Best web browsers for iPhone

Safari is the built-in web browser for iPhone and iPad and is deeply integrated with the entire system. That means, for example, when you tap a web link inside another app, it'll almost always open in Safari. It also means you get immediate access to any new features Apple rolls out, from iCloud Keychain for password and credit card completion to Handoff for easy task-switching between iOS and the Mac. Not everyone wants to use Safari, though, and that's O.K. There are plenty of other great browsers in the App Store, several with unique and compelling approaches and features all their own. Here are our favorites!


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Google's web browser is clean, simple, and fast. If you use your Google account in Chrome to save bookmarks and favorites, you can sync the data across all devices, including desktop computers running Chrome. It also syncs open tabs for a Handoff-style experience.

You can perform voice searches with the Google Voice feature. It's not unlike having Siri look something up for you. My favorite feature is Google Translate. The Chrome browser automatically detects when you are visiting a website that is not in your default language and offers to translate it for you. It's a huge time saver when you're reading up on the latest Apple supplier news.

The new tab interface is fast and easy to use. All you have to do is hit the button in the upper right corner to quickly access your open tabs. You can swipe through them with lightning speed. And, if you want to close any of them, just swipe left or right and they're gone.

If you use Chrome on your desktop, the iPhone version is a no-brainer. All of your browsing history (except any incognito visits, of course), open tabs, and bookmarks sync across your devices.

Opera Mini

Opera's mobile web browser is dedicated to conserve your cellular data. It optimizes web pages to reduce the amount of bytes your favorite websites gobble up. Photo quality is automatically lowered and videos are automatically compressed for faster loading and less buffering.

Yes, depending on your settings, that does mean Opera is getting in the middle of all your web traffic, which may be a privacy concern for some. You can check out Opera's privacy page for details and so that you can make an informed choice.

If you use Opera on your desktop, you can sign into your account and sync your history, bookmarks, and Speed Dial links across devices.

Opera Mini's interface is one of the best on the market. You can swipe the Speed Dial screen to the right to access your recent history, or to the left to read up on curated news stories of the day. Bookmarks and Speed Dial links can be customized to fit your web browsing preferences. You can combine multiple Speed Dial links into labeled folders and Bookmarks are kept in a separate location, which can also be organized into folders that you can reorder anyway you like.

If you tend to browse the web without Wi-Fi a lot, Opera Mini will help keep your data consumption under control.


Apple doesn't let you change the default apps in iOS, but Firefox offers a usable workaround: If you tap on a link in your mail app and it opens in Safari, you can tap the Firefox extension and select "View Later". That'll send the link to Firefox so, when you open it later, your link will be there waiting for you.

You can also customize your mobile browsing experience by blocking pop-up windows, requiring Touch ID to access websites, saving logins, and more. The Compact Tabs feature turns open tabs into thumbnail cards so you can see more of them on one page, instead of swiping through a list of websites.

Reader View removes everything from a website except the text for a distraction-free experience. You can also save Reader View content to read offline later.

If you use Firefox on the desktop, you should check out Firefox on iOS.


For a true gesture-based web browsing experience, check out Dolphin. You can access your recent history or open tabs by swiping to the right or left, respectively. Plus, using the Dolphin Gesture feature, you can draw a letter or symbol to quickly perform a function or open a link.

With the premium upgrade to add Dolphin Sonar, you can shake your iPhone to call up the voice dictation tool and speak a web address or perform a search.

For a more personalized experience, you can download different browser themes. If you're feeling a little blue, try the Starry Sky theme. If you want a classy look, make your browser solid black. There are holiday themes and special premium browser designs available for $0.99 each.

With Chrome, Firefox, and Safari extensions, you can sync links, maps, phone numbers, and more with your desktop computer.

If you are looking for a really nice gesture-based experience, Dolphin is the web browser for you.


With the Puffin web browser, it's all about getting Flash content to show up on your iPhone. You can adjust the settings to always allow Puffin to open the desktop version of websites. Plus, there is a mouse and trackpad tool that lets you navigate websites using a pointer or cursor. When watching a video, you can switch to Theater Mode, which hides the website's interface so that you only see the video on screen.

Puffin also has a customizable cellular optimization feature that reduces usage by compressing data. When you are watching videos or looking at high-resolution pictures, it automatically reduces the quality to help keep you under your data limit.

If Puffin getting in the middle of your web browsing is a privacy concern for you, be sure to read answer 19 on the Puffin FAQ so you can make an informed choice.

If you are still in love with Flash and want the ability to use it on your iPhone, get Puffin.


Ghostery is known for its deeply customizable tracker finder. It can sniff out analytics plugins, advertisement trackers, behavioral data researchers, and more. When you visit a site, you'll see a banner showing how many trackers are on any given page. You can then look up more information on each tracker, and then decide whether you want to block it or not.

Ghostery for iPhone also provides Wi-Fi connection protection, which uses a HTTP proxy to block trackers in other applications as long as you are using the same Wi-Fi network.

For websites that you want to support, you have the ability to "white list" them.

If you want to have more control over which websites track you and what you let them track, Ghostery is the best web browser for the job.

VPN Browser

If you're a fan of TOR—originally "The Onion Router—an the anonymity it strives to provide, than VPN Browser's TOR web browser makes it possible for you to use the internet, truly incognito.

VPN Browser connects you to different proxy servers to make your IP address as anonymous as possible. It's a little bit slow on the upstart, but that's because it is bouncing around, protecting your privacy using the TOR network.

I highly recommend upgrading to the Pro version as soon as possible. The in-app ads are full-page, audio supported, and painfully intrusive. They pop up every 15 - 30 seconds, making it nearly impossible for you to actually browse the internet. Once you upgrade to pro for $0.99, the experience is significantly better.

If you want TOR on mobile, you'll want to check out VPN Browser.

Your favorite?

How to you surf the net on your iPhone? Which is your preferred web browser, and why?

Lory Gil

Lory is a renaissance woman, writing news, reviews, and how-to guides for iMore. She also fancies herself a bit of a rock star in her town and spends too much time reading comic books.  If she's not typing away at her keyboard, you can probably find her at Disneyland or watching Star Wars (or both).