The best web browsers for Android in 2022 | #firefox | #chrome | #microsoftedge | #education | #technology | #infosec


For most of us, the browser that comes pre-installed on our phones is the one we stick with – if it works, why bother changing it? However, just like almost everything in the Android world, there are plenty of alternatives that offer a better browsing experience in one way or the other. Some focus on privacy, some on speed, and others on features that make the experience more convenient.

Too many choices can be confusing, so we’ve handpicked the best Android browsers for your perusal. From dark mode to desktop sync to extension support, these browsers have a lot to offer.

Mozilla Firefox

Most of the web browsers available for Android are based on Chromium, the open-source version of Google Chrome. That means they all load web pages the same way. They are pretty equal in performance, have the same quirks, and so on. Firefox is the main exception to this rule — it’s one of the few browsers on Android with a custom rendering engine.

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FEATURES

Rendering engine GeckoView
Dark mode Yes
Desktop sync Yes
Extensions Partial support
Android Autofill Yes

Mozilla released a completely rewritten version of Firefox for Android a couple of years ago, and overall, this new release turned out just great. The company offers a limited selection of extensions that you can choose to install, though it’s already possible to use any add-on you need by switching to the Nightly version of the browser.

Other than that, Firefox for Android is snappy. Compared to previous versions, it comes with much-improved scrolling, offers a bottom address bar (for ease of use on tall phones), and optionally syncs almost all of your data with its desktop pendant. It also blocks tracking scripts by default, though you can choose to lift or tighten restrictions as you wish.

Be prepared to run into one or two broken websites every once in a while, though, since most web developers exclusively target Chrome and Safari (on iOS).

Google Chrome

A list of the best web browsers for Android wouldn’t be complete without Google Chrome. It’s the default browser already on most phones and tablets, but Google hasn’t quite rested on its laurels. Chrome updates roll out every six weeks, with each release usually having several new features — even if most of them are for website developers, not end-users.

FEATURES

Rendering engine Blink
Dark mode Yes
Desktop sync Yes
Extensions No
Android Autofill Yes

Chrome is the dominant web browser on both desktop and mobile platforms, so there’s not much to talk about — most of you are probably using it right now, and you probably know what it can (and cannot) do. Because most of Chrome is open-source, and most other browsers on Android use that open-source base, the vast majority of Chrome’s features end up duplicated in other apps.

However, the Android version of Chrome does have a few nice features that you might not have heard about. You can switch tabs by swiping left and right on the address bar, force websites to be dark when your phone is in dark mode, and much more.

The main version of Chrome for Android is probably already on your phone, but if you want to try out whatever features Google has cooking in the oven, we’ve also linked the Beta (slightly buggy) and Dev (buggy) versions below. Regardless, there are a bunch of tips and tricks to utilize this browser on your Android.

DuckDuckGo

You may already know that DuckDuckGo is a web search engine focused on privacy, but did you know the company has a web browser too? The DuckDuckGo browser for Android is (very) light on features, but it still provides a nice experience.

FEATURES

Rendering engine Android WebView
Dark mode Partial (forced dark mode on all websites, even those with native dark modes)
Desktop sync No
Extensions No
Android Autofill Yes

This is probably the most basic browser out of this list, as there is no desktop sync support, no extensions, and few advanced features. However, tracking scripts are blocked by default, and the browser gives every site a privacy rating with a complete list of every blocked tracker. Most browsers have some sort of tracking protection at this point, but DuckDuckGo lays out the information in a very easy-to-understand way.

By default, DuckDuckGo erases cookies after you close a tab (similar to Firefox Focus), but there’s a setting to disable that for your favorite sites. Under the hood, DuckDuckGo uses Android’s built-in rendering engine, so it should perform just as well as Chrome, though it’s missing some of its comfort features like tab switching by swiping over the address bar.

The company is also busy building a desktop companion, which can be expected to bring desktop sync in the future.

Samsung Internet

Samsung Internet started as the pre-installed web browser on Galaxy phones and tablets, but Samsung opened it up to all Android devices in 2017. It’s now one of the most popular browsers on the platform, and it’s jam-packed (or overloaded, depending on your standpoint) with features.

FEATURES

Rendering engine Blink
Dark mode Yes
Desktop sync Partial, with a Chrome extension
Extensions Yes
Android Autofill Yes

Samsung Internet is based on Chrome, but it has an entirely custom interface that fits with Samsung’s One UI design language. Some of its advantages over Chrome include tracking protection, a limited selection of add-ons, and a button layout that is easier to use on tall phones. You can check out our in-depth comparison between the two browsers to get a better idea.

My favorite feature is the complete dark mode support — not only can the browser’s interface turn dark, but it can also modify the appearance of sites to make them dark too. This doesn’t always work as intended, but it’s still great to have for late-night reading. Chrome and Firefox can also display dark pages when dark mode is enabled, but only if the site itself has created a dark theme. It’s just a bummer that Samsung recently decided to clutter the new tab page with a discover feed much like the one in Google Chrome, but at least it can be deactivated easily.

Like Chrome and Firefox, Samsung Internet has both stable and beta versions. Give the beta release a shot if you like being on the bleeding edge.

Vivaldi

Former Opera developers founded Vivaldi, and it’s quickly become one of the most feature-packed browsers on Android. While it is based on Chrome, it has overhauled the interface and added some excellent features, though I feel like it’s much less bloated than Samsung’s browser and its settings are easier to navigate.

FEATURES

Rendering engine Blink
Dark mode Yes
Desktop sync Yes
Extensions No
Android Autofill Yes

Vivaldi uses a tab strip on the top by default, similar to desktop web browsers, which is especially nice on tablets or phones in landscape mode. There’s also a bottom panel for performing key functions without reaching the top of the screen, an Opera-style ‘Speed Dial’ page when you open a new tab, an optional always-on desktop mode, and an optional blocker for tracking scripts. You can even style websites to your liking if you’re into that sort of thing (or rely on it for accessibility reasons).

Microsoft Edge

Microsoft Edge is yet another Chromium-based browser for Android. While it initially only had a few changes compared to Chrome, it’s now distinct enough from Google’s browser interface that there are genuine use cases for it.

FEATURES

Rendering engine Blink
Dark mode Yes
Desktop sync Yes
Extensions Rudimentary (some “content blockers” are supported)
Android Autofill Yes

Edge’s bottom bar gives you quick access to often-needed browsing features, the new tab page can be customized to your liking, and you can collect rewards by using Bing. There are a few more notable features outside of desktop sync, like integration with Microsoft’s family management tools. Still, all that said, it’s mostly great for people deep into Microsoft’s ecosystem. Like its desktop counterpart, it’s nothing but Chrome with a different appearance.

Brave

At this point, there’s no way around Brave when you want to create a roundup of the best browsers for Android. The self-proclaimed privacy-first, tracking-blocking browser is among the fastest and most fully-featured options out there; there’s no denying it. It’s available on all relevant platforms and optionally synchronizes data across all your installations, including its cryptocurrency wallet that you can use to pay creators and websites you care about (disclosure: including ourselves). The browser even allows you to surf anonymously via a native Tor connection and is the first to support the decentralized HTTPS alternative IPFS. The company behind it is also working on a privacy-focused Google Search alternative, so it could almost be the holy grail for privacy-minding folks.

FEATURES

Rendering engine Blink
Dark mode Yes
Desktop sync Yes
Extensions No
Android Autofill Yes

However, we’re still hesitant to recommend this product. For one, Brave was created by former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich, who quickly had to leave this position in 2014 due to some controversy stemming from a 2008 political donation that stands detrimentally against Mozilla’s core values (with no explanation forthcoming). For another, the browser’s opt-in advertisement strategy can be seen as a scheme that primarily earns Brave money rather than content creators. Brave deprives websites of ads and forces them to sign up for Brave’s self-created cryptocurrency to at least retain a fraction of the income lost due to adblocking. It also doesn’t help that users can choose to pocket revenue from viewing Brave ads for themselves instead of donating it towards sites.

Brave was additionally caught injecting referral codes into some cryptocurrency’s trading pages’ URLs, with CEO Eich saying on Twitter that he didn’t see a problem with this undisclosed practice. For what it’s worth, the browser has since made the practice opt-in, but it leaves a sour taste.

Kiwi

We had to remove Kiwi from our list of best browsers last year because it lagged in terms of regular updates – not a good look when new browser vulnerabilities are discovered all the time. Fast forward to now, and things seem to look better as it currently runs Chromium version 101 and is updated more frequently. If you’re switching from Chrome, the user interface of Kiwi will make you feel right at home.

FEATURES

Rendering engine Blink
Dark mode Yes
Desktop sync No
Extensions Yes
Android Autofill Yes

There are a few neat additions, the most notable of which is support for Chrome desktop extensions that supercharge the experience. What’s more, there’s a dark mode that can force websites to follow the theme – a delight if you use your phone in low-light conditions often. Other features include native ad blocking, a bottom address bar, language translation, and the option to disable AMP pages altogether.

One thing you’ll miss out with Kiwi is the lack of desktop sync since the browser isn’t available for any desktop platforms. If that’s something you don’t necessarily care about, Kiwi is surely worth a try.


The browsers we didn’t include

There are a few popular browsers for Android that we didn’t include on this list. Instead of answering questions about missing apps in the comments, we thought it might be better to explain our reasoning.

  • Opera browsers: We previously included Opera Mini here because its data saver mode is still largely unmatched (even if it broke many web pages). Opera’s other Android browsers are generally good products. However, Opera also operates several loan applications that previously violated Play Store guidelines and harassed the user’s contacts, which isn’t a great omen for the company’s web browsers.
  • Xiaomi Mint Browser: Xiaomi’s web browsers are popular in Asia and other regions where Xiaomi sells most of its phones. However, code was discovered in Mint Browser that sent all search queries made in Incognito Mode to Xiaomi’s servers. Xiaomi later added an option to disable this behavior, but it’s not enabled by default, and the browser was only updated after several days of complaints and news coverage.

If you’re in the market for a new browser, you’re bound to find one you like here. Once you’ve settled on your search engine, there are plenty of useful apps you might want to add to your phone as well.

UPDATE: 2022/05/18 7:00 EST BY PRASHAM PARIKH

This article was originally published in June 2020 and has been updated for 2022 to include Kiwi and reflect the latest changes and updates to the existing selection.

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