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I'm thinking about buying an Android phone to use for light web browsing while traveling. How well does the Android browser work on average web pages? Besides the smaller screen and lack of flash are there other limitations? I'm particularly interested in using it access my bank accounts which has a kind of complicated log in system. Anyone had any experience here?

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For the record (this question is old, I see) -- Chrome for Android is now available... –  Matt Jul 30 '12 at 23:13
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7 Answers 7

I'd say it's highly usable, I have for the most part stopped using a PC outside of work, my phone is now my primary browsing device.

On the rare occasion a site doesn't render properly, or a particular video is not available on mobile (this happens a lot on YouTube) you can email a link to the website to yourself to check when you are on computer in 3-4 clicks.

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FYI, Samsung is coming out with a Galaxy S device that has a 7" screen. Might want to check it out if all you want to do is browse Internet.

As far as browsing on the phone, I don't mind so much. I have an Evo with the 4" screen and its not bad, but not as good as a netbook for high use Internet browsing. My recommendation would be to get an Android tablet or netbook for extended Internet browsing.

That is of course unless you are planning on consolidating devices. In that case I'm sure you will enjoy the experience, but don't get a phone with a screen smaller than 4". It sounds big and huge yes, and I thought that too, but seriously worth it for the extra viewing space.

With Android 2.2, viewing flash sites is really easy now, you essentially select the flash to run as they appear on sites, flash does not automatically load. That is what I get with Dolphin HD browser. Pinch and zoom makes viewing sites fairly easy as well, use a browser that supports it.

If you go this route you might have to find a setting that makes the website think you are browsing from a desktop system. Otherwise there are some sites that will detect a mobile device and present you with that site. This might limit you ability to surf.

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Apart from the screen size, the thing that bothers me most is that it allows you only to open 4 tabs (windows) at most. For example, if I am browsing a news site, I first skim the main page and open the interesting headlines on new tabs, without losing the focus on the main page. I am so used to tabbed-browsing on Firefox, it disturbs me not being able to do that on my phone. Also, there should be an easy tapping gesture or shourtcut or something like that in order to navigate easily between tabs.

But from rendering point of view, I think it definitely deserves five stars!

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This is somewhat dependent on the OS version and UI skins. If I recall correctly, HTC SenseUI on the Droid Incredible allowed for a few more tabs than the stock OS. In ICS on the Galaxy Nexus the limit seems to be bumped up to 16. –  Malachi Feb 2 '12 at 20:06
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This is a very 'personal' question. Some websites can be a dealbreaker for you (the banking website) while most sites just work (for me anyways).

I'd suggest to create a list of your most visited websites and check how they look from a mobile browser, and do test a couple of them.

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I think for mobile browsing in general, a lot of sites now have mobile versions which make surfing on your phone a lot easier. So, regardless of what device you're using, the mobile site is optimized for a small screen.

Now, in regards to the Android browser (or any other browser available in the Android Market), you can easily zoom in on areas of interest on the site, either by double tapping on the area you want to zoom, or by pinch zooming. And, I've never had any problem loading websites. So, issues with general browsing should be minimal.

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I heavily use the android browser. Offhand, I can't recall visiting any sites that Froyo/2.2 hasn't been able to handle - even sites with mobile versions that I've switched to non-mobile. EXCEPT video. There have been sites for which videos have been a problem. Sometimes flash video, definitely the unsupported Silverlight video.

If anything, the device limitations of screen size or on-screen keyboards have been an issue - not the browser itself.

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I too have found the browser to be quite capable. Examples of sites I've used recently: nytimes.com (including annoying flash ads); Outlook web client (requires zooming in before almost every "click" due to small controls); Admin interface for Squarespace.com (have not tried everything, but can reset user passwords, and other minor changes); priceline.com; weather.gov and probably more. If you don't mind panning and zooming, it's quite tolerable, espcecially for something you can put in a shirt pocket. I have a Moto Droid with 2.2/Froyo.

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