Key Takeaways: iPhone VPNs
- While it’s the most expensive iPhone VPN option, ExpressVPN offers unparalleled speed and top-notch security, making it our top choice in this category.
- If price is your main concern, but you still want access to a range of features and servers, NordVPN and Surfshark are your best bets.
- If you’re just dipping your toe into the world of VPNs and don’t want to pay for one yet, then Windscribe offers a free plan with excellent security and privacy.
Updated the article to reflect ExpressVPN’s expansion of server presence from 94 to 105 countries.
An iPhone VPN is a great idea for the privacy conscious, as well as people who want to access geoblocked content from streaming sites like Netflix and Disney+ on their mobile phones. Although some iOSes have a built-in VPN option, testing reveals that its functionality is limited — you’re better off using a VPN app.
iPhone VPNs work by encrypting the data that travels to and from your device, as well as hiding your IP address. This keeps your connection private from the wider internet.
There are several VPNs available in the Apple Store, meaning it’s easy to sign up and set up a VPN on your iPhone in just a few taps. However, finding the best iPhone VPN that matches Apple’s impeccable, intuitive user interface can be tricky.
After all, you want a VPN that will enhance your user experience, not detract from it. With this in mind, below we’ll take a look at the best iPhone VPN services. We’ll explain why each provider has made our top five, their pros and cons, and details like pricing and unique features.
02/21/2022 Facts checked
Cloudwards updated information for ExpressVPN, NordVPN, CyberGhost and Windscribe, and also replaced Private Internet Access with Surfshark.
Updated Windscribe pricing: the paid plan increased to $5.75 per month from $4.08. The Build-a-Plan minimum purchase also increased to $3 from $2. Also updated Windscribe’s free data cap to 15GB due to it offering 5GB extra permanently when you tweet about the service.
Added information about the built-in VPN option on some iOSes.
Some iPhone OSes have a built-in VPN option in “settings,” where you can manage configurations or personal VPN apps. We recommend downloading a VPN app to your device and using it on your iPhone.
While you can access VPNs via downloading a specialized application to your iPhone, iPhones do not come with a built-in VPN.
VPN stands for virtual private network. It’s a service that connects your iPhone to the internet via a VPN server. This server ensures that all the data that travels to and from your device is encrypted, while also hiding your device’s IP address. Keeping your IP address secret protects your privacy, as the websites you visit won’t know where you are.
For the privacy conscious, an iPhone VPN is a great way to keep your data and location hidden from the wider internet. VPNs also have a lot of cool functionality. If you want to access streaming content in other countries or are into torrenting, a VPN is a great idea.
iOS 15 comes with a VPN option in the settings, but testing reveals it does not work very well. We suggest using a VPN iOS app instead of the built-in VPN option.
The Top VPNs Services for iOS
Average speedDownload Speed92 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency5 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card, Bitcoin, PaymentWall
Average speedDownload Speed94 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency6 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card, Google Pay, AmazonPay, ACH Transfer, Cash
- : 6
Average speedDownload Speed95 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency200 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card, Google Pay, Amazon Pay
- : Unlimited
Average speedDownload Speed94 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency2 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card
- : Unlimited
Average speedDownload Speed81 MbpsUpload Speed9 MbpsLatency41 ms
- : PayPal, Credit card, bitcoin, Amazon Pay
- : 7
What Makes the Best iPhone VPN?
There are a few critical factors we considered when choosing our top five iPhone VPNs, including ease of use, speed, high-grade AES 256-bit encryption and price.
- ExpressVPN — Unrivaled speeds, clean user interface, gets into all streaming services
- NordVPN — Steady, reliable, cost-effective and uber secure
- Surfshark— Easy to use, unique features, unlimited simultaneous connections
- Windscribe — Free version, reliable, customizable payment plans
- CyberGhost — Highly secure, competitively priced, straightforward to use
The iOS operating system is renowned for its sleek design and intuitive usability. One of our first considerations when analyzing iPhone VPN contenders is whether the app is well designed and easy to use. We vetoed any applications with a clunky user experience or confusing interface.
Another big factor was functionality. We went for iPhone VPN apps that had as many — or at least almost as many — advanced options as their desktop counterparts. High levels of speed and excellent privacy were also essential requirements.
Lastly, given that many users will want to use their VPN provider across their devices, we assessed how many devices a single subscription from a VPN provider would cover. The more, the better.
The Best VPN Service With an iPhone App
Without further ado, here’s our rundown of the top iPhone VPNs today.
More details about ExpressVPN:
- Pricing: $6.66 per month (15-months plan)
- Provider website: expressvpn.com
- Fast speeds
- Easy & intuitive to use
- Large server network
- More expensive than other providers
ExpressVPN consistently comes in first place in our best VPN guides. It has a clean, intuitive interface, which functions very similarly to a native Apple application. A single click on the application homepage will start your VPN connection.
It’s one of the fastest VPN options out there and offers top-notch security, making it a solid choice for the privacy conscious. In addition to this, it has over 3,000 servers in 105 countries, meaning you can unblock Netflix in virtually any place of your choosing.
Unrivaled Security With ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN has a few extra security features that tick a lot of boxes. For one, you can pay in bitcoin if you purchase ExpressVPN via desktop, which makes the payment process even more secure.
Moreover, while some iPhone VPNs have a more limited functionality than the desktop versions, ExpressVPN packs a lot of punch into all Apple devices, including its app. Protocol-wise, you can choose from OpenVPN, IKEv2 or IPsec. There’s also a kill switch and split tunneling option in the app.
With high levels of functionality comes a high price tag. Although it offers a free seven-day trial for iPhone users, ExpressVPN is the most expensive iPhone VPN on our list. Luckily, it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, and its wealth of features means it is a worthwhile investment. Read our full ExpressVPN review to learn more.
More details about NordVPN:
- Pricing: $3.19 per month (two-year plan + three months)
- Provider website: nordvpn.com
- Fast, reliable connection
- Split tunneling feature
- Dynamic & engaging interface
- Monthly plans are expensive
NordVPN’s iOS app is like a mini replica of the desktop version. It features the same map-like home screen, where you can either choose to “quick connect” to the fastest server or navigate the map to select your country. With more than 5,000 servers in 60 countries, this service is great for unblocking streaming sites like Netflix and BBC iPlayer from any location.
The app also has some nice touches, such as a heart icon you can use to bookmark certain VPN locations, making it easy to find them when you reconnect. It also offers split tunneling, which enables you to choose which applications you want to run through your VPN connection.
Dark Web Monitoring With NordVPN
NordVPN’s dark web monitoring tool is a really nice addition to the iOS app. Essentially, this tool works by monitoring the dark web for any evidence that your email address and password have been exposed in a data leak or data breach. It will then alert you to such an exposure, so you can update your password.
This is a really cool feature, but there is a downside: The service only monitors the email address that’s associated with your NordVPN account. If you have multiple email addresses and passwords, it won’t be all that useful to you.
NordVPN is pretty expensive if you opt for the monthly plan, which comes in at $11.95 per month. However, the two-year plan is very competitive, costing just $3.19 per month (or $86.13) for two years.
You also get a 30-day money back guarantee so you can test it out before fully committing. Take a look at our full NordVPN review for more information about NordVPN’s fast and secure mobile apps.
- Unlimited GB
- Unlimited GB
More details about Surfshark:
- Pricing: $2.49 per month (two-year plan)
- Provider website: surfshark.com
- Cost effective
- Simple to use
- Unique features
- Not as fast as other providers
One thing we love about Surfshark is its unlimited simultaneous connections policy. This means that the VPN extends beyond your iPhone. You can cover your laptop, TV and iPhone with your VPN connection all in one go, which is great for multitasking.
The app is also extremely straightforward to use, with a single-click connection button on the homepage. Speed-wise, Surfshark might slow down your browsing speed a tiny bit, but not dramatically.
Multi-Hop Connections With Surfshark
Surfshark stands out from the crowd with its multi-hop feature. This enables you to route your VPN connection through more than one server, which adds an extra layer of camouflage to the VPN process.
If price is your main concern, then Surfshark is a great option. With plenty of features and an intuitive interface, Surfshark’s cheapest plan is a bargain at $2.49 a month (under the two-year plan). Learn more about this VPN in our Surfshark review.
- Unlimited GB bandwidth, Unlimited devices, Secure VPN, Ad blocker, Cookie pop-up blocker.
- Unlimited GB
- Everything in Starter, plus Antivirus protection, Identity protection, Email Breach and Credit Card Alerts, Online Alias
- Unlimited GB
- Everything in One, plus Data removal
- Unlimited GB
More details about Windscribe:
- Pricing: Free plan; $5.75 per month (one-year plan)
- Provider website: windscribe.com
- Secure free option
- Flexible payment plans
- Automatic kill switch
- Not as fast as competitors
If you don’t want to pay for a VPN but still want a high-quality service, Windscribe is the VPN for you. Generally speaking, we’re cautious of free VPNs, but Windscribe is a solid all-rounder for iOS.
It has a built-in kill switch, which means if you lose the VPN connection on your iPhone, the service will automatically disconnect you to prevent your data from being shared with the wider internet.
Windscribe’s app is also easy to use on your iPhone or iPad — it only takes one tap to connect. The one downside, as to be expected with a free plan, is that there are a limited number of servers available. You’ll have to pay to access more exotic servers.
However, if privacy is your main concern, or you want to see what Netflix options are available in another country, then Windscribe ticks all the boxes.
The Best Free VPN for iPhone
If you’re hesitant about paying for an iPhone VPN, we definitely recommend getting started with Windscribe. Even though it’s free, this VPN app is robust, with more than enough functionality for beginners, though it didn’t make it onto our best VPN for beginners list.
That said, the free plan does have limitations. You only get access to 15GB per month of data and can only access connections in roughly 10 countries.
With Windscribe, you can also customize a plan. You can purchase individual server locations for $1 each per month (with a $3 minimum checkout), meaning you can create a payment plan that suits your unique needs and price requirements. Alternatively, for unfiltered access, the yearly plan comes in at $69, while the monthly plan is $9. Learn more about Windscribe in our review.
- Up to 15 GB free with email confirmation and Tweet
- Unlimited GB
More details about CyberGhost:
- Pricing: $2.37 per month (two-year plan)
- Provider website: cyberghostvpn.com
- NoSpy servers
- Automated network connections
- Initial drop in speed
If you’ve got the need for speed, CyberGhost is a great iPhone VPN option. While there’s an initial drop in speed when you first connect, this service is one of the fastest out there. It’s got an intuitive interface, making navigation very simple. It’s even got a dedicated tab for streaming, which shows the best servers that are optimized for different streaming platforms.
We also like that CyberGhost gives you granular control over the networks you connect to. You can set your preferences so that your VPN service always connects, never connects or asks before connecting to certain networks. This automation is great if you’re someone who travels a lot between a few locations, such as home and the office.
NoSpy Servers With CyberGhost
One of CyberGhost’s competitive differentiators is what it calls its “NoSpy” servers. These servers are located in Romania at CyberGhost HQ. They are entirely managed and owned by CyberGhost.
Most VPN providers typically rent their servers from a third party. Generally speaking, this is still highly secure, but the control that CyberGhost has over these servers — from end to end — is a great pull if security is your utmost concern.
CyberGhost’s prices are competitive. The two-year plan comes in at $2.37 a month, and it also accepts bitcoin payments. An added bonus is the 45-day money back guarantee, which is a longer time period than any other VPN provider out there. If you download the app straight from the app store, you can get a seven-day free trial too. Check out our CyberGhost review to learn more.
Final Thoughts: Best iPhone VPNs
So, there you have it: the five best VPN services for iPhone. Each of these VPN providers will do a great job at protecting your privacy online, while enabling you to access content in countries that would otherwise be blocked.
The VPN you go for will depend on your unique preferences but, whether you prioritize price or speed, all of these VPNs are a great addition to your iPhone home screen.
As always, we’d love to know what you think is the best VPN for the iPhone. If you’ve used these services, which is your favorite and why? Leave a comment below to let us know. If you’re an avid Apple user, read our best VPN for Mac piece and other VPN articles. As always, thanks for reading!