Mozilla has released a new version of Firefox 4 beta for Google Android and Maemo devices. The latest version definitely launches faster and loads web pages more quickly than previous builds. Mozilla says it scores higher than the stock Android browser in JavaScript benchmarks, and I can confirm that it was roughly twice as fast on the SunSpider test. But the browser still feels slower and more awkward to use than Google’s WebKit-based browser.

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Firefox still doesn’t support Adobe Flash, it shows checkered boxes for parts of a web page that haven’t fully loaded, and when you zoom in and out, there’s always a second or two when text looks fuzzy before it comes into focus.

That said, Firefox Mobile has come a long way since the first beta hit mobile devices. The browser is almost fast and stable enough to consider using as a primary web browser. It also supports third party add-ons, and there are about 200 available at the moment. CPU usage has been reduced, and it’s easier to set up synchronization between the desktop and mobile versions of Firefox.

There are few mobile browsers that come close to matching Firefox’s extensive set of features including the details history and bookmarks views, tabs, add-on and download managers, synchronization, privacy, and formatting settings. But despite the high scores in JavaScript benchmarks, Firefox 4 beta is still just a little too slow when it comes to everyday web browsing. Hopefully Mozilla can address the overall browser speed before launching the final version of Firefox Mobile.

You can find more details in the release notes. Firefox 4 beta for Android is available from the Android Market or from the Firefox Mobile web site. You can also grab the Maemo version from the Firefox site.

Brad Linder

Brad Linder is editor of Liliputing and Mobiputing. He's been tinkering with mobile tech for decades and writing about it since...