If you're looking for an alternative to Internet Explorer you may want to take a look at Next Browser. It is a fast, feature rich alternative that makes a nice first impression. But does that first impression fade any? For the most part, no. But there is one thing that holds a very nice browser back.
Oh... if Next Browser is something that looks appealing, it's on sale through the end of the day for $.99 (regular price is two bucks).
When you first launch Next Browser, a short tutorial will launch. It's a decent tutorial but a little on the brief side. You can always revisit the tutorial through Next Browser's Extra's Menu.
Next Browser is well laid out with your URL field at the bottom of the screen. You have a back button (no forward) that sits to the left and a "+" button to add browser tabs to the right of the URL field. Just above the URL field is a three dot menu that pulls up controls to pull the browser up full screen, refresh the screen, access the extras menu, and lock/unlock the orientation.
The extras menu will pull up the Actions Page that allows you to:
- Share a web page
- Pin the current browser tab to the Start Screen
- View your browser history
- Access options
- Rate and review Next Browser
- View the change log
- View the tutorial
- View the about screens
You'll also find your Bookmarks listed to the right of the Actions Page. Options for Next Browser covers display options, a few navigation options and your default home page and search provider.
Next Browser supports tabs (just tap the plus sign next to the URL field) and to navigate from web page to web page on the tabs you have two options. First, you can swipe down on the screen to see a tile display of all the available tabs. The other option (and you'll need to flip the switch in the options menu) is to side swipe to move from tab to tab. Either option works but you need to make sure you make long swipes to trigger things. Too short of a swipe won't do anything.
The Bookmark Page will list all your bookmarked pages in tile view. The only way to add a bookmark is from this page. By default, when you hit the "add new bookmark" button it will paste the current URL into the add bookmark field. Tap on a tile to pull up your options for that particular bookmark. You can open the link, open the link in a new tab, open the link in Internet Explorer, or delete the bookmark.
As far as speed is concerned, Next Browser is rather nice. The full version of WPCentral.com loaded in about six seconds. Comparatively, Internet Explorer took just shy of nine seconds to load the same page. Granted data connection speeds will influence these speeds but in general, Next Browser moves along nicely.
The page view is touch zoomable and support is present for vertical and horizontal view. For those who don't want the view orientation to change, just hit the three dot menu and lock things. Keep in mind, the lock keeps the view at the current orientation. So if you tap the lock button while in horizontal view, Next Browser will stay in that orientation.
All in all, I liked Next Browser but the one thing that spoiled the experience was stability. Next Browser crashed when switching tabs, when loading pages, when accessing the extra menu and when moving from the actions page to the bookmarks page in the extra menu. When Next Browser was up and running, it is a very impressive browser alternative. Unfortunately, the stability issues really places a damper on the experience.
There is a free, ad supported version (the trial version) available for you to try things out before you buy. The ad free version is currently running $.99 (regularly two bucks) through today. You can find Next Browser here at the Windows Phone Marketplace.