If you are constantly being bombarded by advertisers, you may want to know how to stop pop ups on your iPhone or iPad. Luckily, iOS supports adblocker software! There are hundred's of adblocker apps available in the app store, so it can be difficult to know what adblock app iPhone users should download. In this guide we list the best iPhone adblocker apps and show you how to set up adblocker software on iOS.
The term “adblocker” is somewhat misleading because while adblocker apps do block ads, their most useful function is to prevent tracking scripts being loaded into your browser which allows companies to track your movements as you browse the web. This is why they are also known as “content blockers.”
Another benefit of adblockers is they can speed up page load times, because they prevent the browser loading unnecessary (and potentially harmful) scripts. For the same reason, adblockers reduce bandwidth consumption and so are pretty much essential for those with limited data plans. They also claim to save battery life, although we are entirely convinced this benefit will be noticeable to the average user.
Best Adblockers for iPhone and iPad
Below is a list of the best adblock apps for iPhone and iPad users. Most of the iOS adblockers in this article are free, however, some offer a premium version which is paid. We have also included some browsers that block ads and protect your privacy.
- Free (with Premium version)
- Choose from over 50 of popular filter lists
- Create custom filter lists (Premium only)
- System-wide DNS filtering (Premium only)
- System-wide DNS filtering is not compatible with regular VPNs
AdGuard is a very popular free and open-source adblocker that also has a Pro version. AdGuard Free does most things you might expect: it blocks ads efficiently and protects your privacy by blocking tracking scripts. You can choose from over 50 of popular filter lists, such as EasyList and EasyPrivacy.
An interesting feature of AdGuard is its manual blocking feature which allows you to select elements on a web page (such as an ad it failed to block automatically) and remove them.
Premium users can create custom filter lists and perform system-wide DNS filtering. This is achieved by creating a “fake” VPN connection to any popular DNS service of your choice. Or you can configure your own DNS server. As previously noted, this feature is not compatible with using a regular VPN app.
- Choose from a variety of popular blocklists
- Safari blocking
- System-wide DNS blocking using a local proxy
- So DNS blocking is performed locally
- Handy DNS blocking widget
- No free version
- Not open source
- DNS proxy not compatible with VPN apps
Going since 2012, Adblock is the original adblocker for iOS. In addition to a regular Safari content blocker, Adblock can create a local DNS proxy on your device which performs DNS blocking locally, rather than on a remote server.
In addition to using rules from popular blocklists, you can create custom blocking rules and URL-based blocklists, which you can export and synchronize between devices using iCloud. In order to minimize disruption to your browser experience caused by DNS filtering breaking sites, Adblock supplies a handy widget to quickly enable or disable the DNS proxy.
Firefox Focus browser (free)
- Also protects your privacy in other ways
- Can integrate content blocking features with Safari
- Has limitations as a day-to-day browser
- Doesn’t block ads which don’t track
Firefox Focus is an open-source browser from Mozilla, makers of the popular regular Firefox browser. It is designed from the ground-up to improve privacy, a key component of which is content blocking. Its main concern is tracking protection rather than ad blocking, but in order to provide this, it blocks any ads which track you. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this means it blocks most ads.
Although great for privacy, Firefox Focus has limitations as a day-to-day browser. The most notable of these is that website login details are not saved between sessions. Another is that tabbed browsing is not supported in iOS (although it is in the Android version).
It is possible, however, to integrate Firefox Focus’ content blocking features into Safari in the regular way described earlier in this article.
- Custom rules
- “Annoyance” blocker
- proven performance in independent tests
- A little pricey
- Not open source
- Safari only
Despite its relatively high price tag, this updated version of the much-loved legacy 1Blocker app remains very popular. It is a standard Safari adblocker which benefits from doing its job simply but well.
It uses over 115,000 rules to block ads and trackers and features regional rules appropriate to specific countries. It also allows you to add custom rules, which you can protect using Touch ID or Face ID. If you wish to support specific websites you can whitelist them.
One feature we like is the ability to block annoyances such as social media widgets, cookie notices, share bars, and crypto-miners.
The 1Blocker website proudly boasts that independent tests by Wirecutter, NY Times, and BrooksReview have confirmed that the app cuts average data usage by over 50 percent. Which is rather impressive.
Brave Browser (free)
- Also protects your privacy in other ways
- Fully useable as a day-to-day browser
- Opt-in BAT program has its critics but is not yet fully implemented
- CEO Brendan Eich is a divisive figure
This is a privacy-focused free and open-source browser that comes with built-in ad-blocker, tracking protection, script blocker, and HTTPS-Everywhere functionality. Brave also features one-click anti-fingerprinting and WebRTC leak protection.
Brave created controversy with its ad-replacement program which replaced "bad ads” with “good ads” from its network partners. Following considerable criticism, it says that it is now focusing on its Ethereum-based BAT program which aims to support responsible advertisers (and itself) by paying customers to watch ads.
This project is still in its early stages, though, and will be entirely opt-in when fully rolled-out. Many still feel, however, that it will add to a problem that Brave browser is supposed to be fixing.
How to stop pop-ups and ads on iPhone
On desktop platforms and Android, the usual approach to blocking ads is to install an adblocker add-on for the Firefox or Chrome browsers. Such as uMatrix, Privacy Badger, and/or uBlock Origin.
iOS being what it is, however, installing an adblocker on an iPhone or iPad is not so simple. For a start, thanks to the App store’s strict developer guidelines, neither Firefox nor Chrome support browser add-ons in iOS.
This leaves two main approaches to adblocking. Most content blocker apps only work in Safari, and once installed must be enabled in Safari’s settings. To do this, simply
Go to Settings -> Safari -> General -> Content blockers and toggle yours on.
Content blocker apps can conflict with one another, so it’s probably a good idea to enable just one at a time. iOS limits adblocker apps to 50,000 rules each, however, so many apps (such as AdGuard shown below) run as multiple processes in order to get around this restriction. In this case, you should probably enable all the processes from a single app.
Handy hint: Adblockers can break websites by blocking scripts the sites need to function. Fortunately, Safari for iOS provides a fix for this. Simply long-press the page refresh button to bring up a pop-up dialogue that allows you to refresh the page with without any content blockers enabled.
The other main approach is to use an entire bowser with adblocking capabilities built-in.
In the past, a number of adblocker apps existed which blocked ads system-wide by routing all iPhone connections through a “fake” VPN or proxy connection. DNS filtering could then be performed by a remote DNS server or locally.
It seems, however, that Apple has decided to remove most such apps from the App Store, although this functionality remains available in a more limited number of apps.
Note that if a “fake” VPN or proxy connection is created to perform DNS blocking then it is not possible to also use a regular VPN app.
So which is the best content blocker app for iPhone or iPad? Read on!