The advancement in browser rendering, coupled with the exponential growth in mobile technology, has revolutionised the way we connect to the Internet. With more than 50 per cent traffic on the Internet coming from smartphones, it has become clear that a mobile-first internet is the future and unsurprisingly mobile browser companies understand this fact and have started pushing new features and updates to the users on that front too.
Although these browsers have simplified the way we connect to the Internet, the enormous amount of choices available on the Play Store make it impossible for a user to select the right browser. With Google Chrome becoming the name in the game accounting for more than 64 per cent of mobile traffic, most people decide to use Chrome as their default browser, but is it the best option available in the market?
Mozilla’s Firefox is another big name in the game and Samsung Internet is also making its way into it with quite a few cool features, especially around privacy and security of the end-user. Now, with so many options — several good ones — it can become tedious and a never-ending chore to choose the ‘right’ one; you might even choose to stick with the one that you’re used to; but given the current scenario where privacy and security on the internet are increasingly becoming a bigger issue, you should choose wisely.
To solve this dilemma, we will be comparing Google Chrome, Firefox and Samsung Internet to see which browser is the best and whether you should switch the default browser on your Android device.
All the benchmarks were run on a Samsung S9 powered by the Snapdragon 845, 4GB RAM and an Adreno 630 GPU
Which browser is the fastest?
When it comes to selecting the default browser on your Android device, speed is the number one priority for most people. Even though benchmarks can’t simulate the browsing experience, it is one of the ways to quantify what a browser has to offer.
Amongst other tests, Jetstream performs cryptographic encryption benchmarks for SHA 256, AES and PBKDF2. As these encryption techniques are widely used alongwith the HTTPS protocol, a faster encryption engine can improve the time in which a browser renders your page.
Speedometer is used widely to test the responsiveness of a web app. This test runs multiple instances of a to-do application which is created using different mv frameworks like Angular and Backbone.js.
Testing the browser by running different versions of the same application using different front-end frameworks, Speedometer tests a browser’s overall performance. Looking at the results, one can see that Samsung Internet outperforms all the other browsers.
A higher Motionmark score enables a browser to render graphics faster, allowing it to run faster. Some browsers use hardware acceleration which offloads the graphics rendering to the GPU giving a higher graphical performance. This can be seen in the case of Samsung Internet, which uses hardware acceleration extensively giving higher scores.
Looking at these results, some people might conclude that Samsung Internet is over-optimised for Samsung devices and that it does not offer similar graphical performance on other devices. Therefore, we ran the Motionmark benchmark on two other non-Samsung OEMs( Moto One Power and Redmi Note 5) and got similar results
Looking at the numbers, one can conclude that Samsung Internet outperforms its competition and is the fastest browsers among the three.
User experience and aesthetics
The ease with which you can use your browser is another critical parameter for selecting the perfect browser.
Therefore, we will be going over the design aesthetics and user experience these browsers offer
If you are a fan of uncluttered user interfaces that get the job done efficiently, Google Chrome might be the one for you. Powered by a simple yet powerful user interface, Chrome makes web browsing convenient and with features like the light mode that helps save data by sending it through proxy servers optimising it for running faster while consuming lesser data.
Being a part of Google, Chrome offers seamless syncing between devices and transfers everything from your bookmarks to passwords on all your devices. It also allows you to send webpages to different devices too, which can be quite convenient if you find yourself juggling between different devices often.
Chrome also offers a discover feed on your browser’s homepage based on your preferences and interests when logged into Chrome with your Google account. Using Chrome regularly will make your discovery feed more personalised, helping you to stay informed about your interests.
Firefox came up with an all-new update for Android devices in August, offering a customisable user experience. Allowing users to adjust the position of the address bar on their device, helping them to enter URLs quickly and access settings easily.
Firefox for Android comes with nine add-ons that allow users to enable dark mode on pages and block ads. It also offers a new way of creating bookmarks using collections. With picture-in-picture mode, Firefox offers a more convenient video experience.
If you use Firefox on your desktop you can sync bookmarks and other browsing information easily using your Firefox account. Lockwise for Firefox offers great cross-platform functionality for password management and allows you to sync passwords across different devices.
Most smartphones on the market today have a large screen and getting to the top corner with a single hand can be a pain. Samsung Internet tries to solve this problem by placing a customisable toolbar at the bottom of the browser. Not only does this toolbar allow easy navigation between pages, but it also allows easy access to bookmarks and other browser settings.
In terms of aesthetics, Samsung Internet comes with a dark mode which overrides CSS styles of a page and renders a page with a dark theme. The browser also supports auto-playing videos and picture-in-picture mode for videos. It also comes with extensions, which can block ads offering a better user experience on sites with overwhelming ads
Although Samsung Internet comes with numerous features, it does not perform well when it comes to cross-platform syncing. Due to the lack of a desktop app, managing passwords and bookmarks with desktop browsers can be an issue. Chrome offers an add-on that helps in syncing bookmarks, but for syncing passwords, you will have to rely on third-party applications, which aren’t always as safe.
Also read: How to disable the firewall on Windows 10?
In this day and age of technology, where data is the new oil, companies try to get hold of extensive amounts of data when you are browsing the Internet.
Using a browser with enhanced privacy features might help in reducing the amount of data collected by websites on the Internet.
There is no doubt in the fact that Google Chrome offers great syncing features and recommendations, but it collects a lot of user data to deliver these functionalities. If privacy on the Internet is a big concern for you, then you should not use Google Chrome because of the enormous amounts of data it collects.
In terms of privacy settings, Chrome allows users to disable third party cookies to prevent tracking across different websites. It also offers do not track functionality, which requests websites to not track users on the Internet, but websites can choose not to comply with this request.
If privacy is a big concern for you then Firefox might be the best option among the three browsers. With features like enhanced tracking protection Firefox prevents websites from tracking your every move on the Internet. It also allows users to automatically delete cookies when the browser closes offering an added layer of privacy
Firefox uses Gekoview as a rendering engine for its android browser and does not rely on Googles’ Blink rendering engine which powers all popular browsers on the market. Therefore if a security vulnerability compromises Googles Blink engine, the security of Firefox users will not be affected.
In terms of privacy, Samsung Internet is somewhere between Google Chrome and Firefox. It offers a smart anti-tracking feature which deletes tracking cookies from your system increasing your online privacy. It also sends a do not track request to websites like Google Chrome to prevent online tracking.
Most browsers on the market offer a private browsing mode, which does not store browsing history or allow websites to store cookies on your system. Samsung Internet goes a step further with its secret mode allowing users to password-protect their browsing activity in private mode.
So which browser should you pick?
If you are too deep into the Google ecosystem and online tracking does not bother you then Google Chrome is the best browser for you. Its simple user interface and fast performance paired with great cross-platform support make it one of the best browsers on the market.
If you find yourself switching between different devices and don’t want to give up your privacy on the Internet, Firefox is the best option for you. That being said, Firefox could offer a less rewarding user experience on Android due to its slower performance when compared to Samsung Internet and Google Chrome.
Offering a great user interface alongwith some enhanced privacy settings, Samsung Internet might be a great fit for you if you want fast performance, and the lack of cross-platform syncing is not an issue for you.