Final Words

A lot of technology has changed in five years, and not surprisingly, so have our browser battery life results. Nearly everyone is used to changing their display brightness to conserve battery, but changing browsers might be a wise move as well. Most interestingly, changing to Google Chrome 36, despite its known power consumption bug, is apparently a wise move as far as battery life is concerned. However, that may be short lived, as Google Chrome 37 beta moved Chrome from first place to last place in our battery life results. The drop is possibly thanks to Google finally supporting HiDPI displays. Update: Chrome has been tested at 1600x900

It's interesting to note that Google's bug report thread shows they attempted to fix the timer issue in Chrome 37, but they had to revert the fix due to some failing automated tests. As of this writing, they have not yet re-implemented the fix, but they did try to add some power monitoring auto tests to their suite to keep an eye on this topic. Unfortunately, a few days later, they removed those new automated tests due to other unforeseen issues.

In terms of current standings, Microsoft still knows a thing or two about creating a power friendly browser, and the Modern UI version came in second place next to Chrome 36 on our tests. Looking forward, if Google could resolve their timer issue in a future revision (37 or later), they could potentially pass Firefox and maybe even IE. In the future, we hope to test this more often than every five years so we can keep up with browser changes, and possibly test on OS X as well.

Of course, battery life isn't the only factor to consider when choosing a browser. Personally I prefer Firefox due to the "awesome bar" that works better, in my opinion, than other web browser's address bar. Additionally, I can't reasonably use Safari or Chrome 36 on the XPS 15 because they do not properly support HiDPI rendering like IE and Firefox do- at least until Chrome 37.

Hopefully this article keeps the pressure on software authors to use power efficient APIs and autotest for power draw with each subsequent release. You can check for software that abuses the battery yourself with the command line tool powercfg /energy. I've found one other piece of software abusing high resolution timers, and I reported it to the author. Let us know in the comments if there are other applications you've encountered that don't play well with battery power.

Results and Analysis
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  • marc1000 - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    as sad as it makes me feel, I have to admit that Opera market share is really small - and shrinking.

    it's a shame such a creative company get eaten by big marketing companies: Opera was the first to launch a number of innovations that later got integrated into other browsers or even OSs. but right now I don't even know if they will survive another couple years... sad...

    PS: multiple tabs in one window, mouse gestures, live preview, speed dial, extremely customizable navigation (ie, turning off scripts, overriding font sizes, desktop client on mobile devices). some of these feats are unmatched even today. mouse gestures were available on Opera for almost a decade before Windows 7 would implement something similar. well, thats life.
  • Johnmcl7 - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    I agree entirely about Opera, I've used it for many years and I don't think it gets the recognition it deserves for innovating many of the current browser features. I'm concerned their change to the Chromium base is the beginning of the end though, the developers are claiming it's increased Opera usage but I find that hard to believe as the current Opera release doesn't seem to offer much away from Chrome and they've decimated the old Opera with few of its user favourite features implemented in the new version.

    I plan on using Opera v12 until it's too unreliable/incompatible/insecure and then unless they've made big improvements to the new Opera, switch to something else. On W8 touch systems I have to admit I'm keen on the Modern IE as it's very quick and responsive which is amusing as the reason I originally started using Opera was because Internet Explorer 6 was painfully slow on an XP PC with 128MB RAM.
  • MamiyaOtaru - Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - link

    same. sticking with 12 as long as possible, no desire at all to use the new one. They killed themselves for me trying to chase after average users, and I'm not sure they actually attracted any. At the very least they can be sure more websites work with their browser even if no one tests against Opera (thanks to using Chromium), but I really wish they'd considered switching engines but keeping their UI
  • Lerianis - Thursday, August 14, 2014 - link

    They already have made many improvements to the new version of Opera. In fact, all it is missing compared to Opera v12 is support for saving pages in .mht format, something that I still rely on Opera v12 for.

    The new Opera can OPEN .mht files, it just cannot SAVE in that format. Which seems kinda weird but eh...
  • Blisse - Saturday, August 16, 2014 - link

    I switched from Opera to Chrome 2 years ago. Opera started crashing inexplicably and I found a replacement for gestures on Chrome. I loved how forward thinking it was with its features and skipped Firefox because they blatantly copied Opera's menu button design, but I can't say I'm missing Opera now. The stability of modern browsers is just so much better than Opera was and I was sick of Opera specific problems. I loved the bookmarks tab though. I'm almost at the point where I'm going to try IE again versus Chrome and this article helped me stick around on Chrome a bit longer.
  • furnace51 - Thursday, August 14, 2014 - link

    Given opera has the ability to 'mask' it's self and pretend to be IE and other browsers, I wonder how many false counts exist.. my guess is Opera is better represented than statistics suggest.

    I have my Opera set to mask as it prevents idiot websites presenting me with inane popups saying my browser is out of date, just because Opera did not present it's self as the latest version of IE, Chrome or Firefox.
  • Morpheusx3 - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    For the record, this was addressed in the article. Safari was excluded because of numerous issues.

    Regardless, an OSX battery life test would undoubtedly be interesting to read. I'd be down for that too.
  • Wixman666 - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    They can't test safari on OSX since the rest are tested under Windows. They'd be comparing apples and oranges. As far as Opera is concerned, does anyone actually USE opera anymore??
  • BC2009 - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    They could test all the browsers on OS X with the exception of Internet Explorer.

    Both Safari and Internet Explorer are OS-specific. The only cross-platform browsers are Firefox, Chrome and Opera.
  • lightsout565 - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    I'd also love to read an OSX battery life test. I'd be interested to see how optimized Safari is for power usage compared with Firefox/Chrome/Opera.

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