Safari bests rival mobile browsers on Fixya's latest report

Safari bests rival mobile browsers on Fixya's latest report

Summary: Fixya has analyzed 61,582 "problem impressions" from users of its problem-fixing website and come up with usability ratings for the major mobile browsers, and the most complained-about problems

TOPICS: Browser, Mobile OS

Apple's Safari browser is the most usable and least problematic of the major mobile browsers, based on an analysis of "67,582 combined problem impressions" at the Fixya problem-fixing website. Fixya created ratings based on the number of complaints and the browser's market share based on NetMarketShare numbers. Obviously it doesn't claim to be a scientific survey, but it's probably a reasonable indicator of the marketplace.

Fixya Usability ratings
Overall results. A higher score is better. Credit: Fixya

Apple's Safari won by miles with a score of 1.31. Safari was followed by the stock Android browser (0.87), Opera (0.70) and Google's Chrome (0.64). Microsoft's Internet Explorer came a distant last (0.28).

The main complaints about Safari were the lack of Adobe Flash support (25 percent), "screen real estate" (25 percent) and poor video integration (20 percent) when Flash was not available.

The "screen real estate" issue refers to users "being frustrated with the URL bar disappearing at the top of the page when you scroll down". Although iOS7 improves things, Fixya says there are still "two bars on top and bottom of the screen, limiting web page size and reducing the amount of screen availability users have to read".

Opera was also dinged for "screen real estate" issues (40 percent) and Flash support (15 percent), plus security concerns (20 percent) about using Opera's servers.

The stock Android browser was popular for its Flash support, speed and simplicity, but suffered from random crashes (35 percent), "password concerns" and "limited support" (15 percent).

The "password concerns" are having passwords saved as plain text, while "limited support" reflects concerns about the stock browser playing second fiddle to Chrome.

Chrome was not far behind in its usability rating, but Fixya says its users found "the complete lack of Flash support and sporadic font recognition outweighed the (sometimes) sleek UI and cross platform compatibility that has made the browser so popular". Font recognition was the main problem (30 percent), followed by "tab issues" (25 percent), lack of Flash support (25 percent) and minor JavaScript incompatibilities (10 percent).

The main "tab issue" is when users try to open a link in a new tab and only get an about:blank page.

Internet Explorer was blasted for poor rendering of pages (35 percent), font recognition problems (20 percent) and its use of the Bing search engine (20 percent). Unfortunately, Fixya does not specify which versions this includes, but it notes that "Internet Explorer 10 is a much better product than previous iterations of the Microsoft browser".

Fixya says some IE users had problems switching the default search engine from Bing, or being "kicked out to the separate Bing app". The complaint about "poor rendering" is at least partly due to websites not catering for it properly, and serving up simplified pages.

The Fixya report reflects the US market and widely different numbers of "problem impressions". Safari, for example, had 28,672 and "stock Android 16,097, whereas Chrome and IE had only 3,741 and 4,151 respectively.

The full report is available on Fixya's website.

Fixya Safari ratings chart


Topics: Browser, Mobile OS

Jack Schofield

About Jack Schofield

Jack Schofield spent the 1970s editing photography magazines before becoming editor of an early UK computer magazine, Practical Computing. In 1983, he started writing a weekly computer column for the Guardian, and joined the staff to launch the newspaper's weekly computer supplement in 1985. This section launched the Guardian’s first website and, in 2001, its first real blog. When the printed section was dropped after 25 years and a couple of reincarnations, he felt it was a time for a change....

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  • Part of the reason Safari does so well

    is that the big mobile development frameworks (such as jQuery Mobile) target Safari as their primary platform. Which suggests that, like it or not, other browsers are going to have to steal and borrow certain things from Safari in order to provide a smooth mobile rendering experience.
    • Yes, great point

      Yes, great point
      Jack Schofield
    • Yes well

      Some browsers emulate the rendering even faster than safari using the iPad or iPhone user agent.

      The problem with this report is that it is only one area of the browser and doesn't include lesser known browsers like Dolphin.
      • I love dolphin

        I used it exclusively when I was using android, but iOS's strict OS which prevents changing default core apps is slowly killing it.
        new gawker
  • Incomplete analysis

    There's no mention of Mozilla's Firefox and Amazon's Silk browsers.
    Rabid Howler Monkey
    • Yer Right!

      Firefox ain't dead yet. FF is yet running with the best of 'em. Definitely holding its own.
      This conspicuous oversight for whatever lack of reason alone makes for skewed results.
  • Interesting

    "Fixya says some IE users had problems switching the default search engine from Bing, or being "kicked out to the separate Bing app". The complaint about "poor rendering" is at least partly due to websites not catering for it properly, and serving up simplified pages."

    Changing default search engine can be challenging.. if one does not know how to scroll and click buttons. Just go to settings -> advanced settings -> default search provider and select one.
    As for websites no rendering properly - desktop mode is your friend. Just go to settings->website preference and select desktop version.
    Haven't seen any big rendering problems but some pages with scrolling maps still do not work right. Interestingly google fixed their maps and they work now but there still are some other websites that do not handle scrolling and zooming properly.
    • I believe he's talking about

      Mobile versions, in which WP 8 has IE locked into bing.
      I hate trolls also
      • Mobile versions too

        In mobile version you can change search provider. I checked before writing my previous comment :)
  • I can't bring myself to put any belief in this report at all.

    Having looked at the full report, it seems they might as well just dropped numbers in a hat and picked a random number for each browser.

    First, the numbers for developer and user complaints comes from only, meaning if, for example, a majority of Safari users complain to Apple, not fixya, the numbers used to calc their 'impression ratio' are not even close to accurate.

    Second, the reports relies on NetMarketShare, with its known bias for commercial products, for market share %, which was divided by their 'impression ratio' to give the final number.

    Add it up, and I can't see how the conclusion of it being a "reasonable indicator of the marketplace" passes the smell test.
    • Here's my conclusion, which is also unscientific, but likely more correct:

      Based on the page for the full report, with an iPhone silhouette in the top center of the page, I can only conclude was commissioned to find the result they did by the company that won.
      • I think it's your

        own personal bias which brought you to your conclusion.
        new gawker
  • This seems highly suspect, they are measuring the websites more than the

    browsers when they attribute rendering issues caused by servers spewing different html based on ua. Also I'm curious just which devices they're seeing "mobile" IE on with versions less than IE10? They should either build their own pages or use the W3C html5 test pages. Take a group of users, give them a turn on these pages with each browser, and see what problems they report.
    Johnny Vegas
  • Where the hell is FireFox???

    Why was Firefox not included in this comparison? I prefer Firefox over any of the others that I have tried (including Safari).
    • Point Well Taken

      That's the very point R.H.M. and I raised above.
      Firefox is a major player. Which makes for a glaring omission.
      Which devalues the results substantially. What gives?