Firefox and Google Chrome are two of the most popular and widely used browsers in the world. They’re both solid choices for browsing the web, with excellent add-on libraries, clean user interfaces and great performance.
To help you make a more informed decision when choosing which one you want to use, we decided to pit them against each other in this Firefox vs. Google Chrome showdown.
In terms of market share, Chrome is definitely dominant, but Firefox has been around for a much longer time and has always been something of an underdog. They receive similar scores in most of our categories, with the exception of privacy, so this is going to come right down to the wire.
This article will only compare the two browsers against each other, so if you want a more detailed breakdown of each and how they fare when looking at the entire lineup of available web browsers, you can read our Firefox review and Google Chrome review.
Setting up a Fight: Firefox vs. Chrome
We’re going to put the browsers through five separate categories, awarding one point for each round’s win. The rounds include: features, ease of use, performance, security and privacy.
The browser that manages to score at least three points will be declared the victor. As mentioned, this will be a close one, so we doubt we’ll see a clear winner emerge early on.
For the first round, we’ll be looking at features. Important factors include extensions, customization, syncing and mobile features, as well as minor convenience features, like capture tools and reading modes.
Firefox has a large add-on library, and though it’s not as large as Chrome’s, you can still find pretty much anything you want there.
The browser also comes with a decent number of minor built-in features, such as the capture tool. This is incredibly useful for taking screenshots, allowing you to take a picture of the full screen, choose a specific area or create an image of the entire webpage, regardless of length.
Other minor features include a reading mode that strips out all content not related to the article’s main text, creating a clean interface that is ideal for reading, as well as a basic PDF reader and plenty of alternative search engines available at all times under the address bar.
There’s also quite a good range of customization options available, as the browser lets you move most UI elements wherever you want them to be.
On mobile, Firefox definitely leans toward a clean and simple user experience rather than packing the browser full of features. However, there are a few neat features included. There’s a built-in QR reader, which can be useful, as well as a night mode to spare your eyes and a desktop mode, if you’d rather not deal with some websites’ poorly made mobile versions.
As mentioned, Chrome’s extension library is second to none, so the browser gets full marks in that category.
The browser is also very well integrated with other Google services, such as Gmail, Google Docs and — perhaps most significantly for the browsing experience — Google Translate. This is the best automatic translation service available at this point, allowing you to easily translate webpages in almost every language.
The browser is very easy to set up and access multiple users. This is great even if it’s just you using the computer, as you can customize user profiles for different purposes, like work or entertainment (find out how to change your default Google account). Chrome also has a built-in PDF reader, although it’s rather basic.
In terms of customization, there’s not much that Chrome allows you to change, so if you want to change the browser’s appearance, it will have to be through third-party extensions.
On mobile, there’s not a lot of features to mention, but there is a desktop mode and a reading list that allows you to save and organize webpages for later reading, even if you’re offline.
Round One Thoughts
Right off the bat, we have a very close round. Neither browser is particularly feature-heavy, but they make up for it with large extension libraries, although Chrome’s is larger. Chrome then increases its lead with solid integration with other Google services and support for multiple users.
However, Firefox does better on mobile, featuring a night mode and a QR code reader.Firefox also comes with more minor features than its competitor, such as its reading mode, alternative search engines and capture tool.
It also allows users to customize large parts of the interface, something that Chrome doesn’t do except through third-party extensions. All this lets Firefox snatch the victory in the first round, though not by much.
2. Ease of Use
Next up, we’re going to compare the browsers’ ease of use, taking into consideration things like interface design, navigation, tab management, and any potential website compatibility issues.
Firefox sports a very clean user interface that’s easy to wrap your head around and navigate. The layout is simple, and the different functions are located where you’d expect them to be.
Tabs are easy to manage, as once you have too many open at the same time, the browser uses horizontal scrolling, rather than continuing to minimize them. You can also pin and mute tabs, as well as send them to another device.
Unfortunately, Chrome’s incredible market share among web browsers means that some developers create their website with only it (and, by extension, other Chromium-based browsers) in mind.
This means you may occasionally run into websites that work poorly with Firefox. On the flipside, very old sites can sometimes work better with Firefox, if they were designed prior to the rise of Google’s browser.
Chrome’s interface is also well designed and responsive. Because a lot of browsers are based on Chromium (read our Chromium review), most people will find the UI familiar and easy to use. When you right-click an image, you’re given the option to do a reverse image search on Google for it, something that’s very handy.
Tab management is also good, as you can pin and mute tabs. Unfortunately, though, Chrome does not come with tab scrolling, meaning that it continues to minimize tabs when you open a lot at the same time.
The tabs are still quite easy to distinguish, though, as Chrome always displays the tab’s favicon in its entirety, and there’s a clear change in hue between neighboring tabs.
You can also easily access your open tabs on desktop via your mobile device, as they’re saved in a separate tab menu. This means you don’t have to send them to a specific device beforehand to access them.
Round Two Thoughts
The battle remains neck and neck in the second round, as there’s not a lot separating the two browsers in this category, either. Both have well-designed, clean and easy-to-understand user interfaces.
Although Firefox has horizontal scrolling for tabs, they’re still easy to manage on Chrome, as well. However, the context menu option for doing a reverse image search on Google is incredibly useful and is something that Firefox lacks.
Chrome on mobile also lets you see all the tabs open across your devices right in the tab menu without manually sending them, making it easier to pick up where you left off if you’re switching from desktop to mobile. These minor advantages give Chrome a slight edge and the victory in this round.
With the two browsers tied, we will move on to measuring each one’s performance. This means taking a look at their speed and resource consumption. Data usage is also important, as well as whether the browsers come with built-in ways to limit it.
Firefox is among the fastest web browsers, both on desktop and mobile. Although RAM consumption is high, the browser does well when under heavy load (more than 20 to 30 tabs), using relatively few resources per tab in such scenarios.
Although there’s no data saving mode on mobile, you can choose to disable images, which can save you a significant amount of bandwidth if you’re on a limited plan.
Google Chrome is also a very fast browser on all devices, but especially so on desktop. However, RAM consumption is incredibly high, which is an issue that Chrome is notorious for. There’s also a “lite mode” that can save data, which is helpful for mobile users with limited data plans.
Round Three Thoughts
This is yet another close round, as both browsers score high in this category. Both browsers are very fast, with Chrome being a little faster on desktop and Firefox a little faster on mobile. They’re both also resource-hungry, though Firefox becomes more efficient than Chrome the more tabs you have open.
The story is similar for data usage, where both browsers are pretty much identical. However, Firefox allows you to disable all images on mobile, which is a useful feature if you’re low on data. This functionality, paired with better performance under heavy load, allows Firefox to edge in another victory in the third round.
With Firefox retaking the lead, it’s time to have a look at what kind of security each browser offers. We’ll be taking a look at pop-up and ad blockers — whether they’re built-in or available as extensions, safe browsing databases or unsecure connection warnings — and how well the browsers protect your login info, as well as their update frequency.
Firefox comes with a built-in pop-up blocker, but no ad-block. However, you can choose from a multitude of options among the large library of Firefox add-ons, including some of our best pop-up blockers.
The browser uses Google’s safe browsing database to protect users against websites with known malicious content. This feature is turned on by default, which is good for security but bad for privacy. In addition, the browser receives frequent updates that download automatically.
Firefox warns you when you’re accessing a website through an unsecure (non-HTTPS) connection, but the warning is pretty small and easy to miss, as it doesn’t include any text.
You can set a master password to protect all your login details stored in the browser. However, you have to do this manually, so there are probably a lot of users with passwords completely unprotected from anyone with physical access to their devices. If this is something you’re worried about, check out some of the best password managers.
Many of the same things said above about Firefox are true for Google Chrome, as well. There’s a built-in pop-up blocker and plenty of third-party ad-blockers available in the Chrome webstore. Unsurprisingly, the browser also uses Google Safe Browsing to block malicious websites.
The warning you get when you use Chrome to connect to a website over a regular HTTP connection is clear and easy to notice. In addition, the browser receives frequent updates, usually every few days, which install without requiring user action. Chrome also protects your passwords well, requiring your device’s system credentials to access them.
Round Four Thoughts
This was another close round, as both browsers include most of the same security protections, such as Google Safe Browsing, pop-up blockers, dozens of ad-blocking extensions and unsecure-connection warnings. They both also receive frequent updates and patch security flaws whenever they are discovered.
As we concluded in our article about which web browser is the most secure, Chrome has a slight edge, as it does a better job of protecting users’ passwords, locking them by default behind the device’s system credentials, rather than having the user manually create a master password.
Chrome’s unsecure-connection warning is also much easier to spot than Firefox’s. These two factors let Chrome pull slightly ahead and win this round, leaving the browsers tied.
It’s time to decide this competitive battle, and it all comes down to this final round on privacy. We’ll be looking at the track record and reliability of each company, their privacy policies and any built-in privacy features, like tracking protections, VPNs or proxies.
Firefox is great with privacy. The company is a nonprofit and doesn’t derive any revenue from ads, which means it’s much easier to trust what Firefox says about protecting your data.
The browser also has excellent tracking protection controls, which are very flexible. You can individually block trackers, cookies, crypto miners and finger printers, letting you pick and choose exactly what you want to allow.
Privacy is probably Chrome’s biggest weakness as a browser. Google is well known for collecting all the data it can on its users, and its entire business model is based on using that data to generate revenue through ads.
Although it’s possible to delete the data Google has on you (read our guide on how to delete your Google history), it’s difficult to trust how effective this is. That’s because the company has been involved in various privacy scandals, such as cooperating with the NSA’s PRISM program and continuing to collect location data, despite users turning off location services.
Round Five Thoughts
This was the first round where there was really no contest. Chrome — and indeed Google, itself — is well known for disregarding its users’ privacy. Meanwhile, Firefox has been much more above board.
Both browsers have pretty good tracking protection built into them, but you have more control with Firefox over exactly what kind of trackers you want to block.
Neither includes any kind of VPN or proxy, but this isn’t exactly a standard feature of most browsers. If this is something you’re looking for, check out our list of the best VPN providers.
6. Final Thoughts
This battle was neck and neck right from the beginning, with very close results in the first four rounds, leaving the browsers tied. Firefox eked out narrow victories in the features and performance rounds, while Chrome did the same with the ease-of-use and security rounds.
However, Firefox managed to bring it home in the end by besting Chrome in the privacy round, making it the winner of this comparison. The final round was the first one that wasn’t an extremely narrow win, making it a fitting end for our battle.
What do you think of Firefox and Chrome? Do you agree with our assessment that Firefox carries the day, or do you think Chrome deserved it instead? Let us know in the comments below, and check out the result of our Edge vs Chrome piece. As always, thank you for reading.