But that’s when third-party browsers step in to save the day. After trying and testing a handful of browsers over time, let me share nine terrific alternatives that can seriously give Safari a run for its money.
Note: Apple’s requirement for third-party developers to use the WebKit rendering engine means that all browsers listed below are roughly the same in terms of performance.
1. Google Chrome
Chrome is my go-to browser on iOS, and for a good reason. It’s terrific in terms of cross-platform compatibility, syncs data in nanoseconds between devices, does an excellent job at password management, and is pretty tight security-wise with consistent streams of updates. The presence of one-handed controls makes the browser even better. Those swipe-down (to reload, open a new tab, or to close one) gestures, for example, are killer.
If there’s a downside to using Chrome, it’s the fact that the browser is completely devoid of an ad blocker. However, that’s easily addressable via workarounds instead. That said, the buttery-smooth user interface and super-useful features (Voice Search, auto-translation, etc.) integrated into the browser make it a no-brainer to use on the iPhone.
Firefox is another browser that matches Chrome with massive cross-platform support and seamless data syncing. And it’s also developed by Mozilla, one of the best organizations around when it comes to preserving user privacy. Unlike Google, of course.
Featurewise, Firefox is richer than Chrome, with a built-in dark theme and night mode, anti-tracking support, data management controls, etc., that can seriously elevate your browsing experience.
Compared to Chrome, however, I find Firefox slightly less polished when it comes to navigation, which is the only reason why I’ve ranked it second on this list. But as always, it’s purely due to personal preference, so don’t let that hold you from trying out this superb browser on your iPhone.
Opera Touch is barely a year old, but it is my guilty pleasure now. And there’s a reason: single-handed usage. The browser has been completely designed from the ground up for just that purpose, and the built-in Fast Action Button really makes you fly across the user interface. Performing searches, switching tabs, and navigating the user interface is super-easy.
Admittedly, Opera Touch does lack quite a few features such as bookmarking and password management. So you will have to go back to Safari (or use another full-fledged browser such as Chrome or Firefox) whenever you want to engage in some serious browsing which involves logging into sites and marking web pages.
Regardless, Opera Touch is a fantastic browser that will definitely make you want to come back to it over and over again. And you can also employ various tips and tricks to make your browsing experience even better.
Microsoft Edge is another serious contender for the top spot. It sports a crisp and beautiful user interface, features a full-fledged dark theme, supports ad blocking with the ability to whitelist sites, and syncs data to Windows and Android-based devices (with possible macOS support in the future).
And if you use a Windows-based desktop, you will also find the integrated Continue on PC functionality which is extremely useful to switch to a larger display. Pushing out links to the big screen and making them launch automatically on either Edge or any other web browser works wonders for productivity.
I value my privacy. And DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser fits the bill perfectly when that’s a concern. Built by the good folks behind the DuckDuckGo search engine, this privacy-oriented web browser completely thwarts web trackers, blocks ads, and even grades sites in terms of how intrusive they are.
And it’s pretty strong on the offline aspects of privacy as well. You can choose to secure the browser using Touch ID or Face ID easily. And that Toast icon lets you shred all your browsing activity in seconds whenever you want to. The accompanied ‘toast’ animation never gets too old.
But being strictly privacy-oriented means that the browser is stripped down to the bare essentials. You won’t find any of the advanced features present in other browsers such as cross-platform syncing or password management. It even restricts you to only using DuckDuckGo for searching, which is a bummer.
Firefox Focus lets you accomplish two purposes. Like DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser, it helps you preserve your privacy. And on the other hand, it helps you stay focused.
The browser’s outlandishly lush user interface aside (which looks fabulous to me), you gain access to tracking protection, biometric security, and one-touch option to help you clear your browsing activity instantly — similar to toasting on DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser, but less cooler.
However, it features no support for tabs, which feels ridiculous at first. Except for the fact when you find out that you can finally stay focused on one web page at a time. Now you know why it’s named Firefox ‘Focus.’
Are you running low on cellular bandwidth? Or do you live in an area with poor internet connectivity? That’s when you need to start using Opera Mini. Built by the team behind Opera Touch, it isn’t the best single-handed browser to use, but the built-in Turbo and Mini modes are where the real deal lies.
Simply put, the browser uses proprietary compression algorithms to deliver a seamless browsing experience on poor connections with minimal lag. Not to mention the additional benefit of being able to save a ton of bandwidth, which often results in as much as 90% of reduced data usage.
The browser also has a lot of other stuff going for it, including a nifty night mode, data syncing between platforms, ad blocking, etc.
Brave Browser has been steadily gaining a lot of attention, especially on the desktop with its intuitive mix of advertisements and cryptocurrencies. And on the iPhone, it brings the benefits of being both a full-fledged web browser and a tool to preserve your privacy with.
Blocking advertisements, forcing HTTPS versions of sites to load, or protecting yourself from browser fingerprinting is just too easy. You can also secure the browser from unauthorized access while offline using the biometric security features on your iPhone.
Brave Browser features in-depth bookmark management support, saves your login credentials, and even syncs your browsing data in-between devices — a comprehensive and well-rounded web browser.
Aloha Browser provides access to a feature that’s not available on any of the other browsers on the list — built-in VPN support. And free VPN at that, too. It automatically connects you to a VPN server closest to you so that you can preserve not only your privacy, but also access content otherwise restricted in your country or region.
But as always, there’s a catch. You need to upgrade to the premium version if you want to have a say as to what server that you want to join. Still, free functionality is more than enough for most purposes.
The browser also has a lot of other cool features, such as ad-blocking, background video playback, and even in-depth download management. And those stunning browser backgrounds can lighten up anyone’s mood!
As you saw, you have numerous choices when it comes to surfing on your iPhone. And rather than switching to any one browser, it’s always a great idea to rely on multiple browsers for multiple purposes. My choice is Chrome for the heavy-lifting, and Opera Touch when it’s time to just sit back and relax, and Firefox Focus for privacy.
So, what do you intend to use? The comments section is right below.
Next up: Getting sick and tired of the default onscreen keyboard on your iPhone? Here are 5 terrific alternatives to replace the stock iOS keyboard.