Preventing annoying pop-ups from appearing on your iPhone and iPad is perfectly possible and relatively inexpensive. A good quality ad-blocker will quietly prevent banners, adverts, chat boxes, and notifications from ever bothering you again. They will also take care of the tracking cookies some websites insist on sneaking into your browser, and intercept connections to malicious websites too.
While there are plenty of free options available, they tend to be less powerful and may ironically plague you with their own pop-ups, or those of permitted advertisers. By comparison, the best ad block for iPhone and iPad is mighty enough to even stop adverts on streaming sites using free-with-ad models, such as YouTube.
The App Store is full of ad-blocking apps vying for your attention – some great, some less so. We’ve sifted through them and tested the very best. If you don’t have time to read through the rest of the article, our results are summarized below:
- Total Adblock: Our top choice for an iPhone and iPad ad-blocker. Able to stop ads from streaming sites and prevent social media trackers too.
- Adlock: Best budget option for an iPhone and iPad ad-blocker. Comprehensive blocking abilities and plenty of scope for customization.
- AdGuard: Well-respected open-source ad-blocker. Packed with features and has a wide range of filters to choose from.
- 1Blocker: One of the first companies to make a decent ad-blocker for iPhones and iPads. Still quality.
- Wipr: Easy-to-use ad-blocker that’s tough on ads, cookies and trackers, but easy on the wallet.
5 best ad-block apps for iPhone and iPad
We selected the 5 best ad-block apps for iPhone and iPad using the criteria outlined below – we’ll get into more detail about our testing methodology later.
- Value for money
- Blocks ads beyond Safari
- Additional safety
Here’s a list of the best adblockers for iPhone and iPad:
TotalAdblock is a seemingly simple app that can nevertheless deal with all types of ads, notifications and trackers.
It removes banners, video ads and pop-ups from Safari by default, and provides custom filters to block web elements that you don’t approve of. These don’t necessarily need to be ads, but anything that you’d rather not be there while you browse.
TotalAdblock also stops ads from appearing on sites using free-with-ad models, such as YouTube and Crunchyroll. Cookies and trackers are removed and TotalAdblock also provides a dedicated filter for preventing social media sites from tracking you and placing “like” and “share” buttons on the sites you visit.
The app can speed up loading times by removing cookie and privacy warnings – though you don’t necessarily want to do this for privacy warnings. Simply removing ads should sufficiently speed up the time it takes for pages to load.
TotalAdblock can be configured to block websites and webpages known to distribute malware, or whitelist sites that you want left alone.
The basic TotalAdblock app is free, but you’ll need to pay an annual subscription to get access to the features listed above. This will also give you access to TotalAV virus protection and PC Tune-Up software too.
TotalAdblock is compatible with iPhones running iOS 11.0 or later and iPads running iPadOS or later.
- Total ad-blocking
- Stops social media tracking
- Enables element blocking
- Stops ads on streaming sites
- Paid plan includes TotalAV antivirus
- Annual subscription only for premium plan
BEST AD-BLOCKER: app for iPhone and iPad. It offers comprehensive blocking of all types of advert, together with malware and virus protection.
Adlock is a powerful ad-blocker that blocks all pop-ups, auto-play ads, banners and unwanted redirects on both Safari sites and in apps. It also stops video and audio ads on streaming services such as Youtube, Twitch, and Crunchyroll – thanks to being able to evade anti-ad-blocker detection.
Adlock works by applying a series of advertising filters based on EasyList technology (the most popular list used by ad-blockers). The developers recommend using between three and five filters, though you’re free to test and apply new filters in the app’s settings. Using the filters, you can choose what should be blocked on the web pages you visit – pop-up chat boxes, for example.
Additional features include blocking all forms of online tracking scripts and warnings about malicious websites, viruses, phishing attacks, and other forms of online scam. Adlock also enables you to whitelist particular pages or entire websites as desired.
Adlock is compatible with iPhones running iOS 12.1 or later, and iPad’s running iPadOS or later.
- Blocks all types of ads, including video
- Bypasses ad-block walls
- Spam and scam links warnings
- Free trial period
- Not the easiest for beginners
BEST BUDGET-FRIENDLY OPTION: ad-blocker that stops unwanted ads on both websites and apps.
AdGuard is a veteran provider in the world of ad-blocking. The open-source app removes all kinds of ads in Safari, including banners, pop-ups and video ads. You can whitelist your favorite websites or use a manual blocking tool to hide any elements on a page.
There are a selection of filters aimed directly at stopping trackers and web analytics – with around 50 to choose from in total. AdGuard also enables protection against malicious or fraudulent websites.
The user-rules module lets you create your own rules — anything from simple allow-listing of a website to something more sophisticated.
AdGuard is ostensibly free, though you’ll need to pay a subscription to access many of the features mentioned above. Prices are based on either a year’s subscription, or a lifetime’s subscription.
All plans come with a 60-day money-back guarantee. Alternatively, you can try AdGuard for free with a 14-day trial. AdGuard is compatible with iPhones running iOS 11.2 or later, and iPads running iPadOS 11.2 or later.
- Removes all types of ad
- Supports manual blocking
- Plenty of filters to choose from
- Sixty-day money-back guarantee
- The app can sometimes freeze up
- No monthly subscription option
HIGHLY ADAPTABLE: with features and provides a robust ad-blocking service for iPhones and iPads.
1Blocker is a powerful, independently built-and-maintained app specifically designed for the iOS operating system. As it’s a web extension, it won’t block anything outside of the Safari browser.
When you launch the app, it tells Safari what should be blocked in advance, rather than blocking filtered elements of the already-downloaded page. This improves display speeds and preserves battery life.
Blocking ads, cookies, comments and the like is as simple as checking the right boxes. Frequent rule updates ensure that your choices stay blocked.
There are two versions of 1Blocker, with the free option offering less functionality. The paid-for version provides system-wide firewall protection from in-app trackers, a whitelist extension, and the option to sync your settings across all iOS devices.
It also allows you to tailor the app using custom rules. These rules are divided into several categories, including: allow list, block sites, block cookies, hide elements, and make site https-only. The website has all the information you need to get started with creating custom rules.
The app is compatible with iPhones running iOS 14.2 or later, and iPads running iPadOS 14.2 or later. New customers signing up to the free version can take advantage of a two-week free trial of the app’s premium features.
- Create custom rules
- Whitelist extension available
- Two-week free trial
- Only works within Safari
- Could confuse some users
PROVEN TRACK RECORD: for iPhones and iPads, with plenty of scope for customization and a low subscription fee.
Wipr is a straightforward and effective ad-blocker for Safari that can be set up in seconds. It blocks all ads, trackers, cryptocurrency miners, EU cookies and GDPR notices on web pages opened in Safari. That said, Wipr specifically states that it is not a security tool, so won’t block malicious, scam or phishing sites.
Wipr can block ads on some apps, but only those that display websites using the Safari View Controller. This is essentially a screen managed by Safari that apps can use without needing to open the actual Safari browser. Apps like Tweetbot and some other social networking sites use it for all web links.
If you find that opening sites such as YouTube still results in ads, you can try using the Wipr Extra extension. This provides blocking on a few sites where the Content Blocker API isn’t enough. Wipr Extra isn’t enabled by default as it requires full website access, which raises some privacy issues. If you do want to try it, you’ll need to be running at least iOS 15.
Wipr’s block-list is updated twice a week, which ensures few ads slip past it. You don’t need to do anything – the app will check for updates for you. Indeed, this is the beauty of Wipr on the whole – you don’t need to do anything beyond activating it. While this is great for some, it could be frustrating for those who prefer a little more control.
The app is compatible with iPhones running iOS 12.0 or later, and iPads running iPadOS 12.0 or later.
- No acceptable ads
- Easy setup
- Only works within Safari
- No custom rules
- No whitelist options
GREAT FOR BEGINNERS: that’s simple to install and offers impressive blocking ability.
Can I use a free ad-block for iPhone and iPad?
You can, and there are several good products available. However, free ad-block apps are not as robust as their paid-for counterparts, with less stringent blocking rules and fewer options for customization.
Those that do seem to offer a lot for nothing will be earning their money through other means. This almost always means allowing what they call “acceptable ads” to bypass any blocks. These whitelisted ads earn the ad-blocker (and company who make them) revenue. Companies can apply to have their adverts whitelisted, and thus presented to you.
How to enable content blockers on iPhone and iPad
Once you’ve downloaded and installed your chosen ad-block app, you need to tell Safari to allow it. Follow these instructions:
- Launch the Settings app.
- Scroll down and tap Safari.
- Under General, tap Content Blockers.
- Activate your chosen content blocker by toggling the switch next to it to the green ON position.
Methodology: How we chose the 5 best ad-block apps for iPhone and iPad
Being able to block ads is all well and good, but it’s something many people have come to expect from free apps. So what might we expect from a paid-for ad-blocker? We considered the following areas:
- No acceptable ads: The whole point of an ad-blocker is to reduce your exposure to adverts. We don’t like those which allow paid adverts across their threshold. However, some do permit search ads, which are deemed helpful to the user. For example, contextual ads if you’re trying to buy something via a search engine. These types of advert are different to acceptable ads in that the ad-blocker isn’t receiving money for them.
- Value for money: There are plenty of free ad-blockers out there, so we ask that paid-for versions can prove their worth. If they charge too much for a so-so service, then we don’t include them.
- Blocks ads beyond Safari: Ad-blockers that can stop ads beyond just those displayed within Safari are preferred. Ideally, they should prevent ads in apps using free-with-ad models too, such as YouTube, Tubi, and Crunchyroll.
- Customization: We like ad-blockers that allow for the creation of custom rules, and also those that let us add sites to a whitelist.
- Additional safety: A good ad-blocker offers additional features, such as protection against malicious websites, viruses, and phishing attacks.
FAQs: Best ad-block for iPhone and iPad
Does Apple allow ad-blockers?
Yes – Apple first announced that ad blockers would begin working on iPhones in 2015. Developers were quick to react, with the result that the App store now has hundreds to choose from. If you haven’t yet decided on a third-party ad-blocker to use, you can make a start by stopping pop-ups using the iOS built-in pop-up-blocker. Follow these instructions:
- Launch the Settings app.
- Scroll down and tap Safari.
- Under General, toggling the switch next to Block Pop-ups to the green ON position.
What are ad-blocking filters?
Ad-blocking sites make frequent reference to filters, which are how ad blockers are told to recognise exactly what an advert – or other element to be blocked – looks like. Filtering rules help them to do this.
A filtering rule is a line of code that can block an element on a website, or prevent ads from loading. Similar rules are combined into a group called a filter. Example filters include those that remove analytics tags, or one that blocks ads in a particular language.
Do ad-blockers slow websites down?
No – in fact, they almost always speed things up. Adverts fund a great deal of the content we see online. Research suggests that the code used to generate ads – and also to gather analytical data – is responsible for between 50% and 60% of the total loading time of a page.
A decent ad-blocker – such as TotalAdblock – removes all the offending elements that your computer would otherwise waste time downloading. This includes web banners, pictures, pop-up windows and – worst of all – autoplay audio and video ads. This makes pages easier to read, as well as reducing the amount of bandwidth needed to access them.
Ad-blockers have the additional benefit of improving online privacy by removing the number of cookies and stopping other behavioral tracking code from running. They can also protect you from malicious content, and will ultimately provide a better user experience overall.