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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