The 8 Best Ad Blockers for Android in 2019

Try these browsers and services to block trackers or ads on your Android device

Photo of Android (Pixel 3a) featuring the icons from all 8 apps mentioned in the article
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You can block trackers and ads on Android devices in a browser, with a virtual private network (VPN), or with custom domain name system (DNS) settings. For most people, the easiest way to block ads will be to install one of the browsers listed below. The first five ad blocker apps for Android are browsers offering an option to block ads and trackers.

The last three options require a bit more effort. Disconnect Premium VPN blocks trackers, which nearly always appear in conjunction with ads, and works with a paid subscription. To configure the last two apps listed, DNS Changer by Blokada and NextDNS.io, it helps to have a basic understanding of DNS settings.

01
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Full-featured Private Browsing: Brave Browser

3 screenshots of Brave: (left) Brave.com

What We Like

  • Works much like Chrome without tracking and ads.

  • Access to additional security and privacy settings.

What We Don't Like

  • Prominently featured link to Brave’s own “privacy-respecting” ad program.

  • Default settings allow many videos to auto-play.

Brave is a full-featured browser with default settings that protect your privacy more than Chrome on Android. Since the app is a browser built from the same core code as Chrome, it will likely feel familiar to people who have used Chrome.

02
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Best for Private Search: DuckDuckGo

3 DuckDuckGo screenshots: (left)

What We Like

  • DuckDuckGo search set as the default.

  • No long lists of settings to review or adjust.

What We Don't Like

  • You may need to learn search commands to get the most from the app.

  • Privacy grades for some sites not necessarily useful.

DuckDuckGo, from the privacy-focused search engine company, gives you a simple slider to turn "Privacy Protection" on or off. It will also display a privacy grade for every site. Tap the fire icon at the top of the screen to “burn” your browsing history.

03
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Made by Mozilla: Firefox Focus

3 Firefox Focus screenshots: (left) Firefox Focus home page, (middle) Settings menu shows number of trackers blocked, (right) Settings, including ad, analytic, social, and other content trackers, along with Web fonts and JavaScript options.

What We Like

  • Short list of settings to select.

  • Can simply tap the trash can icon to erase browsing history.

What We Don't Like

  • App sends usage data to Mozilla by default.

  • If you want bookmarks, you’ll need another browser.

Firefox Focus lets you search and browse the web, with ad, analytic, and social trackers all blocked. You also may choose to block other trackers, web fonts, and JavaScript, as well. However, the app lacks the ability to bookmark sites.

04
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Desktop Sync: Microsoft Edge

3 Microsoft Edge screenshots: (left) Edge for iOS and Android home page, (middle) AdBlock Plus setting enabled, (right) menu with Sign In option, among other options

What We Like

  • Distinctive choices for app fonts and icons.

  • Plenty of configuration options available.

What We Don't Like

  • Extra steps to turn off Allow acceptable ads after activating Adblock Plus.

  • Possibly too many configuration options available for some.

Sign in with a Microsoft account to Microsoft Edge on Android and you can sync your settings when you sign in to Microsoft Edge on other systems. Additionally, all it takes are three taps to turn on the built-in option of Adblock Plus as your content blocker: Tap the three-horizontal dot icon > Settings > Content blockers.

05
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Innovate Interface: Cake Browser

3 Cake Browser screenshots: (left) home screen, with Search box, Followed site updates, Suggested sites to follow, (middle) Ad Blocking On enabled, (right) Site options, including ability to turn off Block Ads and/or Pop-Ups on a single site.

What We Like

  • Swipe-to-browse through search result site pages.

  • One-tap Follow button displays on sites that offer RSS feeds.

What We Don't Like

  • Limited number of configuration options.

  • May take two or three swipes to move pages that lack mobile displays.

While the Cake Browser includes an “Ad Blocking On” option, the app may be more notable for its distinctive search results presentation. When you search for keywords, the app loads the results pages and lets you quickly swipe through the results. The app also offers one-tap search icons that narrow results to video, image, news, or shopping sites. 

06
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Best Tracker Blocker: Disconnect Premium VPN

3 Disconnect Premium VPN screenshots: (left) Home screen with big button to enable. (middle) details of trackers blocked, 22, time saved (3.9 seconds), and data saved (2.4 MB), (right) 7 locations for VPN connection listed (e.g., Silicon Valley, New York, etc.)

What We Like

  • Works with any browser lacking ad block options.

  • Seeks to prevent tracking in any app on your device.

What We Don't Like

  • Limited number of VPN connection data centers,

  • Monthly pricing significantly exceeds annual pricing.

The paid Disconnect Premium VPN service seeks to block trackers on your device for any app connecting to the internet. Install the app and tap to activate the service, then access the internet with any browser you like. Disconnect Premium VPN will block connections to known trackers, which includes most ad networks.

07
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Open Source Alternative: DNS changer by Blokada

3 screenshots of Blokada DNS: (left) 7 options, with AdGuard DNS chosen, Start on boot enabled, and active shown, (middle) List of DNS providers, includes AdGuard, Alternate DNS, Cloudflare 1.1.1.1, and more, (right) Quick action to refresh filters, and allow or block various combinations of apps.

What We Like

  • Many DNS services you may select.

  • Can configure to auto-start on device boot.

What We Don't Like

  • Can require technical understanding to configure.

  • Effectiveness of DNS ad and tracker blocking varies by DNS service provider selected.

By default, most DNS servers return all traffic, which means you also receive traffic that includes ads and trackers. The free DNS changer by Blokada app allows you to direct traffic to DNS servers, such as AdGuard DNS or Alternate DNS, which block traffic from known ad networks and trackers. 

08
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Advanced Technical Controls: NextDNS.io plus Intra

Screenshots: (left) NextDNS.io home screen with prompt to sign up, (middle) Android DNS detailed instructions (for system settings or Intra app), (right) Intra custom server URL configuration for NextDNS.

What We Like

  • Highly customizable DNS configurations.

  • Supports many modern DNS privacy standards.

What We Don't Like

  • Most appropriate for technically proficient people.

  • Potential for periodic problems, as service is in beta.

People who prefer to customize and control DNS settings might create an account with NextDNS.io, a cloud-based DNS provider. The service gives you control over how DNS requests are handled for your device. Install the Intra app from Jigsaw, then configure the app to use your NextDNS.io settings to block access to networks and trackers you specify.