Dedicated apps may have risen in prevalence over the past decade, but the web browser remains the core of our life in tech.
It’s an unbeatable hub and seamless integration of all the online services we need, from games, news and emails to apps and countless other functions.
Browsers have also become much more robust in recent years, with plenty of new ones rising up the ranks to offer compelling alternatives to the usual Google Chrome.
But which to go for? We’ve identified the best browsers around right now and all you need to know about them: a brief introduction, pros, cons and who it’s made for. Since layman surfers won't really be able to tell the difference between browsing speeds, we’re focusing on the user experience and features instead – what really sets each one apart. Let’s surf!
OPERA: Something fresh that’s not Google
The underdog of the list that isn’t quite getting the attention it deserves, Opera is fast, intuitive and packs in useful features we can’t turn away from.
Its best feature is the sidebar, which pulls together Whatsapp, Telegram, Messenger and other features you may need in one handy spot. This means you don’t need to type in URLs to open desktop versions of your chats each time you need them, or head to the task bar to get the apps open – it’s all ready for you on Opera’s sidebar. Incredibly handy and the main reason we keep coming back to Opera.
Underneath the browser's blocky aesthetic lies the same Chromium engine that powers Google Chrome, so Chrome users looking for a switch will find themselves right at home here. You get the same search+website bar and tabs work the way you’d expect, with all the clutter kept to a minimum, neatly stored behind the Opera logo which you have to click to access the menu. Opera also offers plenty of add-ons, including an ad blocker and other features to customise your browser to your liking. It packs an in-built VPN for proper privacy too, unlike Chrome. The trade-off: Chrome will always come first for developers when it comes to fixing issues and the creation of new services.
If we had to nitpick, we'd say that the process of dragging tabs around isn’t as seamless or smooth as it should be. Disconnected tabs take a couple of seconds before “locking in” to a separate window. We’re not too keen on how Opera manages downloads too. While Chrome drops these in the Downloads bar at the bottom of the screen, Opera chucks it into a folder. It’s clean, but it means you can’t access it immediately and drag files over to other sites conveniently.
Verdict: this is still one of the best browsers around and you’ll wonder why it isn’t getting more market share than it is. Definitely one to try if you’re looking for something other than Chrome.
Google Chrome: Still the King of the Browsers
Over 50% of surfers use Google Chrome, which has established itself for good reason. Google is everywhere - on pretty much all phones and operating systems, so it makes sense to have a browser that consistent across your platforms.
It never gets in the way of the website itself because it's beautifully minimalist. And if you find it a little too bare-bones, Chrome remains infinitely customisable with an impressive list of add-ons and options to tailor your experience the way you want it.
You rarely need to install patches and updates too, as Chrome incorporates Adode Flash Player and the PDF viewer, so you don’t need to boot up separate apps just to read files.
Know that Google Chrome has come under fire recently for its privacy issues though. It’s Google, after all, which means everything is mined for data, and trackers still work in Incognito Mode. So, if you are privacy-conscious and don’t want any form of tracking done whatsoever, Chrome may not be the browser for you.
Verdict: Still the browser to beat. Chrome is unmatched in terms of reliability and user-friendliness, but you do pay a price in terms of privacy, if that kind of stuff affects you.