Thu. Jun 13th, 2024


A virtual private network (VPN) on your Android phone masks your IP address and encrypts your browsing activity. Whether you frequently use public Wi-Fi networks or you just want extra privacy from your ISP, investing in a VPN for your Android device is a smart choice.


What to Look for in a VPN for Android in 2024

There are many Android VPN apps available, many of which can also be used on your computer. Choosing the right VPN for your Android phone can be tough, but here’s what you should consider before selecting a VPN service.

The top reasons people invest in a VPN are privacy and security. To see if a VPN service aligns with your privacy and security preferences, you’ll want to check out its encryption protocols and see if it has specific security features, like a kill switch, a no-logs policy, or DNS leak protection.

If you want to take things a step further, investigate which country you want your VPN service to be located in. Some countries, like Panama or Switzerland, are well-known for their privacy-protection laws, which require your consent before any personal data is given.


Another important feature of a good VPN service is fast speeds. Of course, using a VPN service will generally make processes a little slower because your data is encrypted and decrypted between your computer and a remote server. However, a fast VPN mitigates this issue, and makes the slowdown barely noticeable. Often, connecting to servers in different countries under the same VPN service will provide varying speed results, so choosing a VPN service with servers in multiple countries is a great idea.

Then, this might go without saying, but a good VPN service for an Android phone will have an easy-to-use, intuitive mobile app. Check out the compatible mobile app for the VPN service you’re looking at, read through its recent reviews, and check out the app screenshots to see how user-friendly the interface looks.


Lastly, consider how much you might want to spend on a VPN service. Most free VPNs, excluding Proton VPN’s free version and a few others, are only free in exchange for selling your collected data in some way or showing you a plethora of ads. And considering most VPNs will only cost you between $3 and $10 monthly, it’s worth paying for a service that won’t log your data, throttle your speeds, or provide weak encryption and security protocols.

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Best Overall VPN for Android: ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN running on a Google Pixel smartphone.

Justin Duino / Review Geek


Pros

Cons

✓ Strong transparency and security commitments

✗ Expensive compared to the competition

✓ Streamlined, intuitive mobile app

✗ Only supports 5 simultaneous device connections

✓ Privacy-friendly jurisdiction (BVI)

✓ Supports multiple streaming platforms

✓ Fast connection speeds

ExpressVPN is more expensive than other VPN services, but you get what you pay for, which is why we name it not only the best VPN for Android but also the best VPN overall. This service is incredibly reliable, offers fast download and upload speeds averaging 300 Mbps, and has multiple servers across 105 countries.

With servers in various countries, accessing geo-restricted content is pretty easy. Through ExpressVPN, you can browse geo-blocked content on Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max/Go, and access websites censored in some countries, like YouTube, Twitter, and Google.


ExpressVPN is also top-notch in terms of security and privacy, which you can read more about in our review of the service. The company has a no-logs policy, encrypts your data using the AES-256 standard, and operates under privacy-friendly jurisdiction in the British Virgin Islands. Plus, it includes other helpful features with a VPN subscription, like a password manager and blockers for ads and trackers.

Unfortunately, this VPN service doesn’t offer unlimited simultaneous connections, but you can connect to up to eight different devices at once. That’s up from ExpressVPN’s previous limit of 5 simultaneous connections.

expressvpn logo

ExpressVPN

Best VPN for Android Overall

For most people, ExpressVPN is the obvious choice because it’s fast, reliable, easy to use, and offers a ton of servers across multiple countries.

Best Budget VPN for Android: Surfshark

Pros

Cons

✓ Unlimited simultaneous connections

✗ Sometimes mediocre speeds

✓ Strong encryption and privacy tools

✗ Now based in the Netherlands (14 Eyes jurisdiction)

✓ Large network of global servers


Surfshark costs only a third of the price of ExpressVPN, but it supports many of the same streaming services regarding geo-blocked content, has a ton of servers in many of the same countries, and even offers unlimited simultaneous connections. But here’s the catch—in exchange for saving money, you’ll get slower speeds.

If you don’t need lightning-fast speeds, Surfshark’s speeds will likely be plenty for you. According to Surfshark, the average download speed on a local VPN server is 260 Mbps, while the average upload speed on a local VPN server is 170 Mbps.

For security and privacy, Surfshark offers a no-logs policy, AES-256-GCM encryption, a kill switch, multi-hop and IP rotator tools, and a CleanWeb feature that allows you to surf the Web with no ads, trackers, or malware and phishing attempts. Surfshark generally does a great job protecting user’s security and privacy. Still, it’s worth noting that the service is based in the Netherlands, a 14 Eyes country, which could legally be required to hand over any data collected.


surfshark logo

Surfshark

Best Budget VPN for Android

Surshark is a budget-friendly VPN with support for most streaming services, servers in a lot of countries, and unlimited simultaneous connections, making it easy to share the VPN wealth with friends and family.

Best Free VPN for Android: Proton VPN

Pros

Cons

✓ Free plan with unlimited data (and no ads)

✗ Slower speeds than the paid version

✓ Open source, easy-to-use mobile app

✗ Can only connect to servers in 5 countries on one device

✓ Strict no-logs policy

✗ Often won’t work for geo-restricted content

✓ Great privacy and security features, including kill switch

✓ Privacy-friendly jurisdiction (Switzerland)

Many VPNs are advertised as ‘free,’ but they collect your data or show ads in exchange for the free service. One VPN provider that isn’t like that is Proton VPN. The company offers a limited version of its paid service for free, which is “supported by paying users.”


You won’t see ads when using a free account with Proton VPN, and with the company’s strict no-logs policy, your user data and online activity are never collected and sold. The free plan also offers unlimited bandwidth and a kill switch feature.

With the free version of Proton VPN, you can only connect one device at a time, but this won’t be an issue for most people. Another potential hangup is that the free service only lets you connect to servers in five countries, and speeds will be slower than the paid version. In a review of Proton VPN, speeds ranged between 130 Mbps and 380 Mbps, depending on which country the server was in.

It’s also worth noting that Proton VPN Free doesn’t work with major streaming services, including Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video. So, if you’re looking for an Android VPN that will unlock geo-restricted content, consider opting for Surfshark or Private Internet Access instead.

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Proton VPN

Best Free VPN for Android

Proton VPN is famous for its privacy and security features. While the paid plan is fantastic, its free plan is just as good and offers the same guarantees, just with slower speeds.


Private Internet Access logo

Pros

Cons

✓ Unlimited simultaneous connections

✗ Based in the US (14 Eyes jurisdiction)

✓ Over 35,000 server locations

✗ Clunky user interface

✓ No-logs policy, split tunneling, and port forwarding

✓ Very affordable rates

Private Internet Access, often shortened to PIA, is an affordable VPN service great for anyone who wants to bypass geo-restrictions on content. With over 35,000 servers optimized for streaming and browsing, unblocking content on Spotify, YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Disney+, Max, and more is easy.


Average speeds vary based on the speed you pay for through your ISP, but PIA has “10-Gbps ultra-fast servers” as a max estimate, and many Reddit users report an approximate 50% speed drop when connected to PIA compared to normal speeds.

As its name implies, Private Internet Access is very private. In our PIA review, we found the service doesn’t keep any usage logs, offers split tunneling, kill switch, and multi-hop features, and encrypts your data using OpenVPN, WireGuard, and AES 256-bit encryption.

PIA also boasts port forwarding to assist download speeds and P2P support, and blocks trackers, ads, and malware with PIA MACE. However, it’s worth noting that PIA is based in the US, a 14 Eyes country, rather than a more privacy-focused country like Panama.

private internet access logo

Private Internet Access

Best Android VPN for Streaming

With over 35,000 servers, the Private Internet Access VPN makes it easy to bypass geo-restricted content on most streaming platforms. Plus, it’s affordable and offers unlimited device connections.

Best Android VPN for Security: NordVPN


Pros

Cons

✓ Reliably speedy connection

✗ Expensive renewal compared to other VPNs

✓ Multi-hop, split tunneling, and built-in antivirus tools

✗ Only 6 simultaneous connections

✓ Independently audited security features

✓ Strict no-logs policy

✓ Privacy-friendly jurisdiction (Panama)

In addition to offering incredibly fast speeds, NordVPN has great security features that ensure you never have to worry about your private information falling into the wrong hands. All of NordVPN’s security features are independently audited, and the company is based in the privacy-friendly Panama jurisdiction.

A few important security perks NordVPN offers include malware protection with Threat Protection, dark web monitoring, a strict no-logs policy, premium password manager, encrypted files, and ad-free, tracker-free browsing. NordVPN also features multi-hop, split tunneling, DoubleVPN servers for extra protection, and three different encryption protocols: OpenVPN, NordLynx, and IKEv2/IPsec.


According to tests run by AV-TEST in 2020, the average download speed of NordVPN in the US was 417 Mbps. Of course, you’ll only get speeds like that if your current internet plan accommodates speeds that high.

If you want a VPN to access geo-restricted content, you’ll be happy to know NordVPN supports most major streaming services, including Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video. With one account, you can connect simultaneously on six devices, which will likely be plenty for most people.

You can often find great introductory deals for NordVPN that make it affordable, but many users report higher-than-average renewal prices compared to competitors and recommend turning off auto-renewal to potentially get discounted offers close to the service end date.

NordVPN

Best Android VPN for Security

NordVPN offers multiple security measures and encryption protocols on top of fast speeds, making it an excellent choice for the privacy-conscious.

FAQ

Do Android phones have a built-in VPN?

Yes, Android phones feature a built-in VPN client for PTTP, L2TP, and IPSec protocols, but users still need to get information from their administrator before connecting to a virtual network. And many paid VPN services offer greater security protocols than those built into Android.


Do I need a VPN for my Android phone?

If you frequently use public Wi-Fi, investing in a VPN service for your Android phone is a really smart idea. Even if you only use your home Wi-Fi network, a VPN is still a great investment for total privacy and security from your ISP and others.

Can I use my PC VPN on my Android phone?

You can certainly use the same VPN service for your PC and your Android phone. While many VPN services offer cross-platform, simultaneous support for multiple devices, some don’t. You’ll need to verify which devices and systems the VPN service will cover before purchasing.



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By John P.

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