despite a slightly small video window to peer at. You are given the option to run Bolt’s in-built video configuration the first time you try and watch anything, meaning there’s no fiddly set-up. As an aside, if you’ve recently configured Bolt for video and are having issues then restarting the browser should sort it out.
Video quality is lacking, especially compared to Skyfire (which fully implements Flash) but it beats Opera Mobile which can’t do video at all. It’s not the richest of YouTube experiences, but if you have an older and less-fancy Blackberry it might be as good as it gets.
Then there’s the speed. On my Sony Ericsson Satio running the Symbian S60v5 OS, I noticed it was considerably faster to render pages than Skyfire, with a nicer UI to boot. The start page is quick and responsive, and beneath the address bar and search field the page is split into three sections covering History, Favourites and Feeds.
History is grouped by day, making it that little bit easier to find what you’re looking for. Bundled favourites include YouTube, MySpace and CNN which should give you a pretty good idea of what the developers think their creation is capable of. You can add favourites and feeds using the context menu, though on a touch-screen device this can be fiddly.
Bolt also includes the ability to save webpages for offline viewing when your Wi-Fi or mobile signal disappears, which is nice.
One feature that makes Bolt slightly different to other mobile web browsers is the ability to install what it simply describes as “web-apps”. The browser attempts to integrate services such as YouTube into a separate tab, specifically engineered to provide you with a cut-down mobile version of the web-page.
At the moment it feels like somewhat of an after-thought, with YouTube’s main site working better than the dedicated web-app. There is certainly potential here however, as the developers are already keen to advertise Bolt’s compatibility with intensive services like Google Documents and the (oh-so-essential) Mafia Wars Facebook application. Web apps are installed via an online gallery so you won’t need to update the browser itself to add new apps.
Those of you glued to Opera Mobile, Safari or Skyfire might not raise an eyebrow, but Bolt is the five-years-in-the-making application that may just breathe life into your older Blackberry or basic Java phone. It’s not as pretty as Opera, and not as video-friendly as Skyfire but Bolt gets the job done and provides yet another fully-usable alternative to those horrendous in-built browsers.