A screenshot from brave.com showing Brave browser on macOS and a mobile device, both laid out on top of a purple-red gradient.
Screenshot from brave.com as on 2020-08-08

Update (2020-08-09): Brave's CEO has in the past donated to anti-LGBT causes and I no longer use Brave or recommend it.


Honestly, I wasn't sure if this article was going to make it. Brave just hasn't got a lot going for me to write about.

It does offer something calling Brave Rewards but I had disabled it quickly. I would love a collaboration between Brave and Mozilla to use the latter's Firefox for Better Web Test Pilot if and when it launches.

They claim to be up to six times faster at opening news sites compared to Chrome, Safari, and Firefox on mobile and desktop. Which is kind of weird. Why news sites in particular?

I've spent perhaps roughly 3 to 4 days using it. Here's my thoughts.

Likes

  • Sync v1 did not require me to create an account. I could set up a sync-chain between my devices. Less information to surrender is always a good approach to things.
  • Private window additionally offers access to Tor-based browsing. Reducing the barrier to privacy-strengthening technologies is great.
  • It's fast - both the browser interface and the web. Zero complaints here. I've thrown a bunch of add-ons at it and it's not slowed down an inch, at least perceptibly.
  • Open source. A baseline criteria for many so it's worth a mention here.

Dislikes

  • Sync v2 is currently in development. Sync v1 meanwhile has been deprecated and is an experimental feature. Upon enabling it, my browser just kept on crashing within a minute or two of starting. So... I am left without bookmarks syncing between my two primary devices.
  • Zan had mentioned it on Fosstodon - there is no way to disable, at least from the UI, the background for a new tab. Either you stick to a Brave-themed gradient, which I imagine is too strong for most people's taste, or scenic photos. The gradient would be something similar to what you see on the cover picture of this post. Personally, I don't mind the scenic photos - though I do dislike the second or two it takes for one to fade in.
  • No DNS over HTTPS. Just like Vivaldi, Brave too fails in implementing this and is not a serious contender for my long term use.
  • It doesn't have an option to switch between day and night themes automatically based on system theme. However, its dark theme does trigger dark mode for supported sites (through CSS's media query prefers-color-scheme) so it does meet half-way.
  • No zoom controls for the browser UI. The tabs interface is tiny on my full HD screen. Both Firefox and Vivaldi feel very comfortable here.
  • Brave Shield blocks Plausible Analytics by default. This is on a standard setting! I don't know how to fix this. I usually like to let Plausible "work" because it doesn't collect a lot of information anyway.

Verdict

Compared to Vivaldi, Brave is a very vanilla Chromium experience. For the most part, it just feels like a skinned Chromium with a few major additions that could well have been extensions. This is not a bad approach by any means -- making these extensions first-party of course offers a much tighter and unified experience.

Compared to Firefox, I suppose the only selling point is speed. Which is not really down to Brave as much as it is to the Chromium engine, Blink. Yet, this works. I am usually not reaching for the settings page. BitWarden works - both on desktop and mobile. I'm probably going to stick to using Brave for a while.

Better this than Microsoft's Edge which is expected to be available on Linux soon.