Why restrict yourself to the standard Android browser when there are so many alternatives to try? These are, admittedly, of variable quality but Dolphin HD is a classy affair. It promises to make web far easier to enjoy on your Droid by delivering many of the tricks that enabled Firefox to shake up the world of desktop browser. So much so, in fact, that something feels distinctly foxy about this dolphin.
Firefox-inspiration comes in the shape of multiple browsing tabs, useful add-ons (such as ad-blocking) plus a choice of themes. The app claims to play Flash videos and offers neat gesture-controls too. This sounds deeply impressive, but let’s see what kind of splash it makes in the real world.
Dolphin HD certainly starts well. It matches Android’s standard browser in that it offers a pinch-to-zoom feature and good tabs for juggling up to eight sites at once. It’s fast, too – a good couple of seconds quicker than Android’s standard browser on busy web pages, albeit not quite as speedy as Opera. Flash videos look great as well, if not quite up to the standard of SkyFire.
Adds-ons are a great selling point for serious surfers so long as they are practical and work well. The ones that Dolphin brings to the party enable you, among other things, to block ads, easily share bookmarks and even save web pages as PDFs. There are dozens more such features, many of which will be familiar to fans of Firefox.
Gesture searching is another big plus. With this, if you flick your finger across the screen in a specific direction the app will then perform an action, such as navigating you through a website more efficiently or adding a bookmark instantly. You can even create your own gestures for favourite tasks.
The only drawback with Dolphin that it is (almost) too clever for its own good: the basic menus can occasionally be confusing. It’s therefore not as easy to pick up and play with as, say, Net Front Life. Once you tune into what Dolphin can do, however, you’ll be surfing so slickly that you will feel like you could catch fish with your teeth. And maybe you can.
The Bottom Line
Seriously fast and by far the most flexible browser available for Android. A natural choice.
Version reviewed 4.1.0
Requires Android 2.1 or higher (Dolphin Mini available for Android 1.6)