Android phones don’t really have a single default browser. Instead, they come with different browsers preinstalled depending on the version and manufacturer of your Android phone. Even so, most of these browsers have one thing in common – they don’t do much to protect your privacy.
The problem with preinstalled Android browsers
Most stock Android phones come with the clear name “Browser” or with Google Chrome preinstalled. However, depending on the manufacturer of your Android phone, you might end up with an entirely different browser pre-installed.
Huawei, for example, has now introduced its own browser, although it’s only officially available in China at the moment, while Samsung phones come with Samsung Internet Explorer preinstalled. Other less renowned Android phone makers sometimes pre-install their own self-developed browsers on their devices.
The problem with most of these default Android browsers is that they don’t do much to protect your privacy. And even when they do, most of the time, they collect even more private data than you should be comfortable with. After all, these big tech companies make huge sums of money from the data they collect from you.
So what’s the deal with Android browsers?
Android Stock Browser
Although this browser has been removed from Android KitKat (4.4), you can still find the Android browser app preinstalled on Android Jelly Bean phones. You cannot download the app from Google Play, but you can still find its APK file for download on several online hosting sites.
One of the main reasons this browser is still in use is because it still supports Flash video, which many modern browsers no longer support in 2021. However, using Android’s standard browser poses a serious security and confidentiality risk.
Google no longer releases security patches for this browser since replacing it with Chrome as the preinstalled default Android browser. For this reason, you should not use it or try to access any sites that require authentication with it, as it is very vulnerable to fishing attacks and your private data could be stolen.
Chrome is now the most popular browser used by Android phone users and is Android’s preinstalled default browser in most of its versions. It can also be downloaded from Google Play.
Chrome is definitely one of the most secure Android browsers for surfing the web because it has Google Safe Browsing integrated. This feature alerts you when you try to access a dangerous site or download a malicious file, and checks URLs against Google’s constantly updated list of dangerous sites.
The main reason that continues to keep Android users away from Chrome is their growing concern over privacy. After all, Google has developed a reputation over the years as a very intrusive business.
There are a lot of Chrome features that require you to allow Google to track almost your every move online and collect a large portion of your browsing data. Plus, even when Chrome includes privacy tweaks like turning off autofill forms and usage and error reporting, they’re on by default.
Another downside to Chrome’s privacy is its Do Not Track feature. Even when Chrome includes this feature, it’s really not very reliable, because all it does is send a no-follow request to the sites. While most mainstream sites will honor the request, they have no obligation to comply and some simply won’t.
This is the newly introduced browser by Huawei and it has now replaced Chrome as the preinstalled browser for the Huawei Android phone, at least in China. If you want to try it out, you need to either change your AppGallery’s language settings (don’t do this if you don’t read Chinese) or download the APK file from the internet.
Huawei markets its browser as fast, secure and private, offering many configuration options. It has a Block pop-ups option that prevents sites from opening new tabs as well as an ad filter, which is not active by default.
This browser also offers security and privacy options, such as Allow cookies, Block third-party cookies, Block tracking cookies, Safe browsing and Do not track. The latter, unfortunately, works exactly like Chrome’s Do Not Track feature and relies on the willingness of sites to comply.
Samsung Internet Browser
This is the preinstalled Android browser of the Samsung phone. It is available for download on Google Play from 2015 and, according to StatCounter, has a market share of 6.23% as of December 2020.
Samsung Internet Browser provides the most private experience when it comes to default Android browsers. It offers the option to block unwanted pages, which blocks pop-up windows, and protected browsing, which alerts you when you come across a malicious site.
It also allows third-party ad blockers and has a smart anti-tracking feature that actually works. When enabled, it automatically deletes tracking cookies that monitor your online activity.
3 private Android browsers to consider
If, even with all the privacy features of all of these default Android browsers, you don’t think they meet your expectations, there are several private alternatives. You can find other privacy-focused browsers whose primary purpose is to protect your privacy at all times on Google Play.
This privacy browser blocks all third-party cookies to protect you from tracking while forcing sites to use encrypted connections when available. It will also not store any data about your browsing history.
Download: DuckDuckGo (free)
2. Focus Firefox
Firefox Focus is one of the most popular privacy browsers. Focus will not save any passwords, allow cookies or trackers, and it includes an ad blocker.
Download: Firefox Focus (free)
InBrowser is another of the most renowned privacy browsers, and for good reason. It’s been on the Play Store for a while now and in addition to its privacy features it offers Tor support (you need to install Orbot if you want to use this feature).
Download: InBrowser (free)
Default Android browsers: enjoy privacy
As private as these default browsers are, the tech giants that develop them derive a large portion of their revenue from selling targeted personalized ads. This means that there is a lot of money to be made from your personal usage data.
This is precisely the reason why many Google services rely on you to agree to their privacy policies. The same is true of other tech giants, such as Samsung, as they also use and sell your data to third parties.
That’s why even when they add privacy features to their browsers, they still want to collect as much data as possible. Because of this, so many users concerned about their privacy, including me, choose to look for a more private Android browser.
Need a private browser compatible with Android, iPhone or iPad? Try these options for secure private mobile browsing.
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