Mozilla has released an updated version of their Firefox 4 Beta browser application on the Android market. With this update, Mozilla is touting faster start-up, page load times and improved zooming ability and responsiveness.
Mozilla does have some benchmark tests to back up their speedy claims, with several tests showing that Firefox is 2-3 times faster than the stock Android browser. That being said, I have yet to see any pages actually load faster in Firefox than in the stock browser, no matter whether I was running over 3G or Wi-Fi. In all cases, the load times were either about the same or the stock browser was slightly faster. I’m sure that under ideal circumstances, the Firefox application is indeed a bit faster than the stock browser, though I’m skeptical of the 2-3 times faster Mozilla is claiming.
Some users, however, are reporting faster load speeds with the new beta, so I think we can safely assume the experience will be varied depending on your connection and other factors.
Regardless of browsing and load speeds, where Firefox really differentiates itself is in the nearly 100 Firefox add-ons that you can install to customize your mobile browsing experience. These add-ons make your PC browsing experience better, and Mozilla is betting it will do the same for your Android browsing experience as well.
Another solid differentiator is the inclusion of Firefox sync, which syncs your bookmarks, history, tabs, and saved passwords across your Android and PC/Mac computers for continuity of your browsing experience across platforms.
Those positives aside, the Firefox Beta still does not support Adobe Flash, which is likely to be a dealbreaker for many. We can only hope they include Flash support in the next/final release. (Thanks, Cheapskate88!)
Finally, the updated Firefox application is slimmed down from previous releases, but still comes in at a whopping 20 MBs of space. Fortunately, Firefox allows you to move the application to your SD card (on Android 2.2+), making space basically a non-issue. Users still on Android 2.1 may want to ensure they have the space available on their device before attempting to install Firefox.
If you use Firefox on your regular computer, or you’re simply looking for something to replace the stock browser, you may want to head over to the market and try out the free Firefox 4 Beta.
If you’re still on the fence, you can read tons more about the update and check out their promo video on Firefox’s site.