When it comes to web browsers, Android tablet and phone users have a lot of choice. Not only are the major desktop browsers available in mobile form, but there's a host of companies innovating only in the tablet and phone area, which gives users a unique range of feature options.
Below we look at six alternative Android browsers. All are available via the Google Play Store and all are free of charge, although there may be paid-for upgrades available, as mentioned.
Not included is Google Chrome, which is now a standard feature of Android from Jelly Bean (4.3) onwards. In each case we've reviewed the current main release of the browser and not any 'Mini' or beta versions, and our chief testbed for performance evaluation was the Tesco Hudl tablet (quad-core 1.SGHz CPU and 1GB RAM) running Android Jelly Bean (4.3).

Chrome Browser
Google chrome browser is also factory installed browsers available in Android based Smartphones and Tablets. So there is no need to explanation about Chrome We starts alternative browsers for androids.

Opera Browser for Android

Opera's been around almost as long as the web itself, but recently the company rebooted its entire business, switching away from its custom Presto rendering engine and embracing the widely-used Web kit, which powers Google Chrome. Along the way, Opera also lost a few features while gaining others. This has upset faithful users, but it also means that long-time Opera sceptics might want to take another look. In opera browser you will get the same Speed Dial feature as in Desktop Opera Browser, for example, by which you can bookmark sites as a series of tiles that appear when a new tab is opened.

This is the only book marking feature in the browser, although you can save pages for offline viewing. Perhaps more importantly for mobile users, Opera for Android also features the same Off-Road Mode as the desktop release.

This is designed to save bandwidth and time by routing all the web traffic through Opera's servers, where it's compressed and shrunk in various ways JPEG images are reduced in quality, for example. Sadly, a quick browse of the BBC News website showed that this made images blurry and blocky even at the default 'high quality' image setting. On a tablet the effect is eye watering. Your mileage may vary, of course.

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Annoyingly; Off-Road Mode locks you into mobile mode, making it impossible to request desktop versions of websites. Even when not in Off-Road Mode, Opera for Android defaults to mobile mode (on tablet computers too), and switching to desktop mode requires several taps to access the Settings page. Annoying.

Tablet users get tabs on screen at all times, while phone users must tap a button to select from tab thumbnails even if the phone is in landscape mode. Private browsing tabs are available. When scrolling web pages, the URL field and tab bar slide out of the way, dedicating the entire screen to the website, but they return when the screen is tapped or scrolled back up.

The Opera Link feature should allow syncing of bookmarks and history between various instances of Opera, but it's not yet compatible with Opera for Android. We couldn't even get it working on desktop Opera.

Opera for Android's chief boast is identical to its desktop brother: it's very responsive. Even before a page has finished loading, you can start scrolling without any jerkiness or blanking.

Firefox for Android
Firefox for Android is assured of a strong user base because of its desktop following. Firefox Sync ensures that bookmarks and other user data can be automatically and invisibly share between desktop and mobile versions, creating a seamless experience. In our tests, however, Firefox for Android was a strange mix of annoying user interface and clever features. Take tabbed browsing. On both tablet and phone versions, Android tabs are viewable as thumbnails courtesy of a slide-out (or slide down) sidebar. This is also how you activate private browsing mode.

The sidebar is always hidden during ordinary browsing mode, making switching tabs require at least a couple of screen taps. Whether this is acceptable is personal preference but, on a tablet at least, I would prefer an always-visible tab bar.

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The URU search field slides out of the way when you scroll and remains hidden until you scroll back to the top of the screen, rather than appearing if you tap the screen, as with some other browsers. Again, this can be annoying. In other areas, however, it's a different picture. The browser defaults to requesting mobile versions of sites but switching to desktop mode is simply a matter of tapping the menu icon and selecting the option (although Firefox is such a popular browser that many sites In our tests appear to default to desktop mode anyway.)

Firefox's power punch is its range of mobile add-ons. You can install Adblock Plus, for example, or the popular Ghostery privacy tool. While there are even versions of add-ons like the last Pass password tool, in fact only a fraction of the range available for desktop Firefox is available. However, this is enough, and there are some usefully unique options, such as an add-on that lets you start/stop animated GIFs, which often don't play smoothly with the limited resources of a tablet device.

Firefox for Android was reasonably responsive in our tests but only about middling compared to others reviewed here. If you're already a fan of desktop Firefox, then its Android counterpart is worth a look, but do yourself a favor and try out some of the other browsers listed here first.

Dolphin browser for Android
Dolphin has a reputation as the smart Android user's browser of choice. Perhaps confusingly, it comes in two components: you can install the basic Dolphin browser, but there's also the optional Dolphin Jetpack. The latter boosts the rendering engine, claiming up to tenfold speed increases. Jetpack isn't built-into Dolphin, because it's incompatible with versions of Android that aren't 2.3 or 4.0 and above. However, if you install Dolphin on an Android Kitkat (4.4) device, then Jetpack is seamlessly integrated.

Confused? Assuming you have a tablet bought in the last year, just install both Dolphin and Jetpack, and always start Dolphin by tapping the Jetpack icon. Dolphin takes the bold approach of an always-visible tabbed interface on both tablet and phones, along with the URU search field. This doesn't vanish even when you scroll. Tabs are always full size too and run off the sides of the screen when there's more than a handful, although you can scroll left and right by tapping one and dragging - a really nice touch.

There's no navigation buttons alongside the URL field. Instead you can tap your device's own back button, use a gesture or use voice recognition. Gestures are one of many features boasted by Dolphin and let you draw on the screen to perform tasks such as creating a new tab or visiting Google (by drawing an N or G, respectively). To input a gesture, you must first tap the Dolphin icon at the bottom left of the screen and then tap the gesture icon (or tap and slide).

Alternatively, you can shake your device - possible with a phone, even if you look like an idiot, but tricky with a tablet. The gesture input screen features a switch to let you activate Sonar, whereby you can speak commands or search queries (i.e. 'back', or 'galaxy s5 review'). Many users apparently swear by the gestures feature, but it feels just a bit too fiddly.

What's wrong with just tapping a bookmark or a back button? Like Firefox for Android, Dolphin also has a range of add-ons, although the range is paltry. They're limited largely to trivial functions like saving web pages as PDFs, and there doesn't appear to be an ad-block add-on, which is pretty much what 99% of people require of the add-on system. Dolphin can instantly share sites with other users on the same network, which we suspect teenagers will love, and also save to popular cloud storage services.

Syncing of bookmarks and personal data is possible via plug-ins for desktop browsers. However, the biggest boast with Dolphin is sheer responsiveness, via a modified Webkit engine. Not only could we scroll smoothly as soon as the page appeared, but it was rare not to find all the page elements loaded virtually instantly too. Dolphin is undoubtedly the fastest browser we tested.

Photon Flash Player and Browser

Support for Adobe Flash games and video is a thorn in the side of all mobile users. At one point, Android had its very own Flash plugin, and Android users scoffed heartily at Apple iPad and iPhone users who never received such graces. However, Adobe's since stopped updating the Android Flash plug-in, forcing users to use an old version and usually apply a hack to make it work consistently within browsers. Photon Flash Player & Browser takes an innovative approach. Upon visiting a page with Flash content you must tap the lightning icon on its main tool bar.

This then renders the entire page on cloud computers across the internet and relays it to your tablet or phone as a movie. Photon inserts an advert to make money and frequently suggests you upgrade, which can be done by paying 6.37 for 12 months of ad-free and nag-free Flash access.

To be blunt, Flashplay back works about as well as you'd expect. Video is a little jerky, most likely because of a reduced frame-rate to allow for reasonable streaming speeds, and everything looks a little MPEG-ified - dirty and blurry. That said, it does work Games too. You can also tweak streaming settings to find the best solution, which is a welcome touch.

Because the streaming servers are outside the UK, sites like BBC News insert adverts whenever you play a clip. Some UK-only sites like the BBC iPlayer might block you because of this although, conversely, it means you can access US-only sites like Hulu.com.

Elsewhere, Photon is a standard browser offering basic features within a clumsy user-interface. On-screen controls are just a little too small to be hit accurately for example, especially on a phone or 7" tablet. Bookmarks are simply a list within a box. Elsewhere, impenetrable language is used within the interface; you can switch to desktop mode for websites, for example, but to do so you'll need to select Firefox, Chrome or IE from the User Agent dropdown list.

Try explaining that to grandma! And Photon doesn't remember your setting either so the next time it starts it reverts to requesting mobile versions. That said, the biggest clue is in the name: Photon Flash Player & Browser. It doesn't need to be the best browser, and you can use other apps day to day. It exists to let you access Flash content. If you absolutely can't get the existing Flash plug-in working, then take a look.

UCB Browser

UC Browser is big everywhere that's not the Western world, seemingly because it's optimized for less than optimal mobile data connections. It comes in two versions UC Browser for Android is optimised for phones, while UC Browser HD is for tablets. Unfortunately, we faced an error trying to get UC Browser to run on our phone test setup. No amount of Googling revealed a solution, so this review covers only the tablet version. UC Browser HD boasts a few unique features. The first is a vertical always-present tool bar that floats above the web page at the right.

This offers a back button, plus a dose tab button and a refresh button. However, any number of features can be easily added by tapping and holding the umbrella icon (no, we've no idea either). The standard back, forward and home buttons can be found at the top of the screen, though, along with a tab and URU search field. This scrolls out of the way along with the web page whenever you tap and drag, but it doesn't come back unless you scroll up again.

New tabs show a speed dial screen with thumbnails of popular sites, and by tapping the star icon to the left of any web address you can add sites to this display or add them to a separate bookmarking system that's accessible by tapping the menu button. The menu button also lets you switch on private browsing mode, among other things, but switching to desktop mode requires tapping of the Settings option, then the advanced button.

However, rather cleverly, UC Browser of HD pretends by default to be an iPad, which is an ingenious approach that other tablet-based browsers should use. Mobile and desktop options are also available, however. You can also turn off graphics and multimedia elements in a page, loading only text, which is useful if you're attempting to browse over a single-bar cellular connection. Ad blocking is built in and activated by default, as are gestures, which involve the use of two fingers swiping up to kill a tab, down to open a new one, and left or right to switch between tabs. There are powerful download features too. However, while there's much to like in UC Browser HD, not least of which is speedy responsiveness, there's not enough for general users to switch away from one of the bigger names.

Maxthon Browser

On the surface, Maxthon Browser is an intriguing idea. Similar to Apple's iCloud, every time you install Maxthon on a device or computer you can connect to a cloud background service by which user data can be synced and - so goes the blurb - files and text can also be shared. This is potentially quite neat. How many times have you wanted to send a snippet of text from your wanted to send a snippet of text from your desktop to your tablet or vice versa? However, Apple need not look anxiously over its shoulder.

Whereas iCloud is intuitive, Maxthon's cloud services are just perplexing. It isn't helped by a lack of tutorial material at the website www.maxthon.com, which is keener to play buzzword bingo than provide information or training videos. URLs can be shared by clicking the paper plane icon alongside the URL bar when using the phone version of Maxthon and the star icon when using the tablet version (versions of Maxthon are also available for most operating systems).

You must then choose a recipient device to send the URL to, assuming all are shown, although on my test involving a phone, tablet and PC, not every device could 'see' every other device. Once you've shared, you then have to select to view downloads on the receiving device, and then select The Cloud. If you're lucky, the URL will be waiting there, and double-clicking it will download it locally. I couldn't work out how to share text using the Android browser. On the desktop browser this seemed easy: Just highlight, then right-click, then select to share, although the device I selected didn't receive it highlighting text in Android brought up Android's own text selection toolbar, and ignoring this and selecting to share didn't seem to do anything.

Elsewhere, Maxthon is a very average browser, although we did like the Settings pages, which offered the kind of control over history and browser cache as is usually found on desktop browsers. However, it's really hard for us to recommend Maxthon. As it stands, its only interest is as a curiosity. It did feel very responsive, however.