6 iPad and iPhone Browser Apps

Best Alternatives to Safari

The iPhone and iPad may come loaded with Safari, but that does not mean you're stuck with just that browser. Several good iPhone browser apps have been released, giving you more options for your mobile browsing experience. We found iPhone browsers that can play Flash video or navigate web pages significantly faster than Safari. There's also browser apps that can ​stream audio and video to an Apple TV. See which iPhone browsers earn a recommendation. 

Tanya Menoni, a former Contributing Writer to this site covering apps, contributed to this article.

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Google Chrome for iPhone
Google Chrome for iPhone. Chrome copyright Google Inc.

What We Like

  • Can force desktop version of websites.

  • Address bar search.

  • Sync with Google account.

  • Voice search feature.

What We Don't Like

  • Can't set as default browser.

  • Uses more system resources.

  • Privacy concerns.

Chrome (Free) offers tight integration with Google accounts and services, search built into the menu bar, and some nice user interface options. Due to Apple's rules for web browser apps, it's essentially Safari with a new design on top, but it's still nice to see competition among iOS web browsers kick into high gear. Overall rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.

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Opera Mini Browser

What We Like

  • Quick web search.

  • Very fast browser.

  • Low data consumption.

What We Don't Like

  • Lower image quality.

  • Can't set as default browser.

The Opera Mini Browser (Free) is a terrific alternative to Safari. It is significantly faster than the iPhone's built-in browser app, and you can really tell the difference when browsing graphic-heavy websites. Opera Mini is so much faster because it shows you a compressed version of the web page that is routed through its servers (according to the developers, all data is encrypted beforehand). The large navigation buttons are also easier to use than those on Safari. However, pinching and zooming isn't quite as elegant using the Opera Mini Browser -- content seems to jump all over the place. Overall rating: 4.5 stars out of 5. 

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Photon flash browser
Photon browser. Photon copyright Appsverse Inc.

What We Like

  • Seamlessly plays Flash content.

  • Features multiple tabs.

  • Split screen for using Flash while browsing.

What We Don't Like

  • Can be buggy on older iOS systems.

  • Can not store passwords.

  • Not a free browser.

Photon ($3.99) makes the best claim on delivering Flash to the iPhone of any browser on this list. It does this by streaming a remote desktop session from a computer that runs Flash to your iPhone. Needless to say, this can sometimes be a little slow or cause some user interface weirdness, but overall, it works. Over Wi-Fi, in particular, Hulu videos may be a bit pixelated, but they play smoothly and audio stays in sync. This isn't a desktop Flash experience, but it's the best I've seen on the iPhone so far. Overall rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.

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iphone browsers
CloudBrowse app. image copyright AlwaysOn Technologies Inc.

What We Like

  • Enables Flash and Java content.

  • Built on Mozilla Firefox.

  • Includes SSL encryption.

What We Don't Like

  • Out of date browser.

  • App is not free.

To get around the problem of the iOS not supporting Flash or Java, CloudBrowse ($2.99, plus subscription) uses a neat trick: it runs a full desktop version of FireFox on a server and then streams that session to your iOS device so you get all the benefits of Firefox. However, because it's a desktop browser, not one specifically designed for the iOS, you also can a lot of rough edges and odd interface experiences. Plus, Flash audio and video get out of sync easily and playback is jerky. Good idea, but the execution isn't there yet. Overall rating: 2.5 stars out of 5.

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Puffin. Puffin Browser copyright CloudMosa Inc.

What We Like

  • Enables using Flash.

  • Very fast browser.

  • Uses less data than most browsers.

What We Don't Like

  • Can be buggy.

  • Flash content can be slow.

Puffin (Free) is another app that touts its ability to be "wicked fast." "Once users experience the thrilling speed of Puffin, regular Mobile Internet feels like torture," is how is advertised on iTunes. Speed is it's best feature. Overall rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.