PhantomVPN Review

PhantomVPN is from the same company that made Avira antivirus, and a stunning example of needing to stick with what you're good at. While PhantomVPN is pretty easy to use, its speeds, customer service and above all privacy policy should make you stay away.

By Brian Murray
— Last Updated: 14 Mar'19
2019-03-14T03:08:32-08:00
Table of Contents Rating
Features
90%
Excellent
Pricing
80%
Good
Ease of Use
85%
Very Good
Speed
60%
Fair
Security
85%
Very Good
Privacy
55%
Fair
Streaming Performance
60%
Fair
Server Locations
65%
Decent
Customer Service
50%
Poor
User Reviews & Comments

Decent
Starts from $ 563 per month
Visit Phantom VPN
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Phantom VPN is a virtual private network service provided by the same company that runs Avira Antivirus. If you’re curious about that program, we take a look at it in our Avira review.

Phantom VPN has some strengths, including its user-friendly interface and solid security, but its weaknesses cripple its potential to be one of the best. Slow speeds, a poor privacy policy and terrible customer service hamper the experience.

Phantom VPN seems to be aimed at people who don’t know much about VPNs and want something they can set and forget. This approach is where both its strengths and weaknesses come from. Simplicity at the cost of user control is a trade some are willing to make, so if that sounds like you, it might be worth taking a look at Phantom VPN with us.

That said, our favorite VPN, ExpressVPN, offers a similar set-it-and-forget-it design while retaining much more functionality and excellent speeds. Read our ExpressVPN review to learn more about it.

Strengths & Weaknesses

Strengths:

  • Easy-to-use client
  • Free plan
  • Solid protocol & encryption

Weaknesses:

  • Alarming privacy policy
  • Unimpressive speeds
  • Lacking customer service

Alternatives for Phantom VPN

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Features

90% - Excellent

When it comes to features, Phantom VPN is impressive. It’s available on Windows, macOS, iOS and Android. There’s also a Chrome browser extension for ease of use in your browser, though it won’t be making it into our best VPN for Chrome piece. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a way to set it up on your router, which makes it more difficult to protect all your devices.

Phantom VPN can be configured to run at startup, and it has a killswitch. The killswitch blocks all traffic if the connection to the VPN is lost, but it’s only available on the Pro version, so don’t expect to use it if you intend to sign up for the free version. Anyone who might use a VPN to torrent or is in a country with internet censorship should avoid the free version.

There’s also a feature in the settings that can block malicious sites and content automatically. It works better than PureVPN’s malware “filter,” which you can read about in our PureVPN review, but it’s far from perfect. Though it’s better than nothing, we urge you to get something from our best antivirus software guide instead.

One notable feature Phantom VPN is lacking is split tunneling. Split tunneling lets you decide which programs will connect through the VPN and which will operate on a normal unprotected connection. If you’re interested in that feature, we suggest taking a look at our StrongVPN review or sign up for ExpressVPN.

Phantom VPN Features Overview

Starts from$ 563per month

General

Payment methods
PayPal, Credit card
Accepts cryptocurrency
Simultaneous connections
Unlimited
Supports split tunneling
Unlimited bandwidth
Only on Pro Plan
Free trial available
Refund period
30 Days
Worldwide server amount
36
Desktop OSes
Windows, MacOS
Mobile OSes
Android, iOS
Browser extensions
Chrome
Can be installed on routers

Streaming

Can access Netflix US
Can access BBC iPlayer
Can access Hulu
Can access Amazon Prime Video

Security

Encryption types
256-AES
VPN protocols available
OpenVPN
Enabled at device startup
Allows torrenting
No-logging policy
Passed DNS leak test
Killswitch available
Pro only
Malware/ad blocker included

Support

Live Chat
Email support
Pro only
Phone support
Pro only
User forum
Knowledgebase

Pricing

80% - Good

If you’re looking to try a VPN, or just want one that’s easy to use because you don’t intend to break it out much, Phantom VPN offers a free limited-bandwidth plan that might be for you. If you visit Avira’s website and download Phantom VPN, you can get 500MB of data per month. If you sign up for an account, the limit increases to 1GB.

Compared to other free VPN services, that is a meager amount of data. Windscribe offers 2GB per month and ups it to 10GB if you enter your email address and sign up. You can increase this cap even further in exchange for completing tasks, such as tweeting about Windscribe once a month. If you’re interested in a free plan, read our Windscribe review.

Free
  • 1 GB Bandwidth
  • 1 Included Devices
Pro Plan
  • Unlimited GB Bandwidth
  • Unlimited Included Devices
1-year plan $ 6.50 / month
$78.00 billed every year
Save 35 %
Monthly Mobile Only
  • Unlimited GB Bandwidth
  • Unlimited Included Devices

That said, there are features that the free plan doesn’t have access to. For example, you can’t use the killswitch. In addition, there’s no support from Avira for people who aren’t paying customers.

As for paid plans, there are three options on Avira’s website. They include a monthly subscription, a monthly mobile-only subscription and an annual subscription. All of them feature unlimited bandwidth and unlimited connections. They’re competitively priced, too.

Avira accepts credit cards and PayPal for payments, but doesn’t take bitcoin or any other form of cryptocurrency. There’s also a 30-day refund policy, but there seem to be some issues with actually getting the money back (we’re still waiting).

Though the pricing for Phantom VPN is fair, it’s far from the best out there. If you’re looking for an affordable VPN to use on a month-by-month basis, read our Private Internet Access review. PIA has excellent pricing on short term plans, and also accepts many forms of cryptocurrency.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a VPN that lets you sign up for long time periods, head to our NordVPN review. NordVPN offers competitively priced two and three-year plans.

Ease of Use

85% - Very Good

Phantom VPN is easy to use, but falls into the trap of offering user-friendliness at the cost of user control. The client’s interface looks clean and shows the most important information in a format that’s easy to read.

If you’re using the free plan, it tells you how much of your data has been used as a percentage and as an exact number. Below that, it says whether you’re connected and which location you’re connecting to.

By clicking the name of the country you’re connecting to, you can open the selection of server locations. The list is alphabetized, shows the flag of each country next to the name and has a search function.

The ping time of the server is shown to the right of the country’s name, which is a nice touch when browsing for a server to use. What’s not nice is that, with the exception of the U.S. servers, the list doesn’t tell you what city the server is in. Instead, it only shows the country.

By clicking the cog in the top right of the client, you can get to the more detailed settings of the VPN. The settings menu is anemic. It includes another way to change your connection location, a menu for selecting which WiFi connections will automatically use the VPN and a handful of toggle switches.

The switches include options for the killswitch, malicious website blocking and automatically running the VPN at startup. Unfortunately, there seems to be no way to change the encryption or protocol that the VPN uses, which we’ll discuss in more detail when we get to the “security” section.

Speed

60% - Fair

The first major chink in the armor of Phantom VPN comes when looking at the speeds. When you hit “secure my connection” in the client, it can take anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds for it to establish a connection. In some cases, it can take the client multiple attempts before it is able to establish a connection.

Location:Ping (ms)Download (Mbps)Upload (Mbps)
Unprotected (Virginia, United States)1972.215.95
New York City2453.525.32
United Kingdom16853.44.68
Switzerland12356.785.12
Japan2301.931.89
Brazil16249.544.9

Once a connection is established, Phantom VPN’s speeds are unimpressive. Starting with New York City, which is 400 miles from where our testing was done, the ping time wasn’t bad and speeds were about what we expected. Despite the relatively short distance, about a quarter of our download speed was lost.

We saw a significant increase in ping time on the European servers, which is to be expected with more distant connections, but minimal slowing in download speeds. There was a slight drop in upload speeds, though.

When using the Japan server, we encountered a substantial increase in ping time and a dramatic drop in download speed. Our connection went from about 72 megabits per second to about 2 Mbps. That’s a roughly 97 percent drop in performance, which is unacceptable, even with the significant distance between us and the server.

Finally, we tried a server in Brazil and it performed worse than the Swiss or UK servers, but not nearly as badly as Japan. Overall, the speed performance offered by Phantom VPN is poor.

If you’re looking for a faster connection, take a look at our fastest VPN article, and check out our best VPN for gaming article if you’re after truly low ping.

Security

85% - Very Good

Phantom VPN covers many of the important bases when it comes to security, but it doesn’t give the user many options for configuring it. There’s a killswitch, but it’s only available to paying users. The VPN can also be set to run at startup, ensuring your connection is always secure, and it can automatically block potentially malicious websites.

That said, the client doesn’t offer options when it comes to protocols and encryption. They’re determined for you and can’t be changed. Its selections are top-notch, though.

For encryption, the VPN uses AES 256-bit, which is practically impossible to crack. It would take a powerful supercomputer billions of years to break through. If you want to know more about encryption, read our description of encryption.

As for the protocol, Phantom VPN uses OpenVPN, which is secure and the standard for most providers. OpenVPN usually offers good speeds, as well, but, it doesn’t seem like Phantom VPN was able to capitalize on that. If you’re keen to know more about VPN protocols, check out our VPN protocol breakdown.

Though Phantom VPN doesn’t let you choose the level of encryption or protocol your connection uses, those forced on you are the ones we would suggest most people use. That said, if you’re looking for a secure VPN that offers more user control over protocol and encryption types, read our VyprVPN review.

Unfortunately, Phantom VPN isn’t the VPN for punching through China’s Great Firewall. If you live in China, it’s important to use a secure VPN to ensure your safety. We suggest taking a look at our best VPN services for China article for better options.

Privacy

55% - Fair

Avira’s privacy policy starts by saying “when using our products and services, we collect and process personal data at various points.” That should raise a red flag for anyone concerned about privacy.

As for Phantom VPN specifically, Avira says no information is collected regarding which pages you visit and which services you use online. That’s good, but the privacy policy says it does keep personal information regarding who has installed the software. Avira also gathers data on the website through cookies and other means.

That information is “mostly” anonymized, according to the privacy policy, but it’s explicitly stated that some information gathered on the website and during the installation and account setup processes is personally identifying.

The privacy policy goes on to say that information is shared with many third parties. The list of third parties is long and broken into seven categories. On top of that, the categories are vague and include things such as “employees (internal and external).”

There are also several places in the end user license agreement and the privacy policy that state that Avira will respond to legal notices, including notices of alleged copyright infringement. If you’re looking for a VPN with a tight privacy policy, take a look at our CyberGhost review.

Streaming Performance

60% - Fair

Streaming performance is another weak point for Phantom VPN. It was ineffective at punching through firewall detection. Netflix, BBC iPlayer and Amazon Prime Video were able to shut down our attempts to watch foreign content.

If you’re trying to find a good way to watch content from the BBC, check out our best VPN for BBC iPlayer roundup. If Netflix content is what you’re after, read our article on how to beat the Netflix VPN ban.

Because we couldn’t get the big name streaming services to work, we tried some unpaid services to see how the streaming quality was. On YouTube, the video loaded almost immediately and defaulted to 720p. The video played smoothly and there were no interruptions.

Twitch was a different story. When we tried to boot up a stream, it took about seven seconds to get going and defaulted to 720p. It then stuttered and needed to buffer every few seconds. It was basically unwatchable. The stream was also grainy, even though it said it was in 720p.

Server Locations

65% - Decent

Phantom VPN offers 36 servers that are spread out well enough to cover most potential customers. There are servers in North America, South America, Europe and Asia. Unfortunately, there are no servers in Africa.

Thirty-six servers is a miniscule number that makes the servers prone to being slow when under load. That could explain the significantly lower speeds we saw when we connected to the Japan server during our speed testing.

NordVPN is a provider that has thousands of servers that cover many locations around the world. If you’re interested in the VPN with the most locations, though, head to our HideMyAss review. HideMyAss has over 200 locations available, making it easy to find a fast server no matter where you are.

Customer Service

50% - Poor

Avira’s customer service borders on non-existent. If you aren’t on the paid plan, there’s no way to reach support. There’s no live chat and, as mentioned, you can only contact support through email if you’re on a paid plan or have another one of Avira’s services.

Avira claims its phone lines run 24/7, but it’s common to call and get a “this line is currently not in service” message. Emails also sometimes go unanswered or take multiple days to get a response.

The knowledgebase has a basic FAQ and short tutorials that show how to install and set up the VPN. There’s also something like a user forum where you can go to post questions and potentially get answers. It’s easy to search, but, more often than not. you see posts that get no replies or all the replies are complaints about similar problems with no solution in sight.

The Verdict

Phantom VPN comes across as being geared toward people seeking simplicity. If you’re looking for a VPN you can run without worrying about settings, it could be a decent option.

That said, there are major shortcomings that Phantom VPN needs to fix if it wants to be a contender with the likes of ExpressVPN and NordVPN. The speeds and number of servers are lacking, the privacy policy is unacceptable and the customer service is atrocious. The VPN is also incapable of getting through proxy detection.

If you’re wondering where to go from here and which VPNs do things better, take a look at our best VPN roundup.

What do you think of Phantom VPN? Do you agree with our assessment? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading.

Phantom VPN Review

Poor speeds and a terrible privacy policy.

PhantomVPN is from the same company that made Avira antivirus, and a stunning example of needing to stick with what you're good at. While PhantomVPN is pretty easy to use, its speeds, customer service and above all privacy policy should make you stay away.
Starts from$ 563per month
Visit Phantom VPN
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