While I would expect many people to leave behind Android 4.0’s stock browser for something like Chrome or Opera, I have based this section on the stock browser to keep things more interesting between reviews.
Most of us just expect something to work, and work without drawing any complaints. The stock browser on the Prime does exactly this. Asus has decided to leave the browser untouched, much like the rest of the software, so it is the stock Ice Cream Sandwich browser. Adversely, HTC often goes to lengths to improve the web experience, without actually achieving anything of notice.
Thanks to the fact we have a 10.1 inch tablet with a 1280 by 800 resolution you able to view and read full webpages with ease. Text reflow is still present for those few occasions you may encounter tiny text.
At all times at the top of the screen will be the tab bar which also grants the option to open a new tab, that by default opens your homepage.
Further to the right along the same bar is three vertical dots menu key, this is new to Android in Ice Cream Sandwich. The old menu button that used to be with the rest of the Android navigational buttons has been retired by Google.
Options accessed from here include refresh, new tab, new incognito tab, share page, find on page, request desktop site, page info and settings.
Also new to Android 4.0 is the ability to save webpages for offline reading, and it is accessed from the menu dropdown. It saves an image of the page and can be retrieved from the bookmark menus. It works well in practice, but since it is an image it does save it in the state you left the webpage. No text reflow or links, just the ability to zoom, scroll and read. It even acts like a ad-blocker of sorts, we found that it removed the ads from the top right of KitGuru’s pages.
Below the tab bar is the URL bar and it is treated by the browser like an additional header to the page. It has the usual back, forward and refresh buttons on the left side of the URL bar. While on the right is a star, a search magnifying glass and a link to the bookmark menus.
The star is obvious enough, it is there to add bookmarks to either a homescreen or locally on the tablet. Adding bookmarks here to your Google account bookmarks will sync with your Google account and changes are reflected on your PC or laptop.
The search magnifying doesn’t do much more than selecting and clearing the URL bar. Double tapping it will allow you to use voice search.
Into the bookmarks menu now, which is accessed from the right end of the URL bar has three tabs for bookmarks, history and saved pages. Your Chrome bookmarks are integrated into the browser and there is a small collection of local bookmarks as well.
In the history tab you are able to see history based on the date it was viewed or by most visited webpages. You can delete your history straight from here instead of having to take a trip into the more detailed settings menu.
The saved pages tab will display your previously saved pages in a tab format, tapping once will load up the page. A long tap will bring up the option to delete it. It is all pretty simple yet functional; we have Google to thank for that.
Page loading on the Prime was impressive, KitGuru loaded in about 6 seconds and BBC’s desktop site in 4 seconds over my 10 Mb/s Wi-Fi connection. The stock browser’s performance felt overall equal to Chrome for Android.
The main conclusion is that you wont be complaining about the Prime’s page loading performance, or scrolling smoothness for that matter, but that is to be expected when you have a quad core processor under the hood.