Pros And Cons Of Proxy Mobile Browsers

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Proxy browsers

Proxy mobile browsers are browsers designed for mobile devices, but with the internet traffic routed through proxy servers, usually for the purpose of data compression. Popular examples include Opera Mini and UCWeb. Other mobile proxy browsers include: Nokia’s Xpress browser, Amazon’s silk browser, and Skyfire. BlackBerry’s browser is not a proxy browser, but the whole device has its internet data routed through RIM’s proxy servers anyway and so the issues involved here are valid.

A proxy browser requests web pages through the maker’s servers, which processes and compresses them before sending them to the mobile phone, speeding up transfer and dramatically reducing the amount of data transferred. This makes for lower web browsing expenses. The pre-processing often also increases compatibility with web pages not designed for mobile phones.

Pros

Speed. users get much faster internet browsing
Cost reductions. Because data is compressed, users spend less on web browsing
Improvement of compatibility of web pages not designed for small screens. Huge, large and complex webpages designed for desktop PCs are stripped down, making it easier to be displayed on small screens

Cons

Security. The big con of proxy browsers is the issue of security. Proxy browsers often route secure Web page requests through the proxy servers, though some do not. As a rule, if security is a big issue for you during web browsing, stay away from proxy browsers.


Rich media/functionality support. Proxy browsers also often lack support for rich media, so some uber-cool advanced features on webpages tend to get stripped out in the compression process. For example, when browsing the Web with Opera Mini, JavaScript is processed by the proxy server, and is merely rendered on the device. This limits interactivity. Scripts cannot be run in the background on the device. If a script is paused on the server, the user must do something to make Mini talk to the server to un-pause it. JavaScript will only run for a couple of seconds on the Mini server before pausing, due to resource constraints. The idea is so that mobile devices that are low on resources can have fast web browsing.

Conclusions

As always, I seek to educate and enlighten and so have presented both sides to proxy servers. This article does not seek to condemn or promote. Just be aware, so that you can make informed and intelligent choices. Happy web browsing!

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9 comments

  1. Quite educative.

    Web with Opera Mini,
    JavaScript is processed by the
    proxy server, and is merely
    rendered on the device. This
    limits interactivity. Scripts
    cannot be run in the
    background on the device. If
    a script is paused on the
    server, the user must do
    something to make Mini talk
    to the server to un-pause it.
    JavaScript will only run for a
    couple of seconds on the Mini
    server before pausing, due to
    resource constraints.

    This is the exact reason why I keep non proxy_server based browsers (Dolphin, Opera Mobile and ucWeb Full).

    That way, sites with scripts – that can not be handled by the server folks – can be accessed effectively.

  2. Quite educating. Opera Mini has really served so many people well, though the way javascript and some other web components are handled means you must revert to full browsers to get some things on the web done right. But, Bolt Browser, I believe was almost as good as desktop browsers, even handling javascripts and some other complex web components well. I think Bolt Browser was the closest proxy-based browser to the desktop browsers both in web standards compatibility and visual rendering.

  3. the pros are more than the cons in my own opinion. Speed and cheap data is what i need most of the time. Once in a while when i need javascript opera mobile is installed. Mr Mo thanks for the article. I now know better 😉

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