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Print 17 comment(s) - last by Myrandex.. on Apr 30 at 5:11 PM

Weak point of an otherwise strong phone is definitely the browser

I received my Nokia Oyj. (HEL:NOK1VLumia 900 LTE over the weekend, after initially being informed it was sold out and on back order.  That message appears to have been a mere glitch in AT&T Inc.'s (T) systems.

First let me start by saying that I love my new phone -- it has thus far been a much superior experience to Gingerbread.  I will post my in-depth review shortly, but first I would like to highlight that Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), and co. have some potential issues to address.
 
I've been busy playing around with the phone over the last few days.  While I did not encounter the dreaded connectivity glitch, but I have been frustrated by the poor quality of the stock browser and some apparent bugs in it, not found in other mobile browsers.

Compared to mobile Safari and mobile Chrome, I would describe the mobile version of Internet Explorer as fast and usable, but difficult.  Admittedly, part of the problem is the learning curve.  After dealing with an icon list to bookmark in mobile Chrome, using the text "Add Favorite", which is a part of a slightly longer list in mobile IE felt more challenging.

More troublingly, the browser seems to be struggling to properly render fonts at their expected sizes on some webpages, including our articles (though the homepage appears to render properly).  While our code clearly defines the font size and the span size for articles, Windows Phone appears to be keeping the font size in pixels, even if the full span size is shrunk via the zoom level.

This seems a clear issue isolated to the mobile Internet Explorer browser.  Text that does not contain pixel size code in their HTML tags appears to be handled correctly and displayed at a reasonable size.

Text rendering bug Text rendering bug
(Highlights added for emphasis. [Image Source: Jason Mick/DailyTech LLC])
 
The net result is that some items on webpages look huge, when they look small on other mobile browser or on desktop browser (including desktop Internet Explorer 9).

The browser also, auto jumps to the top of the page on some webpages on some websites and scrolling can be jerky.  Both issues interfere with navigating websites.  These issues are not encountered in the mobile versions of Safari, Chrome, Opera, or Firefox.

Yet another ubiquitous issue is that I find that text entered into various Javascript-driven authentication dialogues (text boxes) is not saved -- nor is there an option to save -- forcing you to laboriously type them (username/password/etc.) by hand each time.  Documentation led me to believe it should be saving these kinds of information, but simply isn't.

The "Incognito Browser" does not have the jumping/scrolling bug, plays video, and protects your privacy.  Thus I recommend it as a temporary replacement for Microsoft's fast but very buggy/poor mobile Internet Explorer browser.  Sadly, though, even this option is perfect as the Incognito Browser appears to use the stock rendering engine from IE and still goofs on the text.

Incognito Browser

I am reaching out to representatives at Microsoft and Nokia with regards to these issues.


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The browser is just fine
By John2012 on 4/12/2012 12:43:56 PM , Rating: 4
I've used the Lumia 900 on many websites and it works fine in all the sites I visited. No problem with any font resizing. Of course there are tons of tricks a website can do with fonts and while it may work with some browsers others may not take care of it the same way. The site you tested could be something that uses non standard way of using fonts. All browsers have some or other limitations but there is no reason to panic over the IE on the WP7 since people have been using WP7 for browsing for a long time now and nobody else have complained about this font problem.




RE: The browser is just fine
By JasonMick (blog) on 4/13/2012 10:07:59 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
I've used the Lumia 900 on many websites and it works fine in all the sites I visited. No problem with any font resizing. Of course there are tons of tricks a website can do with fonts and while it may work with some browsers others may not take care of it the same way. The site you tested could be something that uses non standard way of using fonts. All browsers have some or other limitations but there is no reason to panic over the IE on the WP7 since people have been using WP7 for browsing for a long time now and nobody else have complained about this font problem.
You can pretend the problem doesn't exist, but it does. Sherdog.com and Zimbra are two other large sites/services that are much less compatible with WP7 IE than Android Chrome.

Again, I just care about things working.

IE mobile -- not working so hot for me. Feel free to disagree.


RE: The browser is just fine
By nordicpc on 4/13/2012 11:02:23 AM , Rating: 2
Are you using the desktop mode? This just hasn't been my experience, nor has it been the experience of many others.


RE: The browser is just fine
By nordicpc on 4/13/2012 6:22:28 PM , Rating: 2
I also was very interested about Zimbra being broken, so I played around on the demo site. I did find the AJAX version was jumping back up to the top corner as it refreshed (as you described), but their HTML version was rendered very well, faster, and just as functional and pretty. And I feel that with other browsers, the HTML version would be a better fit for a mobile device anyways, as AJAX tends to be stressful on the client side.

Anything else you can point us to?


RE: The browser is just fine
By Flunk on 4/18/2012 11:34:38 PM , Rating: 2
I have an HTC HD7 and I've noticed a few text rendering glitches on some web pages due to the text flow algorithm mis-sizing some elements. It may not be up to the quality of the iPhone but it's perfectly readable and usable.

Internet Explorer Mobile 9.0 still needs a bit of work, but at least it beats the 7.5 version the first gen phones shipped with. That thing was slow as molasses in addition to doing a worse job rendering web pages.

It's pretty obvious that they did not spend as much time working on the browser as they should. I'm hoping they work it out for Windows Phone 8, but if they don't there is always Android, right?

Ars Technica actually mentioned this in their review of the Lumia 900 so this isn't exactly a scoop.


Desktop too
By kleinma on 4/11/2012 4:17:46 PM , Rating: 3
I don't know what changed, but your website looks screwed up on IE9 desktop now. The comments section for articles is all screwed up when viewed in IE9, but looks ok in other browsers. It did work fine up until a few days ago.




RE: Desktop too
By JasonMick (blog) on 4/11/2012 5:00:08 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I don't know what changed, but your website looks screwed up on IE9 desktop now. The comments section for articles is all screwed up when viewed in IE9, but looks ok in other browsers. It did work fine up until a few days ago.
There does appear to be a SEPARATE issue there.

But the issue I'm talking about is different and far simpler -- it's that text that is within span tags with pixel sizes assigned to the font is not being handled correctly on the mobile version. It's handled just fine in desktop IE 9, as far as I can see (I'm viewing it now).

If you're getting incorrect text sizes in IE 9 on the desktop let me know, but I'm viewing it right now in IE 9 and I'm not seeing that issue.

To be fair IE has always been a bit problematic, but the mobile version is worse than usual in my very fresh experience.


RE: Desktop too
By kleinma on 4/11/2012 5:22:32 PM , Rating: 3
I agree it is not the same issue, but certainly an issue to be addressed all the same.

I am a bit bummed that the WinPhone browser is having rendering issues since it is supposed to be based off of IE9 desktop and for the most part there are no issues.

I think most of the issues stem from their combination of trying to make everything fully standards compliant now, but also support many years of non compliant fud and have all of it render correctly. What a nightmare. It is easy to say Chrome or Firefox doesn't have these issues, but they didn't start making browsers until recently relative to Microsoft.


RE: Desktop too
By Reclaimer77 on 4/11/12, Rating: -1
Problems?
By nordicpc on 4/11/2012 10:34:58 PM , Rating: 2
I've been on Windows phones for several years now, and my Trophy has been phenomenal in browsing. Things are more smooth and responsive than any Droid or iPhone I've put this up against. I have a slideshow on my site, for instance, than only renders smoothly on Windows Phone, and is jerky and unappealing on every other mobile browser I've tested.

As far as Sharepoint, I have no problem with my Sharepoint 2010 sites, that have tabs and everything.

I do however see the issues rendering DailyTech, although it doesn't ruin the experience for me by any means. Is there any other site that you can say has this issue though? Just because Chrome and Safari suppose you want text to be a certain size, does that make IE wrong to suppose you want another size? Maybe you should just be specifying what size you want to begin with, if most of the other text is like that anyways? Or perhaps let the browser decide for all of it?

Note: I'm not a web developer, and I haven't torn through your code to see where the problem might lie. All I know is my browsing experience on Windows Phone 7 has been fast, responsive, and better than any other browser I've seen on a phone.




RE: Problems?
By JasonMick (blog) on 4/12/2012 11:03:25 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
I do however see the issues rendering DailyTech, although it doesn't ruin the experience for me by any means. Is there any other site that you can say has this issue though? Just because Chrome and Safari suppose you want text to be a certain size, does that make IE wrong to suppose you want another size? Maybe you should just be specifying what size you want to begin with, if most of the other text is like that anyways? Or perhaps let the browser decide for all of it?
To give a second example a ubiquitous email web client (Zimbra) I use renders perfectly okay in mobile Safari and Chrome, but exhibits bizarre behavior in WP7 in which the browser snaps back to the left or right side when you try to scroll. As the text of the emails is too wide, it snaps to either side.

Again, you can argue "oh most sites work", but a number do not. If you have examples of sites that work only in Windows Phone, by all means please point me to your slideshow, I would be curious.

But have you really compared to the latest version of mobile Chrome? My experience is heavily based on mobile Chrome, which I JUST switched from.

And in my experience the WP7 browser is fast, but has issues with a number of webpages -- not just ours.

quote:
Note: I'm not a web developer, and I haven't torn through your code to see where the problem might lie. All I know is my browsing experience on Windows Phone 7 has been fast, responsive, and better than any other browser I've seen on a phone
Again, my point is that if Apple and Google can make a browser that properly renders sites, why can't Microsoft?

You can complain about difference coding-wise all day, but at the end of the day, the question is which browser renders pages the best.

I agree WP7 is fast and scrolling is smooth. But in my experience there's all sorts of bizarre auto-scrolling auto-snapping behavior on many webpages that makes them difficult to navigate -- behavior that is not present in mobile Chrome.

And there's numerous rendering issues, as mentioned.

Does it work well? My impression thus far has been "no".

Fast and smooth means little if the controls are jerky and the compatibility poor. Fast =/= Good


RE: Problems?
By nordicpc on 4/12/2012 2:30:52 PM , Rating: 2
My site is nordic-pc.com, and the main slideshow on the front page is the thing I was referring to. The scrolling of the images is smooth as butter on my lowly 1.0Ghz Trophy, but every other device I've seen it on is choppy, even dual-core phones with much more CPU power.

Granted, just about everyone I know with an Android device has found unsatisfactory performance with their stock firmware, and has gone to Cyanogenmod for help. I haven't seen Cyanogenmod 9 alpha, based on ICS, so maybe Google got it right with their latest browser. iOS wasn't any better.


Maybe this will get MS's attention
By ratbert1 on 4/11/2012 4:16:00 PM , Rating: 2
I also have problems with IE on my HTC Trophy. We use a sharepoint server at work, I can't get pages that have tabs to render correctly. They actually showed fine before Mango when it was IE7. Now its broken and no one in the MS forums seems to give a crap. And there aren't any other browsers available in the Marketplace that aren't just reskins of IE.
What's funny is my Android phone renders the sharepoint pages fine in Firefox. The default Android browser however does not work. We need other options besides IE.




By ictia on 4/12/2012 2:35:50 PM , Rating: 2
as some others have posted, same here, no problems for me for the sites i visit. for some of them that are "picky" i can toggle from mobile to desktop in settings for internet explorer and it looks exactly as it would in desktop ie9 -- you can give this a shot to see if it's an issue with mobile vs desktop markup from the site. sites have to specifically designed for mobile (not the m.site.com vs www.site.com) and depending on which browsers they test with, it might not work as good on some as it does on others. the desktop world is a lot more mature and things tend to work evenly across all browsers.




There ARE some issues
By Ramstark on 4/24/2012 2:45:40 PM , Rating: 2
I haven't seen any of the scrolling and weird sizing of fonts that you mention, maybe because I use the "Desktop" version of sites in my LG WP7.5, nevertheless, I have had quite some issues regarding javascript functions, which I walkarounded using Surf Cube, my "2nd browser just in case" I know we should be able to use the stock browser app normally, but hey, a lot of developers out there are experimenting to get the new "chrome" out there, so I give them a chance...
Let us know if MS answers your inquires and by all means add ours to yours so everything gets fixed in one blow :D




By Myrandex on 4/30/2012 5:11:26 PM , Rating: 2
I will admit to the text / font issues as I've seen them, particularly in the examples shown on Daily Tech. There are some sites though that I will readily use on Mobile IE rather than Mobile Safari. This isn't due to rendering as much as performance. I feel that the performance is really nice, and I haven't experienced any of the jerky scrolling issues that you have mentioned. I do wish that there were options to scroll to top easily, but the biggest issue I'm missing out on is webpage Reflow. I know safari does not really have it, but old Windows Mobile and current Android phones do. Some websites (anandtech.com for example) are really unreadable without it due to width being too wide when zoomed in close enough to read the text.

Jason




Wow..
By crispbp04 on 4/13/12, Rating: -1
"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke

















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