We use our Android devices for browsing the Internet every day. According to statistics, more than 1.5 billion Android devices used the Internet in 2017, outrunning Windows desktops. There are a plethora of Web Browsers available on the Android platform and, most of us have used more than one on our Android device. Have you ever wondered which is the fastest one of them all? With 2017 – a year with great software advancements – coming to its end and passing the torch to 2018, it is a great time for a speed comparison among popular Web Browsers. Just go through this article to find out the results of the test done to find out the fastest Android web browsers available today.

The Test

This comparison was all about browser speed. We were not interested in additional App features (like a built-in Ad-Blocker), a great selling point for some browsers. What we actually compared was the rendering and javascript engines of each browser. Since several browsers use the same engines in their internals, this comparison also tested each engine implementation.

Each browser was put under a series of third-party benchmarks, designed to test its capabilities. Our list included the following benchmarks:

  • Kraken by Mozilla
    Kraken is a javascript benchmark created by Mozilla. It puts the browser through a series of tests that deal with image filtering, audio processing, JSON parsing and cryptographic routines. It tries to simulate real-life usage cases. Results are in milliseconds.
  • Peacekeeper by FutureMark
    This test comes from a company that focuses on benchmark tools. It is designed to test how fast a browser completes common everyday tasks, like browsing social media, listening to audio and playing videos. At the end, peacekeeper provides an overall score.
  • Speedometer by BrowserBench.org
    BrowserBench specializes on Web benchmarks. Its Speedometer benchmark checks the browser’s performance on Web Applications. It integrates several javascript frameworks (AngularJS, jQuery etc) used by major websites like Facebook and Twitter. Moreover, it simulates keyboard and mouse/touch input. Performance depends on several factors like the javascript and rendering engines and the DOM API implementation.
  • Speed-battle
    Speed-battle is a quick test measuring the javascript performance of a browser. It only takes some seconds to complete and it tests calculations, database storing and rendering speeds. Upon finished, it calculates an overall browser score.

Tested Browsers

Testing all available Android Web Browsers is just not possible. We chose to test the 5 most popular Web Browsers. We also added LineageOS’s official browser – Jelly – in the list, as it is the browser that comes pre-installed in the greatest percentage of custom ROMs out there. Lastly, Chromium SWE (a custom build of Chromium for Snapdragon devices) and vanilla Chromium were also benchmarked, just to observe if there is any significant difference between them.

Browser List:

  • Firefox (version 58.0b7)
  • Google Chrome (version 63.0.3239.111)
  • Opera Browser (version 44.1.2264.123029)
  • UC Browser (version 11.5.0.1015)
  • Chromium ( version 65.0.3310.0)
  • Samsung Browser (version 6.2.01.7)
  • Jelly (build 05.12.2017)
  • Chromium SWE (version 58.0.3029.2839677)

Also see: 5 Best Alternative Web Browsers for Android

Testing Device

We conducted all tests on a budget, 3-year-old device featuring a Snapdragon 200 chipset. The chipset packs 1 GB of RAM and 4 ARM Cortex A7 cores clocked at 1190MHz. Graphics unit on this device is an Adreno 302, running at 500MHz. Android version is 7.1.2 (LineageOS 14.1). By using a budget device, another parameter appeared in the test: low processing power. Since most Android devices in the world belong to the low and mid-range segment, a browser must be capable to complete a task fast, without wasting a big amount of resources in the meantime.

Benchmarking Environment

All tested Browsers were running with only one tab opened. We also disabled all plugins. Each benchmark runs three times on each browser and the best score was selected. No other App was open while the benchmarks were running, to ensure the browser did not run out of memory by any external means.

Results

The following image displays all available results for each browser separately. Each table column represents results for a specific browser:

Discussion

Afer a quick look, results seem mixed. However, if we take each benchmark results in turn, things become more clear. Firefox is the best among browsers on the Peacekeeper test, which tries to simulate most everyday tasks. On Kraken test, which includes highly demanding javascript operations, Samsung Browser had the lead. Firefox held its place in front of Chrome and Chromium on this test. Chromium SWE also did a good job on Kraken, taking advantage of its Snapdragon-enhanced javascript engine.

Moreover, Firefox failed miserably on the Speedometer test, which simulates Web Applications. Here, all other browsers except UC Browser achieved similar results. Speedometer test includes many synchronous tasks, which is an area that Firefox’s javascript engine might need some improvements. We should also note here that all tested browsers had trouble completing the Speedometer test and needed to refresh, sometimes more than once. It is a test that was not designed having mobile devices in mind. Lastly, Firefox manages to get the highest score on the simple Speedbattle javascript test.

If we look at the results from another angle, we can safely say that Chrome, Chromium, Jelly, and Opera browsers are nearly on-par in terms of speed. Interestingly, UC browser (which enjoys an enormous user base) failed on most tests. It did not even manage to complete the Kraken test. It might be faster than the results represent, but clearly not on lower-end devices. We should note that a “Go” version of UC browser appeared recently on the Play Store, targeting less capable devices.

The Verdict

Firefox has managed to surpass Google’s browser on Android, just like it did on desktop platforms. Tested Firefox version though was 58.0, which is still in beta stage. Chromium SWE does provide some speed enhancements on Snapdragon platforms, but getting a recent version of it (version tested was quite old) might be difficult. There is no developer actively building APKs for it anymore. If you do not like Firefox, your best choices are Google’s Chrome and Chromium, and Opera. Finally, if you are using a LineageOS based ROM, Jelly browser does a great job, despite being small and still young.

Don’t miss: Everything You Need to Know about Malware on Android

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