How would you feel if you could browse the internet directly on your Android TV?
While Android TV doesn’t have a web browser installed by default, you can install most of the popular web browsers like Chrome, FireFox and Opera. There are even a few web browsers that are custom designed for your Android TV like Puffin.
In this article, I take a look at every web browser that’s available through the Google Play Store and Aptoide TV to see which one works best on Android TV and TV boxes.
If you haven’t heard of Aptoide TV, it’s an alternative app store for Android devices. You’ll find a lot of apps there that you won’t find on the Google Play Store and every one will work on your Android TV.
You can find out more about Aptoide TV in this article where I talk more about what it is and how to install it on your device.
With that out of the way, let’s figure out what the best web browser is for your Android TV and TV box!
Best Web Browser for Android TV
There are only a couple of reasons why I’d ever use a web browser on my Android TV. Usually it’s because I need to download an APK to install on my device. Occasionally I have some friends over and I want to quickly look something up and show it to everyone.
Anything more than, I would just use my smartphone or my laptop. In fact, my wife couldn’t think of anytime where she’d browse the Internet on the TV.
With that in mind, these web browsers are ordered based on speed, ease of use, and how they look on your Android TV.
Browsers that have dedicated Android TV apps will get extra points. On the flip side, browsers that need to be sideloaded will lose some points.
Now, on to our winner:
1. Puffin Android TV Browser
I’ll admit that I never really gave the Puffin Android TV web browser a shot before I started this test. Sure, I’d seen it before in the Google Play Store, but never had a reason to install it.
It turns out that I should have given it a chance long ago!
As you’ll see in the benchmarks section below, Puffin won every single speed test and is the fastest browser I tested.
Web pages load snappier and there’s less lag in navigating from page to page.
Now I’ll admit, benchmarks are a funny thing. In real-world performance, you’re usually not able to tell when one browser is better than another. But Puffin just feels faster!
On of my favorite things about Puffin is that they made their browser look and act like an app. Apps should feel different because we use them differently.
For example, if you look at Google Chrome, the search bar is front-and-center on the browser. It’s the same for both desktop computers and Android phones.
Puffin has a large side menu that disappears as soon as you navigate into the rest of the screen. Clicking into your bookmarks brings them into focus and everything else gets out of your way. I love that!
Another cool feature is that Puffin fills your entire TV screen with the web page you’re on. There’s no menu or search bar taking up valuable space. You can click a button and pull it up if you want (see image above), but it’s not wasting space.
Finally, you don’t need an air-mouse to navigate around the screen. There’s a large cursor that you can move around using the D-pad.
Overall, I have nothing but great things to say about Puffin for Android TV. There’s really no reason to surf the web in anything else.
2. FireFox Browser for Android TV
Most of my benchmark tests had FireFox for Android TV getting the best performance of any “mainstream” web browser. When you pair that performance with the ability to sync all of your bookmarks and passwords across devices, it’s easy to see why FireFox placed second on this list.
I’m a big fan of Dark themes, especially on Android devices. Even though it’s not as good for our eyes as we initially thought it was, dark mode uses less power and just looks cooler.
When you navigate to a page, the URL and search bar still remain at the bottom of the screen, but all of the other buttons and menu’s go away.
The biggest drawback to FireFox on Android TV is that you need an air-mouse to use it. While some TV boxes that run the official Android TV operating system have air-mouse remotes, most do not.
Except for that, FireFox is a great web browser to use on your Android TV, especially if you use it on your other devices. Check out my article that walks you through how to install it on your Android TV here.
3. Downloader for Android TV
Downloader from AFTVNews.com didn’t start out as a web browser. It was created as a simple way to sideload apps on Android TV boxes and Amazon Fire Sticks.
However, one of the first major updates to the app added a reasonably full-featured browser. Since many people only use a browser to download APK’s, this app is perfect if that’s all you’re using it for.
Because the Downloader app is found in the Google Play Store, it’s easy to install on almost any Android TV device.
Download can be used with a regular TV remote, since the app shows a small, red circle as the cursor. You can move the circle around the web page using only the D-pad on your remote.
As I said earlier, there are only a few reasons why I’d use a web browser on my Android TV, and the biggest reason is to install apps that I couldn’t find in the Play Store.
Since I can search for and download files in that same app that I’d use to install them, the Downloader app is a great choice in that scenario.
4. Opera for Android
Even though Opera has an app on Aptoide TV, this didn’t feel like it was compatible with my NVIDIA Shield, especially coming from FireFox.
It didn’t look like there was any effort put into making Opera look good on a large format screen. The UI looks and feels identical to the desktop version and just doesn’t translate well to Android TV.
Navigation was very clunky using the Shield TV remote control, but got better when I switched to an air-mouse. With no cursor, it’s very difficult to tell where you’re clicking from across the room.
Unlike FireFox, Opera doesn’t hide any of the menus or navigation bar when you go to a web page. As such, you end up losing a couple of lines of test at the bottom of the screen.
Performance-wise, the best thing I can say is that Opera was in the middle of the pack in almost every benchmark test. It didn’t do anything especially well, but it wasn’t the slowest, either.
Between the clunky interface and mediocre performance, Opera was downright frustrating to use on Android TV. However, I still liked it better than Chrome.
5. Chrome for Android
I’ve always wondered why Google never created an Android TV version of their popular Chrome browser. Because of that, the only way we can get Chrome installed on our Android TV’s is to sideload it.
Even then, there are some challenges.
Update: You can check out my tutorial where I walk you step-by-step through installing Chrome on Android TV.
Let’s start with the good first. Most of us use Chrome on at least some of our devices. You can sync your settings, bookmarks and passwords across all of your devices, just like you can with FireFox.
Performance is decent. Chrome finished second only to Puffin in the Speedometer test and finished in the middle of the pack for the other tests. Not bad, considering that it’s an app optimized for Android smartphones, not Android TV’s.
Now let’s talk about the bad and the ugly.
Because this is a pure Android app, not an Android TV app, navigation is horrific. You can scroll up and down using the stock NVIDIA Shield remote, but there’s no way to tab to different text or buttons to select them.
Switching to an air-mouse helped a bit, but then I had difficulty scrolling up and down.
Even though Chrome is the most popular web browser in the world, I just can’t recommend it on your Android TV.
6. Samsung for Android
Taking the final spot in my test was the Samsung Internet Browser. Even though Samsung’s Smart TV’s use their proprietary operating system, there’s still an Android TV version of their web browser available in Aptoide TV.
Navigating through the Samsung browser isn’t as difficult as I expected it to be, but that doesn’t mean it was easy either.
You can scroll up and down and tab to different boxes and text to select it using the standard TV remote. However there’s no cursor to show where you are, which makes it more difficult than it needs to be.
That said, the browser looks pretty good. The menu and search bar, while still there, don’t take up as much space as they do in Opera and Chrome.
For what it is, the Samsung internet browser is pretty good. However, at it’s core, it’s only meant to be a basic web browser for people who can’t be bothered to change it to something else.
The fact that you’re reading this article means you want something better, and this isn’t it.
What’s the Fastest Web Browser for Android TV?
Back in 2018, Android Authority ran a performance test to find out what the fastest Android web browser was at the time. However, it is a few years old now, and it was run on a smartphone, not an Android TV box.
So I thought it would be great to run those tests on my NVIDIA Shield TV Pro Android TV box to see what the results were.
To start with as much of a clean-slate as possible, I rebooted the Shield TV before testing each browser. The tests were run in the same order for each browser.
It’s worth noting that benchmarks attempt to rate real-world performance, but keep in mind that these are just tests. Your web browser may perform differently on your Android TV due to a variety of factors.
Mozilla Kraken 1.1
Puffin was the clear winner, completing the benchmark in less than half the time it took it’s next closest rival.
Higher numbers are better.
While Puffin again finished on top, FireFox performed much worse in this test. In fact, it finished dead last.
Finally, we have WebXPRT, which has become one of the most popular browser benchmarks over the last decade.
Higher numbers are better here as well.
Puffin again finished far in the lead with a perfect score of 100. The rest of the Android TV browsers all finished in a cluster with scores between 52 and 58.
Overall Fastest Android TV Browser: Puffin
Puffin won all three benchmark tests, easily showing that it’s the fastest web browser for Android TV. The rest of the browsers that I tested all had very similar performance, more or less.
What’s surprising to me was how well Downloader finished, compared to the giants like FireFox and Opera. Even though it’s designed to be a basic web browser so you can find APK’s to sideload on your Android TV box, it had no trouble keeping pace.
Chrome’s performance was disappointing, but not surprising. There’s no specific Android TV version of the browser, so we had to use an app that’s optimized for your phone, not your television.
How Do I Download a Browser To My Android TV?
Most of the web browsers that I tested here are available through the Android TV version of the Google Play Store, or through the Aptoide TV app store.
Google Play Store (Android TV)
- Puffin TV Browser
- TVWeb Browser for TV
- Samsung Internet Browser
You’ll probably notice one big exception that’s not on either list. We’ll cover installing Chrome in the next section.
Can You Install Chrome on an Android TV?
Yes, although I don’t recommend it.
Strangely enough, Google doesn’t make an Android TV version of it’s own web browser. That means you’ll need to sideload the APK file if you want to install it on your device.
With Chrome lagging so far behind Puffin in terms of performance and ease of use, I’d recommend passing on Chrome and using another browser instead.