Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
Concerned about the privacy of your data? Often use public Wi-Fi while you’re out and about? Subscribing to a virtual private network (VPN) is the answer, and you need one that provides a client app for your Android phone or tablet. Encrypting your connection will ensure your online activity is private and protected from hackers, advertisers, and more.
Not sure where to start? Check out five of the best VPNs for Android below, all with dedicated apps.
What Is the Best Android VPN?
We’ve shortlisted five top choices of mobile VPNs for Android. These solutions are all available on the desktop, as well. So if you’re looking for a multi-platform VPN service, we’ve got you covered.
The VPN services we’ll be looking at are:
- Private Internet Access
Let’s take a look at each of these in turn, then consider some free VPNs. We’ll also see how simple it is to set up a VPN on Android.
Offering 1,500+ servers across 148 locations, privacy safeguards, and “zero-knowledge DNS” ExpressVPN is a fast, easy-to-use virtual private network. In mobile app form it is particularly useful, enabling you to easily switch your VPN on or off, depending on the scenario. Switching between servers is also simple, and there is even a favorites list for servers you connect to regularly.
In terms of usability, ExpressVPN’s mobile app is simple to understand. While the desktop iterations require you to enter a provided key, the mobile app avoids this, defaulting to your username and password. Find out more in our review of ExpressVPN.
ExpressVPN offers support for reliably overcoming Netflix’s VPN block, as well as social media, YouTube, and Skype where needed.
For a 30-day rolling subscription, ExpressVPN is $12.95 per month. A cheaper alternative is purchasing six months for $59.95, which equates to $9.99 per month. At the time of writing, a 12-month subscription of $99.95 is also available (discounted from $194.25), which works out to as little as $6.67 per month.
TRY OUR #1 RANKED VPN: Save 49% on ExpressVPN
With a handy mobile app and strict no-logging policy, CyberGhost’s VPN service has 1,250 VPN servers in over 50 countries around the world. It has the ability to evade region blocking on Netflix and other services, although this can be unreliable as the battle between Netflix and VPN providers continues.
CyberGhost also blocks websites serving malicious content, as well as online trackers. Check out our review of CyberGhost for more details on its features.
Along with a lack of logging, CyberGhost offers security thanks to DNS and IP leak protection. Note that a CyberGhost account allows connection to the service on up to five devices simultaneously.
On Android, CyberGhost makes it easy to find and connect to the VPN server you want. Simply open the app, select the VPN server, and connect.
At the time of writing, CyberGhost is available for just $2.75 per month if you opt for the three-year plan at $99. If you prefer monthly billing, it’s $12.99 every 30 days. The two-year plan will set you back 88.56 ($3.69 per month) and the one-year plan is $71.88 ($5.99 per month).
Currently offering an audacious two-year plan that works out at $3.29 per month ($79.00 billed every 24 months), NordVPN offers access to an amazing 4,049 servers worldwide, has a no-logs policy, and allows simultaneous connection of up to six devices. The service also circumvents Netflix geoblocking.
Other subscription options include the one month plan of $11.99, and the one year plan, which works out at $5.75 per month if you pay $69.00 a year every 12 months. At the time of writing, NordVPN is also offering a three year deal for $99. This works out at just $2.75 every month.
Along with all the usual features of a VPN, NordVPN has bundled Onion over VPN functionality. This combines standard VPN privacy with The Onion Router (TOR) for the maximum in online security. Malware and phishing sites are automatically blocked by NordVPN, and the servers employ DoubleVPN and anti-DDoS technologies to ensure privacy and stability.
On Android, NordVPN offers a quick connection feature, and is overall fast and easy to use.
Offering fast speeds, always-on functionality, and servers in over 20 countries, TunnelBear is another high-quality VPN for Android users. Up to five devices are supported on a TunnelBear account, while none of your activity is logged by the service.
You might also be reassured to learn that TunnelBear is the only VPN to have published an independent security audit of its services. Have a look at our review of TunnelBear.
Unfortunately, if you’re planning to Netflix and chill with your Android phone or tablet, but want movies and TV shows from a different territory, TunnelBear is the wrong option. Netflix’s VPN blocking has successfully blocked TunnelBear users.
While offering a free option (up to 500MB of data per month, upped to 1GB if you send a tweet), we would recommend you take one of TunnelBear’s paid subscriptions. The Giant option is $9.99 per month, while the Grizzly option works out at $4.99 per month if you pay $59.88 up front.
5. Private Internet Access
Last on the list is one of the oldest VPN services available. Private Internet Access offers an easy to use mobile app, unlimited bandwidth, 3,070+ servers in 28 countries, and doesn’t log traffic. There’s also tracking and malware protection, along with the expected encryption to keep your activity private from eavesdroppers, sniffers, and other interested parties.
Like TunnelBear, Private Internet Access will not allow you to access Netflix in a different country. You’ll have to make do with the local version, sadly.
The monthly rate for Private Internet Access is $6.95, but you can save by paying annually at just $39.95 (equating to $3.33 per month). It also offers a two year deal of $69.95, which works out at a tiny $2.91 per month.
Download: Private Internet Access
What About Free VPNs for Android?
Several free VPNs are available for Android. Before you consider one of these, however, note that free VPNs don’t give you the same depth of privacy as paid VPNs.
Having said that, a handful of free VPNs might be worth considering if you can’t pay. Take a look at our list of the best free unlimited VPNs, which all offer mobile options for Android.
The Downside of Using a Mobile VPN
Although the scene is getting better, it’s worth pointing out the downside of running a mobile VPN: reduced battery.
Persistent use of a VPN throughout the day will result in your battery discharging more quickly, thanks to all the encrypting and decrypting that takes place. This isn’t a problem if your phone close to a charger, but obviously once you head out and access online content, this will change.
To avoid unnecessary battery drain, it’s important to remember to disable your VPN when you’re not browsing the web on your phone.
How Do You Set Up a VPN on Android?
If you’re already using a VPN on your desktop computer, you probably know how straightforward it is to set one up. While there are differences between VPN clients, the process is overall the same. On mobile, the story is similar, although the installation and setup differ.
Once you’ve installed the VPN’s app through Google Play (and subscribed to the service), you’ll need to enter your VPN account credentials. As soon as you’re signed in, you’ll be able to select a VPN server and connect.
Note: It’s a little different if you need to connect to a corporate VPN from Android.
Meanwhile, if you need to use a VPN on Android but don’t like any of the mobile clients (or regularly switch providers), try OpenVPN Connect. And if you want to find out more about desktop VPNs, check our guide to the best VPN services. And here are the iPhone VPNs we recommend.