Alternative mobile browsers tested: Skyfire vs Opera Mobile vs Fennec vs Safari vs Internet Explorer vs BlackBerry

Mobile browsing is better than ever, but you're not necessarily limited to the Web browser that came on your phone. We compare the alternatives to the best of the built-ins

Surfing on your phone doesn't mean riding it over wind-swept waves -- it's actually worth getting on the mobile Web. Mobile browsers are doing a good job of bringing the Internet to life, even on the tiny screens and anaemic processors of our phones.

But you don't have to dance with the browser what brung you -- you can install browsers other than the default, especially if you have a phone that runs the Symbian S60 or Windows Mobile operating systems, which are particularly app-friendly, despite their lack of decent app stores.

We took three of the main contenders for Web-browser domination and stacked them up against three popular built-in browsers for your fun and edification.

We also looked at Opera Mini, which only requires a phone that can run Java, and the built-in Symbian browser, but both were so simple compared to the rich mobile Web of the other options that we didn't bother testing them -- neither could finish the tests required for this comparison.

Opera looks set to release a version of its Opera Mobile browser for Android soon -- when that happens we'll be taking Android competitors into the ring, so stay tuned.

The challengers

Skyfire (Windows Mobile, Symbian S60)
Opera Mobile (Windows Mobile, Symbian S60)
Fennec (Windows Mobile, Maemo)

The incumbents

Safari (iPhone)
Internet Explorer (Windows Mobile)
BlackBerry browser (BlackBerry)

As on our desktop browser tests, we tested standards compliance with the Acid3 test, and JavaScript-rendering abilities with the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark.

We also tested the browsers' speed and subjective usability. Tests were done on a Toshiba TG01 running Windows Mobile 6.5, an iPhone 3GS, and a BlackBerry Curve 8900. On each phone, all applications and network connections, including the 3G connection, were turned off while we tested over the same Wi-Fi network.

Click 'Continue' to enter the teeny-tiny browser fray.

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