App Review: Dolphin Browser

Dolphin UIYears of surfing the web from Windows Mobile and Blackberry devices have left me pretty bummed about browsing on a handheld. Having recently upgraded to an HTC Hero, and I do mean upgrade, I see how sweet it can be. I have been using the stock browser and find it great. However, in my search to make my Hero better I came across Dolphin Browser. Needless to say it is next-level-good. A quick rundown of the main features reads a lot like a full desktop browser and its credentials. It has support for multi touch zooming, sharing links on various social services, great RSS subscription functions, and tabbed browsing. All of those features and many more are included in a tidy and easy to use interface.

dolphin shareThe social integration is one of my favorites. Using the stock browser I had to go back and forth between applications to get a link into the right place. The HTC Hero does have some native long press and share functions but they are all over and not where I am when I want to tweet a link or post toFacebook. At any rate it feels more tightly integrated using Dolphin.

Personally I think the lack of tabs in any browser should be illegal. Dolphin shines here versus the stock Hero browser. A minor gripe is that the tabs are little too big and take a way some dolphin tab hidescreen real estate, they can be set to auto hide luckily. It is very easy to initiate new tabs and Dolphin keeps it and other aspects of its operation intuitive. It does maintain a “window” view which looks similar to the stock visual bookmarks. Dolphin will sync with your Google bookmarks and has a pop up notification about adding pages RSS feeds to your Google Reader page–quite handy. It also includes an easy YouTube downloader. Most of the pop up notifications and integrations are toggles so you can set them how you like.

dolphin long press zoomPage navigation is as expected, making use of the back key on the handset, as well as containing several deeper options on the Menu key. There are loads of long press items as well. Other browsers have lots of hidden ways to get where you want to go, Dolphin puts these up front. It even has gesture support; personally I am not a fan of this on any browser, but it is there. A favorite of mine is the ability to hold the back key and get the option to really exit, nice for the folks squeezing juice from batteries or just wanting to know if it’s dead. More applications need this.

Face it; browsers are the primary interface to just about everything. Even many of the so called “apps” on the Android and Apple markets are just stripped down web browsers. With the right fit and finish you may not even need an application to get things done. Dolphin Browser gets very close to meeting this challenge. I highly recommend giving it a download and a trial run for a few days. I’ve found it a little painful to go back to the stock browser since trying it.

  • This App Was Tested Using: HTC Hero (CDMA) OS 1.5
  • Presentation: Easier than Opera Mobile, feels like Mozilla. Support for skins.
  • Value: A free alternative to stock browsers.
  • Stability/Resources: Over a week, I’ve had no force closes and it is quite snappy.
  • Bottom line: If you like speedy browsing, tabbed browsing, and social sharing you can’t go wrong.

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AndroidGuys
AndroidGuys 4639 posts

Founded on November 5, 2007, we've enjoyed bringing you the latest in Android news and rumors. Updated daily, we strive to deliver reviews, opinions, and updates on all things related to Android.

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30 Comments

  1. @TFJ4
    December 22, 17:03 Reply

    Dolphin Browser is sexy =)

  2. Raphaels
    December 22, 17:12 Reply

    And the latest version has the useful pinch to zoom (multi-touch), working like a charm on the Hero.
    The gestures are handy to open and close tabs, make browsing faster.

  3. colindean
    December 22, 17:26 Reply

    I just uninstalled it because I hated the size of the tabs. I didn't realize they could be hidden. Looks like I might have to reinstall.

  4. ExtremeT
    December 22, 17:27 Reply

    I've been using this for awhile and I love it. There's no way I could go back to the stock browser.

  5. Jim Lee
    December 22, 18:01 Reply

    Nice review Scott! I love the Dolphin browser too, and until I read your review, I didn’t know how to get it to exit without backing all the way out!! Haha Thanks!

  6. david
    December 22, 18:03 Reply

    I used it until I saw how much it filled up my SD card….not sure IF it tells ya or can be turned off, I refuse to use "hidden features" apps…poor customer focus really needs to better inform of RISKS….otherwise it was nice, however, not worth it IMHO…

  7. Chuck Falzone
    December 22, 18:21 Reply

    Nice review! Stock browser does have integrated sharing options, tho: Menu, More, Share Page.

  8. Jay
    December 22, 21:53 Reply

    I found this accidentally on the market. It is, in fact, awesome. Didn't know about long-pressing the back button. Have to try that.

  9. TFM
    December 22, 22:52 Reply

    I completely agree with the article. I too walked the Blackberry -> Winmo -> Android path in that order. I've been envious of the Safari browser on the iPhone platform right up to the point where I found Dolphin. What a beast. What a speed, what an integration, what a usability.

    It's perfect except for the only tiny gripe I have against phones with such resolutions as my Droid – it's never entirely 100% smooth. Compare the pinch/zoom thing with Safari. That's my point. If that is fixed (meaning that my 480×854 Droid monster runs as smooth with browsing as its 480×320 competitor) it would not only rule, it would crush.

  10. @rsgrice
    December 22, 22:58 Reply

    I think long pressing back should be the kill switch on many things. Thanks for reading!

  11. Smooth
    December 23, 11:26 Reply

    Great article, and thanks for that "Exit" tip.

  12. DannyDarko
    December 23, 18:32 Reply

    Used this on my droid uninstalled a little to shaky for my taste. I am patiently waiting for Fennec!!!!

  13. John
    December 24, 03:00 Reply

    I tried this for a while on my Sprint Hero, I found that it made my home screens laggy, and often caused widgets to not show up properly. I unfortunately had to delete, because I love how this works! WIll look forward to additional updates – will definitely try this one again!

  14. jaam
    December 24, 12:25 Reply

    I agree with most of the comments made by the reviewer and it is better than the standard browser, however as I am rooted I use the Better Browser which doesn't leave much difference between the two in terms of operation. However I did notice that the Dolphin browser really does kill the battery compared to Better Browser – it seems to use 20% more over the same period of use – so due to that I keep it installed and only use periodically to see if it has improved on the consumption. Better Browser is still better (ps this browser includes options like multi-touch etc).

  15. Bill
    February 01, 18:04 Reply

    The stock browser can only zoom by doubling the size (or doubling that). Dolphin can zoom any amount.

  16. xXnarutoEXex
    March 25, 22:21 Reply

    To all the morons that use social integration/crap, go to hell, stop filling the internet with crap.

  17. niniii0
    June 07, 03:52 Reply

    It's perfect except for the only tiny gripe I have against phones with such resolutions as my Droid – it's never entirely 100% smooth. Compare the pinch/zoom thing with Safari. That's my point. I

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