#N9Apps: Best Third Party browser for Harmattan

| October 8, 2012 | 133 Replies

I was scrolling through Twitter a few weeks ago, and saw a post about Nemo Mobile ( MeeGo 1.3 CE), and a browser it shares with the N9, HeliumReborn. I decided to try it out again, as it had apparently been updated a lot from my last experience. Using it, I thought about SnowShoe, that Qt 5 browser. So I went and installed that again, also largely improved. So there I had 5 browsers, Native, Opera, Firefox (v14), SnowShoe and Helium.

After posting about having “all” the Harmattan browsers on Twitter, I was directed to another, UC Browser. Also installed that. Then I remembered there was a Qt rewrite project of Fennec (Firefox). Although the rewrite is limited, it is still super slick, with no checker boarding. I say limited as it cannot click links, and needs terminal to launch it. You can see a video of it running below.

So for me, its current state made it no longer a competitor. Hopefully in the future, it will be a contender.

Down to the deciding.

UC Browser

This is the same as the Symbian counterpart. It is in Chinese, with the possibility to get partial English support by way of a mod. It is fairly average, and is no longer supported for the platform. Thus, I don’t recommend it at all. Its current state is poor, and with no hope of it getting better, there is simply no reason to use it.

Verdict: Stay away


Opera has always been an awesome browser. I used it heaps on Symbian, and when it came out for the N9, I jumped at the chance to use it. It is super slick. Easy to use, and fairly feature packed. Earlier versions were a bit buggy, but the latest version has definitely come along way. With the option to use Opera as the default browser, data compression, no checker boarding and easy-switching to a desktop user agent, it is a serious option.

What I don’t like, is the lack of customisation in the keyboard department. I like the Harmattan keyboard and with various custom keyboards available, I find myself switching between them regularly. With Opera, you are stuck with the included one. I would like to see a Harmattan style UI, but it is understandable why it is the way it is ie. standard across all supported mobile platforms.

Verdict: Recommended Install


Snowshoe is awesome! It uses Qt5 and webkit2 technologies to bring a really slick and refined experience. Sadly the project hasn’t been updated in around 2 months, and it had great potential. Its fully open sourced so hopefully we will see it improved by the community. The UI of Snowshoe is cool. You have a tab view, and also a top sites page.This is one of my favorite browsers, just a shame that it isn’t fully stable yet.

Verdict: Give it a try


Now for the browser that kick-started the whole post. It is slick, it is fast, it is just all-round, well, awesome! It is understandable why this is the default browser in Nemo. Although being different, it still keeps the Harmattan-esque UI. I’ve been using Helium as my main browser for the last week on my N950. It has been hard to fully swap from the native browser on my N9 (especially since my native browser has the iOS6 User Agent and Qt 5), but it is a very solid, and finished browser. Pinch to Zoom is extremely fluid, and pages load quickly.

Not really anything bad I can find about it, except that I haven’t found an option to make it the default browser.

Verdict: Recommended Install

Fennec (Firefox)

Finally we have Fennec or Firefox for Maemo. Its a decent browser, and with the ability to have Flash support, makes it hard to beat. however, the UI is average, found to be a resource hog and besides support as default browser and for flash, it doesn’t really offer anything over the other browsers. The ability to use SOME firefox addons is nice, but there is definitely a limited number compatible.

Verdict: Give it a try

So, from that, it seems fairly clear that I would choose the best browser to be either Opera or Helium. I am leaning more towards Helium. Mainly due to the UI, and the fact I can use the native keyboards. Its a great browser that I would recommend to all Harmattan users to at least try.

Have you used some of these browsers? Have your say in the comments section below!



Category: Applications, Maemo, MeeGo, N9Apps, Nokia

About the Author ()

Hi! My name is Michael. I currently live in Sydney, working on all things Digital Marketing. I have a real passion for the latest technology and I'm a real Nokia buff! My aim is to keep those of you, like myself, updated with the latest in what's going on in the Nokia World. Get in touch on Twitter via @MFaroTusino, or even simply drop me an email at mike.mnb[at] or tips[at]