Our phones have pretty much become additional limbs. We constantly use them, and not to just check in on the wife. Protecting yourself on your laptop is important, but our phones are easy targets, especially when it comes to snooping and dangers from third-party apps. One of our best VPN for Android picks will help protect you, though.
If you just want to get straight to it, then we recommend that you install ExpressVPN. It’s a great piece of software that’s easy to use on any device. You’ll be protected by excellent security and benefit from other features, such as fast speeds and unlimited bandwidth. Plus, Android users can take advantage of a seven-day free trial that’s on offer.
Mobile phones are easy targets and can put you more at risk of cybercrime than a computer. Fake apps — and apps from unknown sources — can be riddled with malware. Hackers can intercept your traffic and steal sensitive information if you use unsecured public WiFi.
Plus, your cellular provider or the government could be snooping on your activities, just look at our best VPN for Comcast piece. You can protect yourself from all of those things by using a virtual private network (as well as installing a decent antivirus). Keep reading for more VPN recommendations and what criteria the service should meet. Plus, we’ll go over in more detail why you should use a VPN, as well as why a free VPN isn’t the best choice.
The Best VPN for Android
- Private Internet Access
We’ve chosen ExpressVPN as the best Android VPN for many reasons. For starters, it’s one of the easiest VPNs to use and is a great choice for beginners. Techies can still tinker with its settings, though.
Its Android app is different from the desktop and iOS versions, and it may take a bit of getting used to if you’ve been using the desktop client. However, it’s still user-friendly and includes the same large “on” button for a quick connection to a smart location. Plus, ExpressVPN can auto-connect when you join or rejoin an untrusted WiFi network.
To change servers, you simply tap the three dots next to your current location, and everything else can be accessed via the hamburger menu.
There’s also a shortcut feature that allows you to launch apps directly from the VPN app, rather than having to switch back to your home screen. Plus, you can add an ExpressVPN widget to your home screen that lets you select a location and quickly toggle the VPN on and off. Read our ExpressVPN review for more.
ExpressVPN’s Other Features
ExpressVPN has a solid no-logs policy and excellent security. Its Android app comes with a built-in kill switch to keep you protected at all times. Unfortunately, though, the Android client is lacking in the settings menu, when compared to other versions. You can only set its start-up controls and which VPN protocol you want to use.
Plus, OpenVPN is available, but IKEv2 isn’t, which is a shame considering it’s a secure yet faster option. Still, not having the IKEv2 protocol is no reason to skip past ExpressVPN. It’s the fastest VPN we’ve tested to date, so there’s no need to have IKEv2 over OpenVPN. It also comes with unlimited bandwidth and is our top VPN for streaming and best VPN for Netflix.
One thing to note, though, is that it doesn’t come with an ad or malware blocker, so you’ll need to install other software for protection. One of our best antivirus for Android picks can help you combat malware, though.
ExpressVPN has everything you need to be the best VPN app for Android (as well as for iPhone), but it comes at a high price. That said, it’s well worth the money if you can afford it. You can take it for a spin with the seven-day free trial, and if you sign up to it after the trial, you’ll be covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Easy to use
- Excellent security
- No IKEv2 protocol
- No ad and malware blocker
NordVPN isn’t far behind our top pick, as you can see in our ExpressVPN vs NordVPN comparison. Its Android client is a lot like the desktop version. It has a quick-connect button, so you can connect to the VPN via a recommended server. The location map is also included, which lets you choose a location manually, as well as add it to your favorites.
You can also access NordVPN’s speciality servers, including peer-to-peer, dedicated IP (and NordVPN is our best VPN with dedicated IPs), Double VPN and Onion over VPN. We talk more about those in our NordVPN review, but the double-hop servers basically encrypt your connection twice over.
You can set the VPN to auto-connect on WiFi, cellular data or stay connected all the time, and you can connect to NordVPN using the IKEv2 protocol.
Plus, you get access to CyberSec, which is NordVPN’s ad and malware blocker. It’ll protect you from accessing dangerous websites that may host malware, spyware or other malicious software. CyberSec will also ensure that your device doesn’t become part of a botnet.
NordVPN’s security is among the best on the market, and its Android app comes with a great feature set, including a kill switch. There’s also a strict no-logs policy in place. Those features are what made it our top VPN for torrenting.
It has fast speeds, but they can slow down if you connect to a server that’s far away. There are no bandwidth limits to worry about.
NordVPN is good value for money. You can sign up within the app, and there’s a seven-day trial you can take advantage of, but you’ll need to enter payment information to use it. If you do decide to sign up, its longer plans offer more of a discount, plus there’s a 30-day refund window, in case you change your mind.
- Android app is a lot like the desktop version
- Ad & malware blocker included
- Excellent security
- Can be slow
CyberGhost is another good VPN choice for Android, especially since it updated its clients to be equal on all platforms. That means you can enjoy the same experience as the desktop version, but on Android (provided you have a device with at least Android 4.4).
A single tap will get you connected to a recommended server, and you can easily choose a specific location if you need to, as well as add it to your favorites. You’ll also have access to its dedicated torrenting and streaming servers. Lots of services are covered in its streaming servers, and the ones we tested worked well.
CyberGhost’s latest version has an additional feature called “smart rules,” which basically lets you automate your VPN usage. For instance, you can set it to automatically connect when you join WiFi networks or a network in particular. You can adjust how CyberGhost reacts to a known network, too.
Its speeds are fast, but it can become slow over long distances, like NordVPN does. There are no bandwidth limits to keep an eye on.
Price-wise, CyberGhost is an inexpensive service, so long as you don’t pick the monthly rate. Longer plans offer the best value, and there’s a seven-day free trial for Android and iOS users. After that, you’ll be covered by a money-back guarantee.
- Full-featured Android client
- Automatic kill switch
- No kill switch controls
- No IKEv2 protocol
- Spotty ad blocker performance
Although VyprVPN’s desktop client isn’t very exciting, its Android app is great. Once you sign up, you’ll go through a set-up guide, but that’s good because it has a lot to offer.
On the home screen it’ll show you whether you’re connected and your current IP address. The connect/disconnect button is large and on the lower part of the screen. By tapping that, you’ll be connected to a recommended server, but you can also easily change the server and navigate to some settings.
VyprVPN’s security is excellent, and the Android app has almost the same number of options as the desktop client. There are different protocols to choose from, including VyprVPN’s proprietary Chameleon protocol, which adds even more protection to the VPN tunnel. A kill switch is available and can be turned on in the “customize” menu.
You can set the VPN to automatically connect if you join an unknown network, too. It doesn’t keep any logs, and Golden Frog, the company behind VyprVPN, also offers a free private messaging service called Cyphr. It encrypts your messages completely, but whoever you plan on messaging will need to be using Cyphr, too. Read about it in our VyprVPN review.
VyprVPN’s speeds let it down on paper. However, during testing, it was capable of most activities, including streaming. It also comes with unlimited bandwidth.
Its price is based on different tiers. The Standard plan gets you three connections, and the Premium plan gets you five connections plus the use of its Chameleon protocol. Once you know what package you want, you need to choose either a monthly or annual plan. The annual plan works out cheaper in the long run, and there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Excellent Android client
- Chameleon protocol
- Cyphr messaging app
- Mediocre server network
- Speeds aren’t great
- No ad & malware blocker
Windscribe is worth a mention for an Android VPN, mostly because of its free plan, which we’ll get to in a minute. Its Android app is easy to use. There’s a big “on” button in the top right corner, and tapping that will connect you to what it considers to be the best location for you.
On the rest of the screen, you can see your connection status and the server location, as well as your IP address and how much data you have left to use. You then have four tabs for different servers, including general locations, your favorites, your static IPs (if you’ve added any to your package) and its Windflix servers.
Windscribe’s Windflix servers are built for streaming Netflix, and they work well. They’re available in the U.S., the UK, Canada and Japan, and you can read more about them in our Windscribe review.
Its security is good, with four protocols to choose from: OpenVPN, UDP/TCP, IKEv2 and Stealth. It also has an “always on” feature, which is like a kill switch, but different.
Windscribe’s Other Features
Windscribe’s speeds are fine for most activities, including streaming. Your bandwidth allowance will depend on the package you choose, though. If you opt for the free plan, you’ll get 2GB of data per month, but you can increase that to 10GB just by entering a valid email.
It’s a pretty good deal and it earned the top spot in our best free VPN services roundup, making it a good choice for a free Android VPN.
With the free plan, though, you’re limited to a small number of servers, and you won’t be able to access its Windflix servers. Alternatively, you can just sign up to its Pro package, which will give you access to all of its servers, including Windflix, and you’ll also get unlimited bandwidth.
You can also build your own plan and save money. For instance, if you add one server and unlimited bandwidth to your package, that’ll come to $2 per month. That server could even be one of its Windflix servers. If you opt for a paid plan and don’t like it, Windscribe will give you your money back, provided that you ask within three days of purchase.
- Free plan
- Cheap build-a-plan option
- Easy to use
- Bandwidth is limited on free plan
- Mediocre speeds
Private Internet Access is a solid, no-frills VPN with an easy-to-use Android app. Its simple design shows your connection status as the main screen.
You then have a connect/disconnect button, as well as your current region and IP address in the lower part of the screen. Then there’s a hamburger button at the top where you’ll find all of your settings.
It has good security, and you can choose from PPTP, OpenVPN and L2TP/IPSec protocols. However, PIA installs with AES 128-bit encryption enabled, so you should change that to the recommended AES 256-bit encryption for extra protection. A kill switch is included, which can be toggled on or off via the settings menu.
You can set the VPN to trust certain networks, and you can use a system developed by PIA called MACE to block ads, trackers and malware. You can read more about it in our PIA review, as well as how PIA’s no-logs policy was put to the test and proven to be strong.
PIA’s speeds are generally fast, though some of that speed is due to it using lighter encryption. By increasing its encryption rate, it will slow down some, but it’s still decent. You also get unlimited bandwidth.
Private Internet Access is a decent service for a decent price. It’s still one of the cheapest options on the market, even after its price hike not too long ago. Plus, you’ll be covered by a 30-day refund period.
- MACE ad, tracker & malware blocker
- Multiple security settings
- Inconsistent speeds
- Trouble with some streaming platforms
Next up is TunnelBear, which has made our list for its ease of use and free plan. It has one of the best looking clients, from our pool of VPN reviews, and its Android app gives an overall pleasant experience. You can navigate through different servers with its simple and intuitive map, and a small bear icon shows your current location.
There’s a simple toggle switch near the top for turning the VPN on or off, and a hamburger menu in the top left will lead you to settings and other options. From there you can set the VPN to connect automatically with certain networks, and you’ll also find options, such as “always on,” which will keep you connected 24//7. A home screen widget is also available.
Its speeds aren’t the best and vary over different servers, but they should be fine for most activities. You get unlimited bandwidth, too.
If you just want to protect your device while browsing and doing general tasks online, then TunnelBear’s free plan is pretty good. You get 500MB of data per month, and you can add on an extra 1GB just by tweeting about TunnelBear. However, if you plan on streaming, that allowance is going to run out quickly (read our Windscribe vs TunnelBear comparison).
That’s where TunnelBear’s paid plan would come in. There’s no confusion here, either; it’s just one package that gives you five simultaneous connections and unlimited bandwidth. All you need to do is choose whether you want a monthly or annual plan.
Its annual plan will save you money in the long run, but it’s a good idea to make sure you like it first by using the free plan. That’s because TunnelBear doesn’t have an official refund policy; it offers refunds on a case-by-case basis.
- Free plan
- Easy to use
- Good security
- No IKEv2 protocol
- No ad & malware blocker
- No refund policy
Our last entry is ProtonVPN. It’s a decent VPN service with lots of features, but it’s let down by its speed. Its Android app is simple to use with a country list and a map. A hamburger menu lets you access settings and other options.
It has good security with lots of features and a strict no-logs policy. It supports both IKEv2/IPSec and OpenVPN. You also get the use of its “always-on” features and its kill switch.
ProtonVPN’s speed isn’t great, as you can see in our ProtonVPN review, though it should be OK for most tasks. Plus, you get unlimited bandwidth, including on its free plan, so provided you’re not bothered about speed, ProtonVPN could be the best Android VPN for you.
On the free plan, you can connect one device and get access to three servers: Japan, the Netherlands and the U.S. After that, there are three paid plans to choose from. The Basic plan gets you two simultaneous connections and access to all of the country servers. It lacks the use of the higher plans’ streaming and secure servers, though.
The Plus plan gets you all of the above, a total of five connections and the use of its Secure Core, streaming and Tor servers. There’s also its Visionary plan, which gets you everything that the Plus plan gives, plus an extra five simultaneous connections and the use of its encrypted mail service, ProtonMail.
We’d stick with the Plus plan for value, especially given the cost hike with the Visionary plan. If you sign up to a paid plan but decide you don’t like it, you can get your money back within 30 days of purchase.
- Generous free plan
- Unlimited bandwidth on all plans
- Great security
- Slow speeds
- Free servers are sometimes unusable
- No ad & malware blocker
How We Chose the Best Android VPN
Although many VPNs have the same features listed, that doesn’t mean they’re all equal. Some implement those features poorly or, worse, don’t actually include some of them.
The problem with Android VPN apps is that some of the features of the service aren’t available to the platform. Take, for instance, a kill switch. Desktop applications usually have one included, but they’re not always available on the mobile version. To be considered on our top VPN apps for Android, the following criteria were considered.
Ease of Use
Just because a VPN service’s desktop client is easy to use, it doesn’t mean the mobile version is going to be the same. Then there are some that don’t have a user-friendly client at all. When you’re using such a service from a small mobile screen, you want one that is simple but has everything you need at the same time.
A quick-connect button within the app or even a handy widget that you can place on your home screen makes the experience a smooth one. Plus, being able to toggle a kill switch, change servers or tinker with other app settings easily with a few taps is great.
The VPN service should have good security to keep you protected. That should include good encryption, with AES 256-bit being standard, and a kill switch is important because it will disconnect you from the network if the VPN fails.
There are many different protocols out there, with OpenVPN being a popular and reliable choice. However, although OpenVPN has top-notch encryption, mobile users may prefer to use IKEv2 because it’s faster. You can read more about them in our VPN protocol breakdown, but it’s worth noting that not all VPN apps include IKEv2.
On top of that, some Android apps let you choose an “always on” setting, which basically means you’re protected all the time. That’s a good option if your device is always connected to the internet. Other settings let you make the VPN connect automatically when you connect to specific networks.
Your privacy is important, and having good security doesn’t provide it 100 percent. The VPN service itself could easily gather data or hold records of your online activities, so to avoid that, you should pick one that has a strict no-logs policy. By having that, no activity logs will be stored, so there’s nothing to hand over to authorities if asked.
Speed and Bandwidth
The VPNs speed is definitely something to look at, but what you need will depend on what activities you’ll be carrying out. For casual browsing or checking your emails, fast speeds may not be your number-one priority, but if you plan on streaming from your mobile, you’re going to get frustrated if you pick one with slow speeds.
The same concept applies to your bandwidth allowance. If you choose one that has a limit but you don’t carry out data-hungry tasks, you should be fine. That said, if you stream, you can pretty much kiss your allowance goodbye. For the latter, or any other tasks with high data usage, you should pick a VPN that includes unlimited bandwidth.
Prices vary on the VPN market. Some are high priced, some low and others have decent free plans. You should make sure the price fits in with your budget, but value for your money is much more important. Don’t skip past a VPN just because of its cost and, likewise, don’t dismiss one because it’s free or cheap.
Why Do I Need a VPN on My Android Device?
VPNs can do a lot of things, but for Android users, the main concern is security. Your Android device can be exposed to lots of threats, especially if it’s taken everywhere you go. They’re easy targets for snooping and can be infected without you even realizing.
If you use public WiFi, you’re putting yourself at risk of being hacked, if you don’t protect yourself. Most of these networks — if not all of them — are unsecured, so if you don’t protect yourself, it’s like leaving the door open and inviting people in for coffee. Your traffic could be intercepted and credit card details stolen, as well as other sensitive information.
Not only that, but there are many apps available on Google Play that are a wolf in sheep’s clothing. You download what looks like a legitimate app, but all it really does is infect your device with a nasty virus, or collect information in the background.
By using a VPN, you can hide your IP address and your browsing activity from prying eyes, as well as secure your device from the dangers lurking on WiFi hotspots or in third-party apps. You can also benefit from the VPN’s other features, such as accessing geoblocked content.
Can I Use a Free VPN for Android?
There are lots of free VPNs on the market. Just a quick search in the Google Play Store will bring up a ton of apps that advertise a secure service that’s often free. However, just because it says it’s secure doesn’t mean it is.
As you can read in our worst free VPN providers roundup, there are lots of sketchy VPN services out there. Some are full of ads, which could point to the company behind the VPN being more in tune with what it’s earning from advertisements, rather than how its users are being protected.
Other free VPNs make money by selling the data it collects from you to other companies. Plus, some of the ones we test will not secure your connection as promised, with either a lower grade encryption or none at all.
With the exceptions of free plans from the likes of Windscribe, TunnelBear and ProtonVPN, if it’s free, it’s probably not worth the risk.
We hope we’ve helped you pick a good VPN service for your Android device. To stay protected, you should choose one with good security that includes a kill switch for Android, as well as one that has a no-logs policy.
Other settings, such as auto-connect or “always on,” are good to have. Speed and bandwidth allowance should be looked at, too. Plus, you’ll want the client to be user-friendly.
With all that in mind, ExpressVPN is the best Android VPN. It comes with an easy-to-use app and excellent security, including a kill switch, and it has the fastest speeds available.
ExpressVPN doesn’t have an ad and malware blocker, but you can always install an antivirus, such as Kaspersky, instead (read our Kaspersky Antivirus review). Give it a try with the 30-day money-back guarantee, we’re sure you’ll like it.
Tell us about your experience with an Android-compatible VPN in the comment section below. Check out our other VPN articles while you’re here, too. As always, thank you for reading.