All WebKit based browsers should be the same, right? Wrong; they’re all unique, and Nokia’s suck.

The video above is something Ricky Cadden from Symbian Guru and I made over 2 years ago, before the iPhone was even released. Until today, I believed stating your mobile browser was based on WebKit meant absolutely nothing since all WebKit browsers rendered websites in the exact same way. Turns out I was wrong, very wrong. Peter-Paul Koch, a freelancer based out of Amsterdam, discovered that if you gathered up all the WebKit based desktop and mobile web browsers out there, you would up having 19 different versions of the WebKit engine. Which one is the best overall? Safari 4.0 for Windows. Which one is the best mobile browser? Safari in iPhone OS 3.1. What about the worst mobile browser? S60 3rd Edition. Second worst mobile browser? S60 5th Edition. Funny considering the fact that Nokia was the first company to even ship a WebKit based browser on a mobile phone. What’s really puzzling is Google. They make both a desktop WebKit based browser called Chrome, and a WebKit based browser for their Android mobile operating system. The fairly recent HTC G2, which some of you may know as the MyTouch, doesn’t even compete with the first version of Google Chrome, which was released in September of 2008!

What this should tell you is the importance of having upgradeable firmware. I’m not talking about issuing a bug fixing ROM, I’m talking about upgrading key components inside a mobile device. One of the most attractive things about the iPhone so far is that people who purchased the very first iPhone over 2 years ago can still run the latest software. The same thing is occurring with popular Android devices getting version 1.6. Several Windows Mobile 6.1 devices are also being upgraded to version 6.5, but what about Nokia? Are you dooming your users to run the same software, which become obsolete the second it leaves the factory, for the rest of their lives?

  • Ricky Cadden

    You had to dig that up, didn’t you?

  • Rob Toole

    What’s your point dog? Is it that mobile browsers should not be an embedded offering? Should folks have to seek out browser like PC users do with Firefox and Chrome?

    Nokia offers OTA firmware updates so yes, you can get an updated browser if they offer it. But they aren’t required to issue new software for legacy device.

    Check the N900 browser when it comes out. Doubt you’ll say it sucks.

    BTW, Ricky’s shorter than I though he was. Was he wearing his cowboy boots that day?

  • Chris P

    But the issue is with apple you have to pay to upgrade (several times over if you are a 1st gen iphone owner). But then again with Nokia you need to buy a whole new handset, but surley people do that every 12-18months anyway. But I do see your point, Nokia should improve their browser..

    • KennMSr

      Never had to pay once to upgrade my, day one 2007, iPhone, even my Battery replacement was FREE with my Applecare, before it ran out (I mean a hole new Phone). So I’m still using it and ‘Lov’in it’ after 2 1/2 years. Sure I can’t use the Compass, Video Editor, or True GPS but since AT&T hasn’t been gracious enough to provide 3G coverage where I live and work I’ll hang on to my Gen 1 and keep paying $15 US LESS per month for service I use heavily every month. So YES upgrade me to 3.11 ASAP and I’ll have iTunes upgrade me immediately.

      • Chris P

        err you pay for Applecare dont you – If Im not mistaken that means it wasnt free..

        • KennMSr

          Still Cheaper than having to pay Apple for just the Battery replacement (iPhone Exchange). I consult for a living and tell all my customers that have portable computing appliances to make sure to take the extended warrantees. You don’t know when you will set it down too hard and shake up some of the electronics. If it’s just sitting on your desk the failure risk is significantly reduced there very good surge protectors or battery backups are the must haves. Applecare is like an insurance policy if you wreck your car and the insurance company pays for the repairs. Yes, it’s not a FREE repair but it sure puts less of a hurt on your wallet than not having the Insurance. TANSTAFL

          • Chris P

            So you effectively took out an extended insurance policy – well done you for your foresight. Please tell me what point that has to the point in hand. Grow some brains.

  • Chris P

    (Well Symbian, not Nokia) (Unless their Maemo browser sucks too!).

  • Johan Mynhardt

    I’m now TOTALLY confused. At work I’m working on mobile widgets that runs inside “web runtimes”. We created the widget for a Nokia N97 using Google Web Toolkit and that proved to work fairly well.

    Then after that, the Android came up next. AFAIK it uses WebKit as well. Did it render as good as on the N97? That’s a different story. Sad to say, I am disappointed. For example, a ScrollPanel is useless on the Android(1.5). It renders, but there is no scroll functionality, at all.

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