While there’s no shortage of web browsers on Android, the list shortens when we bring privacy into the picture. Out of the few, Brave and DuckDuckGo are the flagship Chromium-based privacy-friendly browsers. So, how do they stack up against each other? Well, this is an in-depth breakdown of the Brave vs DuckDuckGo Privacy browser and which one to choose.
Brave Vs DuckDuckGo
1. User Interface & Experience
Brave and DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser is based on Chromium. But, comparatively, they still look quite different. Starting off, Brave is the fancier one. It will pop-up a new wallpaper every time you create a new tab. This can be disabled in the settings, though. Additionally, on the new tab, Brave also shows the total number of trackers blocked, Data saved, and Est. time saved. Good flex!
My favorite thing about the Brave browser is the bottom toolbar. With the ever-growing size of mobile displays, it’s about time apps bring the menu bar, settings, options at the bottom. I use a huge Galaxy Note 9 and Brave’s bottom bar is a lot more accessible than any other browser.
On the other hand, DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser has a more minimalistic approach. It does privacy right and doesn’t concentrate on other stuff. The new tab page is blank with a DuckDuckGo logo. Sadly, it doesn’t have a bottom facing toolbar and you’d have to stretch your fingers to get to the Omnibox.
In terms of appearance customization, apart from light and dark theme, DuckDuckGo also provides you the option to change app color. Blue’s my favorite.
2. Ad & Tracker Blocking
Being a privacy-friendly browser, both browsers have in-built tracker blocking. Additionally, Brave also features ad-blocking, fingerprinting protection, and cookie-blocking. With Brave, you wouldn’t have to use an additional ad blocker. On a regular day of browsing articles or watching videos, both Brave and DuckDuckGo felt quite similar. However, to give you a perspective, I tried to compare the number of ads/trackers blocked on the same set of websites. Below are the numbers.
|Times of India
The website load time and experience on both the browsers were more or less the same. However, you would see an inflated number of trackers blocked on Brave because Brave doesn’t provide a separate number for ads and trackers blocked. So, the number combines both ads as well as trackers blocked.
A small point that I would like to add is that due to strict ad-blocking and tracker prevention from Brave, a few of the website’s functionality tend to break. At such times, you have to turn off everything and retry. t
3. Privacy Features
The highlight of both these browsers is privacy and you would expect a load of options here. Well, you won’t be disappointed. Foremost, Brave blocks a number of things like ads, trackers, cookies, fingerprinting, etc by default. In terms of additional options, you have the ability to have separate search engines for normal and incognito i.e. private mode. Moreover, you also get the option to allow or deny location and notification permissions to separate search engines. Apart from that, you also have the option to deny payment method access to websites and clear data/cookies on a click.
Unlike Brave, the DuckDuckGo browser isn’t that feature loaded. However, it does the bare minimum pretty well. First of all, there’s no Incognito or Private mode in DuckDuckGo. The default is the private mode. The browser doesn’t save your history or provides URL suggestions when you type. Additionally, you have a fire button beside the Omnibox. Once you tap on it, all your data and tabs are cleared in a single go. It’s similar to the “Close Incognito tabs” option you get on the Android notification shade when you are using Incognito mode.
As soon as you open a website under DuckDuckGo, it provides a rating to the particular website to denote the level of privacy on the site. For instance, A+ is the best while D is the least.
On a side note, since DuckDuckGo doesn’t have a dedicated Incognito mode, the browser misses on a couple of things.
- You can take screenshots within the normal mode
- The browser content is visible in the Recents Apps menu
Both these problems are because DDG doesn’t use Android’s SECURE_FLAG. The SECURE_FLAG blocks both screenshot and app preview in the Recent Apps page. Of course, DuckDuckGo might not have implemented it intentionally in order to enable people to take screenshots but it does expose it a bit.
Although DuckDuckGo is based on Chromium, it runs on quite an older version of Chromium, possibly Chromium 4.0. Hence, it doesn’t support Progressive Web Apps (PWA). In case you don’t know what PWAs are, it’s a web app behaving like a native Android app. Here are some of the PWA you should be using. Brave does support PWA and even “chrome://flags“. Hence, if you are coming from Chrome, things would be more familiar.
5. Desktop App & Sync
DuckDuckGo doesn’t have a desktop app. It’s only present on Android and iOS. On the other hand, Brave does have a desktop browser and it covers all the platforms like Windows, macOS, and Linux. Brave, lets you sync bookmarks, password, autofill data, open tabs, extensions, themes, etc across devices. As of now, these sync options are available only between Android and Windows 10.
6. Revenue Generation
It’s equally important to understand the revenue model of these companies because this is what keeps them afloat. Privacy companies are akin to claim huge at the start and disappear after some time due to a lack of money. So, Brave has a unique model called Brave Rewards. It brings in its own set of advertisers and provides generic ads. You get paid in terms of cryptocurrency for watching these ads. This is totally optional and can be turned off right away. Another source of income for Brave is search engines. Brave, by default, has Google as the default search engine in the browser.
DuckDuckGo is a search engine more than a dedicated web browser. So, the apps are kind-of branding for themselves. DuckDuckGo primarily earns from ads and affiliate marketing. These show up when you search for certain keywords. For instance, if you search “cars”, you might see the first 3 links as ads of car companies. The companies pay DDG to show up those links on certain keyword searches. In case you purchase from these links, DuckDuckGo also gets a small percentage out of the sale. For a more detailed answer, go ahead and read this Quora answer from DDG Founder, Gabriel Weinberg, describing the revenue generation model.
I have been using Brave for about a year now due to my helplessness of being a long-term Chrome user. I am spoilt by the Chromium choices and I can’t live outside the Chromium territory. And, if that’s the case with you, Brave is definitely the most private and complete option. For everyone else, try DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser.