I prefer not to browse the Internet on mobile devices as I dislike the small screen and the fiddly controls. Sometimes, I have to use a browser, and while I use Chrome or Firefox for that most of the time, I like to try other mobile browsers as well just to see what they have to offer.
It scored best in all benchmarks the author ran, and managed to beat all other browsers with incredible easy and huge gap to second placed browsers.
It did not work quite as well in real loading tests, but it still managed to beat all others in one, and be placed second in the other.
You are probably wondering how the browser does it. The answer may surprise you. Instead of relying on fast engines that are run on the device, it uses the cloud for the heavy-lifting.
This not only ensures that contents get rendered faster, it also reduces the load of the device while that happens.
Puffin offers other advantages that may be of interest to some users. For one, it supports Adobe Flash on all versions of Android. This too is "over the cloud" support but the effect is the same. You can play Flash games, videos and other contents on your device.
In addition to basic Flash controls, Puffin supports specialized controls such as full screen video, a virtual gamepad to make gaming easier,and a trackpad to simulate mouse operations on desktop devices.
You can make modifications to Puffin's Flash support, for instance to load Flash contents only on demand, or even never if you do not want to make use of it.
The settings provide you with access to other customizations as well. You can enable do not track, clear browsing data, set a download folder for all downloads that is either on the device or in the cloud -- Dropbox is supported -- change the browser's homepage, or enable tab synchronization with Chrome.
Puffin supports add-ons, but the selection is mediocre when you compare it to Firefox or Chrome.
The browser has a few caveats. First, its memory consumption is not the best. It is not the worst either, as Chrome and Firefox both are worse in this regard, but it is far from ideal.
You may also notice that scrolling lags when the browser loads sites. This stops once a site is fully loaded, but until that happens, you may experience lag when scrolling.
There are also certain limitations in regards to Flash. If you use the free version of Puffin, then Flash access is only granted from 9 am to 4 pm while it is blocked otherwise.
You can purchase the premium version for about $1.50 per year to get the full Flash experience.
Puffin data centers are located in the US, and while people from the US can access all local contents, people from outside the US may not. This means that contents such as Pandora or Hulu may not be available if you use Puffin and are located outside the US.
Some users may have privacy concerns as page contents do get rendered on a remote server. The developers state that all traffic is encrypted, but that does not really resolve the underlying issue that the contents are available on remote servers for a short period of time.
The recommendation is the same that I have for Opera Turbo, Road Map, Opera Max and all other services that redirect traffic through a third-party server: do not use it for important things.
Moving the page rendering from the browser to the cloud can be highly beneficial to users of low-performance devices. Instead of having to wait a long time until a page is rendered completely, the rendering itself may be completed a lot faster as most of the heavy lifting is handled in the cloud.
If the privacy implications do not bother you, you may want to give it a try.