2023 Browser Showdown: Comparing Chrome, Brave, Firefox, Vivaldi, and Opera – Is it Worth the Switch?
Are you ready for some browser showdown? I’ve got a lineup of the most popular browsers, as well as some lesser-known ones, all ready to compete for the title of the best browser.
I surveyed my Instagram followers to see which browsers they use the most and the results are in: Chrome, Edge, Brave, and Firefox came out on top. But I didn’t want to leave out some hidden gems, so I also included Iridium, Vivaldi, Opera, and OperaGX in the mix. Unfortunately, Iridium didn’t make the cut since it doesn’t have a mobile client.
I’m going to put these browsers to the test using a 3 point system, evaluating them based on 8 different criteria: speed, features, privacy, security, ease for migration, extension support, customizability, and cross-platform support on Android. The browser with the highest total points will be the winner, but I’ll also be crowning a winner for each individual category.
So, which browser will come out on top? Will Chrome reign supreme or will a lesser-known browser surprise me? Stay tuned to find out!
Preparing the war-zone
Preparing for the ultimate browser battle requires some serious planning. I’ve decided to do some research on the best configurations and settings to use for each browser, as well as gather a list of essential extensions to install. I’ll also be using my default email accounts, extensions I use regularly, and recommended tweaks from the online communities.
PS: I will be referring to all chromium based browser like Google chrome, Edge, Brave, Vivaldi and Opera as Chromium.
All: uBlock, Bitawarden, Unpaywall, Zotero, Enhancer for YouTube, Grammerly.
Chromium only: Clipt, Summary AI, WebChatGPT, Volume master, Weppalyzer, Medium unlimit – (My own version), Tab Suspender [For Google Chrome].
Firefox only: Turbo Downloader (Full), Medium unlimit (Developer version), Firefox Reley, Simple tabs.
Configs / Settings
All: DNS over HTTP (Nextdns), Account sync, Balanced/Standard tracking prevention [Chrome does not have such filter], Less cluttered home tabs, Do not close tabs, 3rd party cookies blocked.
Chromium: Enhanced browsing.
Firefox) Used the BetterFox user config settings with some overrides which drastically changed the experience with Firefox for me. [ Improved speed, security, smoothness and removed clutter ]
It’s time to begin the showdown! I’ve tested each browser based on a set of criteria and have compiled the results in the table below.
With the increased use of browsers for tasks beyond just browsing the web, I thought it would be appropriate to test the browsers based on tasks such as editing, programming, writing, and drawing. Here are my findings:
All of the browsers performed reliably, but Edge and Chrome stood out for their exceptional performance on my Windows machine. Without any configs, Firefox was the slowest of the bunch, but after applying the Fastfox configs and overrides, the performance improvement was drastic, making Firefox one of the fastest browsers, on par with Chrome and Edge. For me, it’s a tie between Chrome, Edge, and Firefox in terms of speed.
All of the browsers seem to have all the necessary features, but Opera, Vivaldi, and Edge stand out for their wealth of additional features. While it can be overwhelming at times, I particularly liked features such as the PDF editor in Edge, the sidebar in Opera, and the theme options in Vivaldi. For me, the most feature-rich browser is Opera.
Privacy is a subjective topic that can vary based on cultural and societal factors. However, when it comes to data privacy in browsers, it can be evaluated based on factors such as encryption, tracking technology limitations, transparent privacy policies, and how well they protect user credentials and browsing data.
Google Chrome may be considered a privacy “villain” by some, but I believe that its privacy boundaries are clearly defined within Google and that it can be considered a reliable option for me. Other browsers, such as Brave, have made privacy a core aspect of their marketing and product focus. However, recent events and partnerships with Microsoft and referral links may raise some concerns. Firefox, as an open-source browser, has been a pioneer in the privacy space. However, I declare Brave as the winner for this criteria as they have their own search engine (Brave Search) and other privacy-focused features.
Like all software, vulnerabilities within browsers are a common issue, and all of the above browsers have had incidents of breaches or user hacks. To mention a few examples, there was the 2018 Google+ breach, the Opera server breach, and the Firefox 8-second hacking incident.
It’s worth noting that most of these browsers are continuously updated and maintained with fixes and patches, which is good news for users. However, it should be noted that the major Chrome patches will arrive on other Chromium-based browsers after they have been released on Google Chrome, which gives an upper hand to Chrome in this regard. Firefox is also active on such fixes.
All of the above browsers also encrypt user credentials with OS passwords, which is good, but if someone can access your PC, they can also access your credentials. As a result, I recommend using a 3rd party and reliable password manager like Bitwarden, which is available on all browsers, which can also make the switching process easy for you.
In conclusion, for me, security is a tie between Chrome and Firefox.
Ease of Migration
All of the browsers support features such as importing bookmarks and passwords from one another, but Chrome stands out for being the worst in this regard. It doesn’t even list other Chromium-based browsers (Edge, Brave etc.) instead it only lists Mozilla and Internet Explorer, which makes it difficult to switch from another browser. However, most people start with Chrome, so the lack of attention in this area may not be a big concern.
On the other hand, other browsers are more accommodating with this migration process which makes it easier to switch. Even though every browser in the list supports importing passwords, bookmarks, but Edge and Opera have a significant lead here.
Edge also supports importing extensions from Chrome which is a game-changer. Opera supports cookies import which is useful as it means that you don’t have to sign in to any website, even for Gmail, when you switch to Opera, which is a jaw-dropping feature for me.
So, because of these reasons, I declare Opera as the winner for ease of migration.
Even though Firefox was the first to introduce add-ons or extensions, Chrome eventually caught up due to its larger user base, and now has a larger collection of extensions. However, all major extensions are now available on both platforms.
Google’s latest Manifest V3 implementation aims to limit the functionality of ad/tracking blockers like uBlock, and it also removed extensions that can download YouTube videos, which raises questions about the core idea of having an extension. These limitations are applicable for other Chromium-based browsers as well, yet Edge and Opera have their own stores as well, but Edge has a more reliable and larger extension support.
Firefox also adapted the Manifest V3 to make it easier for developers to build cross-platform support with extensions without removing blocking capabilities, which is a positive step. However, some extensions are platform-specific, and you can find them only on one platform, which is a letdown.
As a result of this, Edge has clearly the larger extension support for me, but I still think Firefox offers more functionality through extensions. So it’s a tie for me.
User Interface is always a matter of personal preference, but since people tend to have muscle memory with Chrome’s UI, every other browser has started to have a similar touch. Firefox is not an exception to this.
Edge, Opera, and Vivaldi are highly customizable, and I’m giving the nod to Vivaldi for its high level of customization by default. However, I personally prefer Firefox’s stock UI.
Every browser is trying to create its own ecosystem, with many browsers offering cross-device support. However, Google Chrome stands out for its superior cross-platform support. Other browsers like Opera are also trying to create a file-sharing interface and other features to attract users, but Chrome takes the crown in this category.
When the dusts blown away a champion emerges…
In conclusion, this article put six browsers to the test: Chrome, Edge, Brave, Firefox, Vivaldi, and Opera. And after all the dust settled, Edge came out on top as the overall champion! With solid performances in speed, features, ease of migration, and customizability, Edge proved to be a force to be reckoned with. But let’s not forget about other browser and they all had their shining moments too!
It’s worth noting that these results are based on my personal experience and preferences, and the browser landscape is constantly changing, so the results could be different in the future. But one thing is for sure, it’s worth considering switching from Chrome to another browser, because there are many other options out there that offer similar or even better performance and features.
Personally, I currently use Firefox as my main browser, but I also have Edge and Chrome installed for specific tasks and features. So, whether you’re a Chrome loyalist or a Firefox fanatic, I hope this article has helped you navigate the wild world of browsers and make an informed decision on which one to use. Happy browsing!