Are you one of the millions of iOS users that are sick and tired of ads, pop-ups and trackers infiltrating your online experience? The good news is that Apple introduced ad blocking technology in iOS 9, allowing developers to bring the plethora of Mac-based ad blockers to iOS.
iOS 11 enhances the ad blocking experience even further, providing the ability to block trackers that watch what we do online and target ads at us based on that information.
The catch? It’s not enabled by default. You’ll need to download one of the hundreds of ad blockers now available on the App Store, which isn’t an easy feat. With such a wide range of apps with varying features, which is the best ad blocker for iPhone and iPad? Here, we list a few of our favourite ad blockers for iOS.
Those looking for a solution on Mac should take a look at our explainer on how to block ads on Mac.
AdGuard is one of our favourite free ad blockers due not only to its simplicity, but also how customisable it is. There are over 50 filters built into the app, allowing you to see exactly what you want to see – and not the rest. Even if there’s not a premade filter that you require, you’ll be able to create it in the app with a few taps.
Trackers that are used to target personalised ads at you are also blocked when using AdGuard. Oh, and for all the social pariahs out there, there’s even an option to block social media widgets from any site accessed on Safari.
There’s also a £1.99 Pro variant, and while this used to be the ultimate ad blocker (blocking ads everywhere in iOS, not just Safari), it went against Apple’s T&Cs so the feature was removed. It adds custom DNS support for pro users, but not much else at the time of writing.
AdBlock is the original iOS ad blocker, and has been the go-to for many iPhone and iPad users since 2012. Where AdBlock excels is in its ease of use – after installing the app, all you need to do is swipe up from the bottom of the display in-app to activate the service. It’ll refresh its databases with the latest info on every single app run, and promises not to send your traffic through a remote server like less reputable ad blockers do.
Like other ad blockers, AdBlock also blocks trackers from being able to see what you do online and use this information to target ads at you. There’s a whitelist that you can add to and edit, and there’s even a handy Today Widget that allows you to toggle the service on and off on-the-fly.
Oh, and all your settings will be synced between all iOS devices via iCloud. Nice and simple!
Crystal is another favourite of ours, although this app has also won the hearts of its users. Why? Many existing ad blocking apps were abandoned soon after creation and cause issues for users, especially as time goes on – Crystal, on the other hand, is constantly updated to not only improve the ad blocking capabilities but the user experience too.
Crystal is a solid performer when it comes to ad blockers. While the performance of some ad blockers may vary as databases are updated, Crystal always seems to be on top of blocking both ads and trackers. It’s easy to add websites to a whitelist via the Share Sheet in Safari, and the app UI is clean and simple too.
Crystal is so confident of its capabilities that it claims it’ll load up pages 4x quicker and can save up to 50 percent of your data too.
When it comes to granular control over your ad blocking experience, 1Blocker is the ultimate app for iPhone and iPad. Why? The app allows you to fully customise your ad blocking experience, allowing you to block specific elements that you might find annoying. These can be anything from particular ad types to Facebook and Twitter widgets that appear online.
You can also hide annoying content directly within Safari without leaving the app. Simply activate 1Blocker in the Share Sheet and tap the content you’d like to hide. And, of course, it blocks over 5000 known trackers from watching what you’re up to online.
The devs are completely transparent about the operation too; the app doesn’t collect or sell your data, and no deals have been made with advertisers to show specific adverts while blocking others.
As with any free app, there’s a limit to what’s available: the free version makes you choose between either blocking ads OR trackers at any one time, but the premium in-app purchase enables you to use both at once.
Purify is a simple-yet-effective ad blocker for iOS that provides something a little different to the apps mentioned above. As well as offering standard ad- and tracking-blocking capabilities, Purify allows users to block other features that can eat data or drain your device battery.
These include images, scripts and custom fonts that you may come across on websites on the web, each of which will eat your data and use up battery life. It should make loading pages speedier too, ideal if you’re on a slow mobile or Wi-Fi connection.
Of course, Purify also allows you to whitelist websites that you wish to support, and this is done in a similar way to Crystal – via the Share Sheet in Safari.