Bolt (web browser)

BOLT Browser
Screenshot of BOLT Browser v1.04 Beta3
Developer(s) Bitstream Inc.
Initial release February 16, 2009 (2009-02-16)
Stable release 2.52 [±]
Development status Discontinued
Platform Java ME[1]
Available in English, Spanish, and Russian; can display web pages in languages with Latin or Cyrillic-based alphabets[2]
Type Mobile browser
License Proprietary

The BOLT Browser is a web browser for mobile phones including feature phones and smartphones that can run Java ME applications. The BOLT Browser is offered free of charge to consumers and by license to Mobile network operators and handset manufacturers. BOLT is produced by Bitstream Inc., the company which previously produced the ThunderHawk for Mobile network operators and handset manufacturers.

BOLT was originally introduced into private beta on January 15, 2009[3] and was made available to the public on February 16, 2009[4] when the public beta was announced at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Today, BOLT can be installed on Java-based handsets with Java MIDP 2 and CLDC 1.0 or higher support.[5] BOLT also has a specially optimized version for BlackBerry smartphones[6] and works with Windows Mobile and Palm OS devices that employ a MIDlet manager or Java emulator. BOLT was built using the WebKit rendering engine to display a full Web page layout as found on desktop web browsers.


Introduced in public beta

First beta release

Version 0.86[7]

BOLT browser was made available for public beta on February 16, 2009.

The main features this release has were:

  • Fast, secure, desktop-style web browsing on both high-end and low-end handsets
  • Streaming video capabilities to websites such as YouTube,,,,, and
  • Support for XML, ATOM and RDF formats of RSS feeds
  • Split screen and full screen modes for easy navigation and viewing
  • Easily add and select favorites and view browsing history
  • Intuitive keystroke shortcuts for easier navigation and content selection
  • 128-bit Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption for secure access to web pages
  • Server filtering to protect users from spyware and other malware
  • Certificate error notification
  • Ability to clear history and cookies
  • Support for JavaScript and AJAX


Version 0.94[8]

BOLT browser was made available for public Beta 2 on April 1, 2009.

New features of this release include:

  • Significantly improved BlackBerry scrolling speed and control
  • A new 3XL (extra large) magnification mode with content 33.3 percent bigger than in 2XL
  • Double tap approach to select links on touchscreen devices like the BlackBerry Storm (eliminates inadvertent clicks)
  • Wi-Fi auto-selection as default option when Wi-Fi is both enabled and available
  • Save and view pages locally on the phone
  • Support for folders in favorites
  • A new landscape viewing feature
  • Improved magnifier dragging in split screen mode on the BlackBerry Storm


Version 1.04[9]

BOLT browser was made available for public Beta 3 on June 29, 2009.

New features of this release include:

  • Copy and paste text
  • Enter and edit text directly within online text boxes
  • Upload files such as videos to YouTube or pictures to Photobucket
  • Order favorites and arrange them into custom folders
  • Toggle between viewing websites with or without images displayed
  • Support for Cyrillic alphabets
  • Addition of RuTube to supported video websites

Commercial release

Version 1.5

Version 1.5

This version of the BOLT browser was released on October 7, 2009.[10]

New features of this release include:

  • Cache Support to speed users’ ability to move quickly back and forth between the currently and previously viewed Web pages through the use of backward and forward navigation.
  • Download Manager for easy download of files directly from BOLT and the ability to save them to specific folders on the mobile phone (requires JSR75 support on the device).
  • Support for Streaming Videos of Any Length that overcomes limitations on some phones’ ability to stream videos of longer lengths. The new approach ensures video clips will play on all devices, for any length video.
  • Video Wizard to assist users in configuring their device for optimal video playback.
  • Dedicated Search Bar on home page, for easier and faster online searches.
  • Improved Ability to Manage RSS Feeds by allowing users to arrange and file feeds just as they do with their favorites and bookmarks.
  • Enhancements for Touch Screen Devices such as simple volume controls for the BOLT media player which now offers volume controls on the screen.
  • Enhancements for BOLT Servers in the cloud, which increase the already fast BOLT mobile browser by an additional 10 to 20 percent.

Version 1.6

Version 1.6[11]

This version of the BOLT browser was released on December 7, 2009. This release of BOLT includes a number of important design enhancements, as well as incremental improvements driven by BOLT’s users. For all mobile data networks that support it, BOLT 1.6 offers full socket-based connectivity which can increase the page rendering speed of BOLT by as much as 15 percent. BOLT 1.6 also includes a new password manager, allowing usernames and passwords to be saved by the browser for easier and faster logins to users’ favorite websites and online applications.

New features of this release include:

  • 100 percent score on Acid3 test
  • Socket support
  • Password manager
  • Ability to set as default BlackBerry browser

Version 1.7

Version 1.7[12]

This version of the BOLT browser was released on February 15, 2010.

New features of this release include:

  • Widgets
  • Twitter integration
  • Keypad shortcuts for zooming
  • User interface can be set to Russian or Spanish languages
  • Support for simultaneous downloads

Second generation

2.0 beta

Version 2.0[13]

This version of the BOLT browser was released on March 23, 2010.

New features of this release include:

2.1 commercial release

This version of the BOLT browser was released on May 24, 2010.

New features of this release include:

2.3 commercial release

This version of the BOLT browser was released on October 6, 2010.[16]

BlackBerry specific features

Features available on the BlackBerry version of BOLT[17]

  • Press the Space key to insert a period (.) in the URL address bar
  • Press the Escape key to move back to the previous Web page
  • On a Web page, press the Space key and the Shift key to move up a screen (feature not applicable for BlackBerry 8100, 8200, and 7100 series devices)
  • On a Web page, press the Space key to move down a screen (feature not applicable for BlackBerry 8100, 8200, and 7100 series devices)
  • Press T to move to the top of a Web page (feature not applicable for BlackBerry 8100, 8200, and 7100 series devices)
  • Press B to move to the bottom of a Web page (feature not applicable for BlackBerry 8100, 8200, and 7100 series devices).


  • January 15, 2009: BOLT was introduced as a private beta.[18]
  • February 16, 2009: BOLT was made available via free public beta at Mobile World Congress.[19]
  • April 1, 2009 – BOLT Beta2 was released at CTIA Wireless 2009 in Las Vegas, NV. This release included improvements, fixes to minor bugs and new features.[20]
  • June 29, 2009 – BOLT Beta3 released, BOLT lite announced. Beta3 included major improvements, fixes to minor bugs and new features.[21]
  • October 7, 2009 - BOLT 1.5 released. First commercial release marks end of beta testing.[22]
  • March 23, 2010 - BOLT 2.0 Beta Version announced by the developer Bitstream Inc.The biggest change is the inclusion of tabbed browsing[23]
  • May 24, 2010 - BOLT 2.1 Released, introducing support for HTML5 video[24]


  • January 16, 2009 - BOLT private beta (ver 0.73) reviewed as the fastest mobile browser.[25]
  • March 30, 2009 - BOLT (ver 0.86) reviewed as only browser for feature phones that can stream video.[26]
  • May 29, 2009 - 1 in 6 BOLT users resides in India (current version Beta2 0.94).[27]
  • June 23, 2009 - BOLT surpasses 1 million end-user installs (current version Beta2 0.94).[28]
  • July 28, 2009 - BOLT surpasses more than 100 million Web pages rendered (current version Beta3 1.04).[29]


On 2011.12.12, Bolt's website changed to display the following message:

Dear BOLT User, 

The free BOLT mobile browsing service has been discontinued. 
Unfortunately, the economic circumstances prevent us from
running a free service going forward. We apologize for any
inconvenience and thank you for your loyalty and support. 

The BOLT Team

Additionally, the browser displayed a banner indicating that the service would be discontinued on the 14th of December. Neither the website nor the corresponding emails sent to users mentioned the possibility of a paid version.

As of 14 December 2011, existing installations of BOLT have been rendered useless.


BOLT Indic

This version of the BOLT browser was released on November 29, 2010.[30]

BOLT is the first complete mobile browsing solution to fully support Indic languages, specifically the nine languages spoken as a first language by an estimated 1.3 billion people living in India and the surrounding regions. This first of its kind solution for handset manufacturers and mobile operators has Indic language user interfaces, the capability to perfectly render Indic text on a Web page, and the ability to offer end users to input Indic text into the browser. The languages supported are Hindi, Bengali, Gurumukhi, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Gujarati, Malayalam, and Oriya. All of BOLT’s English language features are also available in its Indic language version.

BOLT lite

BOLT lite is a free downloadable web browser that offers browsing in lower-end mobile phones.

BOLT lite has been optimized to install and run on entry-level mobile devices with limited memory and system resources. This lightweight version retains most of BOLT's feature set. Although some of BOLT's functionality is not included in the lite version (e.g. inline input, videos support, Download Manager), BOLT's download speed and PC-style layout are retained - offering fast, full-featured desktop-style browsing to an even wider range of devices. It is built on Bitstream's ThunderHawk browsing technology.

System requirements

BOLT Browser has the following system requirements.[31]

Java version

BOLT can be installed on nearly all Java-based handsets since the browser requires only Java MIDP 2 and CLDC 1.0 or higher support.

BOLT also runs well on Palm-powered devices with J2ME support.

Android version

BOLT for Android was released for private beta testing in May, 2011 and 3.0 version was subsequently made available on Android market in Oct, 2011.

Blackberry version

BOLT does not work well with BlackBerry devices. Blackberry users need to install the BlackBerry-specific version of BOLT.

Windows version

BOLT runs well on selected Windows Mobile 6 devices including HTC Touch, MOTO Q, MOTO Q9c (with Windows Mobile 6.1 OS) and MOTO Q9h. However, BOLT does not support MOTO Q8 Windows Mobile device.


Data centers for servers

The proxy servers that BOLT cloud-based architecture uses are located in the United States.

Split screen rendering

Split screen rendering is a patented BOLT technology in which a compressed view of the desktop style page layout is visible in the upper 2/3 part of the screen. A magnification rectangle is available for scrolling over this area. A magnified view of the selected area is displayed in the lower 1/3 part of the screen. This technology enables the user to view desktop style layouts of web pages without compromising readability on small screens.


The distinguishing features[32] of BOLT browser are:

Tabbed browsing

Tabbed browsing experience enables the user to browse more than one site simultaneously.

Data compression

The cloud-based servers compress the data reaching the device by as much as 24 times, resulting in speeding up page load times by two to three times compared to other browsers.

Desktop-style layout

BOLT provides a special mode for easing the view of web pages.[33] Split-screen mode features a rectangular magnifier floating over a zoomed out mini-map of the entire Web page on the top 2/3 of the screen and a magnified view of the content under the magnifier on the bottom 1/3 of the screen. The magnifier floating over the mini-map enables the user to quickly find information and navigate Web sites with ease.

Backup of favorites

BOLT enables the user to back up favorites to the device's memory and restore them back through BOLT directly. Backup the favorites to the user account at BOLT Space and restore them back regardless of device, its platform, BOLT type (BOLT or BOLT Lite) and location.

Audio/video streaming

BOLT supports HTML5 based audio and video streaming.

It also supports expanded streaming flash video support.

Advanced social media integration

BOLT offers Facebook integration - post messages, links or URLs from any page displayed in BOLT directly to the Facebook account without navigating away from the currently viewed page. BOLT offers support for Facebook chat and other web-based chat apps. It also offers support for YouTube web apps - search and view videos directly in BOLT.


The BOLT mobile browser is compatible with the majority of mobile phones. It offers desktop-style web browsing including the ability to stream video.

Split-screen view

A patented split-screen viewing feature and intuitive keystroke shortcuts make navigating web pages simple. BOLT is built using Bitstream’s ThunderHawk mobile browsing technology.

WebKit rendering engine

BOLT is built using the WebKit rendering engine to deliver the same web page layout as found on desktop browsers and includes high standards compliance such as AJAX and flash video support. Bitstream’s client/server technology, mobile fonts and font rendering technologies speed content delivery enabling mass market deployments, improved readability and allowing BOLT to fit more information into smaller screens. BOLT’s underlying ThunderHawk mobile browsing technology supports both J2ME platforms, as well as non-J2ME environments though a C++ SDK.[34]

Web technologies

  • BOLT does not support Flash but it supports the FLV Format (as in streaming video Web sites including,,, etc.).[35]
  • BOLT provides ECMA Script 262 version 3 JavaScript support for Web site forms, applications and other information.
  • BOLT enables viewing of AJAX pages that are written using ECMA-262 version 3/JavaScript 1.6 standard. The Web pages that use timer related events are not currently supported.
  • BOLT supports WAP 1.x content — WML, and WAP 2.x content — XHTML-MP with WCSS and ECMAScript-MP.

Security and privacy

BOLT is signed with third-party certificates from VeriSign and Thawte.[36] These "signatures" enable the device OS to confirm BOLT's authenticity, provide access to secure device APIs, and help ensure that BOLT is free from malware and/or viruses. Signed applications enable you to use BOLT with fewer permission dialogs for file and network access from your device's OS.

However, a few platforms including Motorola P2K do not allow installation of signed builds. To enable installation on these devices, an unsigned version of BOLT, with no certificate, is also offered.

128-bit secure (SSL) connection

BOLT uses an encrypted protocol called Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to access secure Web pages. The connection between the device and the BOLT server is also encrypted.[37]

Certificate error notification

A certificate is an electronic document that can help identify a Web site's owner and can help you make decisions about trusting the site with personal or financial information. BOLT warns about certificate error when there is a problem with a certificate or the server's use of the certificate.

Persistent cookies

BOLT stores the cookies on BOLT’s servers. BOLT maintains site-specific information about users, such as site preferences and the contents of shopping carts.


BOLT browser passes the Acid3 test with a perfect 100% score.[38] Acid3 is a test page from the Web Standards Project that tests how well a web browser supports certain web standards.

Localization and languages

BOLT is available in English, Spanish, Russian, and Indic.[39]

BOLT supports viewing Web sites in all Latin-based languages including English, German, French, Spanish, Dutch, Flemish, Swedish, and many others that are fundamentally Latin-based. Using the "Install Fonts" utility, you can also view Web sites in Cyrillic-based languages including Bulgarian, Russian, Belarusian, Serbian, Macedonian, Ukrainian, Moldovan, Kazakh, Uzbek, Kyrgyz, Tajik, Tuvan and Mongolian.[40]

BOLT is also available in the Indic languages.[41]


Allview has selected the BOLT mobile browser from Bitstream Inc. as its official mobile browser partner, and will preload BOLT on the entire line of Allview phones sold across Europe.[42]

KC Mobile, a Korean-based manufacturer and provider of handsets for the Chinese cell phone market, will preload the BOLT mobile browser as the default Web browser in handsets to be distributed around the world. KC Mobile handsets are sold in China, Europe, Russia, South America, and Asia.[43]

The BOLT OEM edition is a major evolution of the company’s Thunderhawk mobile browsing technology and architecture. Bitstream has optimized the BOLT browser application and the WebKit-based, cloud computing architecture that supports it to make the BOLT OEM edition the easiest way for handset manufacturers and wireless operators to offer their customers desktop style Web browsing on mobile phones of all types.[44] Co-branding and white labeling opportunities make BOLT especially attractive to OEMs and mobile network operators who will benefit from BOLT’s many advantages.[45]

BOLT has partnered with GetJar. Subscribers gain immediate access to GetJar’s library of applications via a GetJar branded apps store link on the favorites page.[46]


The BOLT browser has received numerous awards and mentions in the media. Some of the important awards for the BOLT browser are:

  • Mobile Merit Awards | 2010 | Runner Up in Overall Consumer Application and Service Delivery Platform categories. The BOLT Mobile Browser has been named Runner Up in the 2010 Mobile Merit Awards in two categories: Best Overall Consumer Mobile Application and Best Service Delivery Platform.[47]
  • CTIA E-Tech Awards | 2010 | First Place in Mobile Applications – Entertainment/Social Networking Category[48]
  • Mobile Star Awards | 2009 | Superstar Award in Consumer App: Web Browser category. BOLT mobile browser took top honors in the eighth annual Mobile Star Awards program, winning the SUPERSTAR award in the Consumer App: Web Browser category. Other nominees in this category included Apple – Safari for iPhone, Opera Mobile and Skyfire.[49]
  • Stevie Awards | 2009 | Finalist for Most Innovative Company of the Year[50]
  • CNET Webware 100 Award Finalist | 2009 | Finalist Browsing category[51]
  • Tech Awards Circle | 2009 | Bronze Award for Best Consumer/SOHO Software[52]
  • PC Magazine | December 29, 2009 | 4 star rating (out of 5)[53]



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