How to Surf the Web Anonymously on an Android Phone or Tablet

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.

  1. 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.
  2. the Tor for Android icon

  3. Now tap the large Connect button.
  4. an arrow pointing to the Connect button in the Tor for Android app

  5. 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.
  6. the Tor welcome screen in Android

  7. 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.
  8. surfing the web anonymously in Android

  9. 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.
  10. Review each item and make any changes you see fit – they’re quite straightforward.
  11. That’s it! Again, Tor is slow. It’s a fairly small price to pay for the level of anonymity and security it provides.

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1 thought on “How to Surf the Web Anonymously on an Android Phone or Tablet”

  1. Amelia @ Ethical Hacking

    This is the best tip of the day! I can’t live without my Android you know. :)

    Do I have to use “Shadow” browser? I use OperaTOR desktop. No additional software required. It’s very slow though compared to plain Opera.

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