Android’s well-deserved reputation for flexibility extends to the best Android browsers that you can use to surf the web from the comfort of your smartphone. Google’s mobile OS allows you to set any browser you like as the default on your Android smartphone, creating a thriving market for third-party browsers in the Play Store.
Even better, by choosing your own browser, you can personalize your browsing experience so that it best suits how you want to experience the web. Whether you want a browser that mirrors what you use on your desktop or you need something that puts an emphasis on privacy, there’s a browser waiting for you in the Google Play Store that can fit your tastes.
Each of the Android browsers we’ve considered here nails the basics, differentiating themselves with variations in focus or added functionality that may make them better suited for certain users.
Read on to find out what the best Android browsers are for different browsing needs and how you can install them on your phone.
What are the best Android browsers?
Based on our testing, Google Chrome stands out as the best browser for most Android users — and that’s a good thing since it’s likely the default browser on your phone. In addition to easy syncing between desktop and mobile versions, Chrome for Android packs in welcome features, including secure storage for mobile payments and blockers for pop-ups and malicious ads.
If you use Opera or Firefox on your desktop, you’re in luck. The mobile versions of both of those browsers also deliver strong features on Android, letting you sync up your browsing experience. Opera’s mobile version features a data-saver mode that will consume less of your monthly data allotment. Firefox for Android delivers an impressive amount of customization for people who like to tinker with their browser.
In addition to the mainstream browsers, we’ve also taken a look at speciality browsers. DuckDuckGo is one of the best Android browsers for protecting your privacy with its use of encrypted connections and support for private searches. Vivaldi’s Android app is ideal if you use the desktop version of the app. And we think that Flynx is a pretty good option if you’d like a second browser that’s ideal for researching specific topics.
The best Android browsers
The best Android browser for most users
Desktop Syncing: Yes | Ad blocking: Yes | Privacy features: Incognito browsing
Syncs with Chrome desktop
Built-in password manager
Data saver functionality
Gives Google more ways to track your activity
If you have made your peace with living in the Google ecosystem and benefiting from the company knowing most everything about your online life, then it’s hard to justify getting away from what is the default browser on most Android devices. Chrome is the obvious choice for mobile browsing, particularly if you already use the desktop version.
Syncing between mobile and desktop editions of Chrome is helpful, giving you the option to access passwords you’ve stored in Chrome (provided you don’t use one of the best password managers, that is). As the dominant browser on the market, Chrome is also the most reliable option, as every web developer considers Google’s browser when building a website.
Chrome offers extensive additional features like secure storage for payment methods, a data- saver mode, automatic translation in dozens of languages, a malicious ad blocker and a pop-up blocker. It’s not quite the abundance of features that you can install on Firefox or Opera, but Chrome definitely ticks most of the mission-critical features.
If you want a glimpse at what’s coming soon to Chrome, or you want to test out some features that may never make it to the main Chrome browser, there are three additional Chrome apps starting with Chrome Beta, then Chrome Dev and finally, Chrome Canary. Each step down is trading a bit of reliability, so you will likely want to turn to the traditional Chrome Browser for vital tasks.
Fast and great for saving data
Desktop Syncing: Yes | Ad blocking: Yes | Privacy features: Built-in VPN
Interface feels slightly confusing at times
Opera is another mobile browser with a desktop counterpart that boasts all the benefits that come with that for users of both versions. Opera differentiates itself with a data-saver mode that compresses videos as well as standard web pages. As a result, pages load faster thanks to the reduced data, and if you don’t have one of the best unlimited data plans, you won’t burn through your monthly data allotment as quickly.
Opera also offers a built-in free VPN in Opera gives you a virtual IP, although notably, you can’t use both the VPN and data-saver mode in tandem.
Even with its many features, Opera is also one of the fastest browsers that I tested, with only Chrome consistently outperforming it. One slight frustration with Opera is its convoluted interface: you may be distracted by menus at both the top and bottom of the screen.
Powerful alternative if you want to avoid Google
Desktop Syncing: Yes | Ad blocking: Yes, with extensions | Privacy features: Private browsing, tracking protection
Syncs with Firefox desktop
Robust extension support
Article recommendation tool
Requires extensions to enable some functionality found natively in other browsers
As with Google Chrome, there’s a strong motivation to carry over your Firefox use to your Android phone if that’s where you do the majority of your desktop browsing. All of your passwords, history and bookmarks will carry over.
For better or for worse, you can customize Firefox to an astounding degree with different themes and extensions that can tweak just about every aspect of the browser. If you are the sort of person that wants to decide how the tabs display in your browser, what color everything should be and exactly what features you want accessible, then Firefox is for you. If that sounds like a nightmare, you should look elsewhere, as even a basic setup of Firefox warrants some tweaking.
Firefox fans who are particularly security conscious should take a look at the newer Firefox Focus. It drops some of the functionality of its elder sibling in favor of privacy protection. Alternatively, there are more experimental versions of Firefox, Firefox for Android Beta and Firefox Nightly for Developers.
4. DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser
Good browser if you value privacy
Desktop Syncing: No | Ad blocking: Blocks ad tracking | Privacy features: Private searching, encrypted connections
Easily wipe data at any time
Freedom from Google
Lacks advanced features
No substitute for a dedicated VPN app
DuckDuckGo doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles of the rest of the best Android browsers. But DuckDuckGo makes up for what it lacks with its singular focus on keeping your activity private. A button to the right of the address/search bar will wipe all your activity at any moment with a tap.
DuckDuckGo also eliminates any ad-trackers that may be trying to follow you around the web and automatically will default to the highest encryption available on the site you are visiting.
While the browser itself isn’t reporting any of your activity back to DuckDuckGo, this still falls short of a full VPN. If you are looking to keep your activity secure from even your carrier or the Wi-Fi network you are connected to, then you will need a separate VPN app for that purpose.
Unique look and clever built-in features
Desktop Syncing: Yes | Ad-blocking: Yes | Privacy features: Private browsing, encrypted syncing
Handy Notes and screen capture
Quick switching of search engines
Minimal ad-blocking functionality
Images slow to load
The Vivaldi desktop browser offers extensive customization options, but its Android counterpart is more focused on delivering unique features.
Vivaldi’s Speed Dial is your main view, which is a visually appealing and easy-to-use quick launcher for bookmarks.
When conducting online research, you may appreciate the built-in rich text Notes tab, the native full page screen capture, and the Clone tab option which pulls up a duplicate of your current tab to avoid losing it.
Regardless of your default search engine, you can do a quick switch to another search tool — eight popular options are supported — by just typing the first letter of its name in the address bar before your search.
Vivaldi’s overall performance was quick, though I would often see the placeholder for an image or whitespace for a video or ad as I scrolled, even a minute or more after I loaded a longer article. While I certainly appreciate this preference for delivering the text as quickly as possible, waiting until I scroll to load the rest of the page’s content is taking this too far and ultimately a worse experience.
While it lacks extension support or more powerful ad-blocking features found in some of the other best Android browsers, Vivaldi offers a compelling feature set that I hope to see its developers continue to build upon.
Strong ad-blocking with unique ad rewards system
Desktop Syncing: Yes | Ad blocking: Yes | Privacy features: Private browsing, encrypted connections
Unique Brave Rewards system
Powerful ad blocking
Slow initial page load
Limited support for Brave contributions
Brave was one of the early entrants offering a mobile ad blocker, also providing users with the ability to pay sites for their content using the company’s Basic Attention Token (BAT) system.
I found that a limited number of sites that I read regularly are registered with Brave, but this will obviously vary greatly from user to user. There’s no official list of Brave publishers, but a small checkmark appears on the Brave logo in the upper-right corner of the browser when you are on a supported site.
The browser itself covers all of the basics with a couple nice touches like the ability to set a preferred search engine on standard versus private tabs and some fairly granular privacy settings.
As far as browsing goes, the initial load times on Brave are comparable to our other top options, which is odd given that Brave strips out ads and trackers which should in theory be slow components to load. Despite the claimed “estimated time saved” on the home screen for the app, I found no perceptible advantage even on sites with extensive ads and trackers.
If you use the Brave desktop browser, you’ll no doubt enjoy the Android version as well as it will sync over your content and carries over your Brave Rewards. But as a standalone option there’s little to recommend Brave over the other best Android browsers.
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