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7 best ad blocker apps for Android with and without root
Ad-block is an essential experience for many people. Bad advertising can ruin experiences left and right, especially while browsing the web, playing games, and watching video content. Of course, there’s a necessary evil aspect to the whole thing, but people still use ad blockers anyway. There are several ways to get ad-block on your Android device in at least some capacity. It almost exclusively requires root access or installing third-party apps.
There are no system-wide ad blockers in the Google Play Store. You can read here to find out why. Thus, most of the apps on the list require a third-party download and installation. We didn’t have any problems doing so, but you may be a bit apprehensive. Also, more and more sites and services allow for payment in lieu of advertisements. We recommend that instead of ad-blocking because it lets the creators of the content you enjoy continue doing so while also earning a living. Just a thought.
The best ad blocker apps for Android
The ethics of ad-blocking
The ethics of ad-blocking are a bit of a catch-22. For the uninitiated, a catch-22 is a situation that has contradictory rules. Ads help creators like us here at Android Authority pay the bills, keep the lights on, and make sure we have roofs over our heads. I may be a bit biased because I do this work for a living, but there are actual, real benefits to advertising. It keeps my work free for you, the reader, while also still giving me enough money to pay my bills.
A lot of people want to know if ad-blocking takes money away from independent creators. The answer to that question is yes. Android Authority is an independent website, and our budget would certainly improve if ad-block did not exist. We do acknowledge that ads eat up CPU cycles and data, but without them, we wouldn’t exist.
However, there is a lot that folks don’t understand about ads. For example, most websites don’t choose which ads go on their site. The site chooses the space where the ad goes, and a third-party ad servicer puts the ads there. That’s how a generally reputable site can wind up with malicious advertising.
It’s because things like that can go wrong that we have this list. We would certainly appreciate it if you viewed some more ads here at Android Authority, but we understand if you don’t want to. Here’s how to block them.
AdAway (root only)
AdAway is a simple ad blocker app. It uses a modified host file to send all ad requests to 220.127.116.11. In other words, the request goes nowhere, and you see no ads. The app supports modified or custom host files, or you can download a basic one from the app itself. Host files are stored in a read-only part of the Android system. That means root is required for this one. You can donate if you want to, but the whole app works for free. The only two downsides are that you must download them from F-Droid, not the Play Store and that you need root access. Root users can always change the host files themselves without an app if they want to.
Adblocker Plus is arguably the most popular ad blocker app on the list. It works on both rooted and non-rooted devices, although non-root users have some extra work to do. The app runs in the background and filters web traffic almost exactly like its web browser extension. You basically open it once, set it up, and then it runs on its own in the background. That’s about it, really. Hit the button to go to the official website with instructions on installing and setting up Adblock Plus on both rooted and unrooted devices.
Price: Free / $24.99 per year
AdGuard is a bit of a wild card. We hadn’t heard much about it before doing this article, but it seemed to work okay for us. The app blocks ads the same way as Adblock Plus. AdGuard runs as a service in the background and filters web traffic. It does work without root but requires a bit of extra setup. It also keeps tabs on all of your web traffic, similar to apps like GlassWire. You also get a good-looking Material Design UI to put everything together. The free version blocks ads in web browsers only. The premium version runs for $24.99 per month, but you do also get the premium version of AdGuard for your Windows PC or Mac computer.
Price: Free / $5.99 per month / $59.99 per year
Blokada is a different kind of ad-blocker app. The free version blocks trackers and ads with a nice little counter so you can see it work. It’s also open source so yo can see that the developers aren’t stealing any data. There is also a premium version that is basically a VPN. The VPN adds another level of privacy, has no logging, and no bandwidth restrictions. There is a variant on the Play Store as well.
There is a bit of a rub, though. We actually recommend installing Blokada 5 because it is the free version. Blokada 6, which is the one available in the Play Store, requires a subscription. Use the one that works best for you, but just know that the free version requires you to sideload it whereas the subscription version is in the Play Store.
Browsers with ad-block
Price: Free (usually)
There are a bunch of browsers with ad-block. These browsers filter out most ad traffic or at least the most offensive ad traffic. Google Chrome has ad-blocking, but it still shows the ads that are the least offensive to the viewer while leaving a few there so the sites can still make money. Firefox does as well. Plus, browsers like Firefox have plugin support with options like uBlock for added blocking.
We recommend that as a happy medium (for obvious reasons). Some other examples of web browsers with ad blocks include Brave Browser, Kiwi Browser, Samsung Browser, and a few others that have ad blocker add-ons like Dolphin Browser. Choose the one you think will do the best for you.
Change your DNS
Changing your DNS can block ads before they ever get to your phone. The nice part of this is that there are free DNS companies that also block ads by default so your work is pretty easy here. Simply navigate to your Wi-Fi settings, find the Private DNS setting, and change it from Automatic to Private DNS. For hostname, most folks use “dns.adguard.com” without the quotes. There are others, but AdGuard’s DNS is about as good as it gets. The method may change depending on how your phone’s OEM, but the setting should be on every modern Android phone. We don’t have a download link for this one because it’s a setting in your phone, not an app.
If the above option isn’t working for you, DNS66 can help. It establishes a VPN connection and uses that to filter out advertising and trackers from stuff headed your way. The app keeps a blacklist and anything on the blacklist can’t filter through to your phone. That means some ads might make it, but only because they aren’t blacklisted yet. The app also lets you use custom DNS servers if you prefer. This one is downloadable on F-Droid, which requires you to sideload. However, we trust F-Droid, so this is an easy recommendation.
If we missed any great ad blocker apps for Android, tell us about them in the comments! You can also click here to check out our latest Android app and game lists!
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