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Brave Browser Review

The Brave browser appeared in 2016 as a privacy-focused alternative to Google Chrome. Brave is based on the Chromium source code but strips out all of the privacy-violating Google code. The result is a browser that looks and feels just like Chrome, but with greater online privacy features.

Max Pitchkites
By Max Pitchkites (Writer)
— Last Updated: 2022-05-08T07:34:18+00:00 Facts checked by Elisabeth Ivey
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Brave is known for being a private web browser that doesn’t make money by collecting your data, unlike most web browsers. Brave runs an advertising model based on user privacy and improves its browser by relying on aggregate user data when it needs to collect any data at all. In this Brave browser review, we’ll see if it lives up to its reputation as a private web browser.

Beyond its reputation for privacy, Brave is also known for natively including features that would otherwise have to be added via an extension. This includes an ad blocker, an HTTPS Everywhere feature and even a cryptocurrency wallet. Aside from convenience, having more native features reduces the CPU drain caused by adding too many extensions to your browser.

Key Takeaways:

  • Brave blocks ads and trackers by default and is first web browser to include a built-in cryptocurrency wallet
  • Brave ads analyze your behavior locally when enabled, so no other parties have access to your data.
  • By enabling Brave ads, you can earn tokens and support content creators you enjoy.

Brave is clearly thinking about the internet as a whole as technology races toward Web 3.0. It isn’t solely focused on browser development, but on a wider spectrum of new technology that the Brave browser is natively equipped to use. It’s a unique browser that’s quickly rising in popularity, so let’s get into the fine details.

  • 12/26/2021 Facts checked

    Added performance table and expanded privacy, security and BAT token sections.

  • Yes, Brave can be trusted to protect you from ads, trackers and other malicious content online. The ad blocker is enabled by default, and none of your data will leave your browser when opting in to Brave ads.

  • Yes, Brave is a fast, feature-rich and secure browser for personal and professional use. It’s good for internet users who want a more private browser than Brave’s big-name competitors, but it’s also good for those who need a cryptocurrency wallet built directly into the browser.

  • No, Brave is not illegal. Even though the Tor network has accrued an unsavory reputation for being populated with malicious actors, Brave is not violating any laws by itself or with its Tor feature.

Brave Review: Alternatives

Brave Browser Review: Strengths & Weaknesses

Pros:

  • Advanced security & privacy features
  • Fast & memory-efficient
  • Built-in ad-blocker & crypto wallet
  • Privacy-based advertising model & reward system

Cons:

  • Infrequent update cycle

Features

90 % – Excellent

Brave’s design somewhat parallels the philosophy of Opera and Vivaldi because its abundance of features minimizes the need for extensions. However, unlike those two browsers, Brave’s features are focused on privacy, security, Web 3.0 technology and decentralized finance (DeFi).

Sync

Most modern browsers include a sync feature to unify a single user’s browser data across multiple devices, and they usually involve creating an account associated with the browser. Instead of making you create a Brave account, Brave relies on QR codes and text codes to sync data — such as your bookmarks, history, extensions and more — across devices.

brave browser sync
Users don’t need an account to send media from one device to another.

PDF Reader

Brave has the same PDF reader as Chrome without any additional controls or settings. The PDF reader’s interface consists of a bar running across the top of the page with buttons for interacting with the document, and a vertical preview column on the left. Brave doesn’t put the emphasis of its novel features on text and media interactions.

brave pdf reader
Like most Chromium browsers, Brave uses the standard Google Chrome PDF reader.

Context Menu

Brave’s context menu is likewise standard, lacking many features beyond the usual navigation, text and download actions. However, the context menu contains an option to send a page or file to your synced devices. Your connected device will quickly receive the sent file without requiring you to log in to anything.

brave context menu
Brave offers the option to select and block individual elements while still using the website.

The context menu features a submenu simply titled “Brave” that contains options for blocking individual elements on a web page and adding ad block filters. The former option is useful if you want to remove a single element on the website, such as an annoying ad; the latter contains a long list of additional ad block filters in case Brave’s filters aren’t enough.

Search Engine

Brave Search is Brave’s default search engine (read our search engine vs browser guide). Alternative search engine options are included in the browser including DuckDuckGo, Google, Bing, Ecosia and a few others, but you can manually add any search engine you like.

Brave Rewards & The Basic Attention Token

Not only is Brave a privacy-first web browser, but it’s also playing a role in the company’s effort to reform online advertising.

According to the white paper for the Basic Attention Token (BAT), Brave believes the current state of digital advertising is both damaging to user privacy and to the revenue of content creators and advertisers. Brave’s offered solution is to create a “decentralized, transparent digital ad exchange based on blockchain” through BATs.

brave rewards
Your browsing behavior fuels your BAT tokens, which you can use to support your favorite websites.

These Ethereum-based tokens are not a digital currency, but they are utility tokens representing your attention to the websites you visit. When you enable Brave ads, Brave measures how often and for how long you engage with your most-visited sites and generates personalized ads based on your browsing habits. The analysis of your data is entirely local, so no third parties — or even Brave itself — have access to your data.

The ads appear as system notifications and can be turned off at any time. Brave ads are disabled by default, so you won’t have to worry about Brave spamming you with ad after ad. Viewing Brave ads generates and lets you earn BAT tokens which can then be used to “tip” your favorite content creators that are registered with Brave.

Through Brave’s decentralized and privacy-focused advertising platform, user data remains completely private, while websites and advertisers are still allowed to make money. It’s an interesting idea that Brave hopes to spread to other browsers and make it a standard browser feature in the future.

Chrome Web Store

Given its basis in Chromium, Brave is compatible with most of the extensions in the Chrome web store. While Brave isn’t as feature-rich as Vivaldi or Opera, ad and tracker blocking is built right into the browser itself, so there’s no need to compromise your browser’s speed by adding resource-hungry extensions on top of the unmodified browser.

Brave Wallet

Brave wallet is an Ethereum-based crypto wallet built directly into the desktop browser itself. You can manage your crypto assets and interact with decentralized apps (dapps) within your browser without having to install an extension.

brave wallet
Many crypto wallet extensions are scams in disguise, but Brave’s built-in wallet eliminates the need to download an extension altogether.

Most crypto wallets require a browser extension to use, which opens up the possibility for malicious extensions disguised as legitimate ones to steal your credentials, money or personal data. The browser-native nature of Brave wallet eliminates these security risks while providing convenient access to crypto management tools.

The Brave wallet is only available for desktop users running Windows, MacOS and Linux. At the moment, no mobile version of Brave supports the Brave wallet.

Ease of Use

90 % – Excellent

Brave’s basis in Chromium makes its interface both easy to use and familiar to Chrome users. Brave includes a wide range of features without becoming burdensome to new users, so if you’re already familiar with Chromium vs Chrome, there shouldn’t be much of a learning curve when using Brave.

Brave is available on desktop for Windows 64-bit, Windows 32-bit, MacOS Intel, MacOS ARM64 and Linux. Support for the mobile variant is available for Android and iOS users running Android version 6 or later, or iOS version 13 or later. Brave is one of the best browsers for Android.

Desktop Version

Brave’s Chromium-based user interface is nothing new for most web users. Simplicity is the main principle behind Chromium browser design: most of the browser window is taken up by the website itself. It’s topped with an address bar, and a bookmarks bar and navigation controls are off to the side.

brave new tab
Brave calculates the total number of ads your installation has blocked.

Most of Brave’s features are stored away within the settings menu, so the browser doesn’t overwhelm the user with too many visual elements.

Mobile Version

Brave’s mobile counterpart is a minimalist and easy-to-use browser that isn’t very different from the desktop version. The navigation controls are arranged along the bottom of the web page and the address bar spans the top part of the screen. Users can request the desktop version of any website they visit.

brave mobile
The mobile version of Brave sports a minimalist design.

The Brave shield icon and the Brave rewards icon are always displayed on the right side of the address bar. It’s easy to quickly check your BAT balance as you browse the web and tip your favorite websites, so long as they’re registered with the Brave rewards program.

brave tip
A growing number of websites registered with Brave’s advertising network can be tipped with your BAT tokens.

We aren’t sure how many Brave users would actually opt in to viewing ads and using the BAT tokens since it’s such a new idea, but it’s a unique feature nonetheless.

Performance

80 % – Good

We ran Brave through three benchmark tests alongside Google Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Vivaldi, and Opera. Brave’s speed came in fourth in the Speedometer and JetStream 2 tests and came in third in the Motion Mark speed test. Chrome, Edge and Opera sped ahead of Brave, while Brave outperformed Firefox, Vivaldi and Opera in the Motion Mark test.

Benchmark Test:Speedometer
BrowserRuns per Minute
Microsoft Edge131
Chrome121
Opera116.6
Brave102
Vivaldi97.3
Firefox95.5

Speedometer tests the responsiveness of web applications by simulating user actions. Microsoft Edge came in first in every test we ran, while Brave wound up somewhere in the middle.

Benchmark Test:JetStream 2
BrowserScore
Microsoft Edge134
Chrome125.917
Opera121.802
Brave116.936
Vivaldi116.540
Firefox80.131

Jetstream 2 is a benchmark test measuring JavaScript and WebAssembly programming techniques and averages the scores with a geometric mean. Brave once again appeared in fourth place, just 17.064 points behind Edge, while Firefox was 36.805 points behind Brave.

Benchmark Test:Motion Mark
BrowserScore
Microsoft Edge517
Chrome496.32
Brave444.67
Opera373.27
Vivaldi285.25
Firefox145.93

Motion Mark tests the browser’s ability to render visual graphics. Brave performed better in this test than in the previous two.

While Brave isn’t the fastest browser on this list, it’s still a very fast browser that showed no signs of latency at high loads.

Brave was fairly efficient in its memory usage, while we noticed that Opera was slightly more RAM-hungry when performing the same tasks. Chrome used memory more efficiently than both Brave and Opera.

Security

80 % – Good

The bulk of Brave’s security is derived from Google Safe Browsing, the service Google developed to check URLs against a database of known malicious URLs.

The service is excellent at warning users of potentially malicious websites, but Google could theoretically piece together an individual user’s browsing history from the URLs sent to the company through Google Safe Browsing.

Google supposedly anonymizes your browsing history before the data reaches its servers, but studies have found that though Google’s efforts seem sincere, the system is far from perfect and open to abuse.

Brave issues major updates every three to four weeks. This relatively slow update cycle leaves more time for cybercriminals to exploit vulnerabilities in the browser when compared to Chrome’s two to three-week update cycle. If you need something more secure we recommend Puffin (read our Puffin review).

Privacy

90 % – Excellent

Several of Brave’s privacy and security features are built into the browser and don’t require an extension. You’ll find the main privacy controls contained in the “shields” menu in the Brave logo located on the right side of the address bar.

brave browser shields
Brave’s ad-blocking capabilities are enabled by default.

Users can configure the privacy and security settings for individual websites under this menu and choose how aggressively Brave should block ads, trackers and cookies. The standard “trackers and ads blocked” setting is enabled by default, but users have the option of turning up the blocking to “trackers and ads blocked (aggressive)” or allowing all trackers and ads.

Dropping the shields can come in handy when visiting websites that rely on features that usually get blocked in order to function (i.e. pop-up windows). The “shields” menu contains further controls for blocking cookies, cross-site cookies, and fingerprinting at varying levels of intensity.

The strict fingerprint-blocking setting comes with a warning that some websites may break.

Brave also comes with a built-in HTTPS Everywhere feature that will automatically establish a connection to all websites over HTTPS. Websites only available in HTTP will produce a “not secure” warning in the address bar by default.

Private Mode & Tor

Brave includes a private browsing mode that’s pretty standard for all Chromium-based private modes — none of your browsing history, cookies or form data will be stored in the browser once you close the window. What sets Brave apart from most browsers is its “browse with Tor” mode.

brave-private-window
The Brave private window is useful for preventing the retention of your history, cookies or download history, but it doesn’t disguise IP addresses the way a VPN can.

The standard private mode won’t hide your IP address from websites you visit or your internet service provider, but your IP address will be hidden with the Tor network. Your connection will travel through a chain of Tor nodes before it reaches the destination, so there will be no way for your destination website to know anything other than the exit node’s IP address.

Limitations of Tor and Private Browsing

The biggest downside with this mode is that you can’t see which individual Tor node you’re using. The Tor Browser has a wider range of options for configuring your connections over the Tor network.

The Onion network attracts just as many scammers, bots and cybercriminals as it does legitimate users, so be careful when using Tor. For this reason, some websites will either require you to fill out CAPTCHA tests to prove that you’re not a bot, or they will block Tor nodes entirely.

brave tor
You can access the Tor network directly from the Brave browser in a private window.

There’s a lot more to know about Tor, so check out our VPN vs Proxy vs Tor guide for more information on how it works.

The Tor Project has a browser of its own, but Brave is an all-around better browser for its superior privacy, security and fuller range of features. If you’re still curious about this browser, you can read our full Tor browser review.

It’s important to note the purpose and limitations of browser private modes. It’s commonly thought that your browser’s private or incognito mode will protect your privacy while you use the internet, by masking your IP address, for example. This is not what private modes are meant to do — that’s the domain of VPNs, or virtual private networks.

Take a look at our top 10 VPN providers for 2021 for more information on the best privacy-protecting services. ExpressVPN took first place as the best overall VPN, which you can read about in greater detail here.

The Verdict

Brave is one of the best browsers for privacy-conscious users. New users won’t even have to think about adding privacy extensions, as the browser is already equipped with built-in ad and tracker blocking features right out of the box. Not only is this convenient, but having fewer extensions improves the browser’s speed and efficiency.

We also applaud Brave for integrating the browser with the company’s innovative project to reshape digital advertising, although the BAT system may be too esoteric for most users at the moment. Nevertheless, Brave is clearly thinking about the future of the internet as a whole and may very well set new standards that other browsers will follow.

What are your thoughts on Brave? Do you trust Brave with your privacy, or have you used a more private browser? Are Brave ads worth opting in to? And has the Brave wallet been helpful in your crypto investments? Let us know in the comments below, and thanks for reading.

Was this post helpful?

48 thoughts on “Brave Browser”

  1. I would like to know how well this browser does for scrolling in 120 or 144 Hz.

    Reply
  2. Since implementing Brave Browser, and a Pi-Hole server on our network, the alerts with our antivirus has dropped tremendously. Merely this protection to our end users and our network has been worth converting over to this browser alone.

    Reply
  3. Works OK on my Macbook Air with Catalina Mac OS. Scrolling is not as smooth as with Safari. I can’t seem to get passwords to sync with KeyChain which is sort of a deal breaker for using Brave exclusively. The only reason its faster is that its blocks a lot of stuff like ads and trackers. The nice thing is that these are baked in to the browser. Not at all interested in the whole BAT rewards model. I would recommend Brave over Chrome on a Mac based on its performance, lower resources and built in privacy tools.

    Reply
  4. It cant be trusted. you may have earned a lot of BAT tokens but you will never get to them due to brave and uphold being a scam, they will change your password and you will never get back into your account ever again. BE WARNED

    Reply
      1. About? Ethan— I’m pondering the points. IDK if … one reads: lost his passwords, I’d be mighty pissed. And you have ( plants?) to reply what Ethan & a few others tell. My Question is, can we undo brave if we decide irs just not wanted?

        Reply
    1. U realise it can’t change your password because you can’t create a brave account

      Reply
    2. Absolutely agree.
      I had several HUGE issues with these …no name for this cu88ing IT folk.
      NEVER EVER again.
      Brave is just as bad as Google!
      If there was a negative star rating I’d give Brave a MINUS 5, alone for their cheating, lying and pretending philosophy!

      There’s only ONE browser who can be trusted and that is TOR!
      Rest is all crap. lying and BTW, incompetent, too. Amateur hackers who put this crap together.

      Reply
  5. I downloaded Brave and the browser would not load. After two days it finally did load and it was about 25% the speed of Chrome and Firefox. I’ve tried to uninstall it and it won’t uninstall. I wished I hadn’t have downloaded it.

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    1. I used Brave but it’s unbelievably cunning. Nothing of their “Privacy” claims is true or else, why would they allow you to choose some setting like YOU want and next time you open it, everything had changed? What? And that on top of you having chosen manual updated, speak you opted out of automatic update. The list is just too long to name it here

      Uninstall?
      Are you on a MAC? If yes, do this.

      Drag your Brave application to the Trash, then, …

      In your Finder choose ‘GO” and then click on ‘Go to Folder’.
      Type in ‘~/Library’
      The Finder widow opening up, you see a search bar in the top right corner, type in ‘Brave’.
      You will see a whole list of Brave related files and folders showing up and it may be that some folders/files pop up several times (based on your history).
      Choose ‘Library’ from your search location options and delete every file and folder.

      Secure delete you Trash and you are as clean as clean can get clean.

      Reply
  6. With the intrusive ads removed, I can scroll fast and see what I came to a website for. It really bothers me that Chrome doesn’t give an option to delete history automatically when you close your browser. Not perfect – still uses mulitple processes and resources like Chrome but it’s the best I’ve found.

    Reply
  7. I use the Brave browser, I had trackers on my case which slowed down my computer now it’s a breeze and no fear of my information being sold to a 3rd party.

    Reply
  8. Unfortunately Brave has become pretty ad heavy by default. Install it on mobile and you have to disable new tab screen ads, notification ads, the bat token icon, and then you’ll still get notifications to make Brave your default browser.

    Ironically, pretty much any other browser offers a better ad free experience.

    Reply
    1. Not only that but with every update they dump out, it carries more security risks and it becomes more and more intrusive. Really hardly any difference to Google Chrome any longer. I retired Brave now for good! Not worth any hassle.

      Reply
  9. The browser still has a long way to go. It takes a long time, sometimes 10 mins, to launch. Even with a lot of useful features, it doesn’t have a chance to even come close to other browsers of repute. It seems the browser is still not ready yet to make any impact.

    Reply
    1. And it’s claim on privacy and security is the biggest bogus. Some pretenders like them, you simply can’t trust.

      Reply
    1. LOL
      Let me guess, you refer to their amateur like hacking competency which is ludicrous. A child could build a better browser.
      For that I give you 7 stars

      Reply
  10. Installed Brave on Windows 10 Pro with 4.0 GHz AMD CPU & 32 GB RAM It loads fast and runs very fast. I was getting fed up waiting for Pages to settle down and stop jumping about and what I wanted to read partially covered by a Video or an Advert
    thank you for your excellent browser.it does what I want a browser to do without any fuss. it is a pleasure to browse the internet again and see only what I am looking for.

    Reply
  11. Yes- ads from Chrome tracking are annoying. Will I still get Googles extensive search engine ability? Will I have to reload all of my passwords? Thanks.

    Reply
  12. I’ve been experienced few thing like it reset by itself and deleted all my bookmark and few other thing… then decided to go back to chrome after experiences all this problem and reinstall brave few time. been using it for few month and lastly, Brave is not for me.

    Reply
  13. I loaded Brave and everything worked as advertised. There are some small, annoying things that I would like to see changed. I run it on a Windows 10 Intel i7 laptop with a ssd hd that is normally very fast. I do, however have satellite internet, which everyone knows is slow. Brave sped up my browsing considerably…for a while. What I’ve noticed is that it doesn’t release resources when it’s done with them. After a couple hours of browsing and Facebooking, I notice that the browser freezes for a few seconds. The longer you go, the more frequent the freezes and the longer they last. This gets very annoying and I have to restart the laptop. Simply shutting down and restarting Brave is not sufficient. My other issues are that it doesn’t have an option for a menu bar across the top and the real estate above the tabs is insufficient. I like to drag things around on my laptop to get them out of the way. There is nearly NO room about the tabs to grab in order to drag the browser out of the way. I will continue to use Brave, but I really wish they would fix the issues I pointed out.

    Reply
  14. Brave is a great browser except for the fact that its password save does not work and they won’t fix the issue.

    Reply
    1. You should be using a password manager anyway. Don’t rely on your browser. Using a password manager allows you to use it across browsers and devices.

      Reply
  15. brave standard saves passwords etc on every website without asking. I would rather have the annoying popup or at least a warning.

    Reply
  16. Amazing browser, fast and secure. So glad I gave it a shot as an early adopter because you get paid in cryptocurrency for watching ads. The BAT I received over the year and a half has grown in value from $125 to over $300. I average about $7/month since around Feb 2019 when the ad revenue share started.

    Reply
  17. I found Brave to be faster and less-resource intensive than Chrome, yes. But for me the sync system is still very embryonic and needs a lot invested development time to bring it anywhere near the other browsers in terms of syncing to an Android device. (I’ll stick with Vivaldi for the present.)

    Reply
  18. Pretty good on the desktop and I would use Brave on my Android phone but for one major drawback – There is no back or forward button. Before you suggest it – no, the Android back and forward gestures do not work in the app, at least not for me.

    Reply
  19. 3-4 weeks? Brave for macOS, at least, is getting updated every other day. And it sticks out, because updates require user intervention with admin password, every single time. That’s why I use Opera instead. Like Chrome, it can install updates quietly within itself, and install them the next time the browser restarts. It also includes a battery saver and VPN. I think Brave has a catchy name and icon, and so people look past the elementary coding skill of its developers.

    Reply
    1. You nailed it.
      Except, I slightly disagree with the update issue. I found Brave automatically updates in the background because too many times I discovered ridiculous changes, out of the blue sky. Then Brave became even worse.

      I suspect their dev team is an incredibly incompetent hacking coders. I hardly can find any difference to Google Chrome any longer. Retired Brave for good and threw the key away.

      Reply
  20. From all browsers, BRAVE is, indeed, the worst of all.

    Using Chrome or Safari, OK, at least I know I’m screwed but Brave? Pretending to be safe and allows YOU to be in charge is the biggest con I’d ever come across. Besides, wiping Brave totally off your computer, even using SUDO command in terminal and then, when you download another (older even) version, VOILA, all your bookmarks stored in your previous version, they’re all back again and, allow me to ask, where are they coming form? Was it a heavenly, godly enlightenment?

    HTTPS protocols? No worries. Brave will tell you it’s not a HTTPS and it’s not safe

    Your Time, 14:37:56? No worries. Brave will tell you it’s not 14:37:56

    Opt out of Automatic update? No worries. Brave will let you know you may choose so but Brave believes you made the wrong choice and updates you anyway.

    Your setting? No worries, Brave allows you to “BELIEVE” that’s another choice freely available to you but then resets everything to what Brave believes the setting you should have chosen.

    You see, you just gotta be a little more respectful. Don’t do what You want, accept what Brave wants you to want! OK! Got it?!

    No, Brave is definitely the VERY LAST browser I’d ever advise you to load onto your machine. It’s the biggest con and privacy intrusion you can possibly allow yourself.

    Unfortunately there is no Minus star rating available, otherwise I’d have given Brave a -5 star rating

    Reply
    1. in terms of stopping viruses does it work? Apart from getting the time wrong and all that?

      Reply
    2. This holds partial bias information. As each user has their own recommended browser usage. This comment on Brave is absolutely bias against other browsers

      Reply
  21. Liked the idea of faster Chrome with privacy so I have been using it for more than a year now. Some recent experience made me to examine whether it is “faster” or whether it is worth it.

    The main problem is that Brave never tell you whether blocking some ad is preventing some links from opening properly like some adblockers do.

    In some case, it would allow blocked site to continue after a long wait (timeout). Many links from slickdeal.net show this behavior.

    In other cases, the links simply reached unintended pages. For example, you try to order in a restaurant by scanning QR code but you just can’t reach the order page.

    Reply
  22. Very nice browser safer to visit website, most interesting I found that on YouTube we don’t have to see ads, video starts.

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  23. Don’t use Brave Search. I just searched for the word “bung” and all it could manage was results about Microsoft Bing.

    Reply
  24. In real world it’s much faster than Chrome + Edge because it blocks all the spammy ad scripts. So everything feels much more smooth

    Reply
  25. My lady has an older DELL she was using FIREFOX it was slow an it froze a lot got brave not nearly as many problems

    Reply
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