Recently I had interesting and boring at the same time thing to do: find out which ad blocking options on Android are worth considering.
Starting with a disclaimer: even though all my testings were meant to be objective, some of the results might be inaccurate or non-repeatable. This is mostly due to the nature of the adblocker tests themselves: depending on your Android version, adblocker version and the filter databases state you can and you will get different results than me. In fact your results may vary each time on the same website, like mine did sometimes. Your results may even depend on other apps installed on your device and your device's performance in general. Also I didn't research traffic savings and how secure each adblocking option is - both are separate big topics to discuss on their own and weren't my concerns at the time.
Having that out of the way, here's my setup, testing methodology and short summary of the research.
All my tests I ran on a Xiaomi Mi A1 powered by Android One and running Android 8.0 with May security updates. I don't have many apps installed except few messengers and few utility apps (Dropbox, 1Password). I'm not running any VPNs on the device and was using my home private wifi for the consistency of tests.
I used this list of websites to test adblockers. Pi-hole.net in general is a very nice resource that knows and tells how to avoid ads and trackers on the Internet - I highly recommend checking them and their free opensource project.
Not all the websites from the list were even loading, so you will find a shorter list of them in my raw data spreadsheet.
The idea was to go through this selection of websites and each time use a different adblocker or browser. That's what I did and that's what I consider the boring part - opening 12 websites 11 times is not very amuzing 🙂 But what was interesting were the results and what I learned in the process.
The Results (short version)
- If you're okay with Yandex Browser - free AdGuard Content Browser is probably your only viable option, since there is nothing much else that works with Yandex Browser and also keeps the ads out.
- If you're rocking Samsung Internet Browser - both free AdGuard Content Blocker and Adblock Plus are good choices, even though I would recommend sticking with Adblock Plus, because of my personal privacy standpoint against AdGuard, on which you can read in the end of this post.
- Google Chrome users don't have much choice except sideloading (outside of the Play Store) AdGuard for Android or Blokada since Google Chrome doesn't support adblockers. Actually it's a very nice option for everyone, but use it with caution, and read more info on local VPNs. I personally use Blokada out of the two.
- No good adblocker news to third-party browser lovers out there. Opera Browser has some filtering built in which in my tests are clearly not standing ground against ads like the other solutions. And although Adblocker Browser is doing its job well on par with their own browser extension, their browser experience part is less compelling than Google Chrome or Samsung Internet Browser bring.
- Nice adblockers remove the ad but leave the frame. Good adblockers remove blank spaces as well. AdGuard and Adblock do the latter.
If you're interested in the privacy concerns of using an adblocker, I highly recommend reading part #2 of my research that focuses on the deeper level of how adblocker function and what you should be aware of while using one.
For best iOS adblockers look here.