A virtual private network (VPN) app for Android is primarily a privacy and security tool for your phone or tablet. It hides what you do on the Internet, hiding your identity from your ISP, the websites you visit, and those who try to take a look at your Internet activity.
VPNs are great anti-censorship tools, unblocking websites and services locked by your government, copyright officials, or your college WiFi administrators. They will protect you from untrusted WiFi hosts and even sometimes unblock streaming services which usually have regional restrictions.
It should be noted that, thanks to Google’s relaxed police policy, there are many dangerous VPN apps in the Play Store. So please only install secure VPN apps from respectable and trustworthy VPN services like those listed below. If you want to avoid the App Store, you can download these services via an APK file hosted on their website.
The best VPN apps for Android
ExpressVPN is one of the most respected names in the VPN industry. In addition to the industry-standard 30-day money-back guarantee and effective 24/7 live chat support, ExpressVPN has launched the idea of ”one-click connection” in its mobile applications .
Its Android app has a rating of 4.1 stars in the Play Store and is compatible with all Android 5.0+ devices. It can be downloaded from the Play Store or, for the more phobic of Google, as an APK file for side loading on your device. ExpressVPN provides L2TP / IPSec configuration instructions for users of Android versions 2, 3 and 4.
The app is easy to use and offers split tunneling, allowing you to decide which of your apps uses the VPN tunnel and which does not. It also has a kill switch (called “network protection”), which we want more Android VPN applications to include.
ExpressVPN is a newspaperless VPN service with servers in more than 90 countries and a strong focus on privacy.
NordVPN is a newspaper-free VPN service based in Panama without NSA. Its Android app has a very respectable 4.3 star rating on the Google Play Store and is compatible with all Android 5.0+ devices.
The application is distinctive thanks to its dynamic map of server locations. It uses VPNOnlineFree in UDP mode by default, although TCP (probably using port 443) is an option. In addition to this, the app allows you to connect to NordVPN’s special Obfuscated servers, which use XOR encryption to evade VPN blocks.
The application also sports a kill switch and the “CyberSec” function of NordVPN. As with its desktop applications, it uses a DNS block list to protect users from malware, prevent botnet control, and block many intrusive web advertisements.
As it is becoming more common, its APK is also available for download directly from the NordVPN website, which will update automatically when new versions become available. This is perfect for those who want to avoid the Google services spyware framework.
SurfShark is registered in the British Virgin Islands and offers an Android 5.0 application rated 4.3 stars in the Play Store. We are happy to see that you can also download the .APK directly from the Surfshark website.
The Surfshark Android application uses IKEv2 by default, but also offers VPNOnlineFree (UDP and TCP, although the port numbers are not specified). It also offers the Shadowsocks protocol for those who need to bypass VPN usage restrictions.
VyprVPN is based in Switzerland and is distinguished by having its own CDN network and server. It’s great for privacy and doesn’t keep any logs. The app supports all versions of Android, although version 4.0.3+ is recommended.
It has a somewhat modest 3.9 star rating in the PlayStore, but has always worked perfectly for us and is a complete application. Kill switch, DNS ad and malware blocking and public WiFi protection are all present and correct.
The application uses VPNOnlineFree and you can configure the port, but not if it uses UDP or TCP mode. We are happy to see, however, that the Android app offers VyprVPN’s patented Chameleon encryption technology, which is widely reputed to defeat VPN censorship.
The application is available for download .APK in addition to being presented in the Play Store.
IPVanish is a top-notch, log-free VPN service based in the United States. Its Android 4.0.3+ app rated 3.9 stars in the Play Store, but, again, has always worked well for us and is packed with useful features.
The IPVanish app does not include an integrated circuit breaker per se, but on Android 8+ devices, it provides instructions to allow the new integrated circuit breaker function of Android to work with the application.
The app includes split tunneling, unsecured network notification, and XOR Scramble obfuscation technology. It uses VPNOnlineFree in UDP or TCP mode, and you can select the ports it uses.
And, as with all of the Android apps on this list, you can download the .APK from the IPVanish website to improve privacy.
Can I get a free Android VPN app?
Yes, but before looking for a free service, it’s important to know that there are many scams on the Google Play Store.
Running a VPN service requires hiring full-time technical staff and renting VPN servers worldwide. In other words, it’s a business: and no business works on charity.
There are a few reputable free VPN services that offer free plans, however, these services usually cap speeds, limit data usage, the number of servers you can use, etc. These providers do this in the hope that you will upgrade to the paid version. premium offers.
Most of the free Android VPN apps on the Play Store are actively dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. The majority of free services record what you get online and sell that information to the highest bidder, which means everyone can know what you get online. This usually results in you being the target of annoying scary ads that follow you wherever you go online.
Other services on Google Play simply contain viruses, which can infect your phone or tablet and steal your personal information.
Remember that if you don’t pay for the product, you are the product! No one offers a “free” service simply out of kindness!
If you need a good free VPN app for Android, our main recommendation for Android is:
Windscribe (free option)
Windscribe is a log-free, privacy-friendly Canadian VPN service that offers users 2 GB of data per month completely free, or 10 GB very generous in exchange for your email address.
The speeds are correct for a free service. We have obtained 55 Mbit / s download results using a server in our own country (UK), although this depends on the speed of your raw broadband connection or 4g. It even unlocks US Netflix and BBC iPlayer!
Free users can only connect to servers in three countries, but since these are the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States, this may not be a problem for many. Windscribe funds this great free service by following it as an ad for its Premium plans.
Android VPN to Avoid
There are just too many bad or dangerous VPN apps for Android to list here. The best advice we can give is to avoid all free services unless a reliable source (like ourselves) actively recommends them.
Paid services that also support full desktop VPN (not just unnamed Android apps) are more likely to be trusted, but we still recommend looking for VPN reviews before trusting them for your privacy.
Have you thought about the free trials of Android VPN?
Most paid services offer a free VPN trial and / or money back guarantee, allowing you to check for yourself that they are doing what you want them to do.
If you don’t want to pay for a VPN app you’re not sure you can trust, free trials and money back guarantees are the perfect way to test the service.
The table below shows which free trials and refunds guarantee the VPN services we recommend.
|VPN provider||Free try?||Free trial period||Money back guarantee?||Duration of the money-back guarantee|
|ExpressVPN||Yes||7 days||Yes||30 days|
|NordVPN||Yes||7 days||Yes||30 days|
|Surfshark||Yes||7 days||Yes||30 days|
|VyprVPN||Yes||3 days||Yes||30 days|
How will a VPN improve your privacy and security?
A VPN connects your Android phone or tablet to a VPN server managed by a commercial VPN service. This connection is secured using encryption. The VPN server then connects you to the Internet.
This configuration may seem simple, but it can increase your mobile Internet experience:
- Prevent your ISP from knowing what you are doing on the Internet because its “view” is blocked by the VPN server.
- Prevent governments from performing mass global surveillance on you as governments rely on ISPs to provide them with data. So if your ISP doesn’t know what you’re doing, neither will your government.
- Prevent websites from knowing who you are, because instead of seeing your real IP address, they just see the VPN server’s IP, which means you can stop the annoying ads.
- Prevent public WiFi hotspot hackers from stealing your data and prevent hotspot operators from selling your browsing history.
- Help torrent on Android by preventing peers (who may include copyright officials) from seeing your real IP address.
- Prevent your government or ISP from censoring content, whether for political, social, moral, or copyright reasons. VPN services run servers from all over the world, so just connect to a location somewhere that doesn’t censor Internet content!
- Allowing you to “falsify” your location in order to watch streaming services such as the US version of Netflix on your phone or tablet, which has a much larger catalog of titles than paid Netflix customers living elsewhere can access ( is it right? ). You can also unblock other free services such as BBC iPlayer, which are only available in certain countries.
Using a VPN on an Android device is not much different from using a VPN on another platform, so if you want to learn more about VPNs in general then please check out our A beginner’s guide to VPNs for more information on what they are and how they can improve your life.
Android users should be aware, however, that if a VPN application does what a VPN application always does when it uses a mobile browser, it cannot prevent Android applications from returning personal data to their developers (and Google, via Play. Cadre services).
This is no longer always possible, but for maximum privacy when using a VPN, you should therefore use a service’s web portal rather than its Android application.