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Sunday, 02 August 2015 00:20

External battery maker confirms Safari most power efficient Mac browser

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Apple has long stated Safari is more power efficient than Chrome or Firefox, and now a third-party external battery maker for Macs confirms it.

For a long time now, I’ve exclusively used the Safari browser on my 2010 13-inch MacBook Pro and, since I upgraded, on my 2013 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display.

When it comes to Google products, I do use Gmail, which I find to be an excellent email system - despite the fact Google’s algorithms are reading all my emails - but I didn’t want to compound that by using the Google Chrome browser - even though it is very popular.

Look, it’s not as if I don’t have Chrome loaded onto my system as a backup - I just use it very, very rarely.

The same goes for Firefox - it’s installed, but it gets used even more rarely than Google Chrome.

One of the reasons for this besides simply being very happy with the Safari browser is because Apple had previously disclosed, some time ago now, that Safari was the most power efficient browser on the Mac OS X platform.

Apple makes this claim at the Safari page of its site, too. 

I can remember the claim being that using Safari gave two extra hours watching Netflix video compared to Chrome or Firefox - and as a notebook user who loves extra battery life, this is an irresistible claim.

I mean, Macs already have amazing battery life, but why use something that can shorten your battery’s efficiency and life?

Still, just because Apple says something doesn’t mean you should just believe it - or at least, many are happy to claim.

That said, I don’t just believe anything anyone says. I may have a tendency to believe people or companies that haven’t given me reason to disbelieve them in the past, but I still like to check things out on my own.

Now, while I haven’t done any hardcore testing, I’ve have noted in the past that if I did use Chrome or Firefox to browse various sites for whatever reason, as I normally use Safari exclusively, and forgot to close either of those two browsers, battery life was lower than I remembered it should be.

It is at that point that I usually remember Chrome and Firefox’s reported power hungriness and note how I’ve seen their wasteful power ways first hand.

Even so, it’s always nice when you get some third party testing that confirms not only Apple’s claims, but one’s own experiences.

And that has happened, with GetBatteryBox.com, a company that just happens to be selling a remarkable box that can power a MacBook Air for 13 hours straight and give 80 hours of extra power to your iPhone.

I’d never heard of this company before, and I’m definitely intrigued, as the BatteryBox sells for US $219.99.

Currently, I have a Lenmar ChugPlug for my extra power needs, which is $90 cheaper than the BatteryBox, although because the 2013 MacBook Pro with Retina’s battery I’m using is still so damn good, I don’t have to use it that often - although I am very happy to have it if I need it.

Anyway, the GetBatteryBox people also noticed that the sole Safari user in the office got more battery life than everyone else, who used Chrome on their MacBooks, and naturally, they wondered why.

I don’t know whether they took notice of Apple publicly announcing on more than one occasion that Safari is more power efficient as the GetBatteryBox guys don’t mention that in their blog post.

But they do say they’re geeks who wanted to know what the score was, so they did some extensive testing that you can read about here, which in short clearly shows that, on the tests they did, Safari was indeed the most power efficient, running for 6 hours and 21 minutes compared with 5 hours and 29 minutes of usage with Firefox and just 5 hours and 8 minutes with Google Chrome.

There are plenty of interesting comments at the GetBatteryBox you can read, with people asking the test to be re-done in different ways, asking for the test to be done on Windows 10 machines comparing the brand new Edge browser to Chrome and Firefox too, and other changes, but in short - Apple told us the truth.

I have also been using Edge on a Surface Pro 3 and it looks very promising as a fresh start for Microsoft, which has been losing market share to Chrome and Firefox, but it’s a brand new browser compared to a mature and polished Safari and Mac OS X experience - and we’re talking two completely separate operating systems, of course.

So, if you’re using a MacBook, and you want the best MacBook battery life, Safari is the browser you want to use - and if you’re need an extended experience, it has a solid selection of extensions, too

So - which browser you use is up to you, but as with all things, the choices you make can definitely have powerful consequences!

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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