Are all iPhone browsers the same? You’d be forgiven for thinking so. They have the same purpose, look similar, and perform identical tasks. But, there’s more to a browser than surfing the web; what you value matters. Be it privacy, speed, or syncing, there’s a browser that fits your needs.
The short answer for which browser you should use on your iPhone is the one that matches what you use on your desktop or laptop computer. Matching mobile/desktop browsers is great for syncing your digital life across your devices. If you have a Windows machine at home and browse with Edge, you’ll want the Edge app for your iPhone. If you’re using a Chromebook for school, the Google Chrome app is for you. And if you use multiple browsers at different locations, you can always get one that matches.
However, you should know that Apple requires all iOS browsers to run on WebKit. While Edge and Chrome look like their desktop counterparts, they are merely branded versions of Safari. So, performance-wise, there isn’t much difference. The things that matters are the unique features and the compatibility with the software you’re using in other places.
However, if you’re someone who only uses a smartphone, you want a different browser for your phone, or you’re looking for a cool extra feature like a crypto wallet or an offline media player, keep reading to see which browser has what you want.
Brave is more than just a privacy-centered mobile browser. It is a self-contained ecosystem that offers unique features like a search engine, cryptocurrency wallet, media player, personalized news feed, and more. Brave Shields blocks third-party trackers from websites and advertisers while allowing users to opt-in to the Brave rewards program by watching ads tailored for them.
In addition to all this, the app allows you to subscribe to a Brave Firewall + VPN (provided by Guardian) that gives you an extra layer of security while you browse, shop, and scroll. You can get it for $9.99 a month or $99.99 a year.
One other thing that Brave offers that other browsers lack is an integrated video call service similar to Google Meet and Skype. And, of course, you can sync the mobile app with your desktop browser. This is great because it allows you to pick up where you left off no matter where you are or what device you’re using.
Chrome is the best mobile browser to use if you live in the Google ecosystem. And since most people are, it’s no wonder that Chrome is the most widely used iPhone browser after Safari. The primary drivers of its popularity are its snappy performance, stability, and reliability. It easily syncs with the Chrome application on your desktop and other mobile devices. So, passwords, browsing history, bookmarks, and more are at your fingertips regardless of which of your devices you are using.
The downsides to Chrome are the same as every Google product: it tracks everything you do. It is the price for such powerful tools for free. There’s no matching the quality of Google’s search results, whether in Chrome or any other browser. However, if you’re weary of your searches and browsing history, you can always change the default search engine and lock down your privacy settings. Although, this may diminish the usefulness of the tools you downloaded the app for in the first place.
If privacy is your primary online concern, DuckDuckGo is probably your best option. What started as a search engine that wouldn’t track you is now a handy app that lets you surf the internet without being spied on.
Given its simple premise, it’s not surprising that it’s a simple app. DuckDuckGo keeps the bells and whistles to a bare minimum. The most impressive feature outside the search engine is the little flame icon at the bottom of the interface. One tap on the fire closes all your open tabs and eliminates all your browsing data from the earth forever.
And while the search results aren’t as good as Google’s (but whose are?), they’re about as good as you’ll get from other engines. I’ve yet to search for something on DuckDuckGo and wish I had used Google instead, which is more than I can say for many other non-Google search engines.
Edge is the perfect iPhone browser for people who have one foot in the world of Microsoft and the other in Apple. Since Edge is the default browser on all Windows machines these days, it makes sense to match it up with your iPhone. Once you sign in to your Microsoft account on the Edge mobile app, it syncs data such as passwords, browsing and search history, and other odds and ends to your Windows desktop browser. Unsurprisingly, Bing is your default search engine when you use Edge, but you can change it to Google, Yahoo!, or DuckDuckGo.
Additionally, Edge has a nifty feature called “Collections.” These are similar to bookmarks, except more contextually focused. For example, you can make a collection of potential Christmas presents, news stories to read later, meal ideas, and nearly anything else you can think up. Once a collection exists on your phone, not only can you access it from your desktop browser, but you can also access it offline. It’s a handy feature if you’re out of cell phone range and want to catch up on the day’s news.
The Firefox browser has been around for nearly two decades now, so it’s no surprise that its mobile app is top-notch. It’s zippy, syncs easily with your desktop browser, has a host of privacy protection features, and has a highly personalized home screen.
Like most other mobile browsers, Google is your default search engine, and like other browsers, you can change it. Default options include Bing and DuckDuckGo. However, you can also use Firefox’s search bar to scan popular websites like Twitter, Amazon, and Wikipedia.
Firefox has a feature similar to Edge’s Collections called “Reading List.” If you’re browsing and come across an article that you want to read later, it only takes a couple of taps to get it onto the reading list to come back to when you have time. Additionally, Firefox’s hamburger menu provides several one-tap features like “Find in Page,” “Copy Link,” “Send Link to Device,” and more, which saves a lot of time you’d otherwise spend copying and pasting bits of text into other applications.
If you have an iPhone, you have Safari, and you can’t get rid of it. But there’s no shame in using what comes preinstalled on your phone. After all, Apple designed Safari with iPhone users in mind, optimized it for the Apple ecosystem, and made it simple enough for even the least tech-savvy among us to learn and use to its fullest potential.
It is, however, light on the extra features found in some of the other browsers featured in this article. No collections, crypto wallets, specialized searches, or VPNs are in Safari. Nevertheless, it covers the basics like password storage, web history sync, private browsing, bookmarks, download manager, and more as well as the third-party browsers we’ve covered.
So, if you don’t want to worry about which browser is the best, or fastest, or blocks the most cookies, and just want a safe browser that works, Safari is likely the best choice for you.
The most surprising thing about the Opera browser for iPhone is that it’s very minimalist. A remarkable contrast with their desktop browser, which is quite robust. Nevertheless, it’s a worthy choice and probably the best option if you use Opera on your desktop.
Connecting your mobile Opera browser to your desktop is easy with the My Flow system. All you have to do is scan a QR code, and everything syncs automatically.
One aspect where Opera shines is that it has the most default search engines choices. In addition to the usual suspects like Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo, you can also use foreign search engines like Baidu, Qwant, and Yandex. You also get more site-specific searches than Firefox. You can use Opera to scan Amazon, eBay, IMDB, and Wikipedia.
Like Brave, Opera offers a crypto-currency wallet, making it easier to buy things with crypto directly in your browser. This feature seems like it will find its way onto all the browsers on this list in the near future.