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Best Secure Android Browser

Chrome and Firefox are solid mobile browsers, but for extra security and privacy, try Orfox, Opera, or Lightning for Android.

Apps in this Guide

We rely on our phones for everything from communication to commerce, and that means security and privacy are critical on your Android device. No Android browser can guarantee your security if youmore

We rely on our phones for everything from communication to commerce, and that means security and privacy are critical on your Android device. No Android browser can guarantee your security if you go to risky websites or advertise too much personal information on social media. But a secure browser can offer more protection for your info and online activity than Chrome or the standard Firefox browser can.

Best secure Android browser: Orfox (with Orbot)

Orfox is a variant of Mozilla Firefox, which should be familiar to desktop users. Google Chrome and Apple's Safari have an effective duopoly on mobile devices, and that's too bad, because Firefox and Orfox have a lot to offer. However, we'd argue that a Web browser alone can't create a reasonably secure user experience, because browser security and privacy depend on the path you take across the Internet from your phone to your destination site, and depend on how much personal information you share online (knowingly or otherwise). That's where Orbot comes in.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why use Orfox instead of Chrome?
In Chrome for Android, you can't use an ad blocker. Firefox and Orfox on Android can use almost all the major add-ons of desktop Firefox, and both mobile browsers have a variety of privacy-minded settings. For example, you can tell Orfox to forget everything you did in it as soon as you close it, which can help protect you if your device falls into the wrong hands. And you can use any search engine you want -- which is good, because DuckDuckGo is not on Chrome's approved list.
Why use Orfox instead of Firefox?
You can tell Orbot to route the Internet traffic of any app on your device, so why not stick with Chrome? And why use Orfox instead of Firefox? Orfox customarily lags a few version numbers behind Firefox, and its pre-installed script blocker tends to have an aggressive filter, potentially leading to some weird page layout. In fact, DuckDuckGo -- Orfox's default, privacy-focused search engine -- won't even produce any search results if you use NoScript's default settings. But Orfox is not as fresh as Firefox for a good reason: It takes time to certify a browser to the Tor Project's satisfaction, and it takes time for security holes to emerge. And sometimes Orfox has benefits that Firefox lacks. Right now, for example, only Orfox lets you import your bookmarks and history from another browser on the device. This can make it much easier for you to switch from, say, Chrome. Orfox does not have a cloud sync feature, because of its focus on privacy, and it's preconfigured to work with Orbot.
What other security-oriented browsers should you consider?
If you still prefer a browser that's related to Chrome but contains ad blocking, check out Opera or Lightning Web Browser. For the security-focused user, Lightning gets the edge on trustworthiness, because its open-source policy means that anyone can inspect its code and even use it to build their own browser. Opera gets the edge on convenience, because you can sync your bookmarks and history to other devices.
What is Orbot, and why should I use it?
Orbot is the official Android app that connects your Android device to the Tor network. This network adds its own encryption layer and bounces your Internet path around a few times to help anonymize you and your location. It works similarly to a VPN (aka Virtual Private Network), and it's free -- the Tor community relies on donations and volunteers.
What is Orbot's bridge mode?
If you want an extra layer of privacy when browsing online, mask your path with Orbot's bridge mode. It routes you through Internet servers that are not directly associated with Tor, on both ends of the actual Tor network path. Sometimes you can get blocked if you exit the Tor network path onto a website that recognizes your closest bounce as a Tor exit node. Bridge mode is like adding extra links to both ends of a chain in a way that camouflages the links in between.

Alternatives to Orfox

Opera Browser

Opera Browser

Opera is a mobile browser based on the Blink engine, which Google uses for its mobile and desktop versions of Chrome. While the Chrome browser dominates on Android and Safari rules iOS, Opera for Android carves out some space for itself, thanks to features like a built-in ad blocker, easy access to multiple search engines, text wrapping, and the ability to force a website to load the desktop version of its layout. Unless you really need the prediction service or in-browser casting, it's honestly difficult to recommend Chrome over Opera this point, at least on Android.

Lightning Browser

Lightning Browser

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Lightning Web Browser for Android empowers security and privacy to a degree that overshadows most browsers that market themselves as security-focused. It is one of the few fully open-source Android browsers, and it makes its money through a paid version, rather than from built-in ads or selling user data. In fact, the paid version (a pretty reasonable $1.50) comes with a built-in ad blocker. Lightning Web Browser is a very impressive technical effort from a small indie developer. It's open source, Tor-aware, and supported through purchase of the premium app rather than monetizing your usage data. These three elements go a long way toward establishing trust and peace of mind. Browsing feels light and fluid in Lightning, and it has a variety of options to customize and safeguard your overall experience. If that variety extended to the ad blocker, Lightning would arguably be one of the best browsers on the market. Instead, we still have to give a slight edge to Mozilla Firefox, thanks to the Android version's ability to use almost all the major add-ons of desktop Firefox.

Mozilla Firefox

Mozilla Firefox

Mozilla Firefox for Android competes with many mobile Web browsers, chiefly Google Chrome, which is preinstalled on most Android devices, giving Chrome a much larger market share. That's unfortunate, because Firefox for Android has a number of interesting and unique features, such as support for add-ons, data syncing without a Google account, and the ability to integrate search engines that Chrome won't. Firefox's support for add-ons on Android allows you to refine your browsing experience to something meaningfully better than the experience that Chrome -- or any other mobile browser that we've come across so far -- can provide on Android. The advantage is so distinctive that it's hard to make a case for Chrome as your default choice. This edge is softened by the Firefox add-on catalog listing items that aren't compatible with the mobile version of the Web browser, but fortunately the most popular ones usually work on both platforms. Since Firefox is completely free to use (as are its add-ons, though donations to the developers are welcomed), you can judge for yourself with minimal investment.