8 Best Private Browsers for iOS. Our picks for iPhone & iPad users
With cybercrime becoming an increasing threat, more and more of us are searching for ways to protect our online privacy. From using VPN services to switching to more secure mobile browsers and search engines, we’re doing what we can.
Data privacy is an important factor for many users, iOS users included. As you most likely know, some of Apple’s privacy and data encryption features are top-notch, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be cautious.
Before you consult this list or any other browser recommendations for IOS out there, there is one thing you need to know. Third-party private browsers for iOS are not developed by Apple but must meet certain rules and requirements for browsers available on its iOS (iPhone and iPad) platform.
Namely, they all have to use the WebKit framework for rendering web pages. WebKit is a browser engine developed by Apple and is the same engine that Safari, Apple’s default browser, uses. This means that third-party browsers cannot use their own rendering engines but must rely on Apple’s framework. The requirement limits the privacy-related features these browsers can offer.
That said, they still come packed with great, customizable options, built-in VPNs, ad-blockers, detailed usage reports, and a wide range of other features to suit all needs. Take a look at our list to choose the best private web browser for your iPhone or iPad. Not an iOS user? Check out this post on the best private browsers or this one about the best private Android browsers.
Updated on: September 8, 2023
Best private browsers for iOS
1) Brave browser
This open-source and completely free web browser was created to enable an entirely private browsing experience. It blocks ads and has the ability to block trackers. Its HTTPS Everywhere and script-blocking features provide the most secure browsing possible. Also, according to tests conducted by PCMag, “Brave was the only browser for which the EFF tool reported a randomized fingerprint.”
Brave has several built-in features that only add to its privacy, such as a built-in password manager, browser playlists, private windows, installing IPFS nodes quickly, easy access to the wallet, night mode, a VPN service, and more. With plenty of blocking features, it’s also much quicker than many other web browsers, claiming to be 3 times faster than Chrome.
Overall, Brave is one of the top contenders to be considered the best private browser for iOS. Some find its native advertising model and blockchain focus off-putting, but these functions can be disabled in the settings.
- Blocks ads and trackers.
- Built-in VPN (paid version).
- Great speeds.
- Proven and effective anti-fingerprinting technology.
- Does not support browser extensions, add-ons or plug-ins.
- Ads and crypto-integrations make it look “spammy.”
- The number of settings is overwhelming to many users.
- Occasional compatibility and website rendering issues.
2) Firefox Focus
Firefox Focus is yet another open-source private web browser often chosen by privacy conscious users. It deletes your browsing history every time you close the browser window. Featuring a private browsing mode, Firefox Focus provides ad blocking, tracking protection, password management, and add-on support.
With its user-friendly interface and long-established reputation, it’s no wonder that Firefox Focus is among the most popular web browsers. Some people are wary of the fact that Firefox Focus collects anonymized usage data and shares it with its third-party marketing vendor, a company called Adjust.
This is nothing like the kind of data collection perpetrated by something like Google Chrome, though, and it can be disabled in the settings.
- Automatically deletes past browsing sessions by default.
- Easy to navigate options.
- Ad and tracker blocking.
- Good speeds.
- Does not support tabbed browsing.
- No add-ons or plug-ins.
- Some users complain about speeds.
3) DuckDuckGo privacy browser
One of the most popular browsers in the US, DuckDuckGo is arguably also one of the most private browsers available. Its privacy features include encrypting connections and hiding your IP address, blocking advertising trackers, and ensuring your browsing history remains private.
It also provides users with a privacy grade for each website they visit, making it easier to judge which sites are safe and which are best avoided.
As for its cons, users point to the lack of advanced privacy settings and no virus or malware protection. Still, with the ability to load web pages twice as fast as Safari, many internet users opt for this alternative web browser app.
- Does not store search history.
- Blocks ads and hidden third-party trackers.
- Unrefined search results.
- One-page search results.
- Less comprehensive search results.
- In May 2022, an independent auditor demonstrated that DDG mobile browser made an exception for certain advertising data requests made by its search syndication partner, Microsoft, tarnishing the browser’s reputation as a fully private browser.
4) Ghostery privacy browser
Ghostery Privacy Browser is a web browser known for its dedication to privacy. It offers granular control over what data and scripts are allowed to run and comes with built-in ad and tracker blockers. Ghostery privacy browser also provides real-time website tracking analysis, allowing users to see the extent of tracking attempts on visited websites.
On top of that, the free version of this Firefox-based browser has most of its premium features present. You decide whether you want to financially contribute to the project or not.
However, it’s important to note that, like other privacy-focused browsers, Ghostery privacy browser may encounter some website compatibility issues due to its strict blocking settings, which can occasionally affect the user experience on certain sites.
- Comprehensive free version.
- Ad blocker which also blocks YouTube ads.
- Easy to navigate interface.
- Detailed tracker analysis (for contributors).
- Ghostery is owned by Hubert Burda Media Holding, a German media company, raising questions about users’ browsing data privacy.
5) Aloha browser
Every privacy-respecting web browser brings something different to the table. This is no less true of Aloha, a private browser app that has some pretty cool features.
As far as privacy protection goes, the Aloha browser has a free, unlimited VPN, ad blocking, and a private mode that allows you to browse privately, with no browsing history being logged.
As for additional features, Aloha comes with a built-in media player with VR support, the ability to secure your pictures, videos, and files with a passcode or fingerprint, and, as a cherry on top, an easy-to-use interface.
Unfortunately, even the best things have their cons. In the case of Aloha, it’s the fact that it isn’t open-source and that it’s reportedly slower than its competitors.
- Comes with a free, integrated, and unlimited VPN.
- Private browsing mode, tracking protection, and ad blocker.
- Secure downloads on iOS.
- Users complain about slow speeds.
- By default, Aloha collects user data for UX improvements and personalized ads “from trusted partners.” You can disable these in the privacy settings.
6) Private Browsing web browser
As the name implies, Private Browsing is a privacy-focused iOS web browser that features an interface that strongly resembles the Safari browser. It’s compatible with the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.
This private browser features a built-in ad blocker and password manager. Many users also appreciate how little storage space it takes up.
Its downside, according to some, is that it lacks some additional, privacy-enhancing features that other browsers have.
- Full screen mode.
- History, cookies, and cache get deleted after each session.
- Works well even on older iPhone models.
- No tabbed browsing.
7) Onion browser
Possibly one of the most well-known open-source private browsers available, the Onion browser was created to ensure anonymous browsing and tracking protection when accessing the Tor network (commonly referred to as the dark web). Routing connections through the Tor network makes it nearly impossible to track and identify your online activities.
Regular updates mean it’s up-to-date with the latest security patches to provide you with the best private browsing experience. Additionally, it features iOS integration, making it that much easier to use.
Although usable for browsing the clearnet (the regular internet), this browser is really designed with The Onion Router (Tor) network in mind.
- Best Tor browser alternative for iOS.
- The only iOS browser recommended by the Tor project.
- Free and open source.
- Low speeds and sometimes crashes.
- Can be hard to navigate for users not familiar with the dark web.
8) SnowHaze browser
The last (but not least) privacy-focused browser we think is worth mentioning is also an open-source web browser, which means that its source code is publicly accessible and can be audited by anyone. Less popular than other browsers on our list, SnowHaze places a strong emphasis on user privacy.
While the amount of settings SnowHaze offers is clearly aimed at more knowledgeable users, the browser’s reporting feature lacks precision. SnowHaze will tell you how many trackers it has blocked and how many cookies it has deleted but these stats are general, not site by site. Lastly, the tool would certainly benefit from having more user reviews—–the current lack of information does not invite trust.
- Open source.
- A ton of adjustable settings.
- Built-in VPN.
- The number of settings can be daunting.
- Browsing data report not very granular.
- Low credibility because of lack of user reviews.
- Their VPN service infrastructure has not been audited.
Why is it important to use a private browser?
When you browse the web, your internet service provider, the websites you visit, and other parties are able to track your activity. The most concerning are data brokers and people search sites that scrape the internet searching for personal information. They can collect your personal details and find ways to monetize them. In this process, your private data becomes exposed, increasing the risk of falling victim to scammers and hackers.
The two best ways to ensure online safety are to use private browsers, both on your desktop and phone, and to get your data removed from the aforementioned data brokers and people search sites.
Once you switch to private browsing, spend some time sending opt-out requests to these third-party entities. This may sound easy, but it’s actually a very time-consuming process. So if you don’t want to spend countless hours writing removal requests, you’ll want to consider subscribing to Incogni.
Incogni is an automated personal information removal service that sends opt-out requests on your behalf. Incogni takes care of the entire process without you having to lift a finger. And at the end of the day, you can be sure your personal data is being taken off the market.
What is the safest browser privacy on iOS?
Here is our list of the top safest privacy browsers for iOS: Brave. Avast Secure browser. Firefox Focus. DuckDuckGo. Safari. Aloha. Private browsing web browser. Onion browser.
Is there a private browser for iPhone?
Yes, there are third-party, private browsers for iPhone, but they have certain limitations due to Apple’s specific browser requirements. They offer some additional privacy features but may not be fully private.
Is Safari or Chrome safer on iPhone?
Safari is the default browser on iPhone and is considered safer than Chrome. It comes with a built-in ad blocker and uses Intelligent Tracking Prevention for enhanced privacy.
Is Tor Browser available on Apple?
Tor browser is available on macOS but not on iOS. In other words, you can use the Tor browser on your Apple desktop or laptop computer but not your iPhone. To download the Tor browser for macOS, go to torproject.org and click “Download Tor Browser.”
Why is Tor not on iOS?
There is no Tor on iOS because of the iOS platform’s requirements. Mainly, iOS requires all browsing apps to use the WebKit framework like Safari does. Torproject.org recommends using Onion Browser to enhance privacy and anonymity on iOS.
Does Tor Browser hide IP on iPhone?
Hiding IP addresses is one of the features of the Tor Browser. However, it is not available for iPhone. There is a wide choice of private browsers, such as OrNET, Orbot, Brave, or Onion browsers available on the App Store. You can use these and/or a VPN to mask IP addresses on iPhones.
What is the best dark web browser for iPhone?
Onion browser app is the only dark web browser endorsed by torproject.org. Remember that Onion browser on iOS will enhance privacy for searches within the app, but network traffic outside the app will not be protected.
Is Tor safe on an iPhone?
Using Tor on iOS is limited. There are a number of privacy-focused apps in the App Store that enhance privacy, but they all come with limitations and only partly protect network traffic. These include Onion browser, which is endorsed by torproject.org. Always use Tor-related apps on iOS with caution.
What is the alternative to Tor Browser for iOS?
A privacy-focused browser is an alternative to the Tor browser on iOS. We recommend using the ones on our list: Brave. Avast Secure browser. Firefox Focus. DuckDuckGo. Safari. Aloha. Private browsing web browser. Onion browser.
Is Tor and Onion browser the same?
Tor is free, open-source software for anonymous browsing developed by the Tor Project. Onion browser is a Tor-based browser for iOS recommended by torproject.org as it currently does not offer a browser supported by iOS.