I don’t have an iPhone but I do have an iPod Touch that I use just as much as my laptop, sometimes more. I’m not a huge fan of the default Safari mobile browser and I know many others who aren’t as well. There are numerous browsers in the Apple app store to use as alternatives, most of which will cost you at least $.99. If you’re like me, you probably don’t want to spend money testing out all the browsers in order to find the one you really like. So, how about trying out a few of the free browsers instead? Surprisingly, most of them are just as good (if not better) than Safari – as you’ll see below.

Atomic Lite

Atomic web browser lite for iPhone. Features

  • You have the ability to add bookmarks that can also be organized into folders.
  • You can open the current page you’re viewing in Safari.
  • Rotation lock allows you to look the screen so that it stays in that position no matter how you turn your device.
  • Ability to share web pages on Facebook, Twitter or via email.
  • Private mode can be turned on (off by default). When on, the browser won’t save any of your history and your cookies will be automatically cleared when exiting.
  • You can search using many different search engines (just like the search box on Firefox). This list can be edited – add and remove search engines as you like.
  • You can choose to hide images in order to speed up the loading time of web pages.

Likes

  • Tab support – you can choose between web browser style or list view (like in mobile Safari). Also you can hold down a link on any web page to open it in a new tab.
  • Full screen view with customizable settings – you can choose to show/hide tabs, show/hide the back button, show/hide the forward button and change the menu transparency.
  • Address bar history – when entering a new web address you get a drop-down list of possible matches.
  • Web page search – helps you quickly find a word or phrase within the current web page that you’re viewing.
  • You can change your color scheme (and view the changes in real-time); there are 14 to choose from.

Dislikes

  • None

Full Version Additional Features ($.99)

  • Startup screen options – can load homepage, last viewed page, last session, or blank page on startup.
  • You’re able to view an unlimited tabs number of tabs
  • Ad block via URL filtering; comes with default filters but can add own.
  • You can save web pages for offline viewing.
  • Identify browser as desktop Safari, Firefox, IE6, IE7, IE8 or a WAP device.
  • You can password protect the browser so that no one can use it but you.
  • You can change the font size.
  • You can import your bookmarks from your Mac or PC.
  • Ability to view the page source of any web page.

I can honestly say, I’m complete satisfied with this browser and willing to pay $.99 for the full version. It’s definitely at the top of the list.

Mango

Mango browser for iPhone.Features

  • Tab support – you can show or hide the tab bar whenever you like.
  • It remembers your last viewed web page and opened tabs.
  • You can open the current page you’re viewing in Safari.
  • Ability to share web pages on Twitter or via email.
  • Rotation lock allows you to look the screen so that it stays in that position no matter how you turn your device.
  • You can translate the current web page into Korean or English via Google Translate.
  • You can use Google search via the top right icon to search the web.

Likes

  • It’s totally free – there is only ONE version so, there’s no paying for a “full” version.
  • Web page search – helps you quickly find a word or phrase within the current web page that you’re viewing.
  • Full screen view with the ability to shake your device to go back to regular view (or just tap exit).
  • You can change your color scheme; there are 8 to choose from.

Dislikes

  • There is a 6 tab limit; tabs are not labeled so you’ll have to memorize which tab is where or just go through each one until you get to the one you want.
  • Non-customizable home page – It comes with the Mango default start page that shows various frequently used websites organized by category (ie. Google, Yahoo, Gmail, Facebook, Twitter) but, you can’t add or remove sites.
  • In order to change your theme you have to go to the device settings (as opposed to doing this within the browser), therefore changes cannot be viewed in real-time like Atomic Lite (mentioned above).
  • Doesn’t seem to remember which pages you’ve visited, when typing a URL that you’ve visited before nothing “pops up”.
  • You can’t add bookmarks; it’s not supported.

Though Mango browser lacks a few features, it’s still a solid browser and the features it does have are well worth the $0 price tag!

VanillaSurf

VanillaSurf browser for iPhone.Features

  • You have the ability to add bookmarks that can also be organized into folders; you can also import bookmarks from Safari desktop or Firefox, or export them from VanillaSurf using the built-in web server.
  • Rotation lock allows you to look the screen so that it stays in that position no matter how you turn your device.
  • You can open the current page you’re viewing in Safari.
  • You can sear the web via Google, Yahoo, Wikipedia, Amazon or eBay search engines.
  • You can share the current web page via email.
  • You can take a screenshot of the current web page.
  • You can download and save images by tapping and holding the image.
  • You can choose to hide images in order to speed up the loading time of web pages.
  • You can turn on the ad-blocker and/or private surfer under settings; both are off by default.
  • “If you’re in Safari and want to open the current page in VanillaSurf add this code as a bookmarklet in Safari: “javascript:document.location.href=’vsurf://’+document.location.href;” and then just open this bookmarklet on the current page.”

Likes

  • It’s totally free – there is only ONE version so, there’s no paying for a “full” version.
  • Full screen browsing with the ability to minimize the toolbar down to a single button (that is used to bring the toolbar back up).
  • Tab support with offline viewing support.
  • You can download files from any website right within VanillaSurf and then transfer those files to your Mac or PC via the bult-in web server.
  • You can set ANY page as your home page.
  • You can change your theme but, there are only 2 to choose from.
  • Address bar history – when entering a new web address you get a drop-down list of possible matches.

Dislikes

  • Tabs can only be viewed in list view (like mobile Safari) as opposed to desktop style.

VanillaSurf offers a lot of features that you just can’t beat for free! With only one dislike, this browser is definitely in my top list.

This is Part 1 of “6 Free Browser Alternatives for the iPhone and iPod Touch”. To see the second half of this list, be sure to check out Part 2 tomorrow.