While the likes of Chrome, Firefox, Dolphin and Opera are generally amongst the top candidates to claim the best Android web browser title, these heavyweights are often considered as a secondary option by those who are just looking for a fast, simple and lightweight mobile browser that is void of any unwanted bells and whistles. If you’re hunting for a barebones browser supporting just the basic features, XDA member anthonycr’s Lightning Browser might well be up your alley. With a file size of just 200KB and a relatively small memory footprint, Lightning Browser is arguably one of the tiniest full-featured Android web browsers available in the Play Store. What’s more, it also supports Adobe Flash!
In terms of aesthetics, the browser sports looks similar to Chrome for Android. For that matter, it also offers quite several features found in Chrome and other mainstream browsers including tabbed browsing, bookmarks management, webpage sharing, password saving, pinch-to-zoom gestures and a lot more.
As mentioned above, Lightning Browser supports natively playing Flash content, provided you have Flash Player installed on your device. Furthermore, you can also set a custom User Agent (UA) string to view a device or OS-specific version of your favorite webpages. The engine used in the development of the browser is the same as the one utilized by the stock Android browser. This particular aspect combined with a minimal interface and only the features most people will need gives Lightning Browser a clear edge over most of its counterparts. In terms of compatibility, Lightning Browser’s support spans from Android 2.2 Froyo to the latest iteration of Google’s mobile OS, Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.
As of now, the browser lets you simultaneously work with a maximum of five different tabs, which might sound limiting to some but is usually sufficient for most of us on mobile devices. You can add a new tab in the same way as you would do on Chrome and several other browsers (by hitting the + button). However, to close a tab, you’ll need to hold down on it for a couple of seconds. Since the app is void of any advanced features, you don’t have much to do with a webpage besides adding it to bookmarks, interacting with the embedded URLs, extracting some piece of text to share it through a compatible app, or search the web for selected keywords. Though that’s all most of us need from a mobile browser.
The app’s settings screen can be used to specify a custom homepage, toggle Adobe Flash support, auto-clear app cache on exit, enable/disable the password saving feature for websites, and select a custom User Agent of your choice. Having tested the app on HTC Desire Z, Nexus 4 and Nexus 10, we found it to be snappier than most alternative browsers in terms of both loading and browsing.
As most of you would know, Flash is no longer supported on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and above. However, you may follow our detailed guide to install Adobe Flash on any device running Android 4.1 and higher through an unofficial means. Even on devices with Flash support, Flash Player must be installed beforehand in order to load Flash content.
All in all, Lightning Browser seems to have made a good debut in the Play Store. The encouraging thing is that the developer is open to user suggestions and aims to improve the app with the passage of time.