The Very Best VPN for Android in 2021

By Jovan Milenkovic January 12, 2021

American adults spend an average of nearly four hours per day on their mobile phones. Much of that time is spent online, granting people access to details about your life that you’re probably not very comfortable with sharing. Whether the culprit is Google, Microsoft, Facebook, or a hacker, most smartphone users make it incredibly easy to gain access to their personal data. 

While Apple devices offer certain protection mechanisms, Android users are mostly left to fend for themselves. That’s why finding the best VPN for Android must be a priority for anyone who cares about their privacy.

  • Advanced security features and speeds
  • No-logging policy
  • Excellent ad and malware blocking tool
  • Lackluster app design
Price $3.71/mo
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  • Lightway protocols offer phenomenal speeds
  • Strong security features
  • Intuitive mobile app
  • Expensive
Price $8.32/mo
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  • Ideal for use with Android TV and streaming services
  • Extensive server selection
  • Split tunneling and multihop features
  • Slow
Price $2.25/mo
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  • Unlimited simultaneous device connections
  • Excellent for torrenting
  • Top-notch security and speed
  • Headquartered in the US
Price $3.33/mo
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  • Most affordable
  • Advanced security features
  • Located outside Five Eyes jurisdiction
  • Server ping not visible when connecting
Price $2.49/mo
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1. NordVPN

" Best VPN for Android Overall "

  • Encryption:
    256-bit
  • Total Servers:
    5500+
  • Server Locations:
    70+
  • Maximum Simultaneous Connections:
    6
  • Kill Switch:
    Yes
  • Ad Blocking:
    Yes

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Advanced security features and speeds
  • No-logging policy
  • Excellent ad and malware blocking tool
  • Lackluster app design

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Advanced security features and speeds
  • No-logging policy
  • Excellent ad and malware blocking tool
  • Lackluster app design
  • Encryption:
    256-bit
  • Total Servers:
    5500+
  • Server Locations:
    70+
  • Maximum Simultaneous Connections:
    6
  • Kill Switch:
    Yes
  • Ad Blocking:
    Yes

A 4.3 score on Google Play based on almost 330,000 reviews underscores the popularity of NordVPN. It’s one of the world’s largest VPN providers, with well over 5500 servers across 70+ locations worldwide.

The company is based in Panama, which sits outside the Five Eyes alliance as well as the expanded Nine and Fourteen Eyes surveillance alliances. This means that it’s the best VPN app for people concerned about privacy. In fact, the company is so confident about its no-logging policy that it regularly employs PricewaterhouseCoopers AG to verify their no-logging claims.

Speaking of privacy, the company uses 256-bit AES encryption, has DNS leak protection, offers a great selection of VPN protocols, and provides an extra layer of security with the Double VPN option, routing data through two servers for maximum anonymity at the expense of speed. In addition to Nord’s reliable kill switch, users also get access to the CyberSec feature that offers fantastic ad and malware blocking.

To be considered the best VPN for Android, you need more than top-notch security. Luckily, the company’s patented NordLynx protocol offers premium speeds that can match and sometimes even surpass the speeds available with competitors like ExpressVPN. There are also excellent P2P profiles for torrent lovers, and NordVPN has extensive content unblocking options.

One negative thing about the software is its mobile interface: clearly modeled after the desktop app, it can sometimes be clunky to use, especially during server selection when a large server map occupies much of the screen. As such, it’s not exactly the best VPN for phone users with smaller screens. Customer support is available 24/ if you’re using the app’s live chat option.

Finally, let’s talk about pricing. A two-year plan will set you back $3.71 per month, while signing up for one year costs $4.92 per month. You can also go with monthly payments, but that will drive the price up to $11.95. NordVPN’s free trial comes in the form of a 30-day money-back guarantee that allows you to try out the service risk-free.

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2. ExpressVPN

" Fastest Android for VPN "

  • Encryption:
    256-bit
  • Total Servers:
    3000+
  • Server Locations:
    160
  • Maximum Simultaneous Connections:
    5
  • Kill Switch:
    Yes
  • Ad Blocking:
    Yes

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Lightway protocols offer phenomenal speeds
  • Strong security features
  • Intuitive mobile app
  • Expensive

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Lightway protocols offer phenomenal speeds
  • Strong security features
  • Intuitive mobile app
  • Expensive
  • Encryption:
    256-bit
  • Total Servers:
    3000+
  • Server Locations:
    160
  • Maximum Simultaneous Connections:
    5
  • Kill Switch:
    Yes
  • Ad Blocking:
    Yes

Since its founding in 2009, ExpressVPN has consistently sought to establish itself as the world’s fastest and most secure VPN solution. With over 3000 servers in more than 160 cities around the world, it also has one of the largest server networks in the entire industry. Add to that a glowing 4.3-star rating from almost 175,000 reviews on Google Play and you get a sense of the company’s reputation.

Although NordLynx represents serious competition, ExpressVPN’s proprietary Lightway protocol, which uses wolfSSL, edges it out on speed while offering excellent security features. It’s the fastest VPN for Android that combines 256-bit AES encryption with automatic ad blocking and kill switch functionalities. There’s no double VPN option, but you get split tunneling, which means you can route only a portion of your traffic (i.e. specific apps or browsers) through the VPN, while everything else uses your standard Internet connection.

Privacy-conscious users will also appreciate that ExpressVPN stores its connection data logs in server RAM. This means that the company’s strict no-logging policy is easy to enforce because the servers are rebooted on a regular basis. The company is headquartered in the British Virgin Islands, which has strong privacy legislation and makes ExpressVPN a trustworthy provider.

For people who like customizable but simple-to-use software, ExpressVPN might just be the best VPN app for Android on the market. The software defaults to the superfast Lightway protocol, but users can also choose between OpenVPN and IPSec protocols. The app provides a list of recommended servers when booting up but supports the creation of custom lists with favorite servers. The friendly and knowledgeable customer support team is available 24/7 should you have any questions about running the app.

If there’s one negative aspect about the stellar experience of using ExpressVPN, it’s the price. The most affordable option is a one-year plan that will set you back $8.32 per month. Alternatively, you could pay for six months in advance at $9.99 per month, or $12.95 per month if you don’t like long-term contracts. The company offers a free 30-day trial, helping you figure out if ExpressVPN is the right VPN for your Android device without any risk. 

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3. CyberGhost

" Best VPN for Android TV "

  • Total Servers:
    6700+
  • Server Locations:
    110+
  • Maximum simultaneous connections:
    7
  • Kill switch:
    Yes
  • Ad blocking:
    Yes

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Ideal for use with Android TV and streaming services
  • Extensive server selection
  • Split tunneling and multihop features
  • Slow

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Ideal for use with Android TV and streaming services
  • Extensive server selection
  • Split tunneling and multihop features
  • Slow
  • Total Servers:
    6700+
  • Server Locations:
    110+
  • Maximum simultaneous connections:
    7
  • Kill switch:
    Yes
  • Ad blocking:
    Yes

While not offering the fastest VPN for Android, the Bucharest-based CyberGhost is one of the largest VPN providers in the world. It has an industry-leading collection of almost 7000 servers, across more than 110 locations worldwide. With an average 4.1 rating based on around 115,000 reviews on Google Play, it’s a pretty popular service.

CyberGhost is located in Romania, which means that it operates outside the jurisdiction of the Five Eyes alliance. In addition, it’s strict no-logging policy guarantees that no one can get access to your unencrypted private data without your consent.

When it comes to security features, CyberGhost may not be the best Android VPN app around, but that doesn’t mean it’ll leave you vulnerable in any way. Its military-grade 256-bit AES encryption, a selection of the top security VPN protocols, a reliable kill switch, and DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC leak protection are just some of the features on offer. You can also use split tunneling and multihop between servers for added protection. Finally, the company’s site allows Bitcoin payments that don’t connect your payment and registration details to the service, making you practically impossible to track.

Where CyberGhost really shines, though, is in the very effective content unblocking tools, which make it the perfect companion for your Android TV. Start by clicking on the ‘For streaming’ section to filter the server list by only displaying the streaming-optimized options. This will help you connect to the fastest available server in the appropriate region.

As with any top VPN for Android these days, CyberGhost also offers seamless ad blocking features. The user interface is well-designed and intuitive, while the customer support team can be reached through live chat, email, or even social media networks.

When it comes to price, the best offer is a three-year plan, which is currently on discount. This will set you back  $87.75, which works out to just $2.25 per month. Alternatively, a one-year plan will set you back $3.99. Opting to pay for only one month at a time costs $12.99. CyberGhost is the best VPN for Android when it comes to free trials. You can try any of the long term plans for up to 45 days, giving you plenty of time to test out the service. 

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4. IPVanish

" Best VPN for Android for Beginners "

  • Total Servers:
    1600+
  • Server Locations:
    75+
  • Maximum simultaneous connections:
    Unlimited
  • Kill switch:
    Yes
  • Ad blocking:
    No

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Unlimited simultaneous device connections
  • Excellent for torrenting
  • Top-notch security and speed
  • Headquartered in the US

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Unlimited simultaneous device connections
  • Excellent for torrenting
  • Top-notch security and speed
  • Headquartered in the US
  • Total Servers:
    1600+
  • Server Locations:
    75+
  • Maximum simultaneous connections:
    Unlimited
  • Kill switch:
    Yes
  • Ad blocking:
    No

It may not be as large or as popular as the bigger companies on our list, but IPVanish has a solid and well-deserved reputation on Google’s Play store and within the VPN community. As one of the fastest providers on our list, its 1600+ servers are tailor-made for P2P sharing purposes, a fact that the company openly advertises. It also supports unlimited device connections, which few VPN providers can boast about.

While picking the best VPN for Android, we’ve taken a look at VPN services from around the world. IPVanish is the only company on our list based in the United States and unfortunately falls under the jurisdiction of the Five Eyes alliance. Nevertheless, the site follows a strict no-logging policy. And unless you are a murderer or terrorist wanted by the FBI, the chances of the government caring about your online activities are slim to none.

Connections to the company’s servers are secured by 256-bit AES encryption, and you’re free to choose between the OpenVPN, PPTP, and L2TP protocols. As with any toprated VPN for Android, anonymous signup and payment options keep your identity protected, while automatically switchable IP addresses and split tunneling provide further customization. There’s also a very reliable automatic kill switch. However, IPVanish doesn’t offer any ad blocking functionality.

The app is very intuitive and is especially useful if you’re interested in torrenting. It gives automatic recommendations for the best P2P servers and countries while providing very quick transfer speeds. The customer support team is reachable 24/7 through live chat. So if you have any questions about using the app, the answers are just a few messages away.

As with the best VPN for mobile devices, you have several payment options at your disposal. The most affordable one is $39.99 per year, which works out to just over $3.33 per month. After the first billing cycle, the price goes up to $79.99 per year.  Alternatively, you can pay on a monthly basis, in which case your first month will set you back $4.99, and each subsequent one is $9.99. You can also add 500 GB of secure cloud storage for $5.49 for the first month or $49.99 for the first year. There is a 30-day money-back guarantee if you sign up for the annual plan.

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5. Surfshark

" Best Budget VPN for Android "

  • Total Servers:
    3200+
  • Server Locations:
    65+
  • Maximum simultaneous connections:
    Unlimited
  • Kill switch:
    Yes
  • Ad blocking:
    No

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Most affordable
  • Advanced security features
  • Located outside Five Eyes jurisdiction
  • Server ping not visible when connecting

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Most affordable
  • Advanced security features
  • Located outside Five Eyes jurisdiction
  • Server ping not visible when connecting
  • Total Servers:
    3200+
  • Server Locations:
    65+
  • Maximum simultaneous connections:
    Unlimited
  • Kill switch:
    Yes
  • Ad blocking:
    No

Surfshark was launched in 2018 and is one of the newest Android VPNs on the market. In this short period of time, the company managed to get a four-star reputation on Google Play and nearly 2.5 million customers worldwide. This success can mostly be attributed to an offer that combines affordable pricing with excellent features, such as unlimited simultaneous VPN connections. As with the best mobile VPN Android solutions, all of the company’s 3200+ servers are P2P friendly, and most allow you to choose between OpenVPN, IPSec, and Shadowsocks protocols.

When it comes to security, Surfshark uses 256-bit AES encryption, has excellent DNS leak protection, and enforces a strict no-logging policy. Considering that the company is located in the British Virgin Islands (well outside the jurisdiction of the Five Eyes alliance), you’re safe from the government’s prying eyes. There’s also a kill switch for those rare occasions when a connection to the company’s servers is lost for whatever reason.

Surfshark offers a fantastic multihop feature similar to NordVPN and other top VPN apps for Android. It allows you to sacrifice a bit of speed for ultimate anonymity by routing your online traffic through several servers. There is also a Whitelister split tunneling feature as well as an ad and malware blocker called CleanWeb.

The app itself runs well on Android, and we had no bugs or crashes during testing. Not everything is perfect, though. The software’s interface doesn’t tell you the current load or ping on a server, so you have to trust Surfshark’s recommendations or do your own testing. On the plus side, 24/7 customer support is available through live chat, so you should be able to get fairly quick answers to any questions you have.

While Surfshark may not be the best VPN on Android overall, it’s certainly the best budget option if you want to have multihop, split tunneling, and other advanced security features mixed with unlimited VPN connections for all your devices. A two-year plan is only $2.49 per month, while the six-month one costs $6.49. There are currently no yearly plans available, and choosing to pay for just one month in advance drives the price up to $12.95.

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What is a VPN and why do you need one?

VPN stands for virtual private network. The key word is private. A typical Internet connection (especially through a fixed IP address) can easily be exploited to locate the device used to connect to the Internet. That’s because a standard unencrypted connection gives your device a public IP address that’s easy to geolocate and track. Nowadays people use VPNs for various reasons: streaming, chatting, or reaching restricted sites, and there are even dedicated VPN services for different apps and programs like Opera, Chrome or Safari.

A safe VPN for Android connects you to an external server, masking your true IP address and effectively fooling someone into thinking you’re connecting from a completely different location. In addition to safeguarding your private data while you’re browsing the Internet, it also allows you to bypass geo-blocked content. For example, using a VPN app can give you access to region-blocked streaming services like Netflix and Hulu.

Another key aspect of VPN services is data encryption. Some messaging or social network messaging apps, such as Viber and WhatsApp use advanced encryption techniques, while others don’t. Good VPN apps pick up the slack, ensuring that your private communication (either through messaging or VoIP calls) actually stays private. 

Still not convinced? You can also use VPN apps to overcome government censorship in countries like China or to protect your phone when connecting to unsecured open Wi-Fi connections in public. They can even block annoying YouTube ads.

Considering how often we use our phones, it only makes sense to protect them with a good virtual private network solution. Furthermore, VPN providers often offer licenses that cover multiple devices, making it simple and cost-effective to cover your Android phone along with your PC or laptop.

What to look for in a VPN?

Although there are differences when it comes to specifics, the best VPN apps on the market all share some common traits.

First off, you’ll want to think about security and privacy protection. What sort of encryption does the VPN protection use? The 256-bit advanced encryption standard is the norm these days, though some services still use the less-resource-intensive (and less secure) 128-bit and 192-bit encryption. 

Next you have to look at the VPN protocols being used. IPSec? SSL/TLS? OpenVPN? SSH? We won’t get into details about each protocol type, but unless the company has its own custom solution, IPSec and OpenVPN variants tend to be the most commonly used ones as they provide the highest degree of protection.

Network coverage is another obvious component to consider when looking for the best VPN for your Android phone. The more servers and server locations a VPN provider offers, the better your chances of finding a high-speed virtual server near your location and enjoying a VPN service with minimal drops in speed. The same goes for accessing regionally locked content or overcoming censorship.

For many people, speed is another important consideration. Running servers costs money, so even the best free VPN solutions are usually no match for the hardware found with the bestpaid VPN alternatives. Every VPN solution slows down your Internet connection speed (routing through virtual servers, sometimes multiple times, takes bandwidth), so ensuring that you connect to the fastest possible servers will minimize the negative impact on your connection.

Then, there’s the logging policy. Quite simply, the ideal service is one that keeps no logs of your activities whatsoever, but not all VPN providers can ensure that in practice. At the end of the day, you’re using a VPN precisely so that nobody except you would know what you’re doing on your phone. Some providers record sessions in order to delete them later, and the best Android VPN apps store them on RAM so that every time a server is rebooted the logs are deleted. 

Generally speaking, no one has the time or the will to go through your logs, and your data is encrypted anyway, but there have been cases in the past when VPN services turned data over to the government. As such, companies operating outside the jurisdiction of the Five Eyes alliance (an intelligence-sharing network that groups the US, Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand) are your best bet for complete anonymity online.

Finally, there’s the user experience and price. You want software that is easy to use and customer support that’s easily accessible and helpful. Bonus points are given to software that supports multiple device logins with one subscription. You also don’t want to get ripped off. The best mobile VPN solutions offer long term deals that significantly drive the price down. Ideally, you’ll want a free trial to check out the app’s features, but never select subscriptions on a monthly basis if you can help it, as the price tends to be much higher. 

Our Methodology

When choosing between the various popular Android VPN options on the market, we use a methodology based on many of the same principles that we’ve outlined above. The key aspects that make a good VPN for Android were evaluated as follows:

Server Coverage and Speed

This category looks at the number of servers and their geographical coverage, as well as the average and top speeds that are achievable when using a VPN solution. The more servers you have available, the higher the chances of finding a less populated one near your location, which in turn increases the chances of getting a fast connection. Although many people believe that the best VPN for Android is free, top Android VPN options that offer speed and extensive server coverage invariably come with a price tag.

VPN Protocols and Encryption

There are multiple types of encryption and protocols used in VPN solutions these days. The ideal service comes with 128-bit SSL encryption, paired with 2048-bit public/private keys, but some of the top solutions around offer military-grade 256-bit AES encryption. In terms of protocols, OpenVPN and IPSec are increasingly common due to their high-security measures, although SSL/TLS and the older PPTP are still being used. 

Bandwidth Allocation

While most good Android VPN providers offer unlimited monthly bandwidth, some don’t. This is especially true if you choose the free option, which typically has monthly caps, after which you’ll either experience a drop in connection speed or VPN access will be cut off completely.

Kill Switch

Speaking of cutting off access, even the best solutions on the market might sometimes run into issues with their servers. Losing a connection can potentially expose your private data that the VPN was busy hiding. If you maintain an Internet connection, you may not notice anything until it’s too late. This is why the safest VPN for Android will have the option of automatically killing all data transfers until a connection with the VPN is restored. This effectively cuts all access to the Internet for however long it takes to connect to a VPN server again (typically no more than a few seconds).

DNS Leak Protection

A Domain Name System or DNS converts domain names into IP addresses. While connecting to a DNS server and requesting an IP address in order to establish a connection with the site, some of your online traffic may leak through to the default DNS servers owned by your Internet service provider. The best VPN apps for Android feature DNS leak protection, which prevents leaks by ensuring that all DNS queries are resolved on the same VPN server that you’re using.

Logging Policy

This category examines one of the most important aspects of a smartphone VPN: how session logging is handled. Most big companies have strict no-logging policies, but this isn’t always implemented in practice. Ideally, the company should be based in a country that falls outside the jurisdiction of international surveillance networks, such as the Five Eyes alliance and hold the session logs in the server RAM, ensuring that it gets deleted every time the servers get reset.

Ad Blocking and Content Unblocking

The best VPN software often offers extensive options for both blocking and unblocking content. The former refers to various sophisticated ad-blocking features that enhance your experience while browsing the Internet or watching YouTube videos. The latter is all about bypassing geo-blocked content on streaming services, such as HBO, Netflix, and Hulu.  

Bonus Features

These vary greatly between providers and can be anything from sophisticated double encryption and specialized P2P servers for torrenting to malware and antivirus protection. While not essential, bonus features offer further functionality that helps distinguish one Android VPN from another.

User Experience

The best mobile VPNs offer more than just fantastic tools for safeguarding your online privacy. A solid user experience is just as important as the product’s features. This includes everything from a well-designed and intuitive user interface to a snappy operation that’s free of lag and crashes. It also includes great customer support that’s always available to answer questions or solve any problems that may arise. This category looks at everything from the general experience of using the software to the available customer support channels and the team’s working hours.

Price and Value

Our final category is all about the overall value a VPN provider offers for your money. The best VPNs for Android aren’t typically low-cost products, but there are varying prices when it comes to VPN services. While paying more tends to give you access to more/better servers and advanced security features, there are a number of other things to consider. Providers may focus on completely different aspects of the software, offering different benefits with each price tier. Knowing what you need and what you should expect to pay for it is crucial when picking the right VPN service.

The Best VPN for Android:

  1. NordVPN
  2. ExpressVPN
  3. Cyberghost
  4. IPVanish
  5. Surfshark

FAQ

What is the best Android VPN?

The answer to this question depends on both your needs and budget. ExpressVPN offers staggeringly quick speeds, NordVPN has the best security features, while CyberGhost and Surfshark offer some of the most affordable deals on the market. Any option from our list is solid. You’ll just need to decide what features you want and at what price.

Are VPNs illegal?

Unless a country specifically outlaws using a VPN, it is perfectly legal. That being said,  downloading pirated software and copyrighted materials while using a VPN is still illegal. VPNs can be a gateway to many illegal or dubious activities, but using them is not considered illegal in the vast majority of countries around the world.

Is it illegal to watch Netflix with a VPN?

No. In fact, the best phone VPN apps are often sought out precisely for this feature. Netflix and other popular streaming platforms often limit their library for non-US viewers and offer different regional repertoires when it comes to movies and TV shows.

Can VPNs be traced?

Yes and no. If you are using top-shelf VPN solutions with advanced security features and encryption protocols, the chances of your real IP address and other personal data being compromised are very slim. If the provider also has a strict no-logging policy, your session logs won’t be available to anyone. Using low-cost or free VPN services, however, opens you up to potential problems with data anonymity and security online.

Is VPN safe for Android?

If you pick the right one, yes. The best VPN for Android will have military-grade encryption and advanced security features as well as a strict no-logging policy. All this ensures that your sensitive data is protected from prying eyes at all times.

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