If you follow the Privacy Cookbook, you'll know I am a big fan of encrypting your DNS. Combine that with a good blocklist (on the DNS or device) and you are ahead of the pack!
AdGuard was always one of the first recommendations, as it works via AdGuardHome (from home, just like Pi-Hole) but also in an 'own cloud' setup for 'on the go' blocking.
Let's assume you are not that tech-savvy and don't want to set up your own firewall, well, you still have some great options. On Android and iOS alike, you can have DNS-wide protection, which we have covered in multiple other articles.
If you want to step things up, and are willing to spend some money, iOS and Android both have you covered with AdGuard, which is not just a DNS, but also a firewall. More so, you can add blocklists, local and on DNS level, with the app. This is where most DNS tools end.
However, nextDNS is also excellent), especially when you're just getting started with blocking ads and setting up a DNS which just works in the background.
However, AdGuard was not mentioned so many times on this blog without good reason. AdGuard does allow you, in iOS, to select ads (in case they are not blocked yet) and block them in the future. This, sadly, only works on Safari.
However, AdGuard can block system-wide via DNS settings:
AdGuard -> DNS protection -> DNS Filter
This is great and makes iOS a much better experience, with less telemetry, and you can even block Apple telemetry that way. I combine AdGuard with iVPN or ProtonVPN, and it is a solid setup. However, I witnessed the drops on connections unexpectedly and so just left my device offline, which had me choosing, until now, iVPN pointing to my own nextDNS setup to handle the DNS requests and AdGuard just with the local filters on Safari.
I said 'until now', as I finally took the AdGuardVPN app and gave it a spin. To be fair, the VPN is not audited yet, which gives iVPN, ProtonVPN or Mullvad an edge when it comes to VPN, but the speed and combination with the firewall makes me choose AdGuard with the AdguardVPN as a great recommendation for iOS. Consider that AdGuard has been around for a long time, is trusted, audited and open-source. This and this alone made me chose to try AdGuardVPN with the combination of AdGuard on iOS.
AdGuard simply works and keep your device better protected, with less telemetry and almost no ads (I have none).
I need to add the speed again, as the AdGuardVPN is smoking it on speed! I have a faster connection with VPN than without, which never made sense to me, but it is what it is!
On Android, you have many options to lock down your system, one of the best is undoubtedly NetGuard, and I will have a recommended setup with a step-by-step guide coming up soon in the Privacy Cookbook.
I recently covered RethinkDNS as an option. I was falling in love with it because of how simple and how effective it is. However, if you are not rooted, that is where the fun ends. Sure, you can block ads, malware and use a local blocklist and/or a DNS level encryption/with blocklist. On top, you can just close down access to every single app, except the ones you need online, like your messaging apps, mastodon, your browser etc. but keep the rest offline. Ever ask yourself why a calculator needs internet? Your Keyboard, should not have any! Your Gallery app, or even your camera? I do, and I really don't want them to be online. So, once more a firewall is a must.
Yet again, this is where AdGuard comes in. I recommend the APK from the AdGuard website and not even the f-Droid version, it seems to be a bit behind. The VPN APK is also on github, and you need to scroll a bit to find it. Could have linked it like the AdGuard app, but for some strange reason Adguard chose to only link the PlayStore app on the page. I have contacted them, and hopefully, they link the APK soon directly on the homepage.
AdGuard, unlike on iOS, has a built-in firewall as well. This gives you the power to allow access to the apps you need online and close down every app what don't need to be online. Additionally, you can choose if the apps are online on Wi-Fi and Cellphone data, or just one of those, or even none. You can also select if this online activity can be online only when the screen is on, or also when the screen is off.
These features are also possible on RethinkDNS and NetGuard, so these two apps have you covered as well, and that's for free in RethinkDNS's case or in the paid version on NetGuard (which you should download via APK from the original developer, as the F-Droid and Google Play versions have fewer features.)
However, back to AdGuard, what has way more features as in the iOS version, including a Stealth mode, what is worth customizing to your needs. Just like on iOS, you can block locally and via DNS. You can add your own blocklists, via DNS level protection, which is brilliant! Yet, what shines here is the AdGuardVPN. As you know firewalls on non-rooted devices using the VPN slot, that means NetGuard and RethinkDNS are taking this exact VPN slot and leave you with DNS and firewall protection.
However, you would not be able to use any other VPN anymore. AdGuardVPN, however, works together with the firewall and the DNS settings and, therefore, gives you the third option, of being in another country, hiding from your ISP and improving things as with the two other firewalls.
Once again, AdGuard is great, and its open-source which goes a long way when it comes to trust!
It is not free, but we live in a world where privacy might have a price. Just like in the case of Threema, I paid and use it daily. I recommend it without a referral link or paid promotional articles. Give it a try, or use RethinkDNS, nextDNS or NetGuard with a DNS.
If you have multiple devices, and systems like iOS and Android, purchase directly for the official website, as you don't have the hassle of going through Google and/or Apple, yet have it on both devices at the same time.
The point is to be, and to stay, safe!