The first Android version to support 64-bit architecture was Android 5.0 Lollipop, introduced back in November 2014. Since then, more and more 64-bit processors shipped, and today, virtually all Android devices are capable of running 64-bit software (excluding one or two or more oddballs). However, Google Chrome has never made the jump and is only available in a 32-bit flavor, potentially leading to some unnecessary security and performance degradations. That's finally changing: Starting with Chrome 85, phones running Android 10 and higher will automatically receive a 64-bit version.
A look at chrome://version confirms as much: The current stable and beta builds, version 83 and 84, note that they're still 32-bit applications. Chrome Dev and Chrome Canary (release 85 and 86) are proper 64-bit apps. Google confirms as much on its Chromium Bugs tracker.
Above: Chrome 83 and 84 on 32-bit. Below: Chrome 85 and 86 on 64-bit.
When compared in a number of Octane 2.0 benchmarks, the 64-bit version got consistently better results than the 32-bit version. It's possible that there have been other optimizations that make Chrome 85 faster than 83 — the architecture is not necessarily all there is to it. Still, the benchmark results suggest that there are some enhancements, even if these tests aren't easy to translate to real-world usage.
Left: Chrome 83 stable. Right: Chrome 85 Dev.
Some people have taken to the comments below to report that they already have a 64-bit version of Chrome Beta 84. We assume that Google might be running limited tests of the new architecture on selected devices, but we're not sure what the pattern is. It looks like Samsung and OnePlus phones might be predominantly among them, but there's also one person with a Pixel 4 XL reporting that they have access to the 64-bit version. Either way, it looks like there's no reliable way to get a 64-bit release of Chrome 84, while you're almost guaranteed to get the 64-bit version when using Chrome 85 or 86 on Android 10 or higher.
Speaking of Android 10: Considering that back in April, only about 8% of people were using that version of the OS, the impact of the 64-bit release is much smaller than it could have been, but at least it's a start. Hopefully, Google will expand support for older Android versions later, which it should do if it wants to adhere to its own Play Store rules. According to them, all apps must be updated to 64-bit variants on supported devices by August 1, 2021. Chrome 85 is scheduled to go stable in August 2020, so the company has quite some time left to bring 64-bit to everyone.
Meanwhile, iOS already dropped support for 32-bit applications back in 2017, though with Apple having complete control over software distribution and hardware, the move is much easier to pull off. Still, first-party software like Chrome being a 32-bit application on Android is a bad joke, and it's good it's getting better soon.
We've updated the article with benchmark results and information on some 64-bit versions of Chrome 84 spotted in the wild.