Privacy matters a lot while browsing the internet. During your stay online, tons of trackers are bound to follow you around from site to site, recording your browsing activity for goodness knows what. And offline, you always run into the risk of others stumbling across, or worse, snooping on your browsing history.
Hence, it's crucial to use a privacy-centric web browser on your iPhone or iPad. That way, you have a browser to fall back on for those personal searches that you can't do without.
Thankfully, there are a handful of browsers that offer excellent privacy-based features. Also, these are quite popular (would be surprising if you haven't heard of them), receive regular updates, and are free to use. Let's check them out.
1. Firefox Focus
Firefox Focus is an outstanding web browser tailor-made to protect you against both online and offline-based threats to privacy.
To thwart attempts by websites to track you online, Firefox Focus comes built-in with multiple anti-tracking modules (ads, analytics, and social). The Firefox Focus enables these modules by default — you can switch them off if needed via the Firefox Focus Settings. However, you should keep them enabled.
For offline-based threats, you have a nifty Trash option at hand that immediately 'trashes' whatever appears on your screen in an instant. Firefox Focus can also use Face ID or Touch ID to secure itself. This prevents others from re-opening the browser and seeing what you were up to.
However, Firefox Focus offers limited functionality in certain key areas. Perhaps the biggest issue is that you can't have more than a single tab open at any one time. And there's also a complete lack of support for bookmarks, although you can save your favorite sites to open them faster.
DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser (named after the DuckDuckGo search engine) runs in the same vein that Firefox Focus does. It never records any of your browsing activity, thwarts a ton of site trackers by default, and assigns 'privacy' gradings — from a scale of A - E — to websites for good measure.
It even features a Toast icon to get rid of whatever is on-screen in an instant, similar to Firefox Focus, but with a cool-looking animation. You can also lock down the browser with Face ID or Touch ID.
DuckDuckGo also gets rid of many of the quirks associated with Firefox Focus. You can use as many tabs as you want and bookmark your favorite sites. It even lets you stay signed in to websites after clearing your browsing data, which is insanely convenient.
But there's also a downside — you can only ever user DuckDuckGo as the default search engine, and nothing else. DuckDuckGo as a search engine is good for privacy, but sometimes, you need to use Google for better and more relevant results. Firefox Focus is better at that with an option to switch between multiple search engines.
Unlike Firefox Focus and DuckDuckGo, Brave can easily double up as both your primary and your privacy web browser. It sports a full-fledged bookmarks manager, a dedicated downloads manager, saves your login information, and even syncs your data between devices. Brave also sports a dark mode, which you can tie into iOS's system color scheme.
Furthermore, the built-in Brave Shields will easily block privacy-invading ads and trackers, malicious scripts, and fingerprinters. And you can also use Face ID or Touch ID to protect the browser from local threats.
To make Brave even more private, you can choose to lock down it down in Private Browsing mode, which will automatically clear all browsing data whenever you exit it. Head into Brave Settings, and then turn on the switch next to Private Browsing Mode to do that.
Ghostery Privacy Browser may look a little dated, but it offers excellent protection against online trackers. Ghostery even displays all trackers and scripts that websites use to monitor your behavior. Hint — tap the Ghost icon.
It can also double up as a primary browser — it offers bookmarking and password support. However, it does not let you sync data between devices.
Ghostery also features an aptly titled Ghost Mode (open tab-switcher, and then tap Ghost), which will automatically delete all open tabs whenever you leave it. And to stop others from checking in on your browsing activity, you can also restrict the browser with Face ID or Touch ID.
Um, yeah, Safari. And why not. Apple is well-known for its tough stance in favor of user privacy. And perhaps your iPhone or iPad's built-in browser may just be what you will ever need.
Safari features its own cross-site anti-tracking module (turn on via iPhone/iPad Settings > Safari) to prevent trackers from following you between sites. To further bolster privacy and block even more trackers, you can easily integrate Safari with a content blocker.
To safeguard against local threats, switch to Private mode (tap tab-switcher, and then tap Private). That will effectively restrict the browser to using Private tabs unless you exit the mode. And it stays enabled even if you force-quit the browser and re-open it.
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The five browsers listed above should easily help you preserve your privacy against online and local threats. It's hard to recommend one particular browser since personal preference will play a huge role, so do consider giving each a go to determine what fits you the best.
But as a general rule of thumb, use Firefox Focus or DuckDuckGo if you want a complimentary private browser to your regular web browser. In contrast, Brave and Ghostery should work for both private and regular browsing, but Brave's multi-platform availability may make it the better choice.