While mobile Safari does most of what you’d need from a smartphone web browser, and there are many alternatives that fill in the gaps, we prefer Chrome. Google’s browser offers excellent features, synchronization, and simplicity at no cost.
Platform: iPhone (and iPad)
- Unlimited browser “tabs”
- Syncs with your Google account to provide you with Chrome data from other browsers, including passwords, bookmarks, and more
- Saves sessions so you can access sites on your mobile on the desktop, and vice-versa
- Instant search
- Easily navigate with helpful gestures
- Private browsing mode
Where It Excels
Google Chrome for iPhone inherits the goodness of its desktop counterpart. Chrome’s syncing abilities truly make it wonderful, allowing you to take pretty much any data associated with Chrome and your Google account and have it on every single device the browser supports. That means you always have your bookmarks, passwords, history, search shortcuts, and so on. Google really does sync well, and that’s where Chrome shines beyond Apple’s Safari. That said, its other features pretty much stack up evenly. You might prefer its user interface or that of any other browser. Its feature set doesn’t set it above a variety of other third-party options. When you want to know why Chrome is the best, just look at its syncing abilities. That’s where it wins.
Where It Falls Short
Chrome doesn’t have a lot of features. It doesn’t beat out mobile Safari in a variety of areas for this reason. As mentioned in the previous section, we like Chrome because it syncs so well. No other browser—including Safari—does such a great job. If you use Chrome on the desktop, you’ll probably want it on your mobile. If you don’t, however, you lose its main advantage. When it comes to a mobile browser, you generally want to match yours with your choice on the desktop to keep data in sync. We think Chrome does the best job on the desktop so naturally we feel you ought to make it your browser of choice on your iPhone as well.
Atomic, our previous top pick, has just about every feature you could possibly want in a mobile web browser (or a desktop web browser for that matter). You can clear history, cookies, and all sorts of other crap you don’t want lying around on your mobile. In fact, Atomic will do it for you on quit so you don’t even have to remember. You get proper tabbed browsing, which can be extended into kiosk mode (full screen) to make more room for the web page. Atomic even has advanced features like a download manager that can decompress zip archives, an ad blocker, and the ability to save web pages locally. It’s easy to use, endlessly customizable, stable, and only costs $ 1 for the full version. It’s really a fantastic browser with a great balance of all the things you’d really need, but might feel cumbersome to those who don’t want a desktop-like experience.
Perfect Web Browser is a common alternative to Atomic, offering many of the same features and a fairly similar interface. It attempts to provide a desktop experience on your iPhone, but it definitely achieves that better on the iPad thanks to the extra screen real estate. It costs the same as Atomic (unless you want the iPad version, too, in which case Perfect will cost you an extra $ 4) and there’s very little different, but we’ve used both for some time and just prefer Atomic. You may disagree, and at $ 1 each there’s little risk in trying them both out.
360 Browser has an interesting user interface with lots of navigation shortcuts and adds support for Flash. Yes, Flash—that thing Apple basically banned from your iDevice. It also has support for Firefox sync so you can easily grab all your bookmarks, tabs, and passwords. Like the others, it’ll only cost you $ 1.
Previously mentioned Meteoric Download Manager is technically not advertised as a web browser, but it works as one just the same. You won’t get a desktop-like browsing experience, but if your focus is downloading and managing files it is an excellent option.
Lifehacker’s App Directory is a new and growing directory of recommendations for the best applications and tools in a number of given categories.