5 Best VPNs for Android in 2019
What's the Best VPN for Android Users?
We all know the importance of protecting our internet connections when at home or in the office. Almost everyone today realizes the importance of encryption and being able to route traffic through an encrypted server is downright necessary to ensure privacy and security. While we all agree that protecting traffic to and from our laptops and desktop computers is essential, it is equally important to ensure that it is done for smartphones too. In particular, we are talking about Android devices.
All Android phone users whether they have a Samsung Note, OnePlus or an older model should be connected to a VPN each time they access to the internet. Similar to internet traffic on your computer, the traffic to and from your phone should be protected. If not then anyone with even a limited skill set can capture and decrypt the traffic you’re sending or receiving.
Not only do Android VPNs help to encrypt your traffic but they also help you stay anonymous online. You also get to bypass geo-restricted websites like versions of YouTube, Netflix, etc.
Those who think that they have no reason to hide the traffic from their Android devices should think again. Each time you send a photo, email or any other bit of information, there could be people intercepting it. It is primarily a concern if you’re connected to public WiFi networks.
Organizations like the Electronic Frontier foundation highly recommend that people use VPNs to circumvent surveillance by ISPs. So, the same goes for mobile services and carriers that provide mobile data services. Now that you’ve decided to install a VPN on your Android phone, the next step is to find the right one.
In this article, we review some of the best VPN apps for Android phones.
4 Great Android VPNs Alternatives
How To Choose The Best VPN Android Apps
Well, there are quite a few things you need to bear in mind when choosing an Android VPN app. Perhaps the most important is to consider the company’s reputation. You never want to download and use an app with a dodgy reputation. Moreover, Google Play has many so-called VPN apps which are nothing more than spyware.
Generally, below is what we consider when choosing an Android VPN app and so should you:
Company’s Reputation: We always check the company’s background to find out how long they have been in business and what the general public has to say about them. Once we have confirmed that the company whose selling or developing the app has a good reputation, we move to step no. 2.
Pricing: Everyone wants to find the best deal in town. However, in the VPN industry, while prices have dropped tremendously in just these few years alone, it does not mean you should overpay. That being said finding the best bang for your buck will ideally mean a VPN app that also doubles as one for your Windows PC or Mac computer. After all the more platforms it supports, the more bang, you’re getting for every hard-earned dollar spent!
Features: Well you always want to use a VPN app which offers the best selection of features. The most important features include military grade encryption, a large number of servers, additional privacy features, special streaming servers, etc.
Ease of Use: We know of many Android VPN apps which are difficult to use. It goes without saying that most people will never want to use an app that’s impossible to understand. So, ease of use is a big thing even for tech geeks like us. The good news is that our top 5 list consists of apps which are very easy to use.
Warning: While you may be tempted to buy or download many free or cheap VPN apps for Android, but they can be dangerous. The apps never mention what strings are attached to their so-called “free” offer. That’s why its best to choose one of the apps we’ve listed below.
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5 Best VPN Apps for Android Devices
When it comes to Android VPN apps, NordVPN is one of the top contenders. It is one of the best Android VPNs in terms of performance, ease of use and features. So, it is no wonder that the app has a 4.4 rating on Google Play, arguably the highest you’ll see in this industry.
The Android app provides users with access to over 5575 servers located in 60 countries all a single tap away. Also available is a built-in adblocker which reduces your mobile data consumption by closing unwanted commercial pop-ups and other forms of advertising. All users need is to fire up the app and choose a server, then tap on ‘connect.’
Perhaps most people will appreciate the fact that NordVPN provides a week-long free trial. If you don’t like the service cancel it before the 7-day trial ends.
Here are a couple of NordVPN’s Stand Out Features:
Amazing Speed: Our speed test of NordVPN’s app for Android registered solid scores. On average our internet was 24% slower. We connected and then disconnected three times. Each time we ran the Speed Test app by Ookla. Even though it isn’t the fastest VPN out there, it is still fast enough. Most people on 4G connections will not notice the drop in speed.
Double VPN: NordVPN’s app also has a feature called Double VPN, which is extra secure. The feature has been ported from its desktop counterpart which runs your traffic two VPN servers and encrypting it each time. While it doubles the security, it also slows down your internet connection by up to 40%.
We found ExpressVPN to be fast and relatively secure. Our internet took an average 13% hit in terms of speed. However, keep in mind that the speed will vary quite a bit depending on your version of Android, the speed of your phone, internet connection, etc. But in our opinion Express VPN’s app should help you get the best possible speed.
The other great thing about the app is the fact that it makes accessing all the advanced features very easy. You can tap on the settings and choose from various encryption protocols. As a matter of fact, if you’ve used the desktop version of the app, you’ll find yourself right at home with the Android version too. Did we mention that one subscription works for both the mobile and desktop versions of the app?
One of the most exciting features of Express VPN’s app is its backward compatibility. So, the app works with the latest Android Oreo and all the way back with Jelly Bean.
Interesting Features include:
Recommended Location: As soon as you tap on the app to open it up, you’re presented with a recommended location. It is often the fastest and nearest server which results in the fastest internet experience. Just one tap connects you to the server. You can also choose from a selection of servers across over 94 countries. Plus, you can save servers as favorites to make accessing them quicker.
OpenVPN Security: ExpressVPN’s Android app like all the other apps we’ve reviewed uses OpenVPN security protocol. However, the difference is that OpenVPN is set as the default protocol.
ExpressVPN’s app is every bit as competent as the competition. Perhaps the only thing that puts it behind the competition is its steep price. A higher price may turn some people off, but the added reliability seems to be attracting many. Not to mention the fact that the app is super easy to use!
#3 Private Internet Access
PIA is undoubtedly one of the most popular Android VPN apps around. The Google Play Store gives it a 4.5 rating putting it amongst elite VPN services. While PIA is a reliable VPN service it does have its kinks for starters there is no favorites system similar to perhaps the one offered by ExpressVPN’s app.
PIA does not offer a free trial which may be a bummer for people who have become accustomed to trying out a piece of software or an app for free before paying for it.
On the other hand, you have support for UDP, TCP, proxy and port forwarding. Users can define their remote and local ports as well as choose from a list of various encryption algorithms.
Various Security Features: PIA’s app will even vibrate your android phone each time you’re connected, along with a kill switch and auto-connection feature. So, if you’re one of those people who seems hop from one coffee shop’s network to the next, this should keep you protected at all times.
Ease of Use: PIA’s biggest strength is its ease of use. The rather large on/off button is hard to miss, along with the region/IP address setting at the bottom.
Good Speeds: PIA in our testing offered great speeds. On average our internet speeds took a 20% hit for the most part.
#4 CyberGhost VPN
CyberGhost’s Android app is some of the best out there which justifies its 4.3 rating on Google Play. It is also one of the oldest Android VPN apps out there with over 49,654 reviews and counting. However, as of late, the company has improved the app considerably, making it easier to use and putting all of its features a tap away.
The big difference between the desktop version and the android one is that with the app you don’t get access to all six modes. They seem to have removed the option to “torrent anonymously” and “unlock basic websites.” We managed to do both by finding the right servers for each, via the “choose my server” feature. In a nutshell, many features had to be removed so that the android app version was easier to use.
When testing speeds, we found that CyberGhost’s Android app had a 25% adverse effect which is to say isn’t amongst the best but not the worst either. Using servers further away has up to a 50% percent drop in speed. So, you may want to find the fastest, nearest server if using a slower connection. Though most 4G users wouldn’t notice much of a decline in speed during everyday use.
DNS and IP leak protection: Coupled with the VPN kill switch these features on an android phone make a lot of sense because users are continually going in and out of internet connection zones. It also includes zero logging and a selection of many encryption protocols.
App protection: The feature is amongst of our favorites as it prevents apps from sending unencrypted data.
Specialty Servers: Specialty servers for P2P and streaming make it quick and easy to access these services on your phone.
Picks the best server: CyberGhost’s app is designed to select the best possible server for you. In most cases the speed is pretty good and a great way to connect without having to browse through a list of servers.
CyberGhost is also one of the few VPN service providers to offer a free 7-day trial for its Android app. Plus, there is a 30-day no questions asked guarantee which applies to all versions of the software.
IVACY’s app for Android devices hasn’t been around for all that long. It’s over 1,561 total reviews put it amongst the newer apps, but with a 4.0 rating, it’s arguably amongst the best. Clearly, IVACY VPN gets many things right compared to the competition which is why it has made it to our list of VPN apps.
IVACY’s app isn’t the fastest, during our testing it consistently throttled 40% of our internet speed. Even when connected to nearby servers it wasn’t all that better. However, the 600 servers in 100 locations and counting make finding a server easier. Plus, its partnership with the National Cyber Security Alliance means that it is dedicated to providing online privacy.
IVACY’s app is available for a 30-day free trial. After which you have the option of either buying a monthly or a yearly subscription. Though most people will save money by buying a subscription of upwards of 2-years.
Kill Switch: IVACY’s kill switch prevents data leak in the event of intermittent internet connection. It is perhaps one of IVACY’s most effectively implemented features for Android.
Excellent Selection of Encryption Features: Users get to choose from various encryption types which range from IPsec to IKEv2 and OpenVPN.
Split-tunneling: The feature allows users to choose which apps connect via the VPN and which don’t. So, Android users may perhaps want to use Facebook’s app via their ISP but encrypt their browsing on Firefox for instance.
Best Overall VPN for Android
After having tested all above-mentioned VPN apps, we’d have to say that NordVPN offers the best experience. Not only is the app easy to use but you also have access to a fair selection of features. Plus, it is compatible with older versions of Android, as far back as Jelly Bean!
Fastest Android VPN
If you want an Android VPN app that’s the fastest, then ExpressVPN would be our pick. Sure! All VPN services throttle your internet connection to some extent. But when you use a service like ExpressVPN, having access to a large number of fast servers makes it possible not to notice the dip in speed. It consistently performed exceptionally compared to all the other apps. However, we must say that your mileage may vary but perhaps not by a large margin.
Most Secure Android VPN
In terms of security, we’d have to give it to NordVPN. While most people would point out that in terms of security both NordVPN and CyberGhost offer similar features. However, both their Android apps are slightly different.
CyberGhost’s app does not give users access to all the advanced features and options while NordVPN does. Though if you don’t mind the lower speeds in exchange for the cheaper price, then CyberGhost may be worth checking out.
Best Budget-Friendly VPN for Android
Private Internet Access is to the most budget-friendly option. Sure, you’ll be making some compromises with their Android app, but you’re still getting a lot more for the price. Both their monthly subscription and annual packages are reasonably priced. Plus, you won’t be missing on servers and security features.
Best User-Friendly VPN for Android
Express VPN’s Android app is by far the most user-friendly in our opinion. That’s closely followed by CyberGhost. However, objectively speaking ExpressVPN is so easy to use that anyone who has never even used a VPN before can tap on the green connection button and start enjoying encrypted sessions. What’s more is that advanced users get to dive deeper into the settings, so there is something for everyone.
We know that testing VPN services can be tricky. However, testing Android VPN apps is even trickier. Unlike desktop computers, Android phones and hardware have evolved within a span of just a decade. If you happen to be using an android phone from 2015, it’s Wifi chip isn’t as good as the ones available today. Also, processor speeds and graphics processing units have an effect on page renders and app loading times.
To ensure that we give all apps a level playing field, we went out and purchased the same phones, i.e., OnePlus One. It was the cheapest phone out there, which allowed us to get multiple sets for this testing.
We then did a factory reset on the phones and didn’t install anything other than the VPN apps we were to review. We also installed one app per phone. That way we could avoid potential conflicts.
We also installed Ookla’s speed test app on all devices. Setup our Wifi connection and started testing.
We used the premium or paid version of all apps. So, no app was crippled at the time of writing this review.
Speeds were checked an average of three times. Each time we disconnected, then reconnected the VPN and ran Ookla’s speed test app. We made sure to use the default connection which is supposed to connect with the fastest VPN server. Speed averages were then calculated based on three tests each.
Features were then tested, and a list of all available features was made. It allowed us to see which features were not available on certain apps.
We tested data leaks generally for apps that had the Kill Switch feature which is supposed to prevent data leaks in the event of intermittent internet service.
Android VPN apps are a dime a dozen, they have also become increasingly cheaper over the years. However, the android app you choose will mainly depend on the features that matter most to you and the monthly or annual subscription. Users on a slower connection may perhaps want to opt for an app with the fastest VPN servers. While those using super-fast broadband or 4G can choose a slower VPN service which is cost effective with advanced security features. That said If you are looking for the very best make sure to check out our updated top 5 list of VPNs for Android devices.