Your phone probably already has Chrome on it, but that’s not the be all, end all when it comes to web browsers for Android. There are, in fact, dozens of alternatives out there. Here’s a look at the best of the bunch.
The Best for Speed and Features: Samsung Internet Browser
Once upon a time, no one would even consider using a handset manufacturer’s web browser on its own phones, much less install one on another phone. But here we are today, with Samsung’s Internet Browser being one of the best choices available in the Play Store.
Samsung Internet Browser features a clean interface that seems to be optimized for simplicity and speed. It’s among the snappiest web browsers we tested.
But what really makes Samsung Internet Browser stand out is its optional Extensions. While there aren’t a ton of choices available, there are some noteworthy add-ons packed into this browser, like a tracking blocker and various content blockers (read: ad blockers). One thing thing worth noting here, though, is that ad blockers on mobile are a little bit different then they are on the desktop, so using full ad blocking may break some (many) websites.
Otherwise, the Samsung Internet Browser features everything you want from a modern browser: a tabbed interface, a secret mode (incognito mode), and pretty much everything else you already get from Chrome—save for tab sync across devices. But you probably already expected that.
Samsung Internet Browser is free to download and use. There’s also a beta version available for those who like early access to new features.
For A Chrome Feel with Bonus Features: Brave
If you like the feel of Chrome but want a little more from your browser, then Brave is for you. It’s based on Chrome, so it feels very similar, but is also a bit snappier in comparison.
Brave also features native content blocking that you can easily control via a dropdown menu. Brave calls these features “Shields,” and you can toggle it on or off completely, or use the Individual Controls section to disable specific features only on a per-site basis. It’s intuitive and useful—I only wish there were a way to have it disabled by default, and then enable it as needed.
Brave is completely free to download and use.
For Firefox Users: Firefox and Firefox Focus
If you’re a Firefox user on the desktop, then using the mobile counterpart is sort of a no-brainer. You get a familiar interface, tab sync, and everything else you want as a Firefox user. It’s also free in the Play Store.
But if you’re still looking for a little more on mobile, then you should most definitely check out Firefox Focus. This is a privacy-based browser that blocks all tracking agents by default, but also has an option to block all ads. Like mentioned above, however, keep in mind that blocking all ads will break many mobile websites.
Since it features a heavy focus on privacy, Focus keeps a handy “delete everything” button front and center both in the browser interface and in the notification bar—you can really think of this as sort of an always-on incognito mode.
Focus is also incredibly small at only 4.3 MB, making it a great choice for phones with limited storage. Also thanks to this small footprint, it’s incredibly nimble and snappy.
There is a downside to using Focus, however: it doesn’t feature all the sync capabilities of the standard Firefox browser. If that’s a trade-off you can live with, Focus is available for free in the Play Store.
Honorable Mention: Microsoft Edge, Chrome Beta/Dev/Canary, and Puffin
The browsers mentioned above are what we consider to the best of the best, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some other excellent options in the Play Store. Here’s a quick list of some of the other good options to consider.
- Microsoft Edge (free): Microsoft’s take on Android browsing actually isn’t that bad, and if you’re an Edge user on the PC, then it’s a great option. It feature tab syncing and a familiar feel.
- Chrome Beta, Dev, or Canary (free): If you love Chrome but want to mix it up a bit and check out early features, give the Beta, Dev, or Canary versions a try. They get more unstable as the builds get more fresh (Canary is listed as “unstable”), but they’re still cool to play with.
- Puffin (free/$3.99): Puffin made a name for itself by being an insanely fast browser. If speed is your primary requirement, Puffin is the browser for you.
Whatever your needs, you should be able to find a browser you like.