Chrome vs. Firefox: The Ultimate Android Browser Showdown
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If you use Android, it can be tempting to stick with the Chrome browser since you’re using your Google account How To Manage Multiple Google Or Gmail Accounts On Android How To Manage Multiple Google Or Gmail Accounts On Android Lots of people have multiple Google accounts, possibly one for work and one for personal use. Here's how to get those set up and exactly how they affect your apps. Read More to log in to your phone anyways. However, in this Chrome versus Firefox comparison, we’re going to look at whether that preference for Chrome is really justified.

Is it possible that you could have a better mobile internet experience if you start using the mobile Firefox browser instead?

We’re going to explore all aspects of both browsers in this article — including everything from tab handling, privacy, performance and more. By the end of this article you should be able to make a well informed decision about which browser is best for your mobile browsing.

The Chrome Mobile Browser

I’ve been using the Chrome mobile browser ever since I’ve been using Android smartphones How Your Android Smartphone Can Improve Your Love Life How Your Android Smartphone Can Improve Your Love Life No matter what kind of relationship you're in, these apps are going to help you. Read More . It’s usually pre-installed, it’s fast enough for all of my needs, and fully integrated with everything on the device.

General Browsing

The Chrome mobile browser hasn’t changed a whole lot over the years. You can certainly see how integrated it is with all of the Google services and apps A Guide to Google Tools: Tips and Tricks You Can't Live Without A Guide to Google Tools: Tips and Tricks You Can't Live Without Find tips, tricks, and hacks that'll help you make better use of Google tools you already use. The guide covers five main Google Services. Read More you use (both on and off the phone itself), just by clicking the apps icon in the upper right of the browser window.

chrome on android

Switching between your Google profiles 5 Custom Chrome Profiles You Should Start Using 5 Custom Chrome Profiles You Should Start Using One Chrome feature is often overlooked: the ability to have multiple user profiles. We show you how they can make your life easier. And yes, you can use profiles in Firefox and other browsers too. Read More is as simple as tapping the profile picture in the upper right.

If you’ve set up the profiles in your Google account (in Chrome on any other device), you’ll see all of those profiles show up here. See what I mean by how well integrated Google Chrome is?

chrome on android

As you can see by the picture on the right, above, switching between open browser sessions involves flicking your finger up or down to scroll through all of them.

This approach tends to take up more space than the Firefox approach, which you’ll see below. It’s also harder to locate the browser window you want if you have a lot of tabs open. When you scroll quickly, it’s easy for your eye to pass right over the tab you’re looking for. This is definitely one area where the Chrome browser falls short.

Sharing, History, and Privacy

Chrome comes packaged with plenty of privacy features Is Your Browser Leaking Your Online Secrets? Is Your Browser Leaking Your Online Secrets? Is your browser leaking your online secrets? Could it be letting your train spotting obsession out of the bag, without even an inkling of remorse? And if it is, how on earth would you know? Read More , where you can enable or disable the tracking of searches How to Manually & Automatically Clear Your Browser History How to Manually & Automatically Clear Your Browser History The websites you visit leave tracks on your computer. We show you how to delete your browsing history in Firefox, Chrome, Edge, and Internet Explorer. Read More and URLs visited.

chrome on android - sharing, history, privacy

At the same time, if you do leave tracking enabled, just clicking on the three-dot icon at the upper right gives you the menu where you can select to view your history, saved bookmarks, and more. It really depends on your own personal privacy values, versus the convenience of having your entire search and browser history How to Delete Your Google Chrome History How to Delete Your Google Chrome History Do you wish you could wipe your Google Chrome search history and start with a clean slate? Luckily, it's both possible and easy to do! Read More right at your fingertips.

Of course you can balance that out by clicking on “Clear Browsing Data” at the end of every day, if you want.

chrome on android - sharing, history, privacy

Under the preferences (three dot icon) menu, there’s also a share feature (above right), where you can quickly share the URL you’re viewing to just about any social or email app on your phone, many Google apps (like Drive), or To-Do apps you have installed 8 Super Simple To-Do List Tools to Keep You Focused 8 Super Simple To-Do List Tools to Keep You Focused A to-do list is the simplest productivity system. These eight minimalist to-do list tools are for tracking your daily tasks without the fuss. Read More .

Again, this is a perfect example of just how integrated Chrome is with everything you have installed on your Android device.

The Data Saver feature in Chrome is pretty cool (below left). This lets Google compress pages before sending them to you, which can greatly reduce the bandwidth you’re using up. This is very useful if you’re on a limited data plan.

chrome on android - sharing, history, privacy

The privacy features of Chrome are very customizable. For example, you can turn off “Do Not Track Does "Do Not Track" Protect Your Privacy? Does "Do Not Track" Protect Your Privacy? Does enabling "Do Not Track" in your browser really protect your privacy? Do websites respect your wishes, or does it simply provide a false sense of security? Let's find out... Read More ” to let sites know you don’t want them tracking your browsing data, but you can turn on “Safe Browsing” where Google will prevent you from inadvertently visiting known dangerous sites.

Things also look better on Chrome.

Integration With Services and Apps

Let me show you what I mean. When you search for local weather, Chrome will produce a nice, large widget showing the current temperature in your town, plus a quick overview of the forecast over the upcoming week. Firefox just doesn’t look this nice, as you’ll see below.

chrome on android- app integrations

Yet another nod to the integration of Chrome The Easy Guide to Google Chrome The Easy Guide to Google Chrome This Chrome user guide shows everything you need to know about the Google Chrome browser. It covers the basics of using Google Chrome that is important for any beginner. Read More with the rest of your services: you can use very specific search phrases to trigger interactions with other services. For example typing something like “remind me to nap in 10 minutes” will trigger the browser to show you a widget where you can literally set up a reminder with Google Now. This will actually trigger an alert on your phone if you have that app installed.

The Firefox Mobile Browser

Using the Firefox mobile browser doesn’t mean you’re disconnecting from your Google account. You can log into Google just as easily on your Firefox browser, and it will remember those login details (if you let it).

firefox on android - login

Let’s take a quick look at the differences when you do those unique “widgetized” searches, like weather. When you use Google to search for local weather in Firefox, as you can see the results don’t look quite as impressive.

It’s still a widget of sorts, but it’s not quite as aesthetically pleasing and it doesn’t offer as much information.

firefox on android

If you type in the “remind me to nap in 10 minutes” search, it doesn’t integrate with Google Now or anything like that. You will just see standard search results for that search phrase.

One area where Firefox excels is in the options available to you for privacy and security. Firefox offers the “Do not track” feature, but under Privacy you’ll also see the option to automatically clear all of your data every time you exit the browser. This is a nice feature if you don’t want to have to worry about forgetting to do this every time.

firefox on android - settings

Accessibility options are also really nice on Firefox. Under that menu you’ll find the ability to:

  • Scale up or down the font on all web pages you visit
  • Force enable zoom so that you can zoom in or out regardless of what page you’re visiting
  • Enable voice input for your URL bar searches

The Firefox mobile browser also has the equivalent of Chrome’s “incognito mode” called “Private Browsing 4 Ways You Can Be Tracked When In Private Browsing 4 Ways You Can Be Tracked When In Private Browsing Private browsing is private in 99% of cases, but there are many ways in which it can be circumvented, thanks to browser extensions and hacks. Some of them don't even need all that much work. Read More “.

firefox on android - privacy

It works exactly the same: preventing pages from tracking your browsing history and disabling browser history tracking.

Testing Overall Performance

As a final step in this head-to-head comparison, it’s important to take a look at browser performance.

To do this, I visited two sites using Chrome and then Firefox. The first website was speed-battle.com, a site that measures the speed of Javascript processing in your browser.

When I visited the site using Firefox, the browser established an overall score of 612.83. To put this into context, the average score for most browsers that visit the site is 816.35, with an all-time record score of 1748.3.

firefox performance test - android browser showdown

This also depends on hardware — mostly processor speed, operating system, etc. However as a comparison between just Firefox and Chrome, it’s a good test.

Running the same test using Chrome, I found the following results.

chrome performance test - android browser showdown

Surprisingly, the Chrome score was half that of Firefox, even after running it twice. This can’t be explained away with extensions, because my Chrome mobile browser doesn’t have any extensions or add-ins installed.

To ensure a thorough performance comparison, I used a second site called WebKit.org, which provides a benchmarking tool called SunSpider.

The results of this test are shown below. Chrome is on the left and Firefox is on the right.

chrome vs firefox - android browser comparison

This test appears far more thorough. Firefox excels in some areas, while Chrome excels in others. Overall these test results seem to show that both browsers are fairly equal when it comes to performance.

The Winner Is…

Taking everything into account, the winner of this Android browser battle isn’t so clear cut.

Chrome seems to outpace Firefox when it comes to the following issues:

  • Integration with other services and apps
  • A better aesthetic while using Google Search

Firefox seems to do better than Chrome in the following areas:

  • A better interface in certain areas like tab-switching
  • More customizable privacy and security controls
  • Easier integration with multiple search engines

Performance doesn’t appear to be a deciding factor. With all things considered, Chrome is a better option for you if you are deeply embedded into the Google ecosystem. There’s just no trading the convenience that comes with having every Google service you use so deeply integrated with your internet browsing experience.

Firefox is a better option if you tend to use search engines other than Google anyway, or if you’ve never really adopted many Google services. In that case, you can take advantage of the privacy and security features, as well as the more robust interface that Firefox offers.

Which mobile browser do you use and why did you choose it? Share your thoughts on this Android browser showdown in the comments section below!

Image Credit: albund/Depositphotos

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  1. Marc
    May 12, 2018 at 5:35 am

    It would be nice to compare the latest Firefox for Android (v60) with Chrome. As a 2nd test same Firefox equiped with uBlock Origin with Chrome (Chrome currently not allowing adblockers)

  2. MIKE
    February 15, 2018 at 7:32 pm

    FYI...you started off irritating me at the beginning...Stop using the slang adverb:
    ANYWAYS...!!!! IT'S ANYWAY...NO F'N "S'...THANKS!!!!

  3. ReadandShare
    February 8, 2018 at 5:50 pm

    The deal breaker for me - in favor of FF - is that I can install all kinds of extensions, similar to the desktop version. uBlock adblocker, for example.

    Secondarily, as I already use GMail, it's good (for me anyway) to use a browser not made by Google - esp. when there are excellent alternatives, like FF.

  4. Hildy J
    February 8, 2018 at 5:18 pm

    What you left out makes the comparison very misleading. Of course your speed test was unaffected by Chrome extensions because Chrome for Android doesn't support extensions and Firefox does.

    I.E. - no ad blocker for Chrome on Android.

    I want to surf while seeing only ads from sites I've whitelisted. Firefox with an ad blocker speeds page loads, reduces data transfer, helps page navigation, eliminates accidental clicks on ads, and makes me much less annoyed with the current state of the Internet.

  5. Glen LeBarr
    February 8, 2018 at 4:42 pm

    I prefer Armorfly above all & prefer Via , Opera Light, and Firefox Focus over Chrome & Firefox