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S60 Versus Windows Mobile: The Web Browser

IE MobileI was in a place where my Nokia E61 doesn’t get any GSM or WiFi signal. I had brought the HTC Mogul Qwest lent me for review, which had a usable EVDO signal. I spent some time actually using the Internet Explorer browser on the HTC Mogul and I came away with some interesting observations.

Disclaimer: I work for a competitor of both HTC and Microsoft in the smartphone space. That being said, my day job currently has nothing to do with smartphones. This is my own opinion.

Internet Explorer Mobile, or IE Mobile, is completely unrelated to Internet Explorer on the desktop. Wikipedia says that IE Mobile was written from scratch to be as small and as fast as possible. It does seem to do a fair job rendering pages, but there are several annoyances I find with the browser that make it difficult for me to want to use on a regular basis.

The biggest showstopper in my mind: the amount of utterly wasted space. Compare these two screenshots of my Gmail inbox side by side (click the pictures for a larger version):

Gmail on IE Mobile

The main differences between these two browsers in the User Interface are as follows:

  • The button bar along the bottom is bigger in IE. It also doesn’t exactly line up with the corresponding hardware keys in the HTC Mogul.
  • There is no URL field showing in the S60 3rd Edition browser. I generally don’t need that information. The only way to get the URL field to disappear is to go into full screen mode. Which brings me to my next point:
  • The scroll bar along the right hand size is much more compact on the S60 browser than it is on IE Mobile.

In Full Screen mode, IE Mobile requires an extra keypress to activate any items in the menu. The S60 browser doesn’t quite have a full screen mode–the status bar along the top remains, but the button bar along the bottom can be made to disappear.

The other thing that the S60 Browser has that IE Mobile does not is the mini map. You can see exactly where you are on that big desktop-quality webite. Didn’t see an option for that in Windows Mobile.

One thing I will say about IE Mobile: it has a heck of a lot more memory at it’s disposal than many S60 devices. I know that some of Nokia’s newer handsets sport more RAM for running applications. That should improve the browsing experience substantially, though I have not had the joy of experiencing it myself.

IE Mobile also makes use of the click wheel present in ever Windows smartphone. It makes scrolling through a website much easier.

So there you have it. Which browser do you prefer? Why? Leave your thoughts in the comments.


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