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Best Browser Apps in 2022: Which Browser Is Best for Windows, Android, Mac & iPhone?

Whether you need to access the internet for work, school or social media, browsing the web is as routine as going to the store. Finding the best browser for your device – whether it’s Windows, Mac, iPhone or Android – can help you make the most of your browsing.

Max Pitchkites
By Max Pitchkites (Writer)
— Last Updated: 2022-05-08T07:44:12+00:00 Facts checked by Eugenie Tiu

It may seem like a mundane thing, but the web browser you use can have a major impact on your browsing speed, and even your computer’s performance. That’s why choosing the right web browser will pay off in the long run. We’ll show you our top browser recommendations in this best browser of 2022 review, and how to find the one that’s right for you.

Key Takeaways:

  • Whatever the “best” browser is will depend on what kind of devices you own and what  you use them for. Plus, some browsers have major differences between mobile and desktop versions, and some are more uniform.
  • Some browsers are designed with a specific purpose in mind while others are meant for general use. Additionally, one browser criteria can come at the cost of another. For example, good security sometimes compromises performance.
  • We chose Vivaldi as the best web browser for Windows, Puffin is the best for Android, and Brave is best for Mac and iOS. However, Google Chrome is the most popular browser.

Everyone uses the internet for different reasons and on different devices, so the “best” browser will differ from person to person. In this review, we’ve rated our favorite browsers for Windows, Android, Mac and iPhone. 

The same browser can have major differences between the desktop and mobile version, and between the Mac and Windows varieties. Read on to find the best web browser for every device you use.

  • 01/23/2022 Facts checked

    Selected best browsers by device and platform; added Puffin; removed Tenta from the list.

  • The best browsers depend on what kind of devices you own. We chose Vivaldi as the best web browser for Windows, Puffin for Android, and Brave for Mac and iOS.

What Makes the Best Browser?

The criteria we’re working with in this review are features, ease of use, privacy, security and performance. Even if a browser excels in one of these areas, that alone doesn’t make it the top browser for that platform.

This is especially the case when a high score on one criteria might come at the cost of another. For example, a browser with strong security protections could suffer from a reduction in performance; an easy-to-use browser may only have basic features. It was a tough choice, but these are the best versions of our five favorite browsers.

  1. Vivaldi — The most feature-rich browser of all, and our number one choice for Windows; fast and compatible with Chrome extensions
  2. Brave — The best browser for macOS and iPhone; excels in privacy and includes cryptocurrency and DeFi features
  3. Mozilla Firefox — Best all-purpose browser, with a better privacy policy than most
  4. Google Chrome — Simple, easy-to-use browser that works well on all devices and operating systems; suffers from poor privacy
  5. Puffin — Top Android pick that uses a streaming-based security model; much faster than its desktop counterpart

Some browsers are better on certain devices and operating systems than on others. Puffin is the prime example of this for having a mobile browser that’s free, contains more features and performs at a much faster speed than the desktop version. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you have some browsers that are much more uniform across devices and platforms.

Your chosen browser should have reliable security protections in place and receive regular security updates. A built-in ad blocker and malware protection are a good place to start, although most browsers offer this functionality through add-ons.

A good privacy policy, plenty of features and a library of extensions are must-haves as well. Just make sure your selected browser doesn’t have a huge impact on your device’s performance.

The 5 Best Web Browsers

Without further ado, here are our five best web browsers and the platforms they shine most brightly on.

1. Vivaldi

vivaldi 5.0
Most other browsers don’t integrate email directly with the application, but Vivaldi includes a built-in email client.

More details about Vivaldi:

Pros:

  • Customizable
  • Lots of features
  • Fast
  • Efficient RAM usage

Cons:

  • No iOS app
  • Somewhat awkward to use on Android

Vivaldi follows the philosophy of making browser extensions unnecessary. This is the most feature-loaded browser we’ve ever come across, and its built-in tools cover most use cases. This bodes well for performance, as you don’t have to install countless resource-hogging browser extensions.

Plus, in case you need a browser extension for some niche functionality not covered by Vivaldi’s native tools, it can be further modified with extensions from the Chrome web store since it’s a Chromium-based browser.

No Extensions Necessary

The device sync capability is particularly useful in a browser as customizable as Vivaldi. You won’t lose your saved data or personalized configuration when using Vivaldi from another device. If you’re using a shared device, you can keep your settings and data separate from other users by setting up multiple user profiles with a single Vivaldi account.

Other helpful features include a side panel for navigation, a built-in email client, notes, a translator, news feeds, a wide range of themes and much more.

vivaldi bookmarks
Vivaldi’s speed dial page is a fast and convenient way to go directly to your favorite sites.

It’s easier in general to use Vivaldi’s various tools with a desktop computer, but it doesn’t translate very well to the Android version, which is a bit more cluttered and clumsier to use. Plus, there’s no iOS version at all. There’s a lot more to say about Vivaldi, but we don’t have time for it here. Check out our full Vivaldi review for all the details.

2. Brave

Brave-Shields
Your privacy and security features can be accessed in the “shields” menu right beside the address bar.

More details about Brave:

Pros:

  • Excellent privacy & security features
  • Built-in crypto wallet & ad blocker
  • Fast
  • Low RAM consumption

Cons:

  • Infrequent security updates

The Brave browser is built from the ground up as a browser meant to protect your privacy, and it performs at its peak on macOS and iOS. It takes Chromium as its base, removes the proprietary Google code, and prioritizes privacy features like built-in ad blocking.

It’s advertised as a privacy browser first and foremost, but Brave’s ambitions reach beyond mere privacy. The Brave team is focused on incorporating a wider range of Web 3.0 technology, such as a new privacy-based online advertising model and a built-in cryptocurrency wallet.

Privacy First

Brave comes with several built-in privacy controls that you can find under the “shields” menu, displayed on the right side of the address bar. The browser blocks ads by default and includes further controls for blocking trackers, cookies and browser fingerprinting.

The default search engine is Brave Search, a search engine that doesn’t track your search or browsing history. Be sure to read our search engine vs browser guide.

HTTPS-Everywhere functionality is included in the “shields” menu as well, which will automatically force websites to resolve the connection over the more secure HTTPS if both HTTPS and HTTP are available.

Brave also lets you connect to the Tor network to anonymize your identity. You can learn more about the differences between Tor, proxies and VPNs here (and about that browser in our Tor Browser review).

Brave-iOS-TabBar
Brave for iOS includes a tab bar, unlike most other browsers for mobile devices.

Brave is a unique browser for the privacy-minded, and it may very well lead the way into the future of web browsers. Take a look at our Brave review if you’re interested in private browsing.

3. Mozilla Firefox

firefox dark theme
Mozilla Firefox’s new “tab” page can be customized with your favorite news feeds, websites, search engine and other web content.

More details about Firefox:

Pros:

  • Fast
  • Good privacy policy
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • Some compatibility issues
  • High RAM usage

Mozilla Firefox falls into the category of an all-purpose browser for general use. While browsers like Puffin and Brave are dedicated to security and privacy protection — often at the cost of other features — Firefox strikes a balance between privacy and usability. Fast, private and easy for anyone to use, Firefox is a good choice for carrying out your everyday internet activities.

Most browsers today are based on Google’s Chromium. This isn’t the case with Firefox, which is based on its own browser engine. As a consequence, Firefox isn’t compatible with Chrome’s extension library, which may be a dealbreaker for some. However, Firefox has its own decently sized extension library, and in practice, there are more than enough extra features for the vast majority of users.

Best Well-Rounded and Private Browser

Firefox has a major advantage over Chrome on the privacy front. Mozilla is a nonprofit organization that doesn’t sell collected user data to advertisers or buy data from them. Like with virtually all browsers, Firefox still collects data on its users, but it’s mainly for the ongoing development of the browser. User privacy is a major priority for Mozilla.

Furthermore, Mozilla annually publishes its State of Mozilla report, which documents the company’s financial activities of the past year, among other things.

firefox data collection
Firefox includes data protection options if you want to boost your privacy.

We recommend taking a look at our full Firefox review for a complete rundown on this classic browser. Be sure to read our Firefox vs Chrome comparison to see how the two leading browsers compare.

4. Google Chrome

chrome browser
Google Chrome replaced older browsers like Internet Explorer after it rose to prominence in the late 2000s and early 2010s.

More details about Google Chrome:

Pros:

  • Fast
  • Easy to use
  • Largest library of extensions

Cons:

  • Privacy concerns

In the browser world, all roads lead to Chrome. Google’s browser rapidly rose to prominence after its launch in 2008 and has since become the industry standard for modern web browser design. It remains the most widely used web browser and acts as the blueprint for nearly all browsers today.

Its huge success is partly owing to its open-source framework — Chromium. Be sure to check our Chromium vs Chrome guide to see how the two compare.

On the whole, Chrome is a solid general-use web browser. Its simple design is easy enough for anyone to use, and what it lacks in its basic form can be augmented with extensions. On its own, Chrome has a useful suite of features when you log into the browser with your Google account. That will allow you to easily sync your Google data across all of your devices and manage it all from one place.

It’s also one of the fastest browsers we’ve ever tested, whether you’re using it on desktop or mobile, Windows or Mac. It acquired a reputation for devouring large amounts of RAM despite its fast speed, but an update in March 2021 curbed its rapacious resource consumption.

Largest Collection of Extensions

The majority of Chrome’s competitors use Chromium as a base instead of starting from scratch, which allows for compatibility with Google’s library of extensions. It’s the largest collection of browser extensions in the world, including security and privacy extensions.

Compatibility with Chrome extensions is almost a requirement if developers want to compete in the browser market. Chromium-based browsers include staples like the new Microsoft Edge browser and the Opera web browser. Read our Chromium review, Microsoft Edge vs Chrome and Opera vs Chrome to learn more.

As you can see, Chrome is a great choice for almost everything — except privacy. Google is an advertising company that earns the bulk of its profits from collecting user data for the creation of targeted ads.

Chrome collects a lot of data about you and the way you use Chrome, and there’s no telling where that data winds up. This includes your browsing history, device specifications, location data and other revealing information. You can visit your “my activity” page to opt out of some data collection, but that won’t exempt you from everything.

google chrome android
Chrome is one of the fastest browsers of all, no matter what kind of device you’re using.

Chrome is the universal browser on our list. Most of the browsers above are better suited for certain platforms and devices, but Chrome performs equally well on everything. Check out our full Chrome review for the full details.

5. Puffin

puffin slider 3
The Android version of Puffin is much faster than its desktop counterpart.

More details about Puffin:

  • Provider website: puffin.com
  • Pricing: $20 per year or $2 per month

Pros:

  • Solid cloud-based security
  • Data-saving features in mobile app

Cons:

  • Subscription required
  • Slow on desktop
  • Few features
  • No extensions

Puffin is a secure browser that uses an innovative streaming model to keep your device safe from viruses. However, this comes with a significant downside: It’s the slowest browser we’ve reviewed, apart from the deprecated Internet Explorer.

Despite its slow performance, Puffin isn’t free, costing $20 per year or $2 per month for the desktop version, though there is a data-limited and ad-supported free version for Android.

The most immediate roadblock to using Puffin on desktop is its subscription. Not many people are likely to pay for something that’s usually free, no matter how great the security is. If you want to try the free Android version, you’ll have to deal with ads, though you also get a significant speed improvement over the sluggish desktop version.

Cloud-Based Security

Puffin’s claim to fame is its innovative “streaming” security model. Puffin doesn’t exactly load web pages in the browser — instead, the company’s servers load the web pages and send a compressed version of the web page to the user’s browser. It’s more like a simulation of the web page instead of the actual page itself.

This provides a higher level of user security than other web browsers because any threats from malicious sites would never make it past the company’s servers. Its unique security model means that the usual criteria for good security don’t apply here, such as script and malware blocking capability.

puffin data savings
The Android version of Puffin features controls for saving data and optimizing performance.

Puffin is a unique browser with many more tricks up its sleeve, but for now we recommend reading our full Puffin review for more information. It also earned the number one spot on our most secure web browsers list, but there are other browsers to consider if security is your priority and you care about browsing speeds.

Final Thoughts

If you’re a Windows user, Vivaldi is undoubtedly our favorite choice here at Cloudwards.net. Vivaldi’s wide array of tools are more easily accessed on desktop platforms than on smartphones, where it’s an otherwise clumsy browser to use.

Brave is excellent on Apple devices, both macOS and iPhone. Puffin is our favorite choice for Android. Its innovative security structure defeats all other security configurations by a longshot. 

If you’re looking for a simpler web browser than the specialized browsers above, Firefox is the best, most well-rounded option. Lastly, Chrome deserves to be mentioned as well, as the template for almost all web browsers today.

In the final analysis, all of these browsers are good for something — but which one is the best one for you? Let us know your favorite browser, device and operating system combo in the comments section below. As always, thanks for reading.

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