Just because almost everyone else uses Google’s Chrome browser on their Android smartphone, doesn’t mean you have to. There plenty of alternatives in the Play Store, some of them tailored for specific tasks.
Ghostery started life as a privacy-protecting extension for desktop browsers. On Android, its developers decided to present it as a browser. At its heart is a tracker blocker, a tool that prevents advertising and audience measurement networks from profiling you as you move around the web: Ideal if you don’t want your business and private personas linked. Ghostery makes it easy to prevent certain services from following you, or to turn off all the 2,200 trackers and 4,500 scripts it knows about. In keeping with its privacy theme, it doesn’t ask for too many permissions: just location, photos/media/files, and Wi-Fi connection information. It includes a private browsing function called “Ghost Mode.”
The Orfox browser, based on Firefox, sends your web traffic through Tor using another app, Orbot: Proxy with Tor. Tor, formerly The Onion Router, is a distributed system for anonymizing internet traffic developed by The Tor Project. It can hide what you’re browsing from your ISP, and withhold your IP address from the websites you visit. They’ll still know who you are if you log in with Facebook Connect, though…. Orbot doesn’t just work with Orfox: It can be set to launch at the same time as other apps, so they can use it as a VPN connection too. Orfox asks for access to your device/app history and to your photos/media/files, and runs on Android 4.0.3 and up. Orbot requires access to your photos/media/files and to device ID and call information, and runs on Android 4.1 and up. Both apps are free.
Opera Mini was originally developed to cut data usage and speed page loading on feature phones and low-end smartphones, but Android smartphone owners too can appreciate its speed and efficiency. In addition to its compression function, which uses a web proxy run by Opera, the browser also includes a night-time mode to reduce brightness while browsing in the dark and can delay large file downloads until you’re using a Wi-Fi connection. The browser includes an ad-blocker but doesn’t block all ads, choosing to display those from Facebook’s ad network. Opera Mini is free and runs on versions of Android going back at least as far as 4.1.2.