Here at AndroSU, we’re pretty serious when it comes to using the best android apps. This stands true in the case of mobile browsers which we use and interact with daily.
When it comes to android browsers, the best android browsers allow you to customize and personalize your experience in the same way apps like Nova Launcher, Lawnchair, and other third-party launchers allow you to customize your home screen and experience.
With 2022 quickly approaching, we decided to do a round-up of our personal favorite browsers and which we recommend you try out to take your experience to the next level! Whether it’s privacy, speed, or ad-blocking capabilities you’re after, we have a recommendation for you!
What are some of the popular browsers people use:
- Google Chome
- Via Browser
We tested numerous browsers before writing this blog post from the most popular browsers out there down to the lesser commonly known ones. From our testing, we concluded that Google Chrome is the fastest performing Android browser that offers excellent and speedy performance compared to its competitors. Browser Benchmark tests also revealed the same with Chrome scoring higher than other browsers.
The Chromium base it uses is really optimized to deliver a smooth and user-friendly experience. Fortunately, the Chrome browser ships with every Android device out there so if you are on a budget phone with limited space, it’s not a bad idea to stick with the pre-installed Chrome browser to save on storage space.
Google Chrome also comes with a sync feature so you can sync your browsing data across all of your devices.
While Google Chrome offers great performance, it does come at a cost that could make some users skip it together. Some of the major negatives with this browser is:
- Little/No Ad-blocking Features – Almost every website you visit these days display some type of ads. While moderate ads are fine as it supports the website owner, some websites display harmful ads that could potentially put your device at risk. The use of annoying pop-up ads are still a thing in 2021 and Chrome offers almost no protection against these type of ads.
- No extension support – The lack of extension support for Chrome means that you’re unable to tailor your browsing experience the same way you can on the desktop version of chrome. This means you’re not able to use any ad-block extensions, privacy extensions, and more. This is quite a major disadvantage and is one of the major reasons some users skip Google Chrome all together on mobile.
Opera Browser is quite a popular choice amongst users. This browser gained its fame due to its ability to compress data which reduced the amount of mobile data used and sped up page loading. Opera also offers a VPN-like proxy service that is integrated into the browser for a more private browsing experience. It’s still no replacement for a VPN service but it’s better than nothing.
Opera browser offers a great user experience although its ad-blocking capabilities aren’t all that good. The data saving feature that it offers may have some merit it but I believe that a browser with a proper adblocking add-on would yield greater savings in comparison to Opera’s ‘Lite’ mode.
Do note that Chrome also has a similar feature included in their browser as well. Opera’s VPN feature doesn’t work exactly like a proper VPN and is definitely not a replacement for a VPN service. At best Opera’s VPN is simply a proxy but isn’t all that great for privacy. Out of the box, the browser is set to send diagnostic data to the developers. It would’ve been nice if this was disabled by default instead of being enabled.
That being said, Opera offers an excellent user experience with very fluid navigation and performance.
Firefox has been a long time king when it comes to mobile browsers and this comes as no surprise. The browser gives users also exactly what they look for in a browser. When it comes to privacy, Firefox is widely known to be better than most in respecting users’ privacy. This holds true when it comes to their mobile browser as well.
Off the bat, Firefox is pretty much bloatware-free without any sponsored content or ads that display on the browser’s homepage.
What really sets Firefox apart from other browsers is that it has extension support. This means you can add the uBlock-Origin add-on to the browser and have the most powerful ad-blocking experience on your device! For most users, this is the exact reason why very few browsers are worthy options. Built-in ad-blockers are nowhere nearly as powerful as uBlock Origin.
Firefox also comes with a convenient sync feature that allows you to synchronize all your browsing data across multiple devices.
That being said, from our benchmark and performance testing, we noticed that Firefox isn’t as fast as Google Chrome and the difference in performance is slightly noticeable if you’ve used both browsers.
If you prefer an ad-free/distraction-free browsing experience that protects you from trackers, malicious ads, bogus websites, and more, then Firefox is most certainly the #1 choice for you! Do keep in mind that various versions of Firefox are available out there with each offering a different set of features. Some of these are Firefox Nightly (Which supports most add-ons) & Firefox Iceraven (A privacy focussed version of Firefox).
For our review, we’ve tested the Playstore version of Firefox and not the Nightly or Iceraven versions.
Via Browser is a fantastic lightweight android browser. This browser focuses purely on performance and has little to no bloatware at all. Ever heard the saying “Dynamites come in small packages”? That is true when it comes to Via Browser which weighs in at less than 2MB in size, Via Browser is the perfect choice for old android devices as well as android devices with very low storage.
The minimalist design that this browser feature makes it quite appealing even to those users that use flagship devices and don’t care much about the browser size. The customizable options and theme options allow you to tailor your experience according to your style and needs.
Performance-wise, Via browser being less than 2MB in size means that it’s less resource-intensive when compared to other browsers out there. Furthermore, Via Browser comes with a built-in adblocker which is decent but still no match for an Adblocking add-on. The built-in Adblocker works pretty much the same as other browsers with built-in adblockers.
Being such a lightweight browser you’d expect it to have fewer features compared to other browsers but that is certainly not the case when it comes to Via Browser as this browser includes features not found in other browsers such as:
- Viewing Page Source
- Resources Sniffer
- Network Logs
- User-Agent Switch
- QR Code Scanning
This browser also comes with the ability to backup your data should you be switching phones. That being said, Via does not have a desktop app, and therefore syncing across devices may not be possible at this time.
Overall, Via Browser is our #1 recommendation for older Android devices as well as low storage/performance android devices. We strongly believe that it’s pretty hard for other browsers to compare with such a tiny package!
Vivaldi is another awesome browser for android that’s feature-packed with a modern interface design, customization features, sync across devices, and a built-in email client called Vivaldi Mail which gives you your very own @vivaldi.net email address.
Vivaldi is also available as a desktop browser so you could easily use this browser on all of your devices and sync your browsing history all across your device.
That being said, for the version of Vivaldi, the developers opted for a built-in ad-blocking add-on that works like all other built-in ad-blockers. We found built-in ad-blockers to be subpar at not nearly as powerful as Adblock add-ons like uBlock Origin.
Vivaldi’s desktop browser does include extension support so it would’ve been nice to have the same here but that isn’t the case here. Instead, you’re stuck with their built-in adblocker. Performance-wise, we really enjoyed our experience with Vivaldi. The modern and smooth UI design made it a pleasure to browse on.
Numerous android browsers exist out there ranging from ultra-lightweight browsers like Via to browsers that are almost as powerful as desktop browsers like Mozilla’s Firefox Browser.
While all the browsers we tested perform relatively well without any major bugs, we have noticed that Chromium-based browsers offered a more superior experience when it comes purely to performance. the Google Chrome browser has proven itself to be king when it comes to compatibility online as almost every website performs tests for Google Chrome due to their market share.
This means that you are almost guaranteed to never have to deal with broken websites on Chrome. That being said, Chrome offers a pretty useless adblocker. Some websites that are infested with intrusive ads, pop-ups, and dialogs have not been stopped by Chrome’s so-called ‘Ad-blocker’.
Whether or not the performance gain you can achieve with Chrome is worth sacrificing the user experience is something you should decide. For us, the performance gain Chrome provides is quickly negated due to the horrible, ad-infested experience on some websites. Furthermore, Google Chrome does not offer the same levels of privacy you can otherwise get on other browsers.
It’s also important to note that built-in ad-blockers that ship with some browsers are not a competition or replacement for powerful ad-blockers out there such as uBlock Origin. Third-party add-ons like uBlock do more than just block ads. uBlock also protects you from harmful websites and links which most built-in Adblockers simply fail to do.
Due to the above, we found that Mozilla’s Firefox browser is our #1 pick. Firefox respects User Privacy and allows you to add add-ons to the browser. Adding add-ons is still a bit limited as Mozilla doesn’t have a ton of add-ons for their mobile browser but this may change in the near future as some builds of Mozilla Firefox such as the Nightly version allow you to install all your favorite add-ons to the browser. We hope to see this feature make its way to the stable Firefox build soon!