Ever since Chrome was released for iOS devices, it has gained a lot of popularity and has been adopted by a huge number of iPhone, iPod and iPad owners who also use it on their desktop or laptop computers. This fast adoption though, has taken the spotlight away from other very capable web browsers out there that, while paid, still offer great versatility and some unique features.
This time, we take a look at iCab mobile ($1.99), one of the best and perhaps the most powerful iOS web browser out there and pit it against Chrome to see how they stack up against each other.
Let’s get going.
Speed-wise, after deleting the cache and the browsing history on both Chrome and iCab, I found the speed of both browsers to be fairly similar, with Chrome having a very small edge over iCab. Apple doesn’t allow browsers that don’t use its own engine into the App Store, so this is to be expected. Still, being a bit lighter on features might be what allows Chrome to load just a tad faster.
Note: Loading speed will also depend on specific websites, with some loading faster on Chrome than on iCab and vice versa.
Safety and Privacy
We have already written about how important having a safe and privacy-conscious web browser can be. Thankfully, in this regard, both Chrome and iCab do not disappoint, with iCab having a small advantage over Chrome.
Both browsers allow you to delete browsing data (cookies and cache), although Chrome requires you to perform more steps in case you would like to do so for specific websites, which is definitely unfriendly to the average user.
On the privacy front, both Chrome and iCab provide a very convenient incognito mode for browsing, although it is a bit easier to access on Chrome, since it requires you to access the settings in iCab.
As is to be expected, it is using a browser what makes or breaks the experience. When we compared Chrome and Safari for iOS there was simply no contest between the fresh take that Chrome brought to iOS browsers and the almost static experience of Safari.
This time, Chrome still remains strong on the usability front. The browser is smooth, sharing is simple, its tab implementation is nothing short of stellar and the omnibar (which lets you search the web or write URLs from the same field) is easily is most convenient and unique feature.
On its part, iCab’s strength resides in how powerful a browser it can be. You want to download files right within the browser? Check. You need a way to save any website for reading later? Check. Want to simulate any other browser agent? Done deal as well.
And these are just but a few of the features that iCab offers that are simply not available on Chrome. Here are some screenshots of the settings for you to get an idea of just how powerful and versatile this browser can be.
Syncing has increasingly become an important part of a mobile browser’s usability, and in this front Chrome clearly has the upper hand. Being from Google, it syncs perfectly with any desktop Chrome client. Chrome for iOS can sync bookmarks, search and browsing history and currently open websites. On its part, you can import all your bookmarks into iCab, but doing so requires a few extra steps.
Being a free browser, I can see a lot of users simply settling down for Chrome, since it offers even more things than the default Safari app. However, if you are a browser power user or your browsing routine on your iPhone or other iOS device involves more advanced tasks like downloading files, viewing translated websites and such, then the small price of iCab is a worthy investment for your needs.