Firefox vs Firefox Focus: Should You Switch?

Firefox Focus is a strange name for a browser, and the fact that it’s developed by none other Mozilla is even weirder. After all, you have Firefox Quantum on almost every platform imaginable, right?

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So what really is Firefox Focus? In short, it lets you stay anonymous and does a terrific job at thwarting site trackers, but better yet, it sticks to its name and really helps you stay 'focused.'

But does it have everything necessary to make you completely ditch Firefox for good? Well, you are about to find out!

Limited Availability

Firefox Focus is available on just Android and iOS, so if you are a desktop user, then you are outta luck. Mozilla may introduce the browser on PCs and Macs over time, but for now, it’s either on mobile or nothing.

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Firefox, on the other hand, is available on whatever device that you own, and it’s Private mode comes pretty close to the anonymity features that Firefox Focus has on offer. So, it's not like you are missing out on anything when it comes to preserving your privacy.

To download Firefox Focus, simply head over to the Play Store (Android) or the App Store (iOS). Installing it has no effect on your existing Firefox installation, hence you can use both if you want to.

Minuscule App Size

If you’re really crunched for storage space or want to cut down on bandwidth, then the Firefox Focus download size should help you out. It stands at a measly 2.8MB, which is over ten times smaller than Firefox!

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Even on a slow Internet connection, you can have Firefox Focus downloaded and ready to go in mere seconds. Also, the heavier iPad version of the browser weighs just 19MB, which is insane!

Focused User Interface

Now this is where the name ‘Firefox Focus’ really starts to make sense. Just launch the browser, and you should find a barebones interface with just a URL bar on a purplish user interface.

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No Pocket RecommendationsTop Sites, Highlights, or any of the other annoyances present in Firefox to distract you. If you want to stay focused for web browsing right from the get-go, then Firefox Focus is the best for the job.

Tabs vs No Tabs …

The ultra-focused user interface is just fine, but when it comes to opening new tabs, you are in for a pretty nasty surprise. In fact, you can only have a single tab loaded, which is frustrating.

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But on the brighter side, Firefox Focus lets you really curb that incessant feeling to load multiple sites and helps you stay focused on what’s at hand. Otherwise, it’s better to stick with Firefox for the complete browsing experience.

Tip: On Android, you can still use additional tabs, but that's only possible when you come across any links present within web page.

Complete Tracking Protection

When Firefox Focus brands itself as being a dedicated web browser with complete tracking protection, it isn't lying. Just load up a website, and you should find all trackers completely blocked with zero advertisements and pop-ups to boot. Really amazing!

You can even see the number of blocked trackers with a simple glance at the URL bar, and you’d be amazed at some of the numbers!

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On the other hand, Firefox also has its own tracking protection features, but you might still encounter annoying ads and the odd pop-up now and then. If you hate advertisements and prefer staying anonymous throughout your browsing session, use Firefox Focus.

Yeah, Private tabs in Firefox are okay, but on mobile you never know when you might use a normal tab to do some anonymous surfing accidentally. Doesn't happen with Firefox Focus, which is always private.

Faster Browsing Speeds

Compared to Firefox, Firefox Focus loads pretty fast due to its zero tolerance for tracking modules and advertisements. Even sluggish sites become more responsive due to the drastically reduced web elements within loaded pages.

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And even better, you consume less bandwidth as well. If you are on a poor cellular connection while travelling, for example, expect Firefox Focus to still load your websites eventually.

Note: The lightweight nature of the app also means that Firefox Focus functions well on low-end smartphones and tablets.

Forget Bookmarking

If a lack of tabs didn’t bother you, then this surely will. Firefox Focus doesn't support bookmarks, plain and simple. Mozilla, fire that guy who came up with the idea to forgo such basic functionality!

However, there’s a workaround to force Firefox Focus to autofill your favorite sites, and that involves using the AutoComplete list to manually add site links. It’s an arduous process, but worth it if you’ve got a few sites that you need to visit immediately.

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Regardless, bookmark-heavy users should find Firefox Focus a nightmare to deal with.

Note: In case you were wondering, Firefox Focus doesn’t have any option to sign into Firefox Sync.

Supports Cookie Functionality

Firefox Focus is so aggressive when it comes to your privacy that it almost feels as if no site cookies are allowed, but thankfully, that’s not the case. And that means you can make purchases or do whatever tasks that require cookie functionality in the first place.

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However, cookies are automatically deleted once you exit Firefox Focus. That's a problem. And this makes Firefox the best suited for doing serious work, especially if you want sites to remember you on subsequent browsing sessions.

Doesn’t Require Closing

Firefox Focus takes it’s privacy measures seriously. Obviously, exiting the browser gets rid of your browsing history, but what if you don’t force-quit your apps?

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Instead, you can use the dedicated Erase button placed conveniently at the top of the screen to instantly clear out all cookies and browsing data. It’s also a fast way to clear out everything onscreen so that you can immediately start focusing on another task. Pretty intuitive.

No Add-ons

On Android, Firefox has a huge library of useful add-ons that let you spice things up easily. Whether it’s an ad-blocker or a password manager, you are bound to find something useful. Unsurprisingly, that’s not the case with Firefox Focus, where no add-ons are supported.

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But on iOS, there’s no difference — Firefox doesn’t support add-ons on Apple’s platform in the first place, so you wouldn’t miss anything with Firefox Focus in that department.

Limited Customization

Firefox has a jungle of options to wade through. Not the case with Firefox Focus, where you’ve got just a handful that involve swapping the default search engine to determining what types of trackers you want disabled.

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If you are into serious customization, stick to Firefox. But if you hate the thought of messing things up by ruining default settings, Firefox Focus is the best since it already excels at what it does right outta the box.

Cool Tip: There’s also a neat option on the iOS version that lets you integrate Firefox Focus’ anti-tracking and ad-blocking capabilities onto Safari. Awesome, right?

So, Is It Worth Switching?

Firefox Focus feels pretty barebones at times, and in no way does it warrant a complete switchover from Firefox, which also has its own Private tabs complete with bookmarking and multiple tab support — something that Firefox Focus severely lacks.

But if you do want to stay focused on just one task at a time, consider Firefox Focus as something extra that you can use should the occasion arise. And thanks to an extremely small download size and memory footprint, there's really no reason to not have it installed alongside Firefox.

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Dilum Senevirathne has written about tech and finance for over five years. When he isn’t messing around with the latest iOS apps, you can catch him tweaking a collection of IoT gadgets. Dilum is a management accounting student and a prospective charterholder.