Android users already have a number of capable mobile browsers to choose from: Dolphin HD and Mini, Opera Mobile, Firefox, Skyfire, and even the stock browser are all quite good. Now there's a new challenger: Maxthon. The Chinese makers of the popular-even-though-most-of-the-west-has-never-heard-of-it desktop browser has released a version for Android, and it's a very nice app.
Out of the box, be prepared for Maxthon's geographical lean. The default speed dial pages and start page are in Chinese, and the default search engine is set to Baidu (Google and Bing are available -- and familiar to Western users). You'll also want to jump in to the browser options and go through the default settings: Maxthon's default browser box is checked by default, and you'll likely want to untick that until you've had some time to play with it.
Maxthon packs an array of handy features, including a tabbed interface, cloud sync, orientation lock, speed dial, gesture support, and a download manager. Tapping the overlapping windows icon will display a thumbnail strip which allows you to flick through your open tabs -- just tap one to switch to it. Maxthon also detects RSS feeds, which you can add to the app's built-in reader. While the feed reader displays titles and snippets, tapping an entry will load their URL in a new browser tab (rather than displaying in the reader itself). Tapping the back button on your phone eventually causes the reader window to disappear altogether -- forcing you to tap your Maxthon icon again to re-open the browser. The reader is also pre-populated with feeds: tap and hold to display the context menu to remove them.
Apart from the back button annoyance with Maxthon's reader, I did experience some other glitches while browsing. Some elements -- like Flash embeds -- had a tendency to bleed over the browser toolbar at the bottom of the screen. Locking screen orientation to landscape sometimes caused the page to rotate 180° before actually locking. At times, scrolling could be a bit choppy. The biggest miss with Maxthon is its lack of pinch-to-zoom support. Tapping works, but it's not nearly as flexible as multitouch control.
Overall, however, Maxthon performed quite nicely on my HTC Incredible and the browser itself is very solid -- the RSS reader just isn't for me. Check out the gallery after the break for a closer look, and scan the QR Code to try Maxthon out on your Android device.