In the past ten years, mobile phone usage has soared, with 57 percent of all internet browsing now taking place on a mobile device. Consequently, it’s become more important than ever to protect your mobile phone activity. Luckily, Cloudwards.net has put together the best VPN for mobile so you can protect your privacy while going walkabout.
You may not think it, but protecting your mobile device with a virtual private network is as important as your desktop: plenty of us do our banking, for instance, on our smartphones, or set statuses on our social media accounts. Considering most of us prefer to use easily hijacked public WiFi, and we have a recipe for disaster.
Before we take a look at which of our best VPN providers have the best mobile experience, let’s take a look at the criteria they needed to meet to make the cut.
Best VPN for Mobile in 2018
What Makes a Good VPN for Mobile?
Mobile phones don’t offer the large screens and convenient keyboards of desktops or laptops, so, like with all mobile apps, a simple, easy-to-use interface is key to an enjoyable user experience. The ability to maintain access to detailed features while still offering a simple layout is a sign of a developer that has put in the extra time to make an above-average app.
The encryption you use on all your devices needs to be equal across the board. As mentioned earlier, mobile phones are responsible for the majority of data transmission these days, so it’s important to ensure your phone is as secure as your other devices.
When looking for a VPN for your mobile device, aim for one that offers 256-bit AES encryption with the SSTP or OpenVPN protocol. L2TP/IPSec is also decent, although a bit slower. The common protocol PPTP doesn’t offer strong enough encryption for it to be considered secure and should be avoided.
Besides a good app and good security, you also want a VPN that has plenty of locations on offer, especially if you’re big on traveling. Also, more and more people are streaming video on their mobile devices, so expect some overlap here with our best VPN for Netflix picks.
Now that you know what to look for, let’s take a peek at our top five favorite VPNs for mobile devices.
Best VPN for Mobile: ExpressVPN
We believe ExpressVPN is the best overall VPN available, which means it should be no surprise that it’s the best for mobile. With servers in 94 different countries around the world, you won’t be short of options to connect to, whatever your needs. Streaming for Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer and Amazon are all available. Read our full ExpressVPN review to learn more.
ExpressVPN has native apps for both iOS and Android, so you should have no trouble installing and accessing all its features, no matter what hardware you use. It supports IPSec, OpenVPN, PPTP and SSTP protocols and for encryption offers 256-AES, RSA-1024 and RSA-4096.
With the ability to connect to three devices simultaneously, you’ll be able to run it on your desktop or laptop as well as phone, tablet or whichever mobile device you choose. It also features a speed test to find the fastest nearby servers and a diagnostics tool that you can use to assist customer support with any problems you may have.
Other Reasons Why We Like ExpressVPN
Being based in the British Virgin Islands means ExpressVPN isn’t hampered by any troublesome data retention laws, so your anonymity is assured. It doesn’t benefit from a free trial, but with a 30-day money-back guarantee, you should have ample time to test it and decide if it’s the right VPN for you.
ExpressVPN’s killswitch is a critical added feature that should be found on any decent VPN, especially for those living in countries with very restrictive governments. It’s just one of the reasons ExpressVPN is on our list for best VPN for China. It also has the broadest spectrum of features and has exhibited consistent reliability in speed and security year after year.
- Excellent mobile apps
- Servers in 94 countries
NordVPN supports up to six devices at once, which is why we ranked it as the best VPN for multiple devices. The mobile app comes with simple, easy-to-use interface, although it’s a bit short on configuration options when compared to its desktop counterparts.
One of NordVPN’s handy benefits is its selection of special servers, with the option to pick ones optimized for torrenting, anti-DDoS and other features (and it’s why NordVPN is our best VPN for torrenting). For users with specific requirements, this can be a great added advantage.
Unfortunately, NordVPN doesn’t feature split tunneling like ExpressVPN does, but there is a killswitch which can be configured to target only certain apps. If the VPN goes down it will kill torrents, for example, but keep your browser and email up. You’ll have no trouble streaming any of your favorite media sites, as NordVPN provides access to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and BBC iPlayer.
Other Reasons Why We Like NordVPN
A unique and impressive aspect of NordVPN is its “double VPN” feature, which facilitates the use of two VPN servers on one connection for additional security. It also offers excellent technical support and round-the-clock live chat for any assistance you require. NordVPN has a strict no-logging policy and is located in Panama, a country with good data privacy laws.
With over 4000 servers in 61 countries, NordVPN is perfect for travelers who need mobile protection on the road. It has a 30-day money-back guarantee, which should give you a decent idea of its functionality. Read our full NordVPN review to learn more.
- Double VPN
- 4000+ servers in over 60 countries
- Good customer support
- Sub-optimal speeds
CyberGhost is a comparatively fast VPN and uses the L2TP/IPSec, OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPSec tunneling protocols with 256-bit AES encryption, so it has excellent security. With 1300 servers in over 60 countries, it has a significant reach and should be able to satisfy all users. In the past, it’s been reported to have trouble accessing the U.S. version of Netflix, but recent upgrades have improved the issue by ensuring availability on certain servers.
Apps for both iOS and Android have a slightly trimmed down interface when compared to the desktop clients, each with only a four-option menu offering WiFi protection, secured streaming, anonymous surfing and server selection.
However, the mobile apps are actually nicer to use than the desktop clients. Both feature in-depth configuration options with some mobile-specific options that are not available on the desktop version — like website compression to save on data.
Other Reasons We Like CyberGhost
CyberGhost is based in Romania, which keeps it free to operate an anonymous, no-logging policy. They also have decent server coverage in many Asian countries, making it an attractive option for users in China stuck behind the Great Firewall. Read our full Cyberghost review to learn more.
For additional security, there is an app protection feature that automatically starts CyberGhost under a certain profile so as to ensure you aren’t accidentally left unprotected. There is also a killswitch, although it can’t be switched off on certain apps so it could be restrictive for some. You‘re offered a 30-day refund period to try it out.
- Very good iOS app
- Over 1300 servers in 60 countries
- Value for money
- Limited U.S. Netflix
- Some P2P restrictions
PIA offers some of the best value for money on the VPN market. Fast speeds are PIA’s number one feature and it manages to switch between servers almost instantaneously. However, being based in the U.S. does considerably detract from its appeal. Still, it maintains servers in 24 different countries and has a good track record for keeping users data private.
With native apps for both iOS and Android, there should be no trouble taking advantage of PIA’s proven security and 99.99 percent uptime guarantee.
The mobile app has a great user-friendly interface that is more appealing than the desktop version. It has a very minimalist feel but also provides the ability to expand to a larger options screen. The main screen gives you most of what you’ll need though, with options to report blocked sites and slow connections.
Other Reasons Why We Like Private Internet Access
A decent extra for PIA is its ability to connect to five different devices at the same time. This is great if you are a big family, or if you simply have far more phones than any one person needs. Either way, with only one license, you will be protected across the board. It also has the added safety of a killswitch and MACE – it’s built-in malware and ad blocker.
PIA also offers strong security, with 256-bit encryption on the popular OpenVPN protocol and use of SOCKS5 proxy servers. It also gives users the unique ability to connect to another server without having to disconnect from the current one. With a significantly lower cost than most other VPNs, PIA is a very attractive option.
Read our full Private Internet Access review to learn more.
- Very good uptime
- Strong security
- Servers in only 24 countries
- U.S. based
- App design could be better
Headquartered in Switzerland, VyprVPN is another service that is not required to log your data and can be trusted not to. Like PIA, it offers up to five connections on its premium service and unlimited bandwidth for all users. It hosts thousands of servers spread over an impressive 70 countries, which are protected by a selection of protocols including PPTP, L2TP and OpenVPN.
VyprVPN has a very sleek looking app for both iOS and Android. You can customize the connection behavior on a per-app basis, so as to not slow down apps that don’t need to go through a VPN, and protect those that do. Whenever you connect to an untrusted WiFi network, VyprVPN will automatically switch on.
Other Reasons Why We Like VyprVPN
VyperVPN has an attractive feature called Chameleon which helps to mask the fact that you are using a VPN. Making use of some of the more advanced characteristics of the OpenVPN protocol, it can scramble your packet metadata. This makes it undetectable to “Deep Packet Inspection”, or DPI, which is how governments and other organizations trace VPN use.
VyprVPN offers good performance and strong security, blocking any DNS and WebRTC leaks. It offers decent performance for the price range and very user-friendly mobile apps, especially on the iOS side. Check out all the details in our VyprVPN review or try it out with its three-day trial.
- Local DNS
- Servers in 70+ countries
- Based in Switzerland
- Records IP address for 30 days
Honorable Mention: AirVPN
AirVPN is attractive due to its lower monthly cost. It offers a decent 60 servers in 15 countries and is supported by 256-bit GCM CBC encryption, a new form of block cipher encryption that is gaining popularity. Combined with its acceptance of bitcoin for payment means it provides total anonymity. Read our AirVPN review for more information.
AirVPN features apps for iOS and Android, with both supported by the OpenVPN protocol. Being open-source, this can be a bit trickier to install than simply a one-click app. Additionally, once installed the apps don’t have the best user-interface and could take some getting used to.
For those who like more control of their software though, the configuration and transparency are appealing.
When looking for a decent VPN for your mobile device, your options may be somewhat more limited than you have for desktop or laptop.
Fortunately, top of the range providers have put in the effort to develop high-quality apps that offer a simple to use interface, without sacrificing speed or security.
Whichever device you have, whether it runs iOS or Android, there is an option available in our top five that will fit your needs. If you have suggestions, please let us know in the comments! Thanks for reading.