This shift in perception has really enabled the mobile web to shine, and has inspired some of the well-travelled mobile sites we now have at our disposal. It has also given rise to a new breed of mobile browsers.
Safari, on the iPhone, gave rise to mobile versions of some of the biggest and best known browsers. Microsoft brought along Internet Explorer, Mozilla (eventually) mobilised Firefox and Opera has had its own mobile browsers for a while.
Where does this leave us? We all know that not every mobile phone is created equal. Some handsets are far better at carrying out your internet dreams than others, and finding the best browsing experience among the smorgasbord of smartphones can be nigh-on impossible.
We’ve tested and used every handset out there; finding which mobiles deliver the web wrapped in all its glory, and which ones delivered it in little more than a paper bag.
So here’s our list of the best internet phones for the four most popular operating systems, as well as four of the best alternative browsers available, should you want a super-charged internet experience.
Samsung Galaxy Nexus – Android
It seemed unlikely that we could create a list of internet phones without the official Google phone. Google’s partnership with Samsung, having previously spawned the Nexus S, also gave life to the Galaxy Nexus.
Being the first Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich smartphone to hit the market, the already strong native Android browser now boasts even greater functionality. Features such as built-in page saving removes the need for extra apps, as well as helping to reduce your data consumption.
If that wasn’t enough, with a 4.65-inch Super AMOLED screen on the face, and a 1.2GHz dual-core at its heart, the Nexus zips through providing a more than satisfying experience.
iPhone 4S – iOS
We can’t deny that, like everyone else, we were disappointed to be given an iPhone 4S not the 5, but this really is a standout handset. The 4S didn’t bring in revolutionary features, but it didn’t need to. Adding iOS 5 and the novel, yet functional, Siri to an already superb phone was never going to be a bad thing.
Backed up with Apple’s dual-core processor, mobile browsing is swifter, taking around three seconds to load the full TechRadar site. Apple’s retina display is pin-sharp and text is legible even when fully zoomed out.
It’s important to point out that Flash video doesn’t play well with iOS, but with Adobe stopping its development in the mobile market, and increasing HTML5 support, things are getting better.
BlackBerry Torch 9810 – BB OS
RIM’s second touchscreen keyboard hybrid takes the erm, torch, from the original Torch 9800. Released at the same time as the Bold 9900, these two phones really highlight our point of not all internet phones being created equal.
The advent of OS 7 is welcome, as is the upgraded 1.2GHz processor. However, what made the original Torch so good for web browsing was the screen. The 3.2-inch screen here is even better than on the original. Pages look crisp, and the tap-to-zoom function works well.
Unfortunately, this is where we drop the bombshell. Like the iPhone, there is no Flash support! While this isn’t the dire situation it once was, given the fact the internet experience is far inferior on the BB range than the iPhone, we’re less inclined to forgive.
Samsung Galaxy S2 – Android
You didn’t think we had forgotten, did you? It’s hard to have a list of phones that are best for anything without the Samsung Galaxy S2. So where do we start? The 1.2GHz, dual-core processor? The 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus screen? Android’s Flash support?
All of these features come together to create one of the best mobile browsing experiences around. Pages load quickly, text looks sharp and there is a seamless video experience. It’s possible to disable automatic flash loading, which is a bonus for data saving and browsing speeds.
Finally, while currently shipping with Android 2.3 Gingerbread, we’d be doing the phone a disservice if we didn’t mention that Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is due to land early this year.