Google Chrome vs Safari: iOS Browser shootout!

Google Chrome for iOS was released today -- and also reviewed -- but we still had to put it up against Apple's default browser, Safari, in a good, old fashioned Mobile Nations browser shootout!

Now we all know the deal here -- it's not a fair fight. Chrome on iOS is restricted to using Apple's embedded HTML renderer (UIWebView), and doesn't get access to Apple's speedier, just-in-time JavaScript engine (Nitro). And there's nothing to be done about that unless and until Apple changes their policies.

Still, if you love Chrome and really want to use it on iOS, it's worthwhile knowing what exactly you'll be gaining and what you'll be giving up by going all in.

So we conducted some basic tests, such as load times (which revealed a slight lead for Chrome in two tests -- go UIWebView!), JavaScript (where Safari had a significant lead, of course), HTML5, and CSS (roughly equivalent).

One test that didn't make the video was BrowserMark, in which Google Chrome scored 49248 and Safari scored way higher with 101631.

Overall, I didn't find there was much discernable performance difference. The slightly speedier load time in Chrome caught me by surprise at first, but in the long haul, the difference is negligible since Safari and Chrome run essentially the same rendering engine.

The real clincher for most folks will be Chrome's features, such as cloud syncing with desktop Chrome and Incognito mode. iOS 6 promises more than a few updates to the Safari browser, including iCloud Tabs, at which point Chrome will have a hard fight ahead of itself.

It will likely come down to whether you use Safari on the desktop and iCloud for sync, or prefer Chrome on the desktop and live in Google services. At least now, if you're the latter, Chrome for iOS will make you complete.

How has your experience been with Chrome? Had it replaced Safari on your dock?

Simon Sage

Editor-at-very-large at Mobile Nations, gamer, giant.

  • Once mountain lion an iOS 6 comes out I won't need it to sync all my open tabs.
  • I'm just keeping Chrome for now for this feature. Excited for iOS 6!
  • Have to admit, it's pretty snazzy.
  • I'm giving it a shot for a few days - we'll see if the interface niceties and syncing outweigh the relative slowness on really heavy pages.
  • Would be nice if Apple made iCloud Tabs an open API so developers could make Chrome and Firefox extensions to plug into it. Even if it comes to Safari on Windows I doubt I would switch to desktop Safari.
    In the meantime, I primarily use Firefox but have been slowly converting to Chrome; maybe cloud sync will be the impetus I need to go over completely. I know there's Firefox Home, but that's not the same as a full-featured browser.
  • Yep, replaced Safari instantly.
    I noticed a difference in HTML5 video playback earlier. Chrome wouldn't play it but Safari did.
  • I have been using Chrome on a PC for a long time. By adding Chrome to my iPhone & iPad it allows me to remain in my comfort zone. Safari is not a bad program I just prefer Chrome. Most people have more than one screwdriver in a tool box. I just like Chrome.
  • True that. I have all three on my desktop, why wouldn't I have three (Safari, Chrome and Dolphin) on my phone?
  • Probably because they all do the same thing? You can fill your entire toolbox with standard screwdrivers if you want. Someday you might need a wrench is all, and the toolbox is only so big.
  • There is a little more to it than that... i use Safari, Dolphin and now Chrome on my iOS devices. Safari is that standard size phillips head screwdriver. If you have a phillips head screw and you can see it, then you are gonna use that driver. Dolphin and Chrome offer the multi-tool approach because sometimes you have a tiny screw or one that is blocked by a board and that standard screwdriver just can't do it. They do a lot of things, like allow you to view a desktop version of the page when safari will only let you view the mobile, or voice search, or gestures based controls or sync with the desktop, or allow you to download to files directly your dropbox account. The multi-tool will never replace the fixed handle old standby screw driver, but sometimes it's nice to have a tool that will allow you to do things that just aren't possible with that standard screwdriver.
  • Not really a fair comparison as safari can take full advantage of nitro were as chrome just uses webui
  • Its about time to (someone force) Apple to stop with that stupid rule of not letting us choose our default app for mail and web. That is the thing that stops me from adopting other software with features that I like, and is really my biggest frustration with that real great products that apple has. I still love them, because of all other things, but that really frustrates me.
    I remember that a long time ago Microsoft was ruled to stop shipping IE as default browser on its OS. Now not only Safari comes pre installed (I really dont see any problem with that, lets make it clear) but also you really can not choose other browsers as your default, so any link you open always opens on safari no matter how much you want to use other option.
    PS: I know I can jailbreak for that.
  • Yeah, the difference being Microsoft was painfully obvious about perverting any and all (previously 'open') web standards such that they only work in I.E. hobbled Windoze. Web sites were being CODED for I.E., only fully available in Windows. Embrace and extend is a funny euphemism, isn't it?
    In the end, this was all just fine and dandy when it came to the monopoly trial. The problem was that MS forced Netscape (the real innovator in the space) out of business. And there were many companies before them (stacker comes to mind, even Apple nearly, and no MS didn't 'save' Apple, MS were forced by Apple to settle the canyon case where they blithely copied Apple's code and pasted it into Windoze Media).
    You can't set this in iOS? How much of an inconvenience is that? Is it as bad as all other people wanting to browse the web can't do it because of your using embrace and extend garbage, perverting all supposedly 'open' standards to only work in Windows (while the Windoze fanboys decry Apple as the one somehow not being 'open'.)
  • Here is a handy bookmarklet to switch from Safari to Chrome:
  • Are you talking about computers or iOS? Apple computers can have their default apps changed easily.
  • The browser you should be benchmarking Chrome, or indeed any iOS browser, against is iCab Mobile. Chrome's (or Safari's) functionality isn't anywhere near iCab's.
    BTW, I never found Chrome all that great on my desktop computer(s) either. I recently went back to Firefox because of better add-ons and didn't notice any difference in speed.
  • I'll use Chrome when Google the day gives me a cut of the money they earn from selling my data.
  • I'm still waiting for Firefox. (Junior) :P
  • Chrome would not even exist if it were not for Apple's work on Webkit, which made it what it is today, the basis of all modern standards-based browsers.
    Google can rip off a lot of what Apple does, but that doesn't mean I need to use it.
  • ...and, taking your thoughts to their logical conclusion, WebKit would not exist if Apple had not "ripped off" KHTML.
    In any case, so what? The WebKit license specifically encourages Google to take it and use it, just as KHTML's license specifically encouraged Apple to take it as the basis for WebKit. That is the nature of non-GPL licenses. What matters is what you do after you work with the project.
    And, for the record, for a couple of years now Google has contributed more to WebKit than Apple has, and Google is better behaved citizen of the project, crediting Apple-sourced contributions to Chromium/Chrome, whereas Apple specifically does not credit Google-sourced contributions to Safari.
    Apple deserves a lot of credit for their work on WebKit, but to claim Google is just ripping off Apple's work is ludicrous.
  • Won't use Chrome; I've divorced myself form everything Google. Just can't accept their data mining and privacy problems.
  • Hmmmm...
    Are you sure, you are NOT USING ANY GOOGLE PRODUCTS?
    So, You are NOT USING youtube, gmail, maps, chrome browser, google search, docs, and thousands more that you don't know GOOGLE AOWNS IT???
    Please, be HONEST... If ALL GOOGLE PRODUCTS are not accessible to you, STOP using any computers, tablets and phones yoi have...
  • I use all of them. Safari I would say is by far the worst. Its not as customizable as say firefox and it doesn't have all of the cool apps like chrome and firefox do.
    Also its installed on macs but I never see it on a windows pc. So synching is only really useful if you go somewhere and have to use another machine like a terminal.
    That right there is what makes chrome so much better. IMO all of the standard apps built into Lion are junk except for safari. Its ok, I fire it up every few months to see if there is anything new.
    I use firefox for all the cool test tools like the selenium ide and xss me tools
    I use chrome for all googles built in apps and for gmail and google plus
    I use safari well.... I use it to test my corporate site to just say we support safari.
    Also IE10 is ok, better than nothing. lol
  • Run this test on 3G for accurate results. Chrome preloads webpages on Wifi...