There are hundreds of VPNs available, and with so many of them offering mobile apps, it can be difficult to choose the right solution for your iOS or Android phone or tablet. Based our extensive research and hands-on testing of VPNs over the years, these are the factors to look out for when choosing a VPN for your mobile device:
The primary consideration for any VPN should be privacy. If your VPN is unable to deliver a sufficient level of privacy, then your VPN is practically useless, whether you’re using its mobile or desktop app. Your VPN should offer industry standard AES 256-bit encryption along with basic privacy protections like a kill switch, DNS leak protection and a no-logs policy. If you have heightened privacy needs, you’ll need a VPN provider that is based in a privacy-friendly jurisdiction, offers obfuscation and has a RAM-only server architecture. Additional privacy features to look out for include Tor over VPN functionality, ad and tracker blockers and multi-hop connections. These features can offer increased privacy, but aren’t absolutely essential. It’s also a good idea to choose a VPN that’s trustworthy, transparent and undergoes regular third-party security audits, which can help bolster trust in the VPN’s ability to protect your privacy.
Your mobile VPN’s connection speeds can have a major influence on the quality of your streaming, downloading, video conferencing, gaming and general web browsing activities. To keep things running as smoothly as possible, you’ll want a VPN that will have as minimal an impact on your regular internet speeds as possible, whether you’re using Wi-Fi or mobile data.
A good mobile VPN should run smoothly and be easy to use regardless of your technical expertise. It should have all of the features you need easily accessible with a tap of your finger. Many mobile VPN apps also include a help section with easy ways to get in touch with support or access troubleshooting documentation directly from the device, which can be helpful if you need assistance on the go. The VPN should have a large network of servers around the world so you can connect easily and reliably from wherever you may be traveling, and it should be able to help you access geo-restricted content from various regions if that’s what you want to use it for.
Depending on your budget, you may want to consider the cost and overall value of your mobile VPN before making a purchase. VPN pricing can vary greatly from provider to provider, but you can typically expect to spend about $5 to $13 per month for a monthly VPN subscription plan. If you want to save some money over the long term, you can opt for an annual subscription, where prices can range from roughly $30 to $100 per year. However, you’ll want to be careful with free VPNs because you may end up risking your privacy instead of protecting it when using one. Proton VPN is currently the only free VPN that CNET recommends. That said, most premium VPNs offer a money-back guarantee that can be anywhere from a week to 45 days. You can also get a seven-day free trial with many VPNs when you sign up through Apple’s App Store or the Google Play Store. So you have options to try various mobile VPNs risk-free before you decide whether to fully invest in one.