You probably have a cozy relationship with your phone’s default web browser. And that’s fine! But when it comes to surfing the mobile web, you can do so much better. Try one of these mobile browsing alternatives for iOS and Android. In many cases, these alt-browsers offer better privacy options, data-saving features, and desktop syncing abilities than your phone’s native browser. Try putting one of these apps on your home screen to take your browsing to the next level.
Microsoft Edge gives Windows 10 users one continuous browsing experience as they move between devices. Start reading an article on your computer, finish it later on your phone. The browser’s Reading View makes it easier to focus on text-heavy pages, and Hub View organizes your favorites, history, reading list, and bookmarks in one place. Edge can also bring autofill information or saved usernames and passwords across devices, so you don’t have to re-enter information twice. Of course, you’ll need to sync your phone to a PC with the latest Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. Once connected, you’ll be able to browse with ease across devices. Available on iOS and Android.
Firefox and Firefox Focus
You’ve probably used Firefox browser on your desktop, but the free Mozilla browser app makes for a pretty nice mobile experience. The app opens to the search engine (Google is the default, but you can change it). Below the search bar are four icons: The first offers popular site suggestions, like Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon, as well as articles recommended by Pocket. The star icon shows your bookmarked pages. There’s a clock icon, which surfaces your browsing history, and a reading list, which opens text articles in the eyeball-friendly Reader View. The app also lets you sync browsing data from your phone to your computer. For private browsing, tap the mask icon to browse the web without leaving a trace of your history. If you really want to go undercover, try Firefox Focus, which adds tracking protection and content blocking. It blocks ad trackers, analytics trackers, and social trackers; it also makes it easy to erase cookies and passwords. Available on iOS and Android.
This mobile browser was built specifically for Samsung devices, but people liked it so much that the company made it available for download on all Android phones. It utilizes a built-in ad-tracking blocker, and works with third-party ad-blocking apps. But perhaps the most interesting feature of the Samsung Internet app is its compatibility with Samsung’s Gear VR platform. That means if you’ve got a Gear VR headset, you can select links merely by looking at them. Available on Android.
Many Android phones already get Chrome as the default browser, but iPhone users can get in on the fun too. The mobile browser is especially useful if you already use Chrome on the desktop. You log into the app using your Google ID, and it syncs your personal data to the mobile browser. You get access to all of your saved logins, your bookmarks, and your browsing history, including whatever tabs you have open on your desktop. You also get Chrome’s incognito mode for private browsing, and access to Google’s excellent cloud translation service that lets you translate a foreign-language web page into English with a tap of a button. Available on iOS and Android.
If you struggle to keep your data usage to a minimum, or if you have spotty service in your area, you can use Opera Mini to make pages load faster. The browser automatically blocks ads and compresses parts of web pages to speed up load times and to reduce the data payload. It also comes with a curated news feed of articles it thinks you’ll enjoy based on your browsing data, and an incognito mode for when you’d rather browse in private. Available on iOS and Android.
This privacy-focused browser gives you unlimited encrypted VPN service for free. Just tap the shield in the top left corner to turn the VPN on and browse privately. The VPN also has a data-saving feature that compresses pages to save you bandwidth and speed things up. Beyond letting you surf in a “private mode” like other browsers, Aloha goes as far as letting you lock down certain tabs; they can then only be accessed with TouchID or a passcode. It comes with an ad-blocker to make pages appear cleaner, and there’s a built-in media player that manages your downloaded files and lets you play music and videos right there in the browser. Aloha is available on iOS and Android.