Everything you need to know
Samsung phones provide quite a different experience to Google’s, thanks to One UI overlaid on top of the stock Android OS, but it goes beyond that. The company offers its own set of apps, including an app store, a gallery, a file manager, and a web browser in the form of Samsung Internet.
Samsung Internet comes preloaded with all the other apps on even the best Samsung Galaxy smartphones and cannot be uninstalled. This shove-it-down-your-throat approach seems to be costing the browser its reputation, but how does it really fair?
This article covers everything you need to know about Samsung Internet, including its history, notable features, and a comparison with Google Chrome.
A brief history of Samsung Internet
Samsung created its internet browser in 2012 as the default option on its Galaxy devices. But it wasn’t made exclusively for mobiles or just for the sake of creating a browser. It was the company’s way of bringing the web to its products, including tablets, Gear Watch, smart TVs, Gear VR, and home appliances.
In its early days, Samsung Internet was not Chrome-based. However, around a year later, in 2013, the OEM decided to base the browser on Chromium despite considering options like WebKit, Gecko, and Blink. The first iteration of the new browser shipped with a version of the Galaxy S4 later that year.
In 2015, the browser became available for download on the Google Play Store before making its way to Tizen smartwatches via the Samsung Galaxy Store. As of 2016, Samsung estimated it had approximately 400 million active monthly users. Recent studies show that Samsung Internet holds 5.48% of the mobile and tablet browser market.
The browser’s noteworthy features
While Samsung Internet may be considered an unnecessary addition to the company’s proprietary Android skin by many users, it has several noteworthy features that make it one of the best and most complete mobile browsers. Here are some of them.
A password-protected Secret mode
Incognito Mode is a staple of most browsers, allowing you to surf the web without worrying about saved search history, cookies, and data collection (to an extent). But these features aren’t really helpful to the average user. Samsung Internet takes things up a notch with its more practical Secret Mode.
In addition to the previously mentioned features, the browser has an option to block access to Secret Mode with a password, fingerprint ID, or face recognition so that your private tabs are only accessible by you. Furthermore, you hide files downloaded using Secret Mode from the gallery, so they can only be viewed in Secret Mode.
To password-protect Secret mode:
- Launch the browser.
- Tap the hamburger menu button in the lower-right corner of the screen.
- Select Settings from the options.
- Go to Personal browsing data under the Privacy tab.
- Select Secret mode settings from the bottom of the list.
- Toggle the button next to Use password.
Most websites offer anti-tracking and pop-up blocking features. However, Samsung Internet provides an information dashboard of your web browsing sessions for the week. You get to see which websites tracked you and which websites, pop-ups, and automatic downloads were blocked.
There’s also a Smart Anti-tracking feature that you can set to always block sites from following you on the web or to only do so when Secret Mode is turned on.
To configure Smart Anti-tracking:
- Navigate to Settings.
- Select Browsing privacy dashboard.
- Tap Smart anti-tracking.
- Choose an option.
If you watch a lot of video content in your browser, you can testify that many sites host their videos on platforms other than YouTube. As a result, the playback controls could be different and sometimes unintuitive. Video assistant is Samsung’s way of simplifying the experience by offering a single layout for online videos. This gives you a set of floating playback buttons that are the same regardless of the website you’re on.
The tool includes common controls like auto-rotate, video resizing, and locking to restrict changes. You can swipe up and down on the left and right sides of the screen to increase or decrease brightness and media volume, respectively, or swipe left or right from the center to rewind or fast-forward the video. Double tapping to rewind and fast-forward 10 seconds is also supported. The only thing missing is the ability to change video quality.
To enable Video assistant:
- Launch the browser.
- Open the Settings menu.
- Go to Useful Features.
- Flip the Video assistant toggle
Lots of customization options
When you think of customizability, browsers don’t immediately come to mind unless you’re using Samsung Internet. Its customizations transcend beyond add-ons by giving you options to make the browsing experience your own.
For starters, you can tweak the browser’s main menu by adding or removing icons, just like you would Android’s quick settings menu. Simply tap the hamburger icon in the lower-right corner of the screen and long-press any of the options to get started.
You can show or hide the status bar, tab bar, or bookmark bar, or change the position of the address bar from top to bottom for better reachability. The options can be found under Layout and menus on the settings page. But there’s more.
Going to Webpage view and scrolling lets you change the position of or hide the scroll bar, tweak text size on web pages, enable or disable zoom, enable or disable zooming on pages, customize the font size on websites, or always use desktop layout. You can also enable buttons for jumping to the top or bottom of a page.
Samsung Internet vs. Google Chrome
You can’t talk about mobile browsers without mentioning Google Chrome, the most popular option with over 10 billion downloads. So, how does Samsung Internet stack up against Google’s solution?
Both software solutions are similar as far as browsing speed is concerned. So, the major differences come by way of customization, cross-platform synchronization, and so on. Samsung Internet is the more customizable option of the two. Its Secret mode is also more robust than Chrome’s Incognito. And there’s no denying the appeal and usefulness of Video assistant and the privacy dashboard.
However, the one thing Chrome has going for it that Samsung Internet would struggle to match in multi-platform support and synchronization. If you like to surf the web on your phone and continue on your Windows laptop, MacBook, or Chromebook and vice versa, there’s no better option than Chrome. And since you’re signed in with your Google account, logging in to supported websites is a breeze.
For a more in-depth comparison, check out our Samsung Internet vs. Google Chrome article.
Samsung Internet deserves more credit than it gets
Samsung Internet is often considered an unnecessary addition (bloatware) bundled with Galaxy phones. And while this can be annoying, especially since you can’t uninstall the browser, the app is superb, besting Chrome in many instances. You could say it’s arguably the better option for those who don’t care about cross-platform syncing.
If you’re one of the millions of people who have seen past the backlash and decided to use the browser, here are a few Samsung Internet tips and tricks to level up your experience.