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

Safari vs Google Chrome Which browser is better for iOS and Mac

Since its launch in 2008, Google Chrome has been my favorite browser, thanks to its speed and minimalist look. But when choosing the best browser for the iPhone, iPad, and Mac, I have to pit Safari vs. Chrome, especially considering the cool new features added to Safari in iOS 15 and macOS Monterey.

So, I decided to thoroughly test and understand the two browsers on six essential criteria: user interface, performance, extensions, 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 the user interface can make or break an 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.

Further, in iOS 15, Safari features a streamlined tab bar that takes up minimal room on the page and floats slightly above the screen’s bottom. It seamlessly moves out of the way as you scroll and easily appears again with a tap.

You can swipe left or right on the tab bar to switch between open tabs and swipe all the way to the right to open a new tab.

Safari offers pretty efficient tab management and does not lag or slow down even with multiple tabs open. I especially appreciate the tab groups feature that lets you keep your tabs organized no matter how many you have open.

Another iOS 15 update to Safari is the redesigned grid overview of your tabs, making it easier to see what you have open. This resolves the earlier issue I had with Safari, wherein it was difficult to switch between tabs.

Safari Tab Group new update of iOS 15

Further, on Mac, 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

Moreover, Safari on iOS 15 lets you customize the start page. You can set a background image and display new sections, such as Siri Suggestions, Privacy Report, and Shared with You. Your customizations sync across devices so that you can have the same Safari experience everywhere. Pretty cool!

Chrome:

The default homepage on Chrome has the Google search bar at the center with a collection of frequently visited web pages 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.

Just like Safari, Chrome has an efficient and easy-to-use tab manager that keeps things organized. However, it does not support the latest Tab Groups feature yet.

Moreover, the customization options fall short when compared with the latest updates to Safari.

Open new tab with tapping plus icon in Chrome on iPhone

Winner: 

I would have expected Chrome to be the clear winner for its clean and minimalist interface that’s a breeze to use on computers and mobile devices alike. But Safari on iPhone, iPad, and Mac is now so customizable and flexible that it’s left Chrome behind.

I love the new tab management experience and customization options that provide an unparalleled cross-device experience within the Apple ecosystem. So, Safari is the better browser in terms of user interface on iPhone and Mac.

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 (2019) 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: Extensions

Extensions play a vital role in making a browser customizable. So one of the most exciting things about iOS 15 is support for Safari web extensions on your iPhone. This was previously possible in a very limited way, so the new functionality is game-changing. Let’s learn more and compare.

Safari

Safari has a limited extension library compared to Chrome, so you cannot customize your experience much. However, one advantage is that with iOS 15, Safari extensions are also available on your iPhone and iPad in the same way as on your Mac. You can choose which websites you want them to be active on.

Earlier, this was possible in a limited way through specific apps that provided the extension functionality. Although the extension library might still be limited, developers will soon develop a lot more variety giving Safari an edge over Chrome on mobile.

Chrome

Google Chrome is known for its impressive variety of extensions that can customize and streamline your browsing experience. But the downside is that these are not yet available on mobile devices.

Winner

Both Safari and Chrome support extensions on Mac but Chrome has an extensive library of extensions. However, Safari has emerged as a winner because of the support for web extensions on iOS too. This will help customize your mobile browsing experience in ways not possible on Chrome yet.

Safari vs. Chrome: Other features  

Now, let’s check out and compare other nifty little tools that Safari and Chrome offer to enhance your browsing experience.

Safari:

Safari has all the things you’d expect from a default Apple app. I love how it seamlessly syncs passwords, bookmarks, history, tabs, and more across Apple devices.

Further, 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.

Then, one of the latest iOS 15 features is Live Text that digitizes the text in any photo and makes it a breeze to search the web for it using Safari. This process uses machine learning and is done on-device to protect your privacy.

For instance, suppose you come across a quote written somewhere but don’t know its origins. Just grab a photo on your camera and use Live Text to search for the words online.

Use Live Text to search for the words online in Safari on iPhone

This has innumerable uses and will add so much convenience to your life! Moreover, this feature only works with Safari on iPhone, not with Google Chrome.

Also new in iOS 15 is the Shared with You section that automatically saves links you receive in messages to check them out later at your convenience.

Lastly, there’s the integrated Smart Search field and voice search that makes it easy to find what you’re looking for.

Smart Search and voice search field in Safari in iOS 15

Lastly, there’s a reading list that gives you offline access to web pages, 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 web pages as PDF for future reference. Some additional features include the option to change the home screen background for a personal touch and native translation of web pages when browsing.

Chrome: 

Apart from extensions, here are some of the notable features of Google Chrome.

Firstly, 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 image source or discover similar pictures.

Further, similar to Live Text in Safari, you can use Google Lens to digitize the text in images and search the web for them or even read QR codes.

But 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.

Google's voice search feature in Chrome on iPhone

Winner:

Both browsers are packed with useful features, but Safari wins in terms of customization and ease of use between devices. Especially after the latest iOS 15 update, it packs a punch and makes life convenient for iPhone users.

Safari vs. Chrome: Security

Security is critical when browsing the web because there are many threats, 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. Further, Safari automatically upgrades websites known to support HTTPS from insecure HTTP.

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 in 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:

Both browsers are pretty similar in 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 accessing 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 valuable insights into what sites to trust.

Moreover, if you opt for the iCloud+ service, you benefit from new premium features such as Private Relay and Hide My Email.

With Private Relay, when browsing on Safari, all traffic leaving your device is encrypted so that no third parties can read it, not even Apple or your internet service provider. Your requests are then sent through two separate internet relays so no entity can know your identity and what sites you are visiting.

This ensures superior privacy protection that’s exclusive to Safari and not available on Chrome. At the same time, Hide my Email is a feature built directly into Safari, iCloud settings, and Mail to allow you to keep your email address private.

You can use Hide My Email to create unique, random email addresses that will forward messages to your inbox without revealing your actual email address. You can create delete as many addresses as needed at any time to enjoy greater control over who can contact you.

At the same time, Intelligent Tracking Prevention prevents trackers from profiling you using your IP address.

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 a vague privacy 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 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’ 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? 

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 choice 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 iPhone and Mac alike.

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

Moreover, the customizable Start screen that syncs across your devices, support for extensions on iPhone, and a focus on privacy make it my preference when working within the Apple ecosystem.

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

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1 comment
  1. I thoroughly enjoyed Mehaks’ comparison article on Safari versus Chome web browsers. I found the article very helpful and detailed. She writes clearly and intelligently for the lay person to understand. Please send Mehak my thanks

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