Huawei has a checkered reputation; being known for producing top-of-the-line smartphones and tablets, but also for a distinct lack of privacy, with staff members even being linked to allegations of espionage for the Chinese government. Fortunately, whether you are considering picking up the premium Huawei P40 Pro+ or already own a Huawei-branded smartphone, you can protect your privacy by using a virtual private network (VPN).
Despite the technological name, it's even simpler than you'd think. In this article, we detail the best VPNs for your Huawei device and guide you on how to set them up.
The best Huawei VPNs – smartphones and tablets
When comparing VPNs for Huawei, we focused on services that provided:
- Consistently fast speeds
- High levels of security and privacy
- Kill switch functionality
- No-logs policies
- Strong privacy policies
- Obfuscation (stealth) technology
- Strong encryption
Check out our recommendations for the best 5 VPNs for Huawei smartphones below. For more information about the providers listed, check out our detailed VPN reviews.
ExpressVPN is a lightning-fast service that continues to impress. With its strong encryption, kill switch, and obfuscation (stealth) features, Huawei users can rest assured that their online activity is protected from prying ISPs, websites, and networks. With this technology comes great geo-spoofing capabilities, allowing users to unblock regional content from Netflix, hulu, iPlayer, and Amazon Prime. Its easy-to-use app comes with an exceptional 24/7 support team and live chat function.
Private Internet Access (PIA) is the US-based VPN that consistently sets the bar for privacy standards. A long-time favorite of the privacy community, PIA offers good speeds, with plenty of features for users to choose from. Its obfuscated (stealth) servers, come with automatic detection and connection to the fastest one, and allow for Shadowsocks proxy and split-tunneling (letting users safely unblock regional content while still accessing local services).
PIA's zero-logs policy ensures that no records are kept about users' usage or connection (a policy that has been proven in court). If you're looking to protect more than just your Huawei smartphone, PIA has you covered with a generous 10 simultaneous connected devices limit. This VPN is perfect for people looking to provide maximum protection for minimal cost.
VyprVPN is the service that strives for a “truly open and uncensored” internet experience. Its proprietary VPN cloaking technology (Chameleon) is able to evade deep packet inspection (DPI) and bypass government, corporate, and internet service provider (ISP) firewalls that restrict your access to content. On top of this, it reduces bandwidth throttling from ISPs without compromising security, which it props up with its kill switch feature, in case you should disconnect from your VPN server.
Officially based in Switzerland, VyprVPN benefits from great privacy legislation (though keep in mind that its parent company, Golden Frog has offices in America). With this security comes the fact that VyprVPN paid for a full and independent audit of its no logs policy, further verifying its security. VyprVPN is an excellent choice for Huawei smartphone users who are new to VPNs, offering incredible security at reasonable prices.
IPVanish is a fully featured and top-of-the-range VPN service that boasts a global network of servers and a seemingly watertight zero-logs policy. Its XOR obfuscated servers provide excellent stealth capabilities, and its SOCKS5 web proxy is great for users in China who want to break through restrictive firewalls. With split tunneling technology, users can also unblock regional content while still making the most of local services.
With an allowance of up to 10 simultaneous connections, IPVanish is great for users who want to protect more than just their Huawei smartphone. Its simple app offers great flexibility to both novice and advanced VPN users alike and means that users can tailor the VPN to meet their needs. IPVanish is one of the best VPN services at its price point and is a fantastic choice for privacy-oriented users in countries with mass censorship.
CyberGhost boasts a strict no-logs policy and AES-256 encryption, giving it excellent privacy and security. Its “Smart rules” feature provides WiFi and app protection, as well as excellent split-tunneling capabilities, making it great for users who want more control over their VPN (choosing when and where it connects). Being based in Romania also gives users peace of mind, as it is out of the jurisdiction of the 14 Eyes spying alliance. This makes it a great choice for users concerned with government spying on their internet usage.
While CyberGhost does not offer obfuscation, it runs TCP over port 443 (making your traffic seem like HTTPS). Hiding your VPN usage is a great way to increase your privacy and stealth online without using obfuscation (allowing users to blend in with regular traffic). This VPN is best suited to Huawei users who want to get a fast, fully featured VPN service for the lowest cost.
Why do I need a VPN for my Huawei smartphone?
VPNs provide an extra layer of privacy and security online. They prevent your internet service provider (ISP), and others along the way, from monitoring your online activity. This means that governments, cybercriminals, and even marketing agencies are less able to track and identify you online. They also allow you to unblock content from across the world, letting you access WhatsApp, Discord, and even Netflix from other countries.
With the global suspicion surrounding Huawei's privacy practices, a VPN is an excellent way to increase your security online.
Is Huawei spying on me?
While there has been no public evidence (to date) of device-level snooping in Huawei phones outside of China, the ever-tightening restrictions and surveillance in the country itself has raised suspicions. Users in China should be aware that, with the suspected influence of the Chinese Communist Party in Huawei's success, there is a possibility (however small) that Huawei devices may spy on users in China.
There is currently no evidence, but the possibility might be enough depending on your threat model
We urge users to keep in mind that it is not uncommon for local technology companies to cooperate with their government and become vehicles for espionage. This is why the US considers Huawei as a threat. If the Chinese government is snooping at a device-level, then this can reduce the effectiveness of your VPN.
Can I get a free VPN for Huawei smartphones?
Using a free VPN service can save money, but if you're looking to prioritize privacy, then we do not recommend using a one for the following reasons:
- Most free VPNs impose speed and data restrictions. This can negatively impact your experience of your Huawei smartphone.
- Not all of them provide support for Huawei and Android devices, especially those that no longer have access to the Google Play Store.
- You will only have access to a small number of servers. Censoring authorities are often aware of these servers and their IP addresses, and will regularly target people who use them.
- They often provide users with little to no encryption and obfuscation (stealth), which can put them at risk if they are in countries such as China. No free VPN (that we are aware of) provides strong enough encryption to get through the Great Firewall of China. Using a free VPN on your Huawei phone in China may actually do more harm than good.
- It is common for free services to monitor and sell on user data and information (which may be passed on to authorities).
- They are regularly reported for infecting devices with malware.
A free service just cannot compete with a premium provider, and paid-for VPNs don't have to be expensive either. Many services will even offer money-back guarantees for you to use if you are not happy with the VPN. Check out our top picks for best cheap VPNs.
How do I set up a Huawei VPN?
When you've decided upon a VPN provider, the usual method with Android phones is to download and install the VPN app from the Google Play Store. However, newer Huawei smartphones do not have access to the Play Store, so if your chosen VPN isn't on the Huawei AppGallery, then you have two options available:
Sideloading a VPN with the .config file:
- Download the VPNOnlineFree configuration files for the server/geolocation you want from the provider's website, and then unzip them (either directly onto your phone, or onto your computer and then transferred to on your phone).
- Download, install, and run VPNOnlineFree Connect from the Huawei AppGallery.
- Add a profile for your VPN by clicking the “+” symbol at the top of the app. Name it what you want, then hit “import”.
- Find the configuration files you downloaded and select a server (.ovpn file). Once imported, click the tick icon to continue.
- You should now see the server name under the profiles tab. Click the profile to start the VPN. If you want to access multiple servers/geolocations, just repeat steps 1–4.
Extra security and protection
At this point, we recommend enabling IPv6 routing and checking that IPv4 leak protection is enabled. This will help protect you from DNS leaks. To do this:
- Edit the specific connection in the “Profiles” tab by clicking on the pen icon.
- Make sure that IPv4 and IPv6 “use default route” is ticked. This will redirect all IPv6 and IPv4 traffic over the VPN.
Check your VPN for leaks
Sideloading a VPN with the .apk file:
This method is more applicable if you want to know how to install a VPN on a Huawei smartphone in China, or if you have de-Googled your phone. To do this:
- Download an Android file manager app (we recommend ES File Manager).
- Download your VPN provider's .apk files to your device (or download it to a PC and transfer the file across).
- From your file manager app, find the .apk file and select “install“.
- Open the app, log in, and configure your settings.
If your VPN app isn't working, try the following steps:
- Restart your phone.
- Try a different server.
- Uninstall and reinstall your app/VPNOnlineFree profile.
- Check your VPN account details are correct and up-to-date.
- Contact your VPN provider for further information and support.