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The best ad blocking apps for Android in 2021

No one likes ads — pop-up or otherwise — intruding on their online experience of reading or video viewing, but ads are everywhere on the internet. The only way to shield yourself from them is to install a special ad-blocker, software that detects and disables ads before they reach you. Ad blockers deflect annoying videos, graphics, and text ads that appear on your Android device while using apps or browsing websites.

Ad-blocking is controversial, which is why Google has removed specific ad-blocking apps from the Play Store. Google’s business model is built on ads, so encouraging users to block ads is counterintuitive. But the question goes beyond whether ads are objectively good or bad. For many sites, ads are a financial lifeline — the difference between running a site and shutting it down. Sure, pop-ups can feel intrusive, but it’s kind of like over-the-air TV — it’s free, but the ads pay for the time. Installing an ad-blocker app on your Android device means you are likely affecting the livelihood of those who run the sites you enjoy.

If you’ve thought about it and still want to install an ad blocker, we have a few suggestions for the best ones. Our selection also includes ad detectors and ad-blocker browsers, as they all are designed to cut down on ad viewing.

Not on Android? Have a look at our favorite ad blockers for iPhone and the best ad blockers for Chrome.

AdAway

AdAway is a free, open-source ad-blocking app for Android, available for rooted and non-rooted devices. AdAway blocks ads using hosts files (text files that map host names to IP addresses) from various locations and combines them automatically. You can whitelist or blacklist additional domains or add a new hosts file. AdAway requires root access because the hosts file is in the system partition. With non-rooted devices, the app uses the VPN feature to block outgoing connections to ads and trackers. You can also download predefined ads and blocker lists as hosts files from within the app. Version 5 works with Android 8.0 Oreo and higher. Version 4 works with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and higher.

F-Droid

AdLock

AdLock lets you easily run apps and browse online without interruption from annoying flashing ads by shutting down pop-ups, banners, and auto-play. AdLock prevents phishing by blocking all suspicious, unsolicited requests, which helps to secure your personal data. When AdLock is enabled on your Android phone, it will also help to protect it from bugs and spyware. You can restrict internet access to specific apps or stay connected only when the screen is on so you never go over data limits. You can install AdLock and leverage its features without root access.

AdLock

Adblock Plus

The popular Adblock Plus is a free, open-source browser extension that lets you customize your browsing experience. It works on both rooted and non-rooted devices to block ads and disable tracking so you can choose what you want to see by using filter lists. Filter lists are sets of rules that tell the browser what to block. You can choose from pre-made, external filter lists or create your own (English only). Many ads have built-in tracking, and some even contain malware, so Adblock Plus also provides tracking and malware protection by default, and you can add additional tracking and malware filter lists.

AdBlock Plus

AdGuard

AdGuard’s browser extension blocks ads throughout your mobile system, including video ads and ads within your apps, browsers, games, and on any website. Dozens of ad filters are available and are updated regularly. With AdGuard, you and your private data are safe from online trackers and analytics systems that may try to steal data while you’re surfing the web. Fewer ads loaded means more bandwidth saved. A wide range of settings and an apps management tool help you customize the filtering.

AdGuard

AppBrain Ad Detector

With AppBrain Ad Detector, you get the lowdown on all potential spyware and ads for apps installed on your phone, including push notifications, desktop icon spam ads, and apps with privacy issues. It pinpoints adware so you can remove the offending apps. It alerts you to which apps have permissions to access your location, contacts, messages, or accounts, or which ones can use services that cost you money, and it helps you remove them. It tells you which ad networks are embedded in apps, such as Admob, Millennial Media, ChartBoost, TapJoy, and others, and which have push ads. It also detects whether apps have SDKs like Facebook, VKontakte, or Twitter. Built-in developer tools detect libraries like Google Analytics, Flurry Analytics, Google Play in-app billing, Android support library, ACRA, Phonegap, and more.

Google Play

Ad Blocker browser

This private browser with Adblock provides an ad-free web experience and private browsing service and warns you of potential malware and adware. Since it is not a classic ad-blocker but rather a browser that houses an ad blocker, you can find it on the Google Play Store. The browser blocks video ads, banners ads, and pop-ups. It removes ads and tracking from streaming video, blocks pop-up ads, and prevents browser redirects to ad-heavy sites. It also cleans up banner ads for a less cluttered browsing experience. As a private browser, it blocks ad cookies from third parties via the incognito mode. Your browsing history will not be saved, and you can also add a password to this browser. You can lock your private browser with a password, protect your privacy, and automatically update the Adblock filter list.

Google Play

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