While every new smartphone comes with a preinstalled mobile browser, users can decide to choose alternative browsers available through third-party developers. Currently the most popular ones are UC Browser, Firefox for mobile, Opera Mini and Mobile, and Dolphin Browser. In this post we take a closer look at third-party mobile browsers’ popularity based on DeviceAtlas statistics.
Why users install third party mobile browsers
Alternative browsers need some extra effort from users who must find and install these apps manually. But despite the extra effort required, many users decide to try alternative browsers to get a better mobile browsing experience.
Users install these apps when they feel the websites should load faster, and use less bandwidth on their phones. Some third party browsers are also considered lighter in terms of disk space and more secure.
Here are the stats on the most popular alternative mobile browsers.
UC Browser was created by a Chinese company UCWeb which belongs to the online retail giant Alibaba. According to StatCounter’s statistics, it was the world’s third most popular mobile browser in November 2015 with a little less than 17% market share (after Chrome and Safari). UC Browser’s market share based on website hits tracked by DeviceAtlas shows that there was only one country where UC Browser surpassed 17% in Q3 2015. This means that while UC Browser has a lot of users, they probably don’t browse as much as people using other mobile browsers. UC Browser is available to download for free from Google Play, Apple App Store and Windows Phone Store.
Firefox for mobile
Firefox is a very successful browser for desktop and laptop computers but its mobile version is not as popular. Developed in 2010, Firefox for mobile was first made available for Android users in 2011. Firefox is also a preinstalled browser on smartphones using Firefox OS. The iOS version of Firefox is reportedly in development.
Opera Mini and Opera Mobile
Opera Mini can be used on Android, iOS, Windows Phone and feature phones, while Opera Mobile is available for Android and iOS. Users particularly like the Mini version due to the fact that it processes and compresses websites so that they load faster on low-end mobile phones and require less data.
According to Statcounter, Opera Mini / Mobile is the fifth most used mobile browser with over 11% market share.
Here are the most recent statistics on website hits generated by Opera Mini and Opera Mobile in selected countries.
Another alternative browser is called Dolphin Browser released in 2010 for Android devices. Currently it is also available for iOS and Windows Phone.
Dolphin Browser is often praised for its speed and simplicity.
Check this article if you’re looking for the most used default mobile browsers which are (typically) preinstalled on mobile devices including Chrome Mobile, Android Browser, Safari Mobile and IE Mobile.
How to detect mobile browsers
If you're looking to detect mobile browsers to serve mobile-optimized experience, it is possible with DeviceAtlas. We explained how to do it in this post.
Bear in mind that when browser-specific information is not available in the User Agent string, other HTTP headers need to be examined. This refers to detecting side-loaded browsers which is something DeviceAtlas can handle as well.
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