Internet Explorer isn't necessarily a bad web browser for Windows Phone, but there's definitely room for improvement. This is where third-party developers come into play with the likes of Maxthon and SurfCube. These alternative web browsers offer more choice for the consumer. We’ll take a look at some highlighted options available on the store.
You may be familiar with the name, especially if you come from a PC background. Maxthon (www.maxthon.com) is a popular web browser for Microsoft’s desktop operating system and the company has brought the same experience across to Windows Phone. Released back in October 2013, the app has been updated with new features and has accumulated positive reviews.
Here are just some of the improvements being implemented (in a previous update, version 184.108.40.2060) as development progresses:
- Speed links - Allows you to enjoy the most popular and useful websites right at your fingertips.
- Tab recovery - Easily restore your last visited page with just one click of a button.
- Customizable UI color - Allows you to pick a UI color just right for you.
- Progress bar - Let's you see how fast your pages load.
- Quick Access - With this new feature, it now takes seconds to add your favorite website to Quick Access.
- Smooth Scrolling - Scroll through your pages with ease.
- Optimized memory usage - Allows you to use multiple tabs at ones without the slightest fear of crashing.
Maxthon has since gone through even more recent patches to further improve on stability, performance and also to implement new functionality. If you frequently use the desktop browser and make use of an account, we strongly recommend this app.
- Maxthon (4MB – free)
A popular alternative web browser for Windows Phone is UC Browser. The app has been available for some time, soaking up valuable development time and thousands of reviews from happy users. Features included in this browser include desktop mode, multi-tab management and more.
There’s a lot packed into the experience, but don’t let that fool you into wrongly assuming it’s bloatware – the app is far from it with an intuitive user interface. There’s also the option to customize the themes and utilize them as lockscreen wallpapers. The Speed Dial is another common feature in web browsers for more convenient access to favorite websites.
As noted above, we've followed UC Browser on Windows Phone for some time and can definitely recommend the client for those who wish to rock and roll with some other browser.
- UC Browser (9MB – free)
Nokia has released its own browser app for Windows Phone, which helps you save data by utilizing Nokia’s Xpress cloud service. If you’re roaming abroad or are on tight data plans, this is a sweet service to help you remain connected and save some bytes in the process.
The way Nokia Xpress works is by taking data sent to and from the Windows Phone and compresses it in the cloud, acting as a middle man of sorts. The likes of Opera Mobile also sports similar functionality, reducing the load on smartphone connections.
The browser will even decrypt and transmit sensitive data securely. "Because your privacy and security are vital, secure websites (HTTPS) are decrypted and optimized by Nokia Xpress servers and transmitted through encrypted connections."
- Nokia Xpress (4MB – free)
A fairly established web browser for Windows Phone is Next Browser. The app was reviewed by our own George Ponder back in 2012, highlighting its speed and feature list. Many argue that this is the greatest browsing experience on Microsoft’s mobile platform, and many would agree.
The app itself was updated in December of last year, adding more features and fine-tuning the overall experience. It’s an interesting one to say the least. If you’d rather choose a browser that closely resembles Internet Explorer but with a twist, Next Browser is certainly a strong option.
While there’s a price tag on Next Browser (we feel it’s justified), the trial is both unlimited and with no restrictions. The only downside is a small advertisement, but hey... someone has to pay the bills somehow.
- Next Browser (MB – $1.99)
Lastly we have Surfy, which was re-released for Windows Phone last year. The client itself has been on the platform since Windows Phone 7 was powering the platform to greatness. Some highlighted features of Surfy include voice command support and text-to-speech for the audio reading of website content.
The premium version of Surfy goes for $1.49. The free version is limited to three tabs and lacks the ability to pause the text to speech feature (you can stop it, just can't pause) and lacks the mobile optimizer feature. Still, it’s a solid app and worth the optional upgrade.
As always, it’s all down to personal preference which browser you choose to use on Windows Phone. So there’s our quick roundup, but how about your favorites? Sound off in the comments on which web browser(s) you use on your Windows Phone.