Safari vs. Chrome: Which browser is better for iPhone and Mac in 2021

Since its launch in 2008, Google Chrome has been my favorite browser, thanks to its speed and minimalist look. But when it comes to choosing the best browser for the iPhone, iPad, and Mac, I have to pit Safari vs. Chrome.

So, I decided to thoroughly test and understand the two browsers on five essential criteria: user interface, performance, features, security, and privacy. Keep reading this detailed analysis of Safari vs. Chrome to see which is the better browser for iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

Safari vs. Chrome: User Interface 

I think I speak for everyone when I say that user interface can really make or break any app’s experience. I need to work easily and quickly on my browser and never waste time figuring how to do things. The browser user interface includes aspects such as ease of use, layout, and tab management. Here’s how Safari and Chrome fare on this.

Safari:

When you launch Safari, it shows the search bar at the top along with your Favourites and Recently Visited pages. It’s straightforward to figure out how to use it, and you can customize the Safari start page in macOS.

Safari offers pretty efficient tab management and does not lag or slow down even with multiple tabs open. I especially appreciate Mac’s overview mode, which lets you glance at all open tabs at once to see what you’re working with. You can access this by clicking the top-right icon or pinching in with two fingers on the trackpad.

See all open tabs at once in safari

Further, you can hover over a tab to see its live preview.

Hover over a tab to see a live preview of that tab in safari

You can also right-click a tab to have the option to close all tabs to the right of it, which can be time-saving.

Close all tabs to the right in safari

However, you cannot see the tab bar when you have just one tab open, which is confusing, so I’m not a big fan of this design point.

Can not see tab bar when you have just one tab open in safari

Further, on your iPhone, Safari’s tab switcher interface looks like a stack of files or cards, and you can scroll through them to jump to the one you want. However, this gets confusing when you have many tabs open, and it’s a bit difficult to find the tab you’re looking for. Moreover, even opening a new tab is not intuitive as you first have to open the tab switcher and then tap the plus icon to launch a new tab.

Safari's tab switcher interface on iPhone

Further, Safari settings are also located outside of the browser, as is the case with most iOS apps. This can make it a bit cumbersome to tweak options when you need to.

Chrome:

The default homepage on Chrome has the Google search bar at the center with a collection of frequently visited webpages below it. I love how minimalist it looks! It’s super easy to open a new tab with just a tap on all devices, which speeds things up. Plus, the tab switcher is much clearer and easier to navigate than Safari.

Open new tab with tapping plus icon in Chrome on iPhone

Winner: 

I think Chrome is a clear winner for its clean and minimalist interface that’s a breeze to use on computers and mobile devices alike. It sets the standard for browser interfaces across the board. Safari feels a bit clunky in comparison and could do with a design overhaul, particularly for the mobile experience. I think it would work a lot better if the settings were available within the browser itself for better ease of use.

Safari vs. Chrome: Performance and Speed  

Under the umbrella of performance, let’s consider some key aspects like speed and resource consumption. After all, nobody has time to tolerate a sluggish browser.

Safari:

You’ve probably heard that performance is Safari’s strong suit, and I have to agree – it works like a charm on a Mac, iPhone, and iPad. Further, Safari uses minimal RAM when compared to Chrome, which is a real power hog. Even on my relatively new MacBook Pro, too many open tabs on Google Chrome trigger the fan and slow down the system.

Chrome:

Chrome works equally fast on an iPhone, iPad, and Mac. But the problem comes when you have a lot of tabs open or are running heavy graphic-intensive webpages. It drains the RAM on Mac and consequentially slows down the system. So, not a good option for power users.

Winner:

You won’t notice any significant difference in speed and page-loading time on both browsers. But I have to hand it over to Safari in the speed and performance department because it’s optimized to work best across iOS and Mac.

This is probably because it’s built by Apple itself and achieves optimal hardware-software integration. The added advantage of this is that it conserves the battery life of your device too!

Safari vs. Chrome: Features 

Features are, of course, the backbone of a browser. Let’s check out what Safari and Chrome let you do in terms of customizations, extensions, cross-device sync, and other nifty little tools.

Safari:

Apart from the standard Favorites and Bookmarks options, Safari doesn’t have any standout features. It has a limited extension library compared to Chrome, so you cannot customize your experience much. However, one advantage is that Safari extensions are also available on your iPhone and iPad.

Besides, I love how it seamlessly syncs passwords, bookmarks, history, tabs, and more across Apple devices. The Handoff feature lets you automatically pass what you’re doing on Safari on one of your devices to another close-by device. This means that you can copy text, images, video, etc., from Safari on your iPhone or iPad and then paste it into your Mac to continue. This has come in handy at countless moments and saved me precious time.

There’s also a reading list that gives you offline access to webpages, as well as a commendable PDF conversion tool that can convert any webpage into a PDF. This has been pretty convenient when I’ve wanted to save some webpages as PDF for future reference.

Lastly, some additional features include the option to change the home screen background for a personal touch and native translation of webpages when browsing.

Chrome: 

Google Chrome seems like a very minimalist browser, but it still packs quite a lot of features. For starters, there is an impressive collection of extensions that you can add to customize your experience. For instance, I like adding an ad blocker, a font identifier, a color picker, a dictionary, an image downloader, and more. These are all tools that speed up my daily workflow and hence, add to my convenience.

Further, I love how you can search within a website from the address bar itself. Just type in a URL, hit the space bar, and type in a search term to find it within the specified site. Pretty neat!

Search within a website from the address bar in Chrome on iPhone

Another standout feature that you might not have noticed before is the ability to do a reverse Google search on any image instantly. When you right-click an image on any webpage, you will have the option to Search Google for Image.

Search Google for Image feature in Chrome on iPhone

This helps me out when I’m trying to find the source of an image or discover similar pictures.

Further, I think the best and most useful thing about Chrome is the deep integration with G-Suite, including Gmail, Google Calendar, Google News, Google News, YouTube, Google Drive, Google Photos, and more. This is a real aid to workflow and multitasking, which earns Chrome some sweet brownie points.

As for cross-device usage, you can sync pretty much every part of the browsing experience across devices, including history, settings, autofill content, open tabs, and more. The process is also quick and easy to set up, and the browser automatically syncs with your Google profile when you log in to a new device.

Lastly, on the iPhone, Google’s voice search is an added advantage that makes it easier to find what you’re looking for without needing to type.

Google's voice search feature in Chrome on iPhone

Winner:

Neither browser boasts any particularly impressive built-in features. But Chrome offers the advantage of thousands of extensions that can significantly enhance and customize the browsing experience.

Safari vs. Chrome: Security

Security is critical when browsing the web because there are so many threats out there, from phishing and malware to virus attacks and hacks. Keeping this in mind, I evaluated Safari and Chrome in terms of update frequency, content blocking, and warnings.

Safari:

Safari protects users from phishing sites and malware by using Google’s Safe Browsing database. This is employed by many other browsers, too, though the flip side is that plenty of user data is sent to Google, which can be a privacy concern.

Browsers need to be frequently updated as vulnerabilities crop up all the time. But Safari is not as frequently updated as Chrome, and this might pose a risk. However, it notifies you when it encounters suspicious websites and prevents them from loading to keep you protected.

In terms of content blocking, Safari does an excellent job of blocking pop-ups by default, but you need to add an extension to block ads. However, there are pretty limited options for ad blockers, which is disappointing.

One aspect where Apple’s browser does score, however, is password management. It has a sizeable advantage when it comes to password management because when you save login details, your data gets synced to the iCloud keychain. This is Apple’s default password manager that works across all your devices for convenience.

Further, the Password Monitoring feature alerts you when a breach is detected.

Chrome: 

Obviously, Chrome also uses Google Safe Browsing to block suspicious websites. It is also updated quite frequently, and pop-ups are blocked by default. The browser is also great at alerting you when you visit a website that uses an HTTP connection that’s not secure.

You can further bolster the security by using extensions such as ad blockers and anti-virus monitors. Google Chrome also has a built-in password manager, but it only works within the browser and cannot, for instance, be used as a third-party password manager on iPhone or Mac. You are alerted about any vulnerabilities in your passwords to help keep things secure.

Winner:

I think that both browsers are pretty similar in terms of security, but Chrome has a slight edge thanks to a host of customizable security extensions. The Safari password management trumps Chrome, though, and is invaluable for users of Apple devices.

Safari vs. Chrome: Privacy 

It’s easy to get confused between security and privacy because they’re closely related. But the significant difference to note is that security is more about keeping your system safe from viruses, malware, hacking, phishing, etc.

On the other hand, privacy is about keeping your personal information safe and preventing companies from gaining access to your data. While Chrome might have a slight edge concerning security, does it hold up when it comes to privacy? To decide, we need to look at privacy settings, data collection policies, and each company’s general track record.

Safari:

It’s easy to block cookies and trackers on Safari to prevent sites from sneaking your information. You also get a privacy report that shows you how many trackers were blocked, websites that contacted trackers, etc. This can give useful insights into what sites to trust.

Further, there’s a Private Browsing mode for those times when you don’t want your activity showing up in your browser history.

On the whole, it’s a no brainer that Apple is known for prioritizing users’ privacy. Although it collects data, it’s much less and more ethically done than other tech behemoths like Facebook and Google.

Chrome:

Google has quite a vague private policy and has earned a reputation for its dodgy practices around user data. This is because its entire revenue stream relies on advertising, and it openly admits to collecting and using browsing data in any way it pleases.

Moreover, several features that compromise privacy are enabled by default on Google Chrome. These include search prediction and URL suggestions. Although you can turn them off, I’m doubtful of how effective it is.

Lastly, there’s the incognito mode for the times when you don’t want Chrome to save your browsing history, but just like with other features, it’s uncertain if this really works as claimed. So, on the whole, Chrome offers minimal privacy controls with dubious efficiency.

Winner:

Unlike Google, Apple does not rely on ads as a primary revenue stream. So it’s fair to assume that users’ personal data is less valuable to it. Further, it has a track record of being more transparent than Google, which means that Safari takes the cake when it comes to a private browsing experience.

The verdict: Is Google Chrome better than Safari? 

After considering all aspects, which is the better browser for iPhone, iPad, and Mac – Chrome or Safari?

Well, I have to say it depends on what kind of user you are. Safari is limited to Apple devices, so it is the best for those who use multiple Apple devices for a superior cross-device experience.

But, if you have one Apple device and another Windows or Android device, then Chrome might be the better bet because it works across all platforms. Although Safari is Apple’s default browser, you can change it on iOS and Mac alike.

It’s worth noting though that Safari is better optimized for iOS, iPadOS, and macOS. It drains fewer resources and optimizes the battery life of your Apple device.

What are your thoughts on all this? Let me know in the comments below and shoot me any questions you might have.

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I have been writing about tech for over 10 years now. I am passionate about helping people solve their tech problems with easy and practical solutions. At iGeeksBlog, I write and edit how-to guides and accessory reviews for all things Apple. My work has previously appeared in Live IT and Woman’s Era magazines. When not working, I love reading and traveling.


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