Surf’s Up: Ranking the Best Internet Browsers

If you think you’ve got Internet browsers all figured out, think again. Although there are popular browsers out there commonly used by web surfers, there are some that showcase better features and have more upside than the ones you already know at the moment. On this post at Lifetickler, we crack down how these browsers measure up against each other.

web browser

With the Internet expected to grow exponentially with better services and site usability as we move forward, so too will the demand of users for an even more convenient online experience. People want speed and the elimination of lag time, among other conditions, when surfing the Internet.

This is where Internet browsers, known as software applications used to access the “World Wide Web” on your desktop computers or smartphones, come into play.

best internet browsers

Internet browsers are a dime a dozen, but only a handful are heavily used. Nonetheless, competition remains tight among top­tier web browsers,making it next to impossible to determine the clear­cut winner in this brutal browser race.

What are the criteria that internet browsers follow?

In reviewing some of the best internet browsers, below are the important factors that users value when surfing the Internet:

  • Speed – Convenience comes in faster load times. The quicker the browser starts up and operates, the better the experience will be for users.
  • Security – Malicious attacks from malware and viruses have long been a problem of Internet users. Thankfully, the best internet browsers provide enough protection to prevent users from getting their computers infected and information leaked.
  • Ease of Use – Although all Internet browsers are generally user­ friendly as far as surfing the net is concerned, some have a steep learning curve when it comes to accessing their different functions.
  • Expandability – Each browser hosts an exclusive collection of downloadable extensions and add­ons with the intention of increasing user experience.
  • Support – Some publishers roll out the latest version of their web browsers to maintain their position as one of the most competitive, if not the best, browser for download.

Breaking down each browser

Now that we’ve settled the categories to be used for evaluating Internet browsers, below are five of the best and popular browsers to be pitted against each other.

Mozilla Firefox

One of the first free and open source web browsers, Firefox was considered as the best Internet browser years after its 2004 release. In early 2011, Mozilla has tirelessly tweaked Firefox to accommodate the discriminating tastes of users, having revamped its interface and security starting with Firefox 5 as part of their rapid release developmental cycle.

More impressively, Firefox hosts the best collection of the most helpful and versatile extensions and add­ons for casual users, developers, Internet marketers, and others.

One of the criticisms made against Firefox is its excessive use of computer memory, bogging down the load time and user experience. Although Mozilla Firefox has improved speed approximately six times more than the obsolete Firefox 3, the strain it puts on the computer’s RAM remains to be an issue.

Verdict: Firefox has been plagued with heavy memory usage which greatly affects user experience and load speed. However, this web browser is the best choice for users into web development, as the downloadable extensions and customizable features let them run amok with developing the codes and performing on­ and off­page optimization on their websites.

Apple Safari

Dedicated to the Mac and iPhone, Safari balances user­friendliness and interface – a hallmark of Apple products. Compared to previous versions, the improved Nitro JavaScript, page caching, and DNS fetching of the latest Safari allow for faster browsing.

The Safari Reader converts web pages into printable documents with just a click of a button. This is advantageous for users tired of being bombarded with ads, widgets, and sidebars that disrupt page viewing.

The current collection of add­ons still has room for improvement, especially now that developers can freely create customized extensions. On the other hand, the bookmarks bar and smart URL bar help elevate the browser but not enough to put it over the top.

Verdict: Safari is hands down the best browser for Apple products. It embodies the core values of design and usability in its construction and function, but bursting the Apple bubble reveals shortcomings in the browser that ultimately provides an incomplete experience for the user.

Google Chrome

Chrome has perhaps single­handedly caused the seismic shift of attention on web browsers from being aesthetically pleasing to lightweight, fast, and reliable. Unsurprisingly, Google’s approach to search engine is applied to Chrome, with its sleek and minimalist interface contributing to extremely fast loading times.

Users can open, drag, and detach opened tabs from the current window with little to no problem at all. When a tab crashes down, others are not affected and still maintain accessibility for the user.

The Omnibox serves as the address and search bar at the same time. This feature even attempts to guess the site and keyword you’re planning to visit and search, respectively. Chrome takes the distinction of havingdownloaded items appear below the window instead of having a pop­up window appear on your screen.

If I were to nitpick on Chrome for any weakness, then it has to be its lacking collection of extensions (which has improved tenfold since the browser’s release) and rather plain security features.

Verdict: Surfing the web should be fun and simple, and Chrome is the browser that effortlessly does both. There’s a reason why this is arguably the browser of choice by casual users, and if you ever get your hands on Chrome, I’m pretty sure you will agree.

Opera

Google’s tabbed browsing was actually first developed by Opera in its attempt to create a richer browsing experience.

Also part of Opera’s mission to achieve usability with their current version is their exclusive collection of functions that separate them from the rest. Turbo increases loading speed when turned on, Unite lets you share web pages with other Opera users, and Link consolidates all bookmarked pages from Opera browsers into a single source. All these features create a unique web experience that no other browser will be able to emulate.

Verdict: Why Opera lacks a solid base of supporters is beyond me. Its feature ­rich interface and attempt to separate itself from the mold holds so much promise not just as a web browser, but as an industry shaker. If it continues to tread the road it brazenly walks, then expect Opera to become a major player in the years to come.

Microsoft Internet Explorer

Whereas its previous versions focused on the browser frame that compromised performance, the latest update has pushed the IE to the upper echelon of Internet browsers.

The Chakra JavaScript engine and GPU inclusion have immensely improved IE’s speed, stability, and user experience. The frequency of the browser crashing has been reduced, if not eliminated, thanks in part to the Hang Recovery and Crash Recovery features that reloads tabs to their last good configuration.Bad sites are immediately blacklisted upon visiting and leaving them with Tracking Protection. Advertisers have their hands tied from tracking user activity with the Do Not Track feature.

Verdict: Internet Explorer has shown tremendous improvement that it’s easy to overlook issues with its speed and ease of use. Nonetheless, this browser is the dark horse that could supplant Mozilla and Google from their positions as the best browser around.

To recap the top five web browsers in the market, below is a table that ranks all browsers based on the criteria mentioned earlier.

Criteria 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
Speed Chrome Safari IE Opera Firefox
Security Firefox Chrome IE Opera Safari
Ease of Use Chrome Safari Opera Firefox IE
Expandability Firefox Chrome Opera Safari IE
Support Chrome Firefox IE Safari Opera

Despite the seemingly lopsided dominance of Chrome and Firefox on almost all categories, the margin of error is so close that even the 5th placers have nothing to be ashamed of. All of the featured browsers bring something different to the table, and it is up to you as web user to figure out what suits your needs.

Give us your opinion on what you think is the best Internet browser in the market by commenting below.

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