Firefox 4 Beta for mobile still rough around the edges

The latest Firefox 4 Mobile beta for Android and Maemo promises more speed, but it's not ready to replace the default browser

Mozilla 4 beta for mobile

Mozilla 4 beta for mobile

The latest Firefox 4 Mobile beta for Android and Maemo promises more speed and a fresher look, but it's still not ready to replace the default browser.

Firefox 4 Beta for Mobile is supposedly 25 per cent faster than the stock browser on the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark. Other new features include the ability to reopen a closed tab -- a lifesaver in desktop browsing -- and to share links and images.

I haven't tested Mozilla's speed claims on my Droid Incredible, but I'm more concerned with the interface than the speed of loading individual pages. And Firefox Mobile has a lot of work to do.

Problems start with the URL bar. Like the stock browser, Firefox uses a single bar for Web addresses and searches. For some odd reason, this bar has a automatic spell correction. Think about how many URLs you type that aren't real words, and you can imagine how frustrating this becomes. (, for instance, became just "") The keyboard for entering URLs also lacks a ".com" button, adding more time to what should be a simple process. On the bright side, you can elect to search on Amazon, Twitter and Wikipedia with just a couple taps.

Firefox Mobile's distinctive sidebars also cause more problems than they solve. Slide all the way to the left in a Web page, and you'll see all open windows. Slide right, and you get forward and back buttons, a bookmark button and a link to the options menu. Unless the Website you're visiting is optimised for mobile, chances are you'll be scrolling left and right fairly often, which means you'll bump into these menus by accident. Firefox should just use Android's built-in menu button, like every other app. (It shows security information instead.)

As with the desktop version of Firefox, add-ons are one of Firefox Mobile's main attractions. There are some useful ones, like a low-quality Flash player, a find-in-page utility and a barcode generator. The problem is finding them. Firefox's mobile add-on page could really use some smartphone optimisation, or more integration directly into the browser, so that hunting for great add-ons isn't a chore.

The best is yet to come for Firefox Mobile. The next beta version will have HTML5 support and hardware acceleration for faster scrolling and zooming. But before it goes prime time, Firefox Mobile just needs a friendlier interface.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags browserssoftwareapplicationsFirefoxPhonesmozillaconsumer electronics

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jared Newman

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2019

Bitdefender solutions stop attacks before they even begin! Get cybersecurity that 500 MILLION users already have and trust.

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?