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Safari

Free
Reviewed
April 2014
by ConsumerSearch
Safari

Pros
  • Clean interface
  • Great tools for reading
Cons
  • Not as fast as leading browsers
  • No auto updates

Bottom line

Safari has fallen behind in the race for best browser, particularly as Firefox and Chrome battle it out for which will produce more updates. Safari 7 is an adequate performer in speed tests, however, (all of the major browsers are much faster than a few years ago) and boasts some nice features that are especially useful for readers.

Performance

Sufficient for Apple users' needs. Safari is, indisputably, the underdog in the browser field. Reviewers say Apple has pretty much given up on the browser, but that's not entirely true. Safari 7 is faster than any of its predecessors and occasionally beats speed demons like Chrome in tests. Safari is no longer being developed for the PC, however, so Apple users (both desktop and mobile) are the target markets here. Like its competitors, Safari has stripped down its browser design to ensure faster loading times and doesn't work with Flash; it also has historically had compatibility issues with CSS and PDF, but in one professional test there were no issues.

Features

The best browser for readers. Despite its generally lackluster performance (and the fact that it doesn't automatically update, unlike Chrome, Firefox and even Internet Explorer), Safari does have some nice features and should be considered by Apple users, reviewers say. What has long stood out in Safari is its Reading List, which allows users to save sites to read later. Top Sites is also popular: Safari's startup screen includes websites you've visited most. Safari 7 has a sidebar with your reading list, bookmarks and Twitter feeds; some like it, while others say it clutters the screen. Safari's reader option, which eliminates everything on the screen except the text, is popular with users. Unlike Chrome and Firefox, however, you can't pin tabs in Safari.

Privacy and Security

Conflicting performance and an unenthusiastic thumbs up. While Safari isn't generally weak on security and privacy, a serious security breach hit Apple's mobile and desktop operating systems in February 2014 and experts recommended consumers stop using the browser. Safari also performed poorly in an anti-malware test by NSS Labs, taking more than 24 hours to catch just 4 percent of the threats. On the upside, in one yearlong analysis of complaints about mobile browsers from September 2012-2013, Safari for mobile not only scored highest in reliability but blew away the stock Android browser, Opera, Chrome and Internet Explorer. Private browsing and Do Not Track are easy to turn on. Many Mac supporters champion Safari but overall independent sites give the browser a lukewarm endorsement. "There's nothing particularly wrong with it, but there's nothing particularly right with it either," quips Techradar.com's reviewer.

Our Sources

1. Macworld (U.K.)

In this roundup of Mac browsers, Safari is named the "best Mac browser for Apple fans, as well as for visuals and overall balance." The reviewer likes Safari's "Twitter integration, offline reading list, and Tab View" but isn't impressed with its bookmarks manager.

Review: What's the best internet browser for Mac?, Lou Hattersley, Jan. 31, 2014

2. Macworld

Macworld.com gives Safari 7 a 4-out-of-5 rating because of its battery-saving features and syncing with Twitter and LinkedIn. This isn't a comparative review, but provides useful details of the browser's performance (it beats Chrome in one benchmark), features and design changes, like a new sidebar that gets mixed reviews.

Review: Safari 7 review: Mavericks browser saves battery life, brings further refinements, Nathan Alderman, Oct. 29, 2013

3. New York Magazine

This article explains Apple's security breach and makes recommendations on how users can protect themselves. Apple has since issued a fix.

Review: Apple's Serious Security Issue: Update Your iPhone or iPad Immediately, Molly Wood, Feb. 24, 2014

4. TechRadar.com

In this roundup, Safari is pitted against the latest versions of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Opera. For speed, add-ons and several compatibility tests, it comes in last place.

Review: Best browser 2014: which should you be using?, Gary Marshall, March 31, 2014

5. DigitalTrends.com

In this "battle of the browsers," not much is written about Safari except that it holds its own despite its "horrendous" reputation.

Review: Battle of the best browsers: IE vs. Chrome vs. Firefox vs. Safari, Brandon Widder, March 31, 2013

6. PC Pro

Safari is no longer built for Windows, but PC Pro includes it in the older test of leading browsers. Safari gets a very low rating here -- 2 out of 6 -- because it tries "to sneak QuickTime and iTunes onto your PC with pre-ticked boxes." It also crashes and takes up memory, but wins accolades for its reading list.

Review: Best browser for 2013, Barry Collins, July 27, 2013

7. Appstorm.net

Safari 7 gets a positive review here for its faster browsing and simpler design. Guay likes its tab isolation function, which means that problems in one tab won't slow down another.

Review: Everything You Need to Know About Safari 7, Matthew Guay, Oct. 22, 2013

8. Fixya.com

Fixya looks at browsers in terms of how many "fix-it" requests each gets. Safari does well here, beating Chrome and others and is praised for its reliability and features.

Review: Fixya Mobile Browser Report: How Users Feel About Chrome, Safari, IE, Opera, and the Android Stock Browser, Editors of Fixya.com, Oct. 16, 2013

9. NSS Labs

Safari 5.1.7 came in last among eight browsers in tests of more than 650 malware threats, catching (along with Firefox) just 4 percent. Safari and Firefox also took longer than a day to block the malware. Safari's scores were slightly higher in previous NSS Labs tests, at about 10 percent.

Review: Browser Security Comparative Analysis Report - Socially Engineered Malware, Randy Abrams, Orlando Barrera, Jayendra Pathak and Dipti Ghimire, March 31, 2014

Web Browsers Runners Up:

Dolphin Browser Free

7 picks including: Engadget.com, PCMag.com…

Opera Mobile Free

5 picks including: Arstechnica.com, Engadget.com…

Safari Free

4 picks including: DigitalTrends.com, Macworld…

Maxthon Cloud Browser Free

3 picks including: Macworld, PCMag.com…

UC Browser Free

2 picks including: PCMag.com, Download.com…

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