Google Chrome leads the mobile web browser race by a larger market share. That doesn't dampen anyone's spirits for new mobile browsers crop up every couple of years. Xiaomi's MIUI interface includes the Mi Browser since its inception to quietly battle Chrome.
Every Mi phone user often shuffles between the Mi browser and Chrome, especially when apps open a link without letting you choose the browser. That might make you wonder — are these two different in any way and should you use only or both of them?
That’s what we are going to find out here. We will compare Mi and Chrome browser to find the difference between them.
What’s with the Design
Let's start with the user interface first.
Chrome offers a simple start page with a search bar, a few customizable shortcuts, and suggested articles. The tab switcher and the menu icons sit at the top-right corner.
Mi Browser's start page houses many things. At the top, you will find the search bar followed by uneditable website shortcuts. Then you get one or two suggested links. There's more below that.
As soon as you scroll down towards the suggested links, the browser takes you to an entirely new section where you will find trending news from a wide range of subjects such as cricket, politics, health, etc. To leave that crazy world, you need to either tap the browser home button or open a website.
Fortunately, if the start page of Mi Browser doesn’t suit your liking, you can change it to a custom start page. That will disable the annoying news feed.
Main Browsing Window
The layout of the browsing window is different in both the apps. Chrome places every option at the top. While Mi Browser provides a convenient bar at the bottom that houses navigation controls, tab switcher, reading mode, and settings. I like the bar for making navigation a bliss.
While some prefer vertical layouts others may fancy horizontal views. Being considerate towards both of them, Mi Browser offers both layouts for tab switcher (can be changed in Settings > Advanced > Multi-window management). Further, the Browser also provides easily accessible buttons for incognito mode and closing all tabs. Sadly, you will have to live with a vertical layout in Chrome.
Control It Easily
No doubt gestures make our life easy for you can perform specific functions without tapping. Though both browsers support gestures, Chrome smashes Mi Browser providing more of them. For instance, swipe left or right on the address bar to switch tabs, swipe down from the top to open the tab switcher are some of the gestures supported in Chrome.
Mi browser supports only one gesture — swipe right or left on the page. While the default nature of this gesture is to go back or forward, you can change that to switch tabs in settings. It also supports the general gesture of closing tabs in tab switcher by swiping on them.
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Let’s Scroll Quickly
Mi Browser offers two additional scroll modes — quick scroll and scroll with volume buttons. The former activates automatically on long pages, while you have to enable the second one in browser settings. Chrome supports only the basic scrolling option and nothing fancy.
Dark Mode Is Here
If you are a die-hard fan of dark mode, Mi Browser has got you covered. You can enable it with just two taps. The same goes for the reading mode. The option to activate that is available at two places — top and bottom bar. The easily accessible reading mode strips all the distractive elements and lets you focus only on the text. You can set a theme, customize the font and even schedule reading mode.
On the contrary, even though Chrome on Android supports reading and dark mode, the features in Mi Browser feel more natural, approachable, and customizable. On Chrome, one has to apply either of the modes individually to every page, unlike Mi that activates it by default throughout your browsing session.
Change Download Location
Customizing download location might not be an important factor for many, but I'm sure some users might like to keep things organized. That's where changing download location from default folder comes handy. Thankfully, Mi Browser supports changing download folder, whereas Chrome will let you change the download location to SD card.
Block Annoying Ads
None of the two browsing apps comes with a native ability to block ads. However, you can turn off pop-ups in both of them.
Save Some Data
While Android comes with a native setting to reduce app data usage, both the apps offer a dedicated data saver mode applied automatically to all pages. The only difference is Chrome is gracious enough to show the amount of data it has saved over time.
Note: Data saver works only with a mobile data connection.
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Multiple Search Engines
Even though Chrome is Google’s product, it allows you to change the default search engine. Same goes for Mi Browser that also lets you switch the search engine.
Let’s say you don’t like the mobile version of a particular website. You can use Chrome to fetch the desktop view of that website. The functionality comes quite handy for features exclusive to the desktop version only.
Sync Is Important
Hate it or love it, synchronization of history and bookmarks is one of the ways that Chrome shine. Whether you are on iOS or browsing through your PC, you can access the bookmarks created on your Android device or vice versa.
On the contrary, while you can sync the browsing activities of Mi browser to Mi Cloud, that data is accessible only on other MIUI devices.
Google Chrome is known for translating web pages effectively. The feature is part of its mobile apps too while it lacks in Mi Browser.
Pages load almost instantly on both the browsers and I didn’t see any significant delay in either of them. So speed is not an issue. When it comes to overall experience, I enjoyed using Mi Browser. However, switching entirely from Chrome to Mi browser is hard. Even though Mi Browser offers better navigation and reading experience, Chrome makes you heavily depending if you've been using it across platforms.
Mi Browser is still teething on to some of the basic options and continues to limit itself in the MIUI ecosystem only. If you own a phone or tablet made by Xiaomi, you should give it a short and use it along with Chrome.
Next up: Looking for Chrome alternatives? See how the Edge browser from Microsoft fares against Chrome in the link below.