This tutorial will guide you through the steps required to browse the web anonymously (without having to use a VPN or paid service) on your Android phone.
Please note: even though this guide was initially published way back in 2009, it has been updated to be current in 2021 and beyond.
We’ve covered this software before, but on a Mac. This time we’re going to use the same service (Tor) but with a slightly different browser – one that works on Android devices.
In a nutshell, Tor works by encrypting your traffic and sending it through a series of servers in the Tor network. The last relay sends the traffic out onto the public Internet. To get a better understanding of how it all works, see the documentation (it’s a bit technical but they do a great job of explaining in an understandable way).
When you’re using Tor you don’t need to use a VPN as well, but it doesn’t hurt. When you use Tor without a VPN it’s still incredibly difficult to determine who you are.
One last thing before we jump in – surfing the web using Tor is slow. Very slow. You really need to exercise patience when you’re using Tor. You’ve been warned :) Some sites may not function as expected, and that’s Tor protecting you.
- Start out by heading over to the Tor on Google Play page (link opens in a new tab) and install the Tor browser on your Android device. Tap Tor from your Android home screen or Apps section.
- Now tap the large Connect button.
- That’s pretty much it. Seriously. Just tap the Search or enter address field and either enter the address of a site you want to go to, or a search word/phrase. The default search engine within the Tor browser is the privacy focused DuckDuckGo.
- You will undoubtedly notice that web sites will often ‘assume’ you’re in another country – ads will often be in different languages, and you may get redirected to the version of a site in the language of the country it thinks you’re in. This is entirely expected behavior and a part of how Tor works.
- There are a few Settings you can adjust, although not many compared to most browsers. Tap the “3 dots” button in the very bottom right corner of the Tor app and select Settings.
- Review each item and make any changes you see fit – they’re quite straightforward.
- That’s it! Again, Tor is slow. It’s a fairly small price to pay for the level of anonymity and security it provides.