How to Access the Dark Web on iPhone and Android in 2022

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Quick Summary: How to Access the Dark Web on iPhone and Android

The dark web is the part of the internet that can only be accessed using a specialized browser. While it’s infamous for drug-slinging and other criminal elements, it also serves as a hub for all kinds of valuable anonymous activity — such as secretive journalism and whistleblowing.

Accessing the dark web on a mobile device is quite straightforward, though it can be unsafe. Once you’ve made sure your device is protected by strong antivirus software, the steps listed below should work for both iOS and Android:

  1. Download and install a VPN app on your phone. This is essential in order to add an extra layer of protection when browsing the dark web. NordVPN has excellent mobile apps, making it our pick to go dark.
  2. Connect to a VPN server on the app. A server closest to your actual location will offer better speeds.
  3. Open a browser app that lets you access the dark web. There is an official Tor browser app for Android. iPhone users can choose between the Onion browser and the OrNet browser on the App Store.
  4. Click on the connect button on the screen. Its location may vary from app to app, but it’s usually on the app’s landing screen.
  5. Wait for the connection to be established. This can sometimes take between five and seven minutes.
  6. Once connected, you can access the dark web from your mobile device! Try navigating to a .onion website to check if your connection is working. We’ve rounded up a few dark sites you can check out in the full guide below.

The dark web can be a dangerous place. It’s also important to note that smartphones, in general, aren’t the most privacy-friendly devices (think GPS tracking) and the Android operating system does have plenty of vulnerabilities that can be exploited. If you’re considering exploring, you’ll want to check out the rest of the article for your own security and privacy protection.

On a daily basis, most users interact with a small portion of the internet. This is known as the surface web. It’s accessible using a regular browser. What many users don’t know is that the internet extends well beyond the surface web, and includes the dark and deep web.

The dark web, as the name suggests, is known as a hub of illegal activity. However, there are a lot of useful websites on the dark web too. These include websites that facilitate anonymous file sharing and top-secret journalism. The deep web, on the other hand, includes all web pages that are not indexed by search engines. You can access them only if you have the specific URL or login credentials.

A common query among online users is how to access the dark web. We’ve already covered how you access the dark web using a computer. In this article, we break down how you can access the dark web on the go — i.e. on your mobile devices, in a safe and secure manner.

Staying Safe on the Dark Web: A Quick Guide

We’ve compiled more extensive security tips in a later section, but before you venture onto the dark net with your mobile device, you’ll need to be prepared. Many dark web destinations are playgrounds for hackers and scammers, and could be loaded with malware-injecting pages or links.

Before you go dark, you should take some basic privacy and cybersecurity precautions, such as:

  1. Get a subscription to a security-geared VPN, such as NordVPN.
  2. Get a good real-time antivirus scanner, like Norton 360.
  3. Configure the security and privacy settings on your Android or iOS device.

We’ll jump into more security measures after the next section, but if you’re new to the dark web and haven’t accessed it before, we strongly recommend combing through our full guide on accessing the dark web first.

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Access the Dark Web on iPhone and Android

Getting on the dark web using your mobile device is surprisingly easy. The steps vary slightly for Android and iPhone. But don’t worry, we’ve covered both operating systems below.

Remember, before you start on either operating system, make sure you’ve installed good antivirus protection. Let’s first learn how to access the dark web on Android.

How to get on the dark web on Android

Android users have to do very little to get on the dark net. In fact, accessing the dark web on your Android device may be easier than on your computer. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Get a subscription to a virtual private network (VPN) provider. We don’t suggest going on the dark web without a VPN (more on this later). We recommend NordVPN as it has a great Android app and an excellent network of servers. Check out our guide on setting up a VPN on Android for detailed instructions.
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  3. Connect to a VPN server located nearest you. This will offer the security and privacy protection you need while maximizing connection speeds.
  4. Download the Tor browser from the Play Store. The Tor browser is your pathway to the dark web. Android has an official Tor browser app, so you can download that directly and don’t need to look for alternatives.
  5. Screenshot of Tor Browser, install app
  6. Click on the app icon to open the Tor browser. On the first boot, you should see a large button with “Connect” written on it.
  7. Photograph of Tor Connect
  8. Once you click on this button, the browser will initiate a connection to the Tor network.
  9. Photograph of Tor progress, Loading network status consensus
  10. After this, you’ll be redirected to the browser’s homepage. It looks like any other browser but you can access any dark website using it.
  11. Photograph of Tor Browser, home screen
  12. You can use the search bar at the bottom of the screen to look for interesting sites on the dark web. If you need somewhere to start, check out our list of the seven best news sites on the dark web.

Overall, the process of accessing the dark web on Android shouldn’t take more than 5-10 minutes. If the Tor browser doesn’t work for some reason, you can try alternative applications like Orbot and Orfox.

How to access the dark web on iPhone

Accessing the dark web on an iPhone is a little more complicated than on Android. This is because there’s no official Tor browser app for iOS yet. As a result, you’ll need to rely on other browsers that let you connect to the Tor network. Here’s how:

  1. Again, the first and most important step is to download and set up a VPN on your iPhone. NordVPN works just as well on an iPhone and we have no hesitation in recommending it to access the dark web.
  2. Download a dark web browser from the App Store on your iPhone. We’ve found that the Onion Browser works best for us on iOS.
  3. Open up the Onion Browser app and click on the green “Connect to Tor” button. You can also configure bridges if you live in a country where the Tor browser is banned.
  4. Screenshot of Onion landing page, Connect to Tor
  5. The Onion browser will then establish a connection to the Tor network. This can take a couple of minutes.
  6. Screenshot of Connecting to Tor
  7. From the Onion browser homepage, you can access some of the best websites on the dark web, such as ProPublica. Of course, you can navigate to any other Onion website of your choice as well.

Best Browsers to Access the Dark Web on iPhone

Since the iPhone doesn’t have an official Tor app, you’ll have to choose between the many options available on the App Store to access Tor. It’s important to be careful as some of these apps can be malicious and end up infecting your device with a virus.

We tried out a bunch of Tor browser apps on the App Store and landed on these two as our favorites:

1. Onion Browser

Screenshot of Onion Browser, home screen

The Onion Browser is a secure choice to access the dark web on an iPhone. It has a simple interface and connects to the Tor network pretty quickly. Settings, such as the level of security and encryption, can be configured quite easily using the Menu. Additionally, the app can be configured to delete cookies and use the search engine of your choice.

2. OrNet Browser

Screenshot of OrNet homescreen

OrNet browser is an excellent choice for users who like granular control over the security settings. We also liked the ability to change the Tor node/location, a feature that’s not available on other browsers. What makes it even more secure is that it comes with an in-built VPN.

However, the features available on the free version are quite limited and the paid version is pretty expensive. But, if security and anonymity are paramount, then you can’t go wrong with OrNet.


How to Access the Dark Web Safely

We’ve learned how to get on dark web domains from your mobile device. However, several dark websites cater to illegal purposes. Moreover, you can land on websites that can infect your device with different kinds of malware, such as ransomware and trojan viruses.

It’s also important to note that browsing the dark web on a mobile device can be more dangerous than on a desktop or PC. For starters, not all devices, such as the iPhone, have an official Tor browser. Secondly, dark websites can track your location (using GPS or Wi-Fi location tracking) and other information more easily if you’re using a mobile device.

Hence, it’s very important to keep yourself safe when accessing the dark web, especially on a mobile device. Following the steps listed below should help access the dark web safely:

1. Use a VPN

VPN shield

Accessing the dark web usually requires a connection to the Tor network. The Tor network is not completely anonymous and has some vulnerabilities. As a result, it’s possible that your browsing activity could become visible to unwanted prying eyes online, such as hackers, your Internet Service Provider (ISP), or the government.

A VPN server adds an additional layer of security and encryption to your browsing activity, making it almost impossible to trace. It also changes your IP address, preventing your real IP from being leaked when connected to the Tor network.

NordVPN uses industry-leading encryption to secure your browsing activity. It also has dedicated Onion over VPN servers which effectively combines the best elements of the Tor browser and a VPN. As a result, we’d recommend using NordVPN when trying to access the dark web on your phone. Check out the latest offers on NordVPN using the button below:

Get NordVPN

2. Install an antivirus scanner

The dark web is unregulated. Hence, several dark web pages contain possibly harmful elements, such as child pornography and malware. While malware can be avoided by being careful about the sites you visit, there’s always a chance that you inadvertently click on an infected link or button.

A good antivirus scanner will immediately detect any potential infection and remove it before your device can be harmed. Leading antivirus scanners will also warn you about potentially dangerous websites and help keep you safe overall.

Norton Antivirus is one of the best scanners on the market right now. You can browse the dark web without worrying about malware if you have Norton 360 installed. Use the button below to get yourself a Norton subscription.

Get Norton 360

3. Be clear about your objectives

Unlike the surface web, the dark web is not the best place for exploration. Instead, it’s best if you know beforehand which sites you want to visit and why. Wandering across the dark web can lead to trouble and can cause unexpected damage, such as hacking or malware infection.

Do check out our section below on dark web pages worth visiting if you’re confused about where to start.

4. Minimise tracking and data collection

In today’s world, data collection and tracking are all-pervasive, whether you’re on the deep web or the surface web. It’s virtually impossible to completely turn it off. However, while accessing the dark web, it’s important that you limit the possibility of data being shared or leaked. There are a few things you can do to achieve this:

  • Turn off location services on your device while accessing the dark web.
  • Refuse all permission requests from dark web browsers. They should not have access to your contacts, settings, camera, or any other important feature. This can be done using the privacy settings on Android and iOS.
  • As far as possible, access the dark web on a device that has no sensitive apps. This would include, for instance, banking, finance, social media, and messaging apps. In fact, it’s perhaps best to use a secondary device to access the dark web on your phone.
  • Ensure the device you’re using is not connected to other smart devices around the house. If they’re all on the same network, the smart devices also become vulnerable in case your phone is hacked. As we’ve covered earlier, smart devices, such as watches, speakers and even thermostats raise significant privacy concerns.

5. Select the highest security level offered by the browser

It makes sense to always select the highest level of protection offered by a browser when accessing the Tor network. The terms used to describe the different security settings will vary from one browser to another. For example, if you’re using the Tor browser on Android, you can choose between Standard, Safe, and Safest.

However, do note that while using the highest safety settings you will lose out on different features and functionalities. In most cases, you may only be able to view static and basic websites and not ones that have dynamic audio-visual or interactive content.

6. Never reveal any personal information

Given the dangers that lurk on the dark web, it’s a no-brainer that you shouldn’t disclose any personal information. This includes your name, email address, phone number, or financial details. Use an alias if you want to create an account on a dark web site. If an email is required, then use a burner mail account or an anonymous and secure email provider.

Overall, navigating the dark web is about exercising caution and prudence. Pair that with the tips we’ve listed above and you should be fine.


Dark Web Sites to Visit on iPhone and Android

The dark web can be slightly difficult to navigate for new users. You can’t use Google to search for dark web sites and visit them. After all, the dark web isn’t part of the visible web, but of the hidden “deep web.”

Luckily, there are a few useful sites and search engines that can easily improve your dark web browsing experience. Here’s a small list of useful websites to visit on iPhone:

WebsitePurposeLink
Hidden WikiIndex of dark web sites, like Wikipediahttp://zqktlwiuavvvqqt4ybvgvi7tyo4hjl5xgfuvpdf6otjiycgwqbym2qad.onion/wiki/index.php/Main_Page
DuckDuckGoPrivacy-friendly search engine that shows .onion linkshttps://duckduckgogg42xjoc72x3sjasowoarfbgcmvfimaftt6twagswzczad.onion/
Tor MetricsCompiles important statistics about the dark webhttp://hctxrvjzfpvmzh2jllqhgvvkoepxb4kfzdjm6h7egcwlumggtktiftid.onion/
SecureDropPlatform for journalists to anonymously share tips and information with news sitesBBC: http://kt2bqe753wj6dgarak2ryj4d6a5tccrivbvod5ab3uxhug5fi624vsqd.onion/

New York Times: http://ej3kv4ebuugcmuwxctx5ic7zxh73rnxt42soi3tdneu2c2em55thufqd.onion/

Financial Times: http://nqu6crmtnzs2hs5abo2uqni53yqsnnwqnerdxuzyz5yxairxlzjzt6yd.onion/

Reuters: http://dvvbik7vtmvwwgj2cziqa36noa26l2pweghd26e5l5qwdnqtwmfhz5id.onion/

Keep in mind that these onion urls will only work if you’re using the right browser to visit them. If you want more ideas of sites to visit, check out our full list of dark web destinations worth visiting.


Dark Web on the Go: Wrapping Up

Being able to access the Tor network on your mobile device opens up several new possibilities. As we’ve explained, it’s very easy to set up a dark web browser on your phone, whether that’s Android or iOS. Just remember that the dark web is no safer on mobile than it is on any other device, so make sure to take all precautions.

Always use a VPN to add another layer of encryption and protection to your internet traffic. A good antivirus scanner will also help keep your device virus-free when venturing out to more dangerous parts of the internet. Most importantly, exercise prudence and common sense. Don’t click on suspicious links and most certainly don’t reveal any information to anyone else you may come across while navigating the dark web.

How to Access the Dark Web on iPhone and Android: Frequently Asked Questions

Check out the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about accessing the dark web on your mobile device below. If there are any questions you’d like answered, please leave them in the comments.

Yes, it’s possible to access the dark web on your iPhone. You need a specialized browser, like Onion browser, to access the dark web on iPhone. Our detailed overview will help you learn more about accessing the dark web on your iPhone.

There is no official Tor browser for iOS as yet. However, you can still access the Tor network using alternate browsers, like OrNet or Onion Browser.

While there’s no official Tor iOS app, other apps, such as Onion browser, are free. These allow you to access the dark web and the Tor network.

Yes, accessing the dark web on Android is fairly straightforward. All you need to do is download the official Tor browser app from the Play Store and connect to the Tor network. You can then access all .onion links.

Check out this comprehensive guide on accessing the dark web on your mobile device for a step-by-step guide.

The Tor project has developed a native app for Android users. It can be found on the Play Store and allows you to access different .onion links and explore the Tor network.

Tech journalist
Mohit is a legal and public policy researcher whose work focuses largely on technology regulation. At VPNOverview, he writes about cybersecurity, cryptocurrencies and sports events.