Is Firefox 14 Really Worth Replacing Your Existing Android Browser? [Review]

Mozilla Firefox, along with Google Chrome, enjoys the distinction of being one of the most widely used desktop browsers. However, when discussing some of the best web browsers for smartphones and tablets, while Chrome for Android and Dolphin Browser HD are deemed as outright winners by most, Mozilla’s offering doesn’t cut the mustard for even hardcore Firefox fans. Despite living under the beta tag and receiving constant upgrades for quite some time now, the Android variant of Firefox has been a far cry as compared to its desktop counterpart. Things, however, started changing drastically with the last few updates, and with Firefox 14.0 now finally hitting the Play Store (after shedding the beta tag), Android users have been introduced to arguably the fastest, most feature-filled and elegant offering – at least by Mozilla’s standards.

If you’ve been following the previous (final and beta releases) of the browser, you might be well-aware of the fact that the support for add-ons, desktop content sync, private browsing and bookmark management have always been a part and parcel of Firefox for Android. Along with retaining all these goodies, the latest version of the browser brings super-quick loading, seriously improved rendering of webpages, better support for CSS, HTML5, Flash and JavaScript content, enhanced tab management, the Awesome Screen feature and plenty of eye candy to add to your mobile browsing experience. That said, is it really worth ditching your current default web browser? We’ll find out.

Firefox-14-Android-HomeFirefox-14-Android-Page


Personally speaking, I have never been a huge fan of Firefox; neither on desktop nor on my Android. To add to that, despite improving on almost all the various fronts considerably, Firefox still has some ground to cover before it can start challenging the very best in the business, such as Chrome for Android, Dolphin Browser HDor even the stock ICS browser. To help our readers easily identify what they will and will not be getting with the latest iteration of Mozilla Firefox for Android, we have decided to compile a list of the present and missing features. Here’s how it goes:

Present Features:

  • Faster app loading and webpage rendition, thanks largely to the folks over at Mozilla who finally decided to dump the XUL framework for the sake of developing the latest variant of their web browser according to the conventional Android goodies.
  • The Awesome Screen feature that makes navigating to your most visited, bookmarked and recently visited websites a breeze.
  • Option to access your desktop add-ons, bookmarks, passwords, preferences, history and tabs on your Android through the sync feature (didn’t work for me, at least).
  • Gorgeously laid start page that not only lists your most frequently and last visited pages, but also shows your Firefox add-ons as well as synced tabs.
  • Totally revamped tabbed browsing interface, with support for caching live thumbnails of the currently opened tabs.
  • Better support for CSS3, Flash, JavaScript, HTML5 and content from other open Web standards.
  • Improved control over privacy, cookie, history and password management, and the option to secure the app using a master password.
  • Among other goodies, you get your usual download manager, cache cleaning option, text size alteration, private browsing, quick bookmarking, multi-touch zoom gestures, automatically center the zoomed area et al.

Firefox-14-Android-TabsFirefox-14-Android-Awesome-Screen

Missing Features & Glitches:

  • No control over selection of User Agent (UA) string to open desired version of a website. Worse yet, the browser itself doesn’t accurately recognize what variant of the selected webpage to open. (Hint: try opening some simple websites like Google or Facebook).
  • Having used the Dolphin, stock ICS browser and Chrome for Android for quite long, life without real-time search suggestions for websites now seems bit incomplete – a fact that I realized after trying out the latest Firefox for Android.
  • Despite supporting Flash, the app constantly keeps asking to install the latest update. Moreover, Flash content won’t play at all on tablets and non-ICS Tegra 2 devices. As far as rendition of HTML5- based content goes, both Chrome for Android as well as Dolphin Browser HD are clear winners there.
  • If you’re looking to excerpt some piece of content from the currently opened webpage with Firefox, you’re out of luck. Yes, there is the option to save each webpage as a PDF file and save images locally, but you won’t be able to copy desired text from the selected webpage.
  • Ad-Block, the favorite add-on of many Firefox fans, seems to have been removed from the mix.

Firefox-14-Android-Page2Firefox-14-Android-Settings

To cut it short, while all aforementioned ‘available’ features are undoubtedly a welcome addition to the arsenal of the Android variant of Firefox, we can’t see the app immediately replacing your current Android browser, especially if you’re a Chrome, Dolphin or the stock ICS browser user. Hopefully, Mozilla will continue to keep putting in the hard yards to improve their product to a level where it can seriously stake its claim as being one of the most complete Android browsers. Firefox 14 for Android is available in the Google Play Store for free, and requires Android v2.2 or higher to run. The link provided below will take you to the Play Store page of Firefox for Android.

Download Firefox 14.0 for Android

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  • http://www.ecommunities.ca/ oucil

    The sync feature is the hands down biggest reason I’m a fan, and the fact that it didn’t work for you because you probably only spent 2 min trying to figure it out when admittedly you don’t use/like Firefox shouldn’t weigh on the value of that feature for the rest of us who it worked for without even trying.

    It’s been a rough ride but the last half dozen updates to the browser have made a world of difference, so while it might not have been the right pick for the average user prior to this, I think that tide is rolling out.

    • http://www.addictivetips.com/ Abdul Rehman

      Good to know that you like the browser so much. What’s even more appreciating about your feedback is the way you used the term ‘probably’, because it’s just your assumption that I might’ve spent a couple of minutes to make the feature work, which isn’t the case in reality (my conclusion was drawn after a 2-hour test). In fact, even before composing this reply, I once again put the sync feature in question to test, but to no avail. Try doing the same on Chrome for Android, and you’ll probably achieve your purpose in less than two minutes. Moreover, said feature (or the lack of it) is just one of the gripes that I have with the browser.
      We all admire the pace at which Firefox is improving on all fronts, and sincerely hope that we will soon have a very healthy competition among the big names in this regard, only for the end-users to benefit from the outcome – and I am among one of those users.

      • http://www.ecommunities.ca/ oucil

        I appreciate that you gave it a good whirl, and yes 2 hours is plenty of time to get to know it’s surface features. As you pointed out, good thing I pre-qualified my remarks. That said, as a developer I come from a different angle and spend orders of magnitude longer using all browsers ensuring consistency among client sites, so I’ve got a pretty good handle on all of their strengths and weaknesses. In the end it’s interface that rules the day in a mobile browser, special features are really only window dressings, and in that respect, this latest firefox beats them handily in my opinion. It’s intuitive for my wife who didn’t need anything more than an instruction to press it’s launcher instead of the android one.

        Your claim of coming at this from an end-users perspective however doesn’t really jibe with the fact that one of your main complaints is HTML5 consistency, considering HTML5 is still only de-facto and currently under development as a standard. Trust me, I have to fight with this all day long, I only wish I could solely rely on HTML5 and CSS3 but that’s not just the reality these days. Maybe in a year or two when adoption has really become consistent among all browsers both mobile and desktop, but for now, as much as you and I both feel it should be perfect today, you’re a little out of touch with the real state of the net.

  • ehidden

    such haters, firefox is an awesome browser.

  • http://skotgat.com/ Pranay Patel

    Yes, Firefox is a worth browser while google sucks with its Chrome all the time. I personally like Firefox too.

  • http://www.thesimpletechie.com The Simple Techie

    i like firefox on desktop particularly,,the chrome keeps crashing every time…

  • dusanmal

    One seemingly small but actually huge problem: you can’t install this (FREE!) app in any other fashion but through the Google Play Store. I use Android but refuse to use Google Store, so this is important to me in particular. However, it is important in general: a) OpenSource project; b) Free project,… why the Hell Google Store only? How can you limit a free and OpenSource project like that and for what purpose? Just leave damn direct download link on the Mozilla own page, not much to ask for…