David Balaban is a computer security researcher with over 15 years of experience in malware analysis and antivirus software evaluation. He has published his articles on such online media as Hackernoon, Tripwire, Infosecinstitute, and Cybrary.
- The 5 Best Rated VPNs for Android
The 5 Best Rated VPNs for Android
Perhaps, it’s not easy to choose a good VPN for Android. According to my technical test, the majority of the VPN software, working on Windows, Mac, and iOS with no bugs, show unstable performance on Android, with personal data leaks in most cases.
Moreover, after successful IP leak tests done by third-party services, my real-time test exposed possible leaks of the true user’s IP. The test helps to examine the work of apps by simulating disconnections and changing 2G, 3G, 4G, and Wi-Fi networks. Those two factors make VPN more vulnerable.
For this reason, technical tests on Android have largely determined the positions of the VPN services from our Top 10 VPNs.
If you need an ideal VPN app for Android, I recommend you to use one of our 5 best VPN services for Android. 4 providers from the list have proved their reliability and anonymity for Android. But there’s the one (IPVanish) with an IP leak while disconnecting. It has been included in our top 5 thanks to the popularity in the US and high speed.
The choice of these 5 VPNs is determined by technical testing on smartphone and tablet, popularity and usability. User reviews on Google Play Market and our website were taken into consideration.
It is the most popular VPN service for Android across the globe. NordVPN has over 5000 servers throughout the world.
Easy setup without registration, protection against location leaks, error-free protection against information capturing, fast speed and steady app operation.
Like ExpressVPN, NordVPN is a multi-purpose service. That is why it is suitable for any purpose whatsoever. Also, NordVPN offers Double VPN (VPN server chaining) for the users who are extremely concerned about their anonymity.
I’ve found information that the app might run down battery too much. There are occasions when the application hangs up. But I failed to discover more essential bugs.
The level of interest based on internet search “NordVPN Android”, according to Google Trends:
The service is tried-and-true, and its popularity speaks for itself. I recommend to use it on Android as well as other OSs.
More details on NordVPN:
It’s a relatively new service in the market of VPNs, but it has already gained the reputation of a reliable service for Android. As for me, I consider Surfshark to be one of the best providers in our top list for Android. Why?
The setup process is dead easy, and it takes 2-3 minutes to install the app on a smartphone. What really made me happy is the opportunity to connect all my devices to this VPN as it offers unlimited connections. That’s a big plus!
Surfshark differs from other VPN providers by its rapid development of the server network. I’ve just compared the number of servers when I first tested the service in 2018 and its current network and was surprised to find out that now it has 1040+ servers in 61 + countries (while in 2018 there were 800+ servers in 50+ countries). Is it the only advantage of its servers? No! I tested the servers and find them fast (even faster than ExpressVPN’s ones).
What makes it #2 in our rating of VPNs for Android?
I recommend using Surfshark on Android for its no-logging policy, strong protocols which you can choose in the settings, and Kill Switch. And finally, its monthly price for a 2-year plan is dead affordable.
More details on Surfshark:
It’s a fantastically handy and trustworthy application offered by one of the two most popular VPN services worldwide. Being the leader in the market of VPN services, ExpressVPN proposes a decent all-purpose VPN for Android with superior characteristics.
Easy to set up and use without registration, consistency at displacement, if out of communication, or when switching from mobile internet to WiFi, fast speed and low power consumption.
It’s suitable for VoIP, anonymous surfing on the Internet (including public WiFi), bypassing geo-restrictions, Netflix unblocking.
I haven’t found information about any troubles with the app when reading reviews about ExpressVPN.
The level of interest based on internet search “ExpressVPN Android”, according to Google Trends:
I use this VPN service both for work and personal advantage for a long time already. I recommend to use it on Android as well as on other OSs.
More details on ExpressVPN:
- Brief overview
- Complete ExpressVPN review
- Details on the setup on mobile devices
- Details on testing on Android (Our Realtime Test)
It was the most popular service worldwide to 2017. Android app is attractive and up-to-date. It doesn’t run down battery significantly and doesn’t hang up. However, according to reviews, it has some trivial defects.
The key features of CyberGhost are top-level, except for possible troubles when watching HD video being connected to some locations. As for the speed, it is high.
The service might be used for all purposes.
On the whole, the reviews are positive, but some of them report about technical defects of the app.
The level of interest based on internet search “CyberGhost Android”, according to Google Trends:
The service is reputable, and its popularity is growing. I recommend it to people who want to try a full-fledged VPN without payment in advance. Also, you will be provided with a dedicated IP. It is very useful when you need to travel and still have access to the services which restrict access by IP address.
More details on CyberGhost:
Find more information in our detailed CyberGhost review.
It is a fast and user-friendly service for Android with detailed traffic statistics.
The disadvantage of IPVanish app for Android is the lack of a “Kill Switch” function – internet connection blocking when a VPN connection is lost. It’s a serious security hole for the users of mobile devices.
An additional point is that I usually don’t recommend to use VPN services located on the territory of “14 eyes” alliance (the ones to follow US jurisdiction in particular). But this service possesses strong technical capability.
Reviews report that the app doesn’t work on certain phone models.
It might be used for many purposes which don't require anonymity.
The level of interest based on internet search “IPVanish Android”, according to Google Trends, takes the 2nd place in the US and shares the 3rd place with CyberGhost across the globe:
I recommend IPVanish to people who want to have high VPN speed and monitor the details of this secured connection through the app.
I don’t recommend it to users who are concerned about their anonymity. Besides, a 7-day money-back guarantee is a rather short period for a refund.
Before paying for it, check if the app works on your gadget.
More details on IPVanish:
Find more information in our detailed IPVanish review.
I’ll provide you with the table to compare their features and choose the most appropriate service for you.
For more information, read here.
3. 4 simple steps to set up VPN on Android
VPN is easy to use. You just need to follow 4 steps once in order to use Virtual Private Network for Android:
- Choose a service. Make use of our recommendations. Follow the link to one of VPN sites.
- Come up with a tariff plan. Remember that you’ll be able to refund your money even if you don’t use a trial period (the service is offered, for example by CyberGhost).
- Make payment (if you don’t use a free trial period).
- You’ll receive an e-mail with the link and QR-code for downloading the software from Google Play Market. Install it.
Done! All apps from our Top 5 VPNs are user-friendly and simple in use. You’ll be able to turn a VPN on and off by one click.
4. When do you need VPN for mobile devices?
I recommend you to set up a VPN on your mobile device if you …
- … go to a foreign country. It will both protect you and let you avoid changing language configurations on many sites;
- … use public Wi-Fi network.
- … your apps may transfer credentials or other personal data.
- … want to visit blocked websites.
- … use VoIP-telephony (WhatsApp, Skype, Viber, Facebook, Telegram, etc).
- … want to watch Netflix and other streaming services in foreign regions.
In fact, I always recommend you to use VPN :) As for me, I’ve been doing it for many years.
Learn more why use VPN for mobile devices:
An Android operating system has been more stable and secure. But together with the improvement of the system parameters, smartphone and tablet’s field of application is expanding. Along with the traffic, personal, bank and other sensitive information is transferred.
But there are ‘’nodes’’, which are vulnerable to eavesdropping, between your device and endpoint. They are both your mobile network operator’ s hardware, and the one which is under the control of the authorities. Your mobile, Wi-Fi and ‘’wired’’ traffic goes through them. Your geo-location and visited sites are collected and kept for a few years in most countries (read the article “Congress dismantles Internet privacy rules, allowing ISPs to sell your web history” at PCWorld.com).
Moreover, the transferred information may be intercepted, recorded or blocked (and in some countries it is done by law).
In most cases it won’t influence you anyway, but there may be problems if you visit the countries where citizens are under control. You may not even know that you break law when visiting the sites that you usually visit in your country.
It’s worth paying attention to public Wi-Fi networks. The users of free Wi-Fi networks are largely monitored by cybercriminals, and they risk falling victim to hacking, interceptions and infecting with malware by hackers (read the post “Why hackers love public Wi-Fi” at norton.com).
How to protect yourself online? You can legally hide your geo-location and the domains of the sites you visit, and encrypt the traffic. Virtual Private Network (VPN) is perfect for it.
The technology of VPN is legal all over the world, except some countries. But even there the authorities largely don’t disturb those people who use VPN for personal needs and don’t commit a crime.
I recommend you to always use a VPN on your smartphone. As far as all good VPN providers offer 3 and more devices for simultaneous use, be sure you set up VPN on your tablet, laptop and PC.
5. Why free VPNs are dangerous. Free plans of paid VPNs
When somebody asks me about free VPN for Android, I recommend using a free plan of a paid service.
The question is that the principles of work of free and paid VPNs are different. The former attracts new clients to premium tariffs by means of free plans with speed or traffic consumption restrictions. The latter one makes money off annoying ads that is often shown not only while using apps for Android but also it is directly put in your traffic, which slows down internet speed and increase Android battery drain.
What’s more, they may sell your personal data to third parties and use your smartphone or tablet for illegal activities. There are lots of reports about free VPN services that distribute malware on Android and other operating systems. You may look through the following article “Malware, User Privacy Failures Found in Top Free VPN Android Apps” at BleepingComputer (January, 2019).
What’s the solution?
Free tariffs are offered by many worthy providers. It’s a wonderful alternative for those who don’t care about internet connection speeds or traffic restrictions that may reach 500MB per month.
But the best way is using a free trial VPN. Lots of VPN providers offer an opportunity to use their services with no speed or traffic restrictions. When you make use of a real VPN, you’ll decide if you want to continue with a paid plan or find another service with a free period.
Remember that there’s no best free VPN for Android. Don’t risk your safety! Don’t install free VPN apps.