Best VPN for Android

Phones are easy targets for snooping. Whether it is the U.S. National Security Agency, your cellular provider or just someone interested in what you search for in incognito mode, one thing is clear: your phone isn’t the safest place to be. A virtual private network can fix that.

In this guide to the best VPN for Android, we’re going to give our top five options to protect your mobile device. Despite the numerous “free” options on the Google Play Store, all of our picks are paid. Though there are free options — see our best free VPN guide for examples — most come with unintended consequences.

If you’d rather go easy mode, it’s worth it to sign up for ExpressVPN. In addition to being one of the fastest and most secure VPNs, it’s also easy to use on Android. Android users can even take advantage of a week-long trial that’s not available for ExpressVPN’s normal desktop configuration.

Best VPN for Android 2019

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Choosing the Best VPN for Android

The main thing we’re concerned with when it comes to mobile VPNs is ease of use. Unlike in our best VPN for iPhone guide where we were looking for the simplest experience possible, though, we’re content sacrificing ease of use for more power here.

That said, having a simple interface doesn’t hurt. As we did for that guide, we looked for VPNs that allow you to sign up through your mobile device and connect with a single tap. The connection didn’t need to be perfect — the “automatic” setting of most VPNs rarely is — but it needed to get close.

As for features, you can’t be too picky when it comes to mobile clients. Even so, we looked out for features such as a kill switch and split tunneling. Providers that include specialized servers, such as CyberGhost, received brownies points.

Despite our focus on the mobile experience, the VPN couldn’t fall apart outside of a slick mobile app. Security is as big a concern as it is in any of our VPN reviews, as is a no-logs policy. We looked for providers that offered AES 256-bit encryption and maintained a clear stance on privacy.

Outside of that, the typical VPN criteria applied. We looked at features, supported devices, server locations and customer service. The only exception is price. We factored in the price of each service, but were more concerned with value. Services with a high price tag weren’t immediately disqualified.

Starts from $ 275 per month
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The Best VPN for Android: ExpressVPN

best-vpn-for-android-expressvpn

ExpressVPN is the best VPN we’ve reviewed, and, while that may change in the future, no provider has come close yet. The Android app is different from the desktop and iOS versions, but still easy to use. After installing, all you have to do to connect is tap the large “on” button in the center of the screen.

As with the iOS version, ExpressVPN offers a week-long trial for Android users. You don’t need to enter payment information for it, either. Once the install finishes, ExpressVPN will ask for your email and automatically apply the free trial to your account.

The look and feel of the Android app are different, though. Instead of the familiar “choose location” button from the desktop app, it shows your location near the bottom of the screen, along with recent and recommended servers. Still, the server navigation is great. ExpressVPN separates locations by continent and country, so it’s easy to scroll and find what you want.

As for features, ExpressVPN is surprisingly dull on Android. There are only two settings: your VPN protocol and start-up controls. IKEv2 isn’t built in to the application, either, which is strange considering it’s probably the best option for mobile devices. Even so, there was one feature that stood out to us during testing.

You can set shortcuts after the VPN connects to apps and websites. ExpressVPN will show a small bar under your location after the connection is made with your shortcuts. As if the Android app wasn’t strange enough, that feature is exclusive to it.

Other Reasons We Like ExpressVPN

The Android app isn’t bad — it’s quite good, actually — but it can be strange if you’re coming from the desktop client. Even so, ExpressVPN’s excellent service makes up for growing pains experienced while learning the different interface.

Our ExpressVPN review can walk you through the specifics, but for the purposes of this guide, all you need to know is that it consistently ranks first.

In addition to be one of the fastest VPN providers we’ve tested, it’s the best VPN for Netflix. ExpressVPN’s resilience against VPN blocks is, frankly, surprising, considering even top-shelf providers struggle with the dreaded proxy error — read our Private Internet Access review for an example.

With that high-quality service comes a high price tag, though. ExpressVPN isn’t cheap and, though we wouldn’t recommend going for a bottom-of-the-barrel provider such as PureVPN — read our PureVPN review to learn why — ExpressVPN may cost too much if your wallet is light.

Still, it doesn’t have the egregious rates of Hide.me. You can read our Hide.me review to see how expensive a VPN can get. ExpressVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, too, so there’s no risk in downloading it and seeing how you like it.


Pros:

  • Fast
  • Easy to use
  • Shortcuts on Android

Cons:

  • Expensive
Starts from $ 666 per month
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NordVPN

Though ExpressVPN is our first pick, NordVPN comes close. You can see just how close in our ExpressVPN vs NordVPN comparison. In our iOS guide, we rated it fourth, but it jumps to second place for Android because of a more developed feature set. NordVPN offers most of the desktop experience on Android, including the beautiful location map.

You can sign up in the app. NordVPN asks for an email address and password, and, after you’ve entered those, you can choose a plan. There’s a seven-day trial on Android, too, but you’ll need to have credit card information on file to use it.

Unlike a lot of VPNs, NordVPN doesn’t require you to select the server you want from a list. When you load the app, there’s a “quick connect” button that you can use to connect to NordVPN’s recommended server.

You can choose your own by tapping one of the markers on the map. The markers show countries where NordVPN has presence. The small slide-up menu on the bottom will show all of the data centers in that location, the number of servers in the center and the relative distance from your location. There’s a heart, too, so you can add a data center to your favorites.

The servers you’ve favorited, along with NordVPN’s speciality servers, can be found by deselecting the country. One of the reasons we ranked NordVPN lower in our iOS guide was because it didn’t have all the specialty servers that are featured in the desktop app. That’s not the case on Android. You can use all four of NordVPN’s specialized modes.

There are also more settings in the Android app than in the iOS one. You can use CyberSec, a malware and ad-blocking tool that we found to work reasonably well, as well as obfuscated servers, which scramble packets to make them harder for deep packet inspection to detect. That’s one of the reasons NordVPN made our best VPN services for China guide.

Other Reasons We Like NordVPN

In addition to being fast, secure and easy to use, NordVPN is packed with features. The speciality servers come in four flavors: dedicated IP, Double VPN, Onion over VPN and peer-to-peer. Most of them speak for themselves, but the Double VPN connections stand out.

That method of connection, which Windscribe also has (read our Windscribe review), protects you with two layers of encryption. You’ll “hop” from one server to another, which has downsides for speed but not for security. As if one tunnel wasn’t difficult enough to crack, if someone wants to trace you, they’ll need to crack two.

There’s also a kill switch, which any decent VPN should have, but NordVPN packs features into that, too. You can set it to only be active on certain programs. For example, you might want the kill switch enabled on your torrenting client but not on your browser.

Plus, NordVPN is damn near the best VPN for streaming, accessing every platform we tested on the first try. You can learn more about its streaming performance, as well as its other features, in our NordVPN review or try it yourself with a 30-day money-back guarantee.  


Pros:

  • Specialty servers
  • Massive server network
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • Pricing schemes push toward long-term subscriptions
Starts from $ 349 per month
Save 71 %

CyberGhost

Though we’ve always been fans of CyberGhost, the update to version 7 made our admiration stronger. In addition to many new features, version 7 was built from the ground up to “unify the CyberGhost experience across all devices.”

Thankfully, that includes Android.

It now allows you to make a single-tap connection, which was the main thing we looked for when putting together this guide. CyberGhost will recommend a server, which it gets mostly right, and all you have to do to connect is tick the “on” switch.

Server navigation is simple. CyberGhost will show the distance and load of each server and you can set any location to be included in your favorites. There are also servers dedicated to torrenting and streaming. Though the torrenting servers still show the load and distance, the streaming servers don’t. Instead, they show what platform they’re optimized for.

The list of services is massive — around 50 at last count — and includes everything from Netflix and Spotify to Channel 4 and Crunchyroll. Though we weren’t able to test every service, those we tested were able to access the platforms they were optimized for on the first try.

“Smart Rules,” which Android users also get, are new to version 7. They are a way to automate your VPN usage. For example, you could set two WiFi networks to connect and disconnect from the VPN, effectively controlling the app without ever opening it.

Other Reasons We Like CyberGhost

CyberGhost was made better in version 7, but it was a solid service to begin with. Its network is still massive, with over 4,000 servers in more 58 countries, with solid speeds, to boot. It also maintains a strict no-logs policy with the absolute best in VPN security.

That said, its main draw is price. While the monthly rate is unimpressive, CyberGhost’s one-year and two-year plans are among the best values around. Subscribing for two-years gets the monthly rate below $3 and comes with one-year of McAfee Total Protection (read our McAfee Total Protection review).

Plus, plans can support up to seven devices. Unlike with many VPNs, though, that is a device limit, not a connection limit. You can only have seven devices tied to your account at one time.

You can learn more in our CyberGhost review or sign up with a generous 45-day money-back guarantee to try it yourself.


Pros:

  • Dedicated streaming servers
  • Smart Rules
  • Inexpensive

Cons:

  • Spotty ad blocker performance
Starts from $ 275 per month
Save 79 %

VyprVPN

VyprVPN has an uninspiring desktop client, but the Android app is great. It takes longer to set up than normal, though. After entering an email and password, and opting for a three-day free trial, VyprVPN will walk you through a short setup guide. During it, you can turn on the kill switch, set app permissions and configure start-up settings.

There’s a lot going on in the Android app, so we recommend paying close attention to the setup guide. After that’s done, you’ll be sent to the home screen, which shows your public IP address, a few quick settings and a “connect” button. As with the others, you can tap the “connect” button to secure your connection with the recommended server.

VyprVPN uses slides in the app to show different aspects of your connection. Swiping right on the public IP address slide will show your protection report, then a speed graph, and, finally, the connection log. Through those four slides, you can see everything about your connection, including, for example, how many times the kill switch activated in the past month.

In the settings, which you can get to by clicking the gear icon in the upper right corner, you’ll find almost as many options as in the desktop application. You can configure custom DNS, manage start-up settings and switch your protocol between OpenVPN and VyprVPN’s proprietary Chameleon protocol, each of which can be set with your choice of port.

Our favorite feature, though, is per-app connection. Unlike most Android VPNs, VyprVPN supports a form of split tunneling. You can choose specific apps to use the VPN tunnel with while others bypass it, which is useful for, say, securing your browser while WhatsApp maintains full speed.

Other Reasons We Like VyprVPN

As far as the specifics of the service go, VyprVPN is a good, but not great, VPN. It managed decent speeds and made it into Netflix during our testing, but that’s nothing we haven’t seen before.

It stands out with two key features: Chameleon and Cyphr. Chameleon is VyprVPN’s proprietary protocol that hides the fact that you’re using a VPN. Like OpenVPN, it encrypts your connection, but obfuscates the packets going through that connection so that they look like normal traffic.

VyprVPN users can also use Cyphr, an encrypted messaging app that made our list of 99 free tools to protect your privacy. It provides end-to-end encryption on your messages, which protects against metadata tracking and NSA snooping. As with any messaging app of its class, the only downside is that the person you’re talking to needs a copy, too.

While not exceptional in every regard like ExpressVPN and NordVPN, VyprVPN has a lot of features that make it worthy of consideration. You can learn more in our VyprVPN review or try it yourself with the 30-day refund period.


Pros:

  • Feature-rich Android app
  • Proprietary Chameleon protocol
  • Split tunneling on mobile

Cons:

  • Slow
  • Expensive
Starts from $ 500 per month
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TorGuard

TorGuard isn’t the most user-friendly VPN, and that is true for its Android variant, but it features one of the most customizable experiences on the market. If you’re a tinkerer, TorGuard is for you.

There are issues during sign up, though. Unlike with our other picks, you’ll need to complete sign-up in your browser and there’s no free trial for mobile users. Given TorGuard’s slew of options, though, that is a minor downside.

Connection is simple, but not as optimized as our other picks. TorGuard automatically recommends a location and all you have to do to connect is tick the “on” switch. The automatic location is bad, though. For example, we tested the app in the U.S. and it recommended that we connect to a data center in Dubai.

Before you connect, you can change your transport protocol — all connections are based on OpenVPN — set what port to use and change your level of encryption. Plus, TorGuard allows you to set the cipher you use, so you can have any flavor of AES 128-bit or AES 256-bit you like.

TorGuard comes into its own in the settings. There are many start-up settings, including starting the VPN when the device boots, starting when you connect to a network and disconnecting when the screen is off. You can also set custom nameservers and add dedicated IP addresses.

There’s split tunneling, too. TorGuard calls the feature “restricted apps,” and you can set which apps are excluded from the VPN tunnel in the settings.

Normal operation is decent, with a long server list and a few filters to sort them, but, overall, TorGuard is unimpressive outside of the customization it offers.

Other Reasons We Like TorGuard

Though it’s not the most inviting VPN, TorGuard is worth the learning pains that come with it. It’s surprisingly fast. When we tested it, TorGuard dropped, at most, 5 percent of our download speed, which is something that even the fastest VPNs can’t say. Latency also stayed low, making TorGuard a near-automatic inclusion in our best VPN for gaming guide.

It’s secure, too. In addition to having several protocols and ciphers, TorGuard maintains a strict no-logs policy. In “Real Questions of Anonymity other VPN Service Provider’s Won’t Answer,” TorGuard makes it clear that if it receives a court order to supply user information, the best it can do is hand over a blank hard drive.

Despite its dated application, TorGuard has everything we want in a VPN. It’s fast, secure and comes with many features, to boot. You can learn more in our TorGuard review or sign up with a free seven-day trial with the desktop client.


Pros:

  • Many settings
  • Fast
  • Secure

Cons:

  • Difficult to use
Starts from $ 500 per month

Final Thoughts

The Google Play Store has a lot of VPNs, most of which advertise free, unlimited service. To say those apps are sketchy would be an understatement. The first result when you search “VPN,” for example, is an app literally called “free VPN” made by the company “free VPN.” Unsurprisingly, it’s full of ads, and we suspect it mishandles your personal data, too.

Nothing is truly free, and it doesn’t make sense to hide data from your cellular provider just to put it in the hands of a VPN service you don’t trust. Our picks have been vetted for safety and come with nice features for your money, too. We think ExpressVPN is the best, but any of our other entries will set you right.

What VPN are you using on your Android device? Let us know in the comments below. Check out our other VPN articles, too. As always, thanks for reading.

Starts from $ 666 per month
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