Is Chrome Faster Than Safari?

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by Jack Taylor | Last Updated:  February 17, 2019

Since 1991, we have seen numerous browsers contend to be number one, including Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, Opera, Vivaldi, and of course, Chrome and Safari.  Today, we are going to look at two overlooked rivals, Google Chrome and Safari. Is Chrome faster than Safari? Let’s find out.

When determining which web browser is faster, you must account for the operating system that the browser runs on. Chrome is faster on Windows, because Apple stopped developing Safari for Windows in 2012.  Both companies continue to develop their respective browsers to this day for MacOS.

We are going to address the battle between Safari and Google Chrome on the Desktop.  Then we are going to take a look at how both browsers compare on iOS.

Is the Desktop Battle a Fair Fight?

On January 7, 2003, Apple introduced the Safari web browser at MacWorld in San Francisco.  Google Chrome was released nearly 5 years later.  Both Google and Apple had plenty of opportunity to fine-tune their respective web browsers.

If we were to compare both Chrome and Safari on the Windows operating system today, one might ask, “Is it a fair fight”?  Not in the least, and here’s why.  Apple stopped supporting Safari for Windows back on May 9, 2012, with the final Windows version of 5.1.7.  To this day, Google is still developing it’s Chrome browser.

Google Chrome has a seven-year lead on Safari, and that lead grows with each passing day. With technology, seven years might as well be 50 years. After all, it was only 12 short years ago that the iPhone was first introduced, and look how far it has come.

One possible reason why Apple decided to discontinue the development of Safari for Windows may have been due to how few people were using Safari on Windows.  Apple just may have had a hard time justifying the cost of both the development and maintenance of Safari for Windows.  We may never know, but one thing is for sure: Safari for Windows is almost certainly not coming back.

For this reason, when we compare Google Chrome to Safari, it must be in the context of MacOS, because both the desktop versions of Google Chrome and Safari are still actively being developed for that operating system.

This is unfortunate for Google because the battle is being waged on Apple’s own turf. It’s like two championship soccer teams fighting for the Championship League, but the game is being held in the hometown of one of the contending teams. They call that “home-field advantage”, and it looks something like the photo below.

Safari has a clear advantage because it only makes sense that the company that created the MacOS architecture would make a web browser that would run flawlessly, taking full advantage of its own architecture.  Chrome does not have that advantage.

But architecture aside, there is another glaring disadvantage that Google has.  Google doesn’t think like Apple does.  In other words, Google Chrome behaves very differently than other apps made for the Mac.  You notice this distinction in the little things.

For example, on the Mac, if you hit CMD-Q, most apps close quickly, but Chrome forces you to hold that key combination for a bit before closing the app.  Another subtle difference is that most Mac apps have their won preferences window, whereas Chrome uses a tab in its own browser to address those needs.

These two examples may sound minimal or small, but they do show that Google does not do things the way that Mac apps do.  It’s a mindset, a different way of thinking.  Safari is the only browser for the Mac that behaves like a native Mac app through and through.

Perhaps Google has done this intentionally so that people will feel familiar with Chrome regardless of what operating system they are running, be it Windows, Mac, or Linux.  To their credit, they are consistent, just not with every other app built for the Mac.

How Does Chrome Compare to Safari on the Mac Desktop?

There are numerous YouTube videos that show a comparison between Google chrome and Safari, complete reputable benchmark tests.

Why am I not providing benchmark tests for you here in this article? Because it’s been done many times before.

There is one, however a few that I would like to bring to your attention because I think that it will bring have value to this article.  Please note that this particular video also includes The Firefox Quantum browser in the comparisons, and that’s fine.

On November 15, 2017, Apple Insider tested Mozilla’s Firefox Quantum browser, and compared it to Safari and Chrome. They ran a bunch of benchmarks and speed tests because they wanted to see how well Each would handle numerous open tabs and a few videos playing at the same time.

Firefox did very well in these tests. What is surprising, however, is how bad Google Chrome did in comparison to Safari.

You can watch the full video comparison from Apple Insider below if you like.

In most cases, you will find that Safari outperforms Google Chrome on the desktop.  Safari does a better job at multitasking, while Chrome Will appear choppy when there are multiple tabs open, particularly when playing video.

Safari, however, performs very well when playing videos within the browser itself. I find this a little ironic given that google also owns YouTube, the biggest video website on the Internet.  As a side note, Safari also has a built-in video pause feature that prevent advertisements from automatically playing when you load the page in question.  Now that’s nice.

Additionally, Safari will load complex sites, (think news magazine websites, like FoxNews.com, CNN.com, or even WSJ.com), faster than Chrome.  It always has.

Overall, Safari does a better job integrating page speed and video playback on the Mac.  Again, this should come as no surprise given that the same company that created the operating system created the Safari web browser.

How Does Chrome Compare to Safari on iOS?

Given the popularity of Google Chrome on the Desktop (MacOS and Windows), one might think that Google Chrome shares that same popularity on the mobile devices.  But that is not the case at all.

In 2015, over half of mobile browsing in the United States was done using Safari.  As of January 2019, Safari held 57.19% market share of the mobile and tablet browser market, whereas, Google Chrome only held 33.13%.

That is remarkable.

Does that mean the safari is 24% faster than Google Chrome for iOS? Of course not. But it does go to show just how much of a disadvantage Google Chrome has, given that safari comes preloaded on iOS. In fact, I think it’s quite remarkable that Google Chrome has 33% market share on apples on iOS devices.

We’ve talked about market share but what about speed?  Is Safari faster than Google Chrome on iOS?  Without beating around the bush, in 2019, speed isn’t really the primary reason people choose one mobile browser over another.  To be frank, the speed difference between Chrome and Safari is about the same, and there’s a reason for that.

2 years ago, Apple has announced that in order for Google Chrome to run on the iOS platform, Google could only do so if they used the WebKit rendering engine in Chrome, instead of its own Blink engine.  I’ll say that again in a different way.  Apple has forced Google Chrome to use Apple’s WebKit rendering engine instead of its own Blink engine on iOS.

This levels the playing field.  What are we left with?  Features and functionality.

Here’s the thing: Both Google and Apple know this, which is why they introduce new “features” as often as possible, because they know that the only way to compete with each other is to out-do the other by offering unique features that the other does not have.

But, let’s be honest, the main reason Safari is used more than any other mobile browser is because it’s the default browser on iOS devices, and Apple doesn’t allow you to change the default app for a given application.  For example, in the same way that you can’t make Google Maps your “default” maps app, you can’t make Google Chrome your default mobile web browser.  Why would that matter?  Because even if you do have Chrome installed on your iPhone, if you were to tap a link in your e-mail program, it would open that link in Safari.  There is no means to change that option, and Apple knows that, which is why it forces you to use Safari when clicking a URL link in another program on your device.

That may sound sneaky, (and it may be), but thankfully, Safari is not a bad browser.  When using it, it just feels faster and smoother.

If you use Safari as your primary web browser on your Mac, you should use Safari on your iPhone, because all of your bookmarks and reading lists will follow you regardless of the device you use.  Likewise, if your primary web browser is Google Chrome, then use Google Chrome on your iPhone for the same reason.

If you don’t know what browser you should use on your Mac or iPhone, use Safari.  It’s fast, functional, (it has reading lists!), and offers many other features that won’t disappoint.

One final note in regard to browsers for iOS, understand that there really is no reason to avoid one in favor of the other.  If you like the features of one over the other, go with that one.  Regardless of your choice, you’re not going to go wrong.


Related Questions

How Do I Make Sure My Safari Is Up To Date?
Click on the Apple icon from menu at the top left of the screen and then click on Software Update. Now click on the Show Details button and ensure that the Safari button is checked to update the browser. Click Install to continue and when finished, restart your computer to complete the installation.

Is The Safari Web Browser Safe?
Safari is very safe to use and offers the latest security features keeping your information safe while you browse. It also protects you from malware and phishing websites when you browse the internet.

How Do I Clear The Browsing History In Google Chrome?
Click the three vertical dots at the top right on your browser. Then click “Settings” and scroll down and click the “Advanced” link next to the down-arrow. Scroll down to the bottom and click, “Clear browsing data”. Now you can delete exactly what you want, including history, passwords, and cookies.

Jack has been helping people with computers needs for several years, and he loves to help people succeed. He brings a wealth of wisdom and insight from an entrepreneur's perspective and enjoys freelance writing. In fact, when he's not writing an article or working on his YouTube channel, you might find him binge-watching Suits or formatting his computer . . . again, just for fun. To learn more about Jack, click here.
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