Best VPN for Android in 2022
Updated: August 22,2022
American adults use cell phones more than four hours per day, not including calls. iPhone and Android users spend much of that time online, leaving a digital footprint they are probably not very comfortable 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 Android app design
A 4.3 score on the Google Play store based on almost 330,000 reviews underscores the popularity of NordVPN. It’s one of the world’s largest VPN providers, including for Android devices, with over 5,000 servers across 60 locations.
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 it’s the best VPN app for Android users concerned about privacy. The company is so confident about its no-logging policy that it regularly employs PricewaterhouseCoopers AG to verify its claims.
Speaking of privacy, the Android VPN provider uses 256-bit AES encryption, has DNS leak protection, and offers a great selection of VPN protocols. It 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, VPN 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 Android app’s patented NordLynx protocol offers premium speeds that can match and sometimes even surpass those of competitors like ExpressVPN.
There are also excellent P2P profiles for torrent lovers, and NordVPN has extensive content unblocking options. Binge watchers will be glad to hear it unblocks Netflix.
One negative thing about the software is its mobile interface: clearly modeled after the desktop version, it can sometimes be clunky, 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 $3.67 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. The Android app’s free trial comes in the form of a 30-day money-back guarantee that allows you to try out the best-rated VPN for Android risk-free.
- Lightway protocols offer phenomenal speeds
- Strong security features
- Intuitive mobile app
Since its founding in 2009, ExpressVPN has consistently sought to establish itself as the world’s fastest and most secure VPN solution. With over 3,000 servers in more than 160 cities around the world, it also has one of the industry’s largest server networks. Add a glowing 4.3-star rating from almost 175,000 reviews on Google Play, and you get a sense of the Android app’s reputation.
Although NordLynx represents serious competition, ExpressVPN edges it out on speed thanks to its proprietary Lightway protocol, which uses wolfSSL, while also 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.
Users concerned about internet freedom will also appreciate that this Android VPN stores its connection data logs in server RAM. The company’s strict no-logging policy is easy to enforce because the servers are regularly rebooted. ExpressVPN is headquartered in the British Virgin Islands, which has strong privacy legislation.
ExpressVPN might be the best VPN app for Android on the market for people who like customizable but simple-to-use software. The software defaults to the superfast Lightway protocol, but users can choose between OpenVPN and IPSec protocols. The Android 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 questions about running the app.
Though no one expected this to be a free VPN service, its pricing is surprisingly high. The most affordable option is a 15-month plan for $6.67/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.
Still, you can use the free 30-day trial to decide whether ExpressVPN is the best VPN service for your Android device.
- Ideal for use with Android TV and streaming services
- Extensive server selection
- Split tunneling and multihop features
While not offering the fastest VPN for Android, Bucharest-based CyberGhost is one of the largest VPN providers in the world. It has an industry-leading collection of over 7,000 servers across more than 110 locations worldwide. With an average 4.1 rating based on around 115,000 reviews on the Google Play store, its dedicated Android app is pretty popular.
CyberGhost operates outside the jurisdiction of the Five Eyes alliance. In addition, its strict no-logging policy guarantees that no one can get access to your unencrypted private data without your consent.
CyberGhost may not be the best Android VPN app regarding security features, but that doesn’t mean it’ll leave you vulnerable. 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.
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 shines, though, is in the very effective content unblocking tools, which make it the perfect companion for Amazon Prime video and streaming platforms in general. 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.
While it is not a free Android VPN app, 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.
- Unlimited simultaneous device connections
- Excellent for torrenting
- Top-notch security and speed
- Headquartered in the US
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 Play and within the VPN community. As one of the fastest providers on our list, its 1,900+ servers are tailor-made for P2P sharing. It also supports unlimited devices.
While picking the best VPN for Android, we looked into most VPN apps used worldwide. 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 top-rated VPN for Android, anonymous signup and payment options protect your identity, 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 automatically recommends the best P2P servers and countries while providing rapid 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.
Unfortunately, this is not a free Android VPN, but as is customary with the best VPN for mobile devices, you have several payment options at your disposal.
The most affordable one is $44.99 per year, which is just over $3.75 per month. Alternatively, you can pay 10.99/month. You can add 500 GB of secure cloud storage for $12.99/month or $54.99 for the first year. There is a 30-day money-back guarantee if you sign up for the annual plan.
- Most affordable
- Advanced security features
- Outside Five Eyes jurisdiction
- Server ping not visible when connecting
Surfshark is one of the newest Android VPNs on the market, and since its launch in 2018, it has secured a four-star reputation on Google Play and nearly 2.5 million customers worldwide. As is the norm for the best mobile VPN Android solutions, the company's 3,200-plus servers are P2P-friendly, and most allow you to choose between OpenVPN, IPSec, and Shadowsocks protocols.
Regarding 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 and an ad and malware blocker called CleanWeb.
The dedicated Android app works well – 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 reasonably quick answers to any questions you have.
While Surfshark may not be the best VPN on Android overall, it’s undoubtedly the best budget option if you want multihop, split tunneling, and other advanced security features mixed with unlimited VPN connections for all your devices.
Though there is no free version, a two-year plan costs 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.
Top Android VPNs
How We Review VPNs for Android
When choosing between the various popular Android VPN options on the market, we use a methodology based on many of the same principles outlined above. The key aspects that make a good VPN for Android were evaluated according to the criteria listed below.
Server Coverage and Speed
This category looks at the number of servers, their geographical coverage, and the average and top speeds 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, increasing 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 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.
While most good Android VPN providers offer unlimited bandwidth, some don’t. This is especially true if you choose the free version, which typically has monthly caps, after which you’ll experience a drop in connection speed or VPN access will be cut off.
Speaking of cutting off access, even the best solutions on the market might sometimes run into issues with their servers. Losing a connection can expose the private data that the VPN was busy hiding. If you maintain an Internet connection, you may not notice anything until it’s too late.
To solve this, the safest VPN for Android will have the option of automatically killing all data transfers until a connection with the VPN is restored. This kill switch 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 converts domain names into IP addresses. While connecting to a DNS server and requesting an IP address 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 prevent this with DNS leak protection, ensuring that all DNS queries are resolved on the same VPN server you’re using.
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 sometimes fail to implement them fully.
Ideally, the company should be based in a country that falls outside the jurisdiction of international surveillance networks, such as the Five Eyes alliance. It should also hold session logs in the server RAM, ensuring that it gets deleted every time the servers are 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 about bypassing geo-blocked content on streaming services, such as HBO, Netflix, and Hulu.
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 additional functionality that helps distinguish one Android VPN from another.
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. It includes everything from a well-designed and intuitive user interface to a snappy operation free of lag and crashes.
User experience will also be shaped by customer support always available to answer questions or solve problems. 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 the prices of VPN services vary. While paying more tends to give you access to more/better servers and advanced security features, there are other things to consider. Providers may focus on different aspects of the software, offering additional 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. And if the cost is essential to you, there are always free VPNs you can check out.
What is a VPN, and Why Do You Need One?
VPN stands for a 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 such as streaming, chatting, or reaching restricted sites. There are even dedicated VPN services for different apps and programs like Chrome, Opera, or Safari.
A safe VPN for Android connects you to an external server, masking your actual IP address and effectively fooling someone into thinking you’re connecting from a completely different location. In addition to safeguarding your private data while browsing the internet, it allows you to bypass geo-blocked content. For example, a VPN app can give you access to region-blocked streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, or BBC iPlayer.
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) 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 Android phones, it only makes sense to protect them with a solid 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, as well as your PC or laptop.
What To Look For in a VPN
While specifics may differ, 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 encrypted connection can you get with the VPN protection? 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 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 users, speed is another critical consideration. Running servers costs money, so even the best free VPN solutions are usually no match for the hardware found with the best–paid 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. The ideal service simply keeps no logs of your activities, 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 to delete them later, and the best Android VPN apps store them on RAM so that the logs are deleted every time a server is rebooted.
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 when VPN services turned data over to the government. 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
Unless a country specifically outlaws using a VPN, it is perfectly legal. That 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 most countries.
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 for movies and TV shows.
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.
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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