Whether you're using Chrome, Firefox or another web browser on your phone, all your searches are visible to your ISP, Google and potentially others. One way to stop your browsing activity being tracked and recorded is to use a private web browser.
You should know that using a private browser is not a completely secure solution. For example, your ISP will still see what you've searched for and which websites you've visited. A private browser does, however stop your search queries being saved, and won't keep a history of sites visited.
It should also include features to prevent websites tracking your movements online and usually also includes an ad blocker.
Here, we take a look at the best Android browsers for security and privacy.
The Focus browser from Mozilla for Android, like Mozilla's flagship Firefox browser, comes packed with features and delivers an excellent user experience.
Focus promises to erase all information from your sessions as soon as you close your browser tab, delete your history, passwords and cookies while also removing trackers associated with ads. This should, in theory, mean that the websites you visit will load faster.
As a bonus, Focus will also alert you by sending you a push notification if you have any sessions still open on your phone. This means you can close the tab and delete all records immediately.
It should be noted however, that Mozilla collects data from this browser. You can read how in a privacy notice here.
This incognito browser is always in privacy mode. The cloaking device means websites won't even recognise you're accessing from a mobile and you won't be shown mobile versions of sites.
Whenever you exit the app, all of your browsing history, cookies and any other information will be wiped in seconds.
It offers a pared down, minimalist browsing experience with no ads or extra bars, letting you focus on the content instead.
It supports Tor via Orbot and an in-app video player. As another bonus, it offers deep integration with LastPass, the password storing tech, meaning that your passwords are saved but secure.
The beefier cousin of Firefox Focus, Firefox for Android, might be slightly less speedy depending on what version your phone is and doesn't have all the privacy features turned on by default. But it's still a pretty lightweight and useful browser that has most of the features you might expect, such as tabbed browsing.
Crucially for the privacy conscious user, you can apply add-ons to the browser: one recommended add-on is the open-source uBlock Origin, which has various settings you can crank up depending on what you want to block.
You might also like to consider the Https Everywhere and Noscript add-ons.
Frost Incognito Browser
This free app is one of the most popular private browsers.
The browser deletes web history and cookies, is pre-fitted with an ad-blocker and is always in incognito mode.
It also offers tabbed browsing and a polished interface to top it off.
Privacy Browser is a relatively recent addition to the browser scene and it is focused on – that’s right – browsing privacy. Take a look at the website here.
Brave is a medium-weight browser based on Chromium that has some privacy options like ad-blocking set by default, as well as preventing website trackers. It supports all of your favourite features including tabbed browsing and incognito mode.
An interesting feature of Brave, which was created by Mozilla Project co-founder Brendan Eich, is that it's trying to remodel the way digital ads are displayed online. If you choose to opt in, you’ll become part of the Brave Attention Token project – a cryptocurrency scheme that aims to serve digital ads better while making use of anonymised browser data.
Originating from the Linux Debian project OS, IceCat is a rebranded Firefox without the signature trademarked artwork and distributed by the GNU Project. The idea is to offer IceCat as a free and open source version of the browser – and there are a few more security features packed in too. You can download it at the F-Droid FOSS repository here.
Ghostery Privacy Browser
Ghostery boasts total privacy. The browser promises to collect no user data unless you choose to provide it. Users will also receive page alerts when a web page they are about to visit contains ad trackers. Ghostery also includes advanced privacy settings - letting you quickly clear cache and history for example - and an incognito mode on top of that.
Acting as an extension of the Tor network for mobile browsers, Orbot aims to provide total anonymity while browsing the web on your Android phone.
It does this by allowing traffic from a device's web browser, email client and other web-based applications to travel through the Tor network.
Orbot also claims to keep browsers history hidden from third-party monitoring sites and the government.
Javelin Incognito Browser
Built solely for private browsing, Javelin only offers incognito mode - all browsing has to be done via their private platform. Javelin also offers a private proxy service for bypassing web filters and impressive password protection.
Interestingly, the creator of this browser also created the 'Go away Cameron' and 'Go away MDA' Chrome extensions to avoid (potential) porn censorship.
CM Browser aims to speed up your browsing experience while also protecting you against malicious and fraudulent activities.
CM will warn users of potentially dangerous web pages, scan file downloads and offers a wide range of do-not-track features including history, cookies, and password deleting.
Although perhaps not the most popular Android browser, CM definitely offers a great product packed with features most users want.
The Yandex smartphone browser offers secure browsing on both Android and iOS devices. Yandex provides an incognito mode ensuring it will not track any searches, passwords and any browsing activities.
Via 'Turbo Mode', Yandex claims to provide a faster connection, web page load times and image loads. What's more, Yandex supports an integrated security system called Protect. This should reduce the risk of infection when using public Wi-Fi networks or visiting potentially fraudulent pages.