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Bored of Internet Explorer? Here are some alternative web browsers for Windows Phone

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.

Maxthon

Maxthon

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 1.0.1.1000) 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.

QR: Maxthon Browser

UC Browser

UC Browser

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.

QR: UC Browser

Nokia Xpress

Nokia Xpress

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."

QR: Nokia Xpress

Next Browser

Next Browser

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.

Next Browser

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.

QR: Next Browser

Surfy

Surfy

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.

Surfy

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.

Surfy Free (5MB – free) Surfy (5MB – $1.49)

QR: Surfy

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.

Rich Edmonds is a word conjurer at Windows Central, covering everything related to Windows, gaming, and hardware. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a device chassis. You can follow him over on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

130 Comments
  • I love UC Browser, but lately I been stuck on IE. IMO UC is the best on WP
  • Agree
  • Yep
  • Last time I tried UC, it was using Google for search and couldn't change it. That been changed?
    Also, will favorites still synch across my Windows machines if I use a different browser on WP? Pretty happy with WP though. A shortcut home screen would be nice.
  • That has always been changeable. When you tap the search button and then tap the icon it list like 6 options for search engines
  • No mention of Opera?
  • That's what I'm saying. I've been using Opera since back on Windows Mobile 5 and 6. Besides IE it's the only other browser I'd want or use.
  • Is there even Opera on WP? Forgive my ignorance
  • I like UC Browser a lot.  It crashed on my prior 520, maybe because of the lower RAM, but has been better on my 820.  Lots of great features, looks good, and also has 2 GB of cloud storage.
  • Works perfectly on my 520 with latest update and i love its speed mode.
  • I love it too, but its too damn slow ! Maxthon and surfy are faster, and ie is the fastest browser on mobile I've ever seen !
  • Has anyone noticed that the default search bar on uc now takes you to the wap page of google instead of the smartphone page ? It looks pathetic, and it doesn't even save my setting when i say use bing !
  • With all the improvements in IE11 for WP8.1, who really needs these browsers? IE11 looks slick...and it'll more than likely be the quickest mainstream browser out there - with full bookmark/password syncing to Windows 8 computers...
  • IE 11 is catching up to what most of these are doing already. That's why we need these browser. They keep MS off their ass and make them more user friendly the way they are suppose. I mean come on simple shit as back button and Privacy browsing not present in 10.
  • +1    
  • Thing is? It still has a stupid tab limit (seriously, only 6?). Tis why I never liked IE for WP. I'll wait tell the update to see if it's become better, but the tab thing really killed it for me.
  • Why would you need more than six tabs open? Stop being a hoarder
  • If IE11 brings 10 tab limit, would you question Microsoft why did they increase the limit, since you only needed 6? If Chrome can do something on Android, we expect IE team do better job. The use case is clear, the more the better. IE being underdog for quite a while now, they must get in their A-game..
  • I often like to peruse news sites and places like Wikipedia and DailyTech and I open links I would like to read as background tabs (another thing you can't do on mobile IE10) while I browse the main page. In short I am queuing up a reading list. Additionally I may already have tabs open that I want to keep (ie they contain something useful I want to have for later). The 6 tab limit in IE10 severely limits this, especially when it then gives no warning that its overwriting tabs. If IE11 has a 10 tab limit then they've failed again IMO. For the big hitting phones like the 1520, there really shouldn't be a limit as low as 10.  
  • It's called, pin it to your start screen! Or favorite! 6 tabs is enough, 10 tabs is more than enough.
  • who needs these? 1) people who don't have 8.1 namely most users. 2) people who after 8.1 will receive all the benefits of IE11 in these browsers as at least some of the ones I checked used the IE rendering control meaning it is just a more user friendly and functional UI than what the MSFT devs can manage. 3) people who want power niche features that aren't suited for the stock browser.
  • +1000
  • IE on my Lumia 630 unfortunately is useless. It crashes like crazy, freezes and does stupid s**t. Opening links instead of scrolling, yeah, useful.
  • IE 11 its your time now.
  • Nice article, didn't know about other browsers than UC and IE. Good to have options, I guess!
  • Doesn't matter unless the default browser can be changed.
  • +1000
  • Can it be changed on WP 8.1? That was the one thing I wanted..
  • Afaik, no.
  • Agree. Curently using xpress. It's better then IE, but it's not great.
  • Truth
  • This +925
    Its the one most annoying 'feature' that WP decided to take from iOS, and it drives me crazy. They're cannibalising their own browser ecosystem
  • sadly, "MS war with users" prevents this.
  • Please explain. And please do not use quotations if it's not the title of something, I thought it was a quote from an article.
  • Maxthon for WP is an atrocity. Surfy is truly amazing though and I bought it for the support alone. It gets updated once a week and the dev is very responsive.
  • Maxthon is an absolute joke, buggy as hell and crashes all the time. Don't bother, seriously. The fact that WPC are even listing it, shows they've never actually used it...
  • Strange, looking at it on my installed apps list right this very second ;-)
  • Installing it and thinking ooooo that looks nice, is different to actually using it day to day... Or trying at least. IE pees all over Maxthon, the only advantage with Maxthon is the recent addition of gesture control, but that in itself isn't enough to make up for the crashing, bugginess, resuming bugs, inability to play videos' and resume browsing etc...
  • Moded! :D
  • Maxthon is pretty smooth... Doesn't crash on my phone, i love it ! (along with surfy, uc and ie)
  • Jack, you can relax because nobody is going to try Maxthon after reading WPC's description, which I'm guessing is quoting from Maxthon's promo blurb.  The bullet points list "features" which would be considered the absolute minimum on any browser. "Progress bar - Let's you see how fast your pages load" -  I've got news guys, every single browser ever invented can let you see how fast your pages load !!!
  • Still, its the smoothest browser among the listed ones. IE is the king in that regard, but maxthon is very smooth too. I dont use it often, but still.. And maxthon has all features one can use. I dont know why people say it crashes, never crashed on my phone.
  • What they need to do also is make IE an independent app like Xbox music and video allowing it to get quicker updates and not waiting on OS updates. I use IE 10 but it was in desperate need of an update to 11.
  • +920
  • Hell yes! This!
  • No Incognito Browser?  :O HAHA!
  • MAXTHON !
  • Oh yeaaaaaaaaaaaaah!
  • Hmm. If only there was a way to spoof ios or android browser using a custom user agent. I've grown tired of IE being treated as a second class citizen and given a downgraded page. Yahoo, amazon and google do this when visited by IE on mobile. Any of these browsers have this capability?
  • Im pretty sure IE11 has that feature
  • I though UC did but no. And understand exactly what you mean. Who the hell still needs wap sites. I be piss that some sites don't work with IE mobile and have to switch to desktop mode and sometimes still don't work.
  • Yup Soundcloud doesn't work in IE at least in mobile it doesn't smh. Idk what changed, it used to work.
  • Try "User Agent Switcher": http://www.windowsphone.com/s?appid=65783cf3-4a4f-4a89-a315-7998fe1ced6e
  • Thanks but I'm not confident in this by the reviews.
  • Works fine for me on my Lumia 920 and 1020.
  • I just installed this and it works in a pinch for problem sites. Really useful, thanks!
  • It doesn't work.
     
  • Hit the "..." -> change user agent There is no search, you have to type in the full "http://www.example.com" address.
  • I just dont feel need for other browsers.
  • We also need a way to scroll down a page faster. It takes a lot of flicks and time to go down a page compared to android. Maybe they should add a disappearing scroll bar that can be dragged.
  • Yep, they need a gesture like double tapping the top of the screen to scroll you right to the top automatically. Similar feature in Safari on iOS is a godsend for forums where all the forum links are at the top of the page.
  • Do any browsers let you go back and forward between pages? All of them allow you to go back but none of them have a forward button
  • UC browser it also lets you scroll left right like touch for RT
  • Can you actually use another browsing engine on WP8? Does MS let other companies do that?
  • No these 'other browsers' are all just a skin over trident(IE).  It would be nice if we could get a webkit, gecko, or blink based browser as an alternative to IE (and for the default browser to be set as something else).  
  • Blink = Webkit
  • Blink = Fork of Webkit
  • Still, I would call both the same. You could have added Presto.
  • I think they are different enough to be considered separate, particularly going forward. So you end up with Apple Safari (webkit), chrome/opera (blink), and IE (trident). Presto is dead (or might as well be).
  • Sadly, no. Microsoft took the Apple approach when it came to third party web browsers.
  • My biggest complaint about both the WP version of IE and the Metro app, is they both handle pull down menus awfully.
  • Its not IE. IT'S the site not being coded to work with it. Some sites work some dont
  • Seriously? Please don't make the HTML standard the problem. IEs come a long way, but it seems the mobile version still has compatibility problems.
  • I'll use whichever one allows me to watch adult content streamed on the web. Tried Surfy but it wouldn't play the streamed content so I went back to IE.  I didn't know some of these other ones existed but I didn't go looking for alternate web browsers either.
  • That's actually why I don't like IE. The six tab limit kill what I can have open. Though, I realize other people have different... "Adult content" viewing habits.
  • Bored of IE on WP? Of course not!
  • I see that Surfy dropped a new version but I've never used it. Anyone try Surfy? Doesn't look too bad.
  • Hey Rich, thanks for the kind words on Next Browser. (I'm the dev). It really helps when this site mentions it. BTW, if any users have feedback/suggestions, etc., then I'd love to hear it here. Thanks,
    Johnny
  • Just a skin running on top of trident. What we really need is the WP team to open up the OS and offer the correct API's so we can have the gecko engine and webkit engines (Firefox and Chrome).    
  • Exactly.. Who knows, maybe 8.1 will surprise us ;)
  • Must be a market share thing that they don't want to open the OS up for 3rd party browser engines. They are hoping (I presume) that the WP OS takes off and then IE becomes dominate.   They are doing the same thing with Windows RT. The OS is most definately capable of supporting one of those other web engines, but MS just won't allow it for some reason, I presume it's market share. I don't know what else it could be. On the other hand, I could argue that opening the OS to these other web engines could make WP and WinRT market sure increase a great deal. So not sure what they're thinking...
  • From the company implementing HID on Windows RT but not on WP (which includes an Office suite by the way)? Well, as much as I agree with you, I don't think they will. Though I hope they do... I'd love to have Firefox on WP... The spirit that made the MS we know of, is long gone I'm afraid...
  • +1020
  • Uc browsers ability to save to sd card make it superior to all other browsers.Period.
  • I love UC Browser for back/forward feature and SpeedDial like on Opera (PC) unfortunately there are two websites that always give me problem. well for one i have to use IE, UC doesn't allow me to login, when i open the other one app crashes ALWAYS if not on 1st then 2nd page for sure. Nokia Express - I deleted it today. It drives me crazy, links doesn't work sometimes, it selects word from link for searching instead of opening it
  • Been using UC browser and it suits me just fine. I Don't browse much though.
  • I use both Maxthon and UC-- Maxthon for pure speed, and UC for extra features (forward and back buttons, rudimentary password management, etc.). I like both of them better than IE10 at the moment, but after I finally get 8.1 and IE11, I get the feeling I'll have less of a use for them, since it offers pretty much all the stuff I used the 3rd party browsers for. One weird thing, though-- I can't properly browse Deviantart on UC Browser for some reason; it always causes the whole page to reload when I try to cycle through new pictures on my messages page. I always use Maxthon for DA as a result.
  • UC let you download things!!
  • What about "SurfCube 3D Browser"? It is good alternative
  • I tried it a while back, and it was pretty cool, but it also seemed buggy. Plus, being an indie browser, it lacks integrated services, and that's kind of a problem for me.
  • Yeah its maybe not perfect but i like the design and navigation. Actually most of the time I use IE.
  • All of these are inferior to Metro IE. Not even close.
  • Last I check Metro IE is not on WP
  • Unfortunately they all still use the IE engine. I really think that Microsoft should offer choice and variety with true third-party browsers with the Gecko or Webkit engine. There are just some websites that won't properly load on the IE engine. Also, I wish there was a browser that allowed uploads.
  • Isn't IE11 in 8.1 supposed to allow uploads?
  • I prefer to use Internet Explorer, however when I hand my phone to somebody to quickly check something on the internet I open an app called Private Browser http://www.windowsphone.com/en-us/store/app/private-browser/4b81b07f-48e... That way they don't mess with my cookies and my history.
  • I"be been using Surfy Free for about two weeks. I love it. I've had UC for a couple years now. I noticed that Surfy had Voice support. How exactly does it work?
  • I mostly just use bing tbh
  • What åre their Engine?
  • Has anyone else come across Chromox? It's a very interesting browser. Looks like Chrome, but has a Windows 8-like settings screen, as well as options & search panels. Can be a little buggy, but has nice graphics.
    http://www.windowsphone.com/s?appid=8058c6d6-74cc-4a6b-945f-88cf4b3755b2
  • Chrome really needs a browser on windows phone and win rt. Wish Google would stop being so childish..
  • Keep on dreaming. You can't even get Chrome on Android v3 and earlier...
  • Why would you be using android v3?
  • I cannot upgrade my Toshiba AT100. Do ypu know how to do it? Its not yet broken, so I still use it!
  • Because the HTC Flyer never got upgraded past Honeycomb and it's like a 3-4 year old tablet. That still works might I add.
  • The UC browser is the G.O.A.T WP browser.
  • Although I like UC Browser the best, Edge Browser is worthy of a mention.  It has a very unique, clever interface with edge gestures similar to Windows 8 and a great always-full-screen view, and it could be an excellent browser with some polish and bug fixes. Surfy came in second to UC for me, just needing some bug fixes, like when trying to play videos.  I don't know how you can even consider the others after trying UC and Surfy, especially a barebones mess like Maxthon.
  • Opera someday, uc crashes too often, and I don't want nokia xpress storing my data without permission
  • How about Explora 4?
  • I use IE because it has a better performance... But for downloads I use UC Browser and it also have an incognito mode ;) (If you know what I mean)
  • If i need to browse the web i use my laptop or iPad. IE on WP8 is bad and a frustrating experience. Bing is the worst mobile search engine for me. I wish I could deactivate the search button on the lower left edge of my phone: don't need it and its always getting accidentally pressed.
  • Need opera.
  • Resuming...... Reloading ......
  • But some sites are not compatible in all this browsers please provide us Chrome
  • honestly I love IE. It is my primary and favorite browser followed by UC browser
  • Can any of these browsers pin web pages to Start screen? I pin around 8 websites from IE and just use those tiles to quickly go in and out of those sites.
  • Lets see.  IE is indeed a bit below par. Crap UI and extremely slow (I have an old iPad3 which smokes all over IE on WP when browsing) But in my experience: Maxthon: Until recently had no landscape support and on my 1520 at least, still has this annoying "resuming" bug where it hangs on a black screen with "resuming" and the little dots. I have to force a restart of Maxthon to continue use. In short not good enough UC Browser: Was fine for a while, but the latest updates seem to have made it a power hog. My phone would get really hot and battery would drain by over 30% per hour when browsing even simple text only webpages. In short not good enough. Nokias effort is only useful if in a data bind I may however, give Surfy a try. I am sick of IE10, but for me its the least worst because it doesn't have any show stopping problems like Maxthon and UC.
  • Worlds Fastest Browser Pro is my choice check it out http://www.windowsphone.com/s?appid=992348bc-c56e-44f2-9de2-b319c5f872bd Try it at loading a webpage next to the likes of a GS4 or Iphone 5s see how much faster it is
  • Next browser is how many MB? All we know is there's some number of megabytes involved, but you don't say how many.
  • Looks like they left that off... If you are wondering, it's just 1MB.
  • I'm using Kaspersky Safe Browser and I love it!  
  • I just want a better video player on WP8.1 that can play videos in the browser or in full screen like in Windows 8.1. Also scrubbing to specific parts of a video is a serious feature that needs to be added to the default video player.
  • Hi Guys! I have to run the following aplication: m.tpcrm.com and is not working in my Lumia running Lumia Black and WP8.0. The developer of Top Producer is not releasing a WP8 version. when I install Chrome in my laptop, aplication runs fine, but I am unable to install chrome in WP8.0. So I need  different browser (not IE , nor a skin). Any Clue? When WP8.1 is available will allow me to run chrome? What alternative browser would work? (Nokia express didn't work) Thanks!
  • Interesting. I asked a question in Microsoft WP8 forum and was told that malware on my Lumia could not exist. I was also berated for even considering to stray IE10. People pretty much bashed all other browsers including my favorite, UC. I just wish that they would lay off the happy pills, open their eyes and keep an open mind.
  • Wow, those images of Surfy are over a year old. The free version does have mobile optimization.
  • I wonder why very few comments here mention about the Nokia Xpress browser. It's a really good browser, far better than IE. The browser's fast due to the compression technology so the pages load fast and also consumes less bytes in the process. It works well with 2G networks. I also like its features such as the magazine and quick links. It's the best browser in WP IMO. I tried UC browser before Nokia Xpress, but I didn't like it. I found that the pages were loading too slowly. Also, there is no option to change the default search engine (default is Google search, I prefer Bing search). I haven't tried Maxthon, Next or Surfy, so I can't comment on them.
  • Mine is uc and surfy..both are great... Don't know if anybody has faced issues with gmail in IE... But touch does not register correctly...
  • "Internet Explorer isn't necessarily a bad web browser for Windows Phone" -- you are joking, right? Try running any HTML5 compliant web page on it and you would argue against your own opinion. Question left unanswered by this article: which of these alternative browsers fully support HTML5?
  • I want to use browser to browse my own site, Which currently is not opening at any browsers, please suggest anyone.
  • Does any browser support opening local web sites (not just text)? I know IE doesn't on Windows Phone 8.1