This story was originally published and last updated .
By default, Google Chrome is, literally and figuratively, the browser of choice for most Android devices. But there are other browsers out there, and one you might not have bothered to flash if you do not own a Samsung smartphone is Samsung Internet. “A Samsung browser? No thanks”
Samsung Internet has some unique and compelling features that can only make you switch, provided you are not completely married to Chrome for things like password management. And even if you are, Samsung Internet makes it possible to switch, albeit not without pain. But we think it’s a browser worth looking at, and we’ll take a closer look at it with Chrome – what it adds and what it loses – in this article.
It’s a small touch, but Samsung Internet, which has the side controls at the bottom of the screen, makes much more sense than where Chrome sets them up at the top. It is much easier to use one-handed, especially on today’s larger phones. You can also customize the bar and the options behind the hamburger menu for a bespoke experience, something Chrome does not allow you to do.
Samsung Internet’s user interface is neat, and the dark mode works best for Chrome by darkening several websites on average. What’s the point in dark mode if many web pages are still rendered in bright white?
As a journalist who knows the importance of online advertising, it hurts me to say that Samsung Internet’s built-in optional extension of ad blockers is very good and makes the setup very easy. It is technically possible to block ads with Chrome, but Google does not make it that easy.
As you can see above, if you use an ad blocker on Samsung Internet (center), you can place more content on the screen compared to Google Chrome (right).
Samsung’s secret mode has more options than Chrome’s incognito mode, with anti-tracking and a biometric locking feature that prevents websites from following you around the web and people using your phone from cheating on your private browsing. I also prefer the list view for tabs that Samsung Internet offers rather than a map view, which in my eyes is still a messy way to display browser tabs on the phone.
Synchronizing is not easy
Admittedly, Chrome makes login and password information much easier to sync, since all you have to do is sign in to your Google Account. But if you use a password manager, Samsung Internet also supports autofill (just not Google). I set it up to fill in automatically from my 1Password account, and while you need to set it up manually, it works a charm. Browsing between operating systems may be a better solution for you than using Chrome for everything, and it’s definitely safer.
One thing Chrome best Samsung Internet for is bookmarks across platforms. Since there is no desktop equivalent for the Samsung app, you need to set up from scratch or use Google Chrome’s Samsung Internet extension to import your bookmarks from Chrome on your desktop to Samsung Internet on your mobile. I did this successfully, but it’s not the most elegant solution: New bookmarks added to the desktop do not sync automatically, forcing you to re-import manually. So you still have to rely on Chrome in some ways if you want full sync across multiple devices.
Chrome makes it easier to sync bookmarks, but if you use Samsung Internet on your phone and tablet, you can sync bookmarks, passwords, and more if you sign in with Samsung Cloud.
Chrome also has a nice ‘Lite mode’ in the app that saves you from browsing data where possible, a good thing if you have a low data plan. Samsung Internet lacks this, which means you have to go into the phone’s data settings to find any kind of data saving feature.
Smarter than average
If you dive into the “useful features” of the Samsung Internet, you will find what is promised. The app has automatic video playback by default, an option for advanced video controls, an option to move the scroll bar to the left or hide it completely, an option for QR code scanners and a switch opening link in other apps. Add to that the simple text scaling and the ability to have tabs appear below the address bar, and you are faced with a pure browser that offers far more customization than Chrome. Ironically, the default search engine in the app is Google, but you can change this to DuckDuckGo, Bing, Baidu or Yahoo! Xtra if you really want to live in the wild west of the search results. It is also an option to add more search engines.
The app is also pretty fast in my experience. This is of course subjective, and I’m not saying that Chrome is slow, but on my Galaxy S21 Ultra, but Samsung Internet feels more responsive and it opens links from Twitter and other apps when set as the default browser.
However, Chrome is no slouch, and if you have a Pixel (or any Android phone for that matter), you may be hard-pressed to justify using something other than Google’s browser, and that’s fine. This is not a “rough Chrome” ultimatum, but the benefits of Samsung’s alternative are clear to see.
You may be reading this and thinking that Samsung Internet sounds like a complicated browsing experience, and you may be right if it’s just not the way you use your Android devices or prefer not to use Samsung products. Chrome is a well-oiled machine these days, but it’s surprisingly basic on mobile, and if you want more browser customization, Samsung Internet has a clear edge – even if it makes you work for it in the beginning. After configuring it, it becomes a fluid, pretty and high-performance Android browser that I have used on my phones via Chrome.
Google Chrome and Samsung Internet have both received many updates and new features in the time since this post was first published. With that in mind, this article has been updated with new screenshots and edited to reflect how browsers are competing today.