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Opera Browser Could Be a Game-Changer for Battery Life

If Chrome's been draining your laptop's battery faster than you can say "Lithium-Ion," Opera's here to save the day. The perennial also-ran browser added a new low-power mode feature today (May 12) that is supposed to extend your notebook's battery life by up to 50 percent when compared to Google Chrome.

Image: Opera

You can try out low-power mode for yourself by installing the Developer version of Opera (the pre-beta release), which is available for Macs and PCS. Users enable the feature by turning on a switch that appears after clicking a battery icon in the Opera navigation bar.

In order to reduce visual clutter, the battery icon hides itself if your notebook is connected to a power source. Opera will also prompt users to turn on low-power mode if the notebook's battery hits 20 percent capacity.

MORE: Laptops with the Longest Battery Life

The Opera team claims it saw these improvements when testing low-power mode on a Lenovo X250 and a Dell XPS 13, which ran Windows 10 and had 16GB of RAM, but did not run testing on any MacBooks. Both notebooks were automated to load "11 popular websites including YouTube" in separate and concurrent tabs, a process that repeated until the laptop battery ran out of its charge.

Opera enabled its browser's built-in ad-blocker during low-power testing, a tweak that probably didn't hurt its chances at seeing better battery life. No ad-blocking extensions ran on Chrome during the tests.

This amazing gain in endurance supposedly comes from "reduced activity in background tabs" as well as a handful of optimizations for plug-ins and video. Those tweaks include automatically pausing unused plug-ins, reducing video playback to 30 frames per second and stopping JavaScript from waking the CPU as frequently.

While these claims of improved battery life sound great, we haven't been able to test this feature out for ourselves. If this enhanced endurance is real, the browser will have finally struck upon a reason for every laptop user to give it a chance, as its recent ad-blocking and VPN services are a little too niche for mass-consumption.