Opera has announced a new power-saving mode for the developer version of its web browser, with the company making the ambitious claim that it can increase a Windows laptop's battery life by up to 50 percent, compared to Google's Chrome. When users unplug their laptop from mains power, a little icon appears in the top right of the browser which users must click to activate. Opera claims the power saving comes from a range of tweaks, including reducing memory consumption by background tabs, paused unused plug-ins, and optimizing video playback.
The company's claims are impressive, but we'll have to wait and see how the browser performs in the real world. The battery saving figures come from tests Opera performed on a Lenovo X250 laptop, running Windows 10 with a Core i7 processor and 16GB of RAM. The testing software opened up 11 "popular websites" in the browser (including YouTube), scrolling each five times, leaving them for a minute, and then closing the tab. This was repeated until the laptop ran out of battery.
Opera's tests aren't as thorough as we'd like
This isn't a thorough test, and Opera doesn't appear to have compared how the browser performs with different operating systems. The company told The Verge that they'd repeated the test three times, and took an average of those times to reach their headline figure. They also noted that the power-saving mode included ad blockers, which weren't used for the comparison figures. Blocking ads can help preserve battery life, and it's possible that this functionality helped account for the extra battery life.
Skepticism aside, it's certainly good to see Opera putting resources into an issue that plagues laptop users. Google's Chrome browser faced criticisms of unwarranted battery-draining last year, with the company finally making changes to boost the software's performance in September. It's also likely we'll see this power-saving mode graduate from Opera's developer stream to its primary browser in the near future. The company has been quickly integrating new features in the software, including native ad-blocking (on mobile and desktop) and a free VPN (only in the developer stream for now).