Mobile apps have been a mainstream hit for the past decade. But for years before the iPhone arrived on the scene, most people kept themselves entertained during their coffee breaks with browser-based games.

Even with billions of apps downloaded annually, playing games in a web browser is still immensely popular. This might explain why most people almost never download new apps to their device of choice.

From arcade-style action titles to casino games including slots and poker, there are endless opportunities for entertainment on the move. But is playing solid mobile apps the best way to go, or does the browser still rule the roost, even in the smartphone era?

App Advantages

A dedicated gaming app has several plus points that can’t be matched when using a browser.

Firstly, an app can be developed from the ground up to run flawlessly on compatible handsets. So you know that once it is installed, it will perform without a problem.

Secondly, an app can take full advantage of the hardware features of a given device, using every ounce of processing power and filling every pixel of the high-res display with colour and light.

The upshot of this is that a native app gives developers room to stretch their creative muscles. They can pour all of their efforts into perfecting the graphics and gameplay, since they know exactly what resources they have at their disposal.

In comparison, browser-based games can seem a little less ambitious because they have to be designed for bargain-basement phones and high-end handsets alike.

Finally, a mobile gaming app can provide offline access to interactive entertainment. So if your broadband is on the blink or 4G network coverage is patchy, you can still play games and battle boredom.

The fact that some mobile games can be played offline has the extra perk of avoiding any unwanted data usage. If you have a fairly tight monthly allowance, you can deliberately put your phone into airplane mode to stop in-app ads from eating into it.

Browser Benefits

The main selling point of playing mobile games in a browser is that the type of device you use and the operating system it runs is irrelevant. So long as the gaming site is properly optimised, it should be able to provide portable fun to every visitor.

Another bonus is that by playing in your browser, you won’t have to use up any storage space on your phone that would otherwise be occupied by an app. This leaves you room for photos, videos and other essentials, making your data easier to manage.

Because a browser puts less strain on a mobile’s CPU and graphics chip, playing games directly on a site will not drain the battery as quickly. Meanwhile, apps which have lots of visual bells and whistles can hog resources and chew through battery life surprisingly quickly.

This gives browsers the edge for play sessions that take place when a charging point isn’t close to hand. And since smartphone manufacturers have even been caught tinkering with older devices to extend battery life, this is clearly something that users care about a lot.

The final string to browser-based gaming’s bow is the sheer amount of choice on offer. App stores for iOS, Android and Windows Phone may feel well stocked, but there are still complex processes involved in getting software approved which are only just being streamlined. Because of this, plenty of developers do not even bother to build an app, but only offer their games via a browser.

A Balancing Act

The good news is that there’s no reason to pick a side in the battle between mobile gaming apps and browser-based experiences. You can choose to download the native apps you think work best, or that you have the space for on your device, and play on the sites that catch your attention without dividing your loyalties.

Being open to all mobile gaming experiences is particularly useful when it comes to betting sites and casino games. Native apps are fairly common, but a growing number of new sites are avoiding them altogether and focusing on browser-based play. So if you’re looking for action, your browser is the place to find it.