Installing a VPN on Android doesn’t have to be hard; you just need to pick the right VPN provider, install the software onto your device and learn how to configure it for optimal use. We’ll help you accomplish all these things in our easy step by step guide–read on to get started.
If you know about internet security, then you already know how important it is to use a VPN on your home computer to protect yourself from cyber threats and to safeguard your privacy. However, it’s equally important to also use a VPN on your phone or tablet. Lots of us keep practically our entire lives on our phones, with information like emails, bank information, personal contacts, work information, and more stored on these devices, so it’s vital that they are protected too.
In a rush? These are our top recommended VPNs for Android:
- NordVPN – Best Android VPN – One of the world’s most trusted VPNs, with a full-featured Android app. Thousands upon thousands of servers, advanced protocols and fail-safes, no logging.
- ExpressVPN – One-click interface with plenty of room for Android power users to tinker with privacy and performance settings.
- IPVanish – Trusted by Android users for years, ideal for torrent downloads and unblocking streaming sites.
If you’re an Android user who is concerned about privacy then today’s article is for you. We’re going to go through some of our favourites VPNs for Android then show you how to install a VPN on Android with step by step instructions.
Why Android users benefit from a VPN
If you’re not sure whether you need a VPN for your Android device, just consider the benefits that using one will bring you:
A big vulnerability of Android and other mobile devices is that you’ll frequently use them to connect to public wifi networks like those you find in cafes or public locations like airports. The problem is that when you are connected to an unsecured network, it is possible for other users on the same network to intercept and data you send over the internet – which could include your emails or even your personal information or bank details. To prevent this, a VPN encrypts the data you send over the internet so that no one can intercept it and steal your data.
RELATED READING: What to do if your identity gets stolen
Get around region locks
Lots of content online is region locked – for example, you can only watch videos on the BBC iPlayer if you are located within the UK. However, if you use a VPN then you can make it look as if you are browsing from another country. So you can use your VPN to connect to a server in the UK and then watch iPlayer content from anywhere in the world. This trick works with other sites too, like Netflix, Hulu, or Comedy Central.
Protect your privacy
If you use your Android device on your home network, then your ISP will easily be able to see which sites you visit and whether you are downloading or streaming content. If you want to keep your internet use private from your ISP and others, then the encryption used by a VPN will prevent anyone else from being able to access your data or track your internet use.
Top VPNs for Android (and how to install them)
There’s a big market out there for VPN providers, and as with most things, some are distinctly better than others. We’ve narrowed down the field to present what we think are the three best VPN providers for Android users. We’ll go into detail about their specifications, features and virtues, show you how to install them, and finally wrap each section up with some tips on how to set up and configure your new app.
Advanced VPN users who want tons of options and the very highest level of security will appreciate NordVPN. As well as the usual security features like 256-bit encryption and a no logging policy, there is also a featured called double encryption in which your data is encrypted twice for the best possible security. The connections speeds are fast, and you’ll get access to an absolutely huge network of more than 5,300 servers in 59 countries.
The NordVPN app for Android has far more features than most VPN apps, with the ability to choose from a list of specialist servers as well as picking a server by the country that it is located in. These specialist servers include ones for P2P, Onion Over VPN, Double VPN, Anti DDoS, and Dedicated IP. There are also options to enable features like CyberSec: an ad blocker and anti malware utility to keep you safe when browsing, or to use obfuscated servers which are perfect for getting around VPN blocks like those used in China. You can also play with options to use TCP, and to change auto connect behaviour.
All of these advanced features make NordVPN invaluable when you need to change specific settings so you can use your VPN as you want to. In addition to the Android app, you can also install NordVPN software on devices running Windows, Mac OS, iOS, Linus, Chrome OS, and more.
Read our full NordVPN review.
- Optimized servers for unblocking Netflix
- GooglePlay users rating: 4.3/5.0
- DNS leak protection, kill switch
- Extra-secure Double VPN for data encryption
- 24/7 Chat Support.
- Not much
- Apps can sometime be slow to connect.
How to install the NordVPN app for Android
- Open the Google Play Store
- Use the search bar at the top to search for NordVPN
- Find the item VPN: Fast & Unlimited NordVPN. It’has a logo that looks like a blue mountain
- Click the big green Install button
- The app will begin downloading and installation will commence
- Once installation is complete, click the green button that says Open
- This will open up the NordVPN app
How to set up and use the NordVPN app for Android
- The first time you open the app, you’ll see a blue loading screen with a white progress bar at the bottom. Wait for the progress bar to get to the end and the app will take you to the home page
- Now you have the option to Start Free Trial or to log in if you already have a NordVPN account. To log in, click the image of a person in the top left, then go to Sign In and enter your log in details
- Once you’ve started a trial or signed in, you might see a screen with information about new features like the CyberSec security feature. You can either click Turn CyberSec On or press back to come back to this later
- Back on the home screen you’ll see a map and a bar at the top which says You are not connected. To connect to the VPN, look around the map by pinching and swiping until you find the country that you want to connect to. Then tap on the blue icon above the country you want
- This brings up a small information panel with the name of the country and a grey button which you can use to connect. If there is a particular server you want to use, you can choose the Pick a Server option. Else just click the grey button to connect to the VPN
- If this is the first time you’re using NordVPN, at this point you will have to give the app permission to manage your internet connection on your Android device. You’ll see an information screen about this, then click on Continue. Click I trust this application and then OK. Now you’ll go back to the NordVPN app to a screen that tells you about the connection process and you should click Got it. Finally, on the popup saying Allow connection click on OK. This completes the setup process
- Now you are connected to the VPN. You’ll see that the bar at the top of the screen goes green and says Connected to [whichever server you chose]. You can click on this green bar to see more information about your connection, like the server, your IP address, and how long the connection has been active. You’ll also see an icon that looks like a lock in your Android notification bar
- Now you’re free to browse the internet safely and privately
ExpressVPN offers a great balance of speed, security, and ease of use. The connections it offers are lightning fast and won’t slow down your browsing. And the security offered is excellent, with the use of strong 256-bit encryption and a no logging policy. The server network is absolutely massive, offering a network of over 3,000 servers in 160 different locations in 94 countries so you can easily get around any region locks you come across.
The Android app for ExpressVPN is especially easy to use, which makes it perfect for those who are new to VPNs. There is also an option in the software to change the VPN protocol which is used, and whether the VPN automatically connects on Android startup. If you have other devices as well, the software is also available for Windows, Mac OS, iOS, and Linux, in addition to support for some games consoles, smart TVs, and modems.
Read our full ExpressVPN review.
- SPECIAL OFFER: 3 months free (49% off - link below)
- Fastest servers we have tested
- Torrenting/P2P allowed
- No personal information logs kept
- Great support (24/7 chat).
- High cost for month-to-month users.
How to install the ExpressVPN app for android
- Turn on your Android device and open your app draw
- Select the Google Play Store
- Use the search bar at the top to search for ExpressVPN
- Find the app called Express VPN – Best Android VPN. It’s the one with a red logo shaped like a V
- Click the big green Install button
- You’ll see a screen appear about the permissions the app needs to run. You will have to give it permission to control: 1) In-app purchases and 2) Wifi connection information. Click the green button that says Accept
- The app will begin downloading. You can monitor the progress using the progress bar. Once the file is downloaded, you’ll see the text Installing… on the screen
- Once installation is complete, you’ll see an icon with a check mark on a triangle in your notification bar. You can now select the green button which says Open on screen
- This will open up the ExpressVPN app for the first time
How to set up and use the ExpressVPN app for Android
- On the welcome screen, you’ll see options to either start a Free Trial or to Sign in with your account. We’ll assume you already have an account, so you should select Sign In
- You’ll see a screen which says Activating… please wait and a status bar. Wait for a moment while the app loads
- Once that is done, you’ll see a wizard for helping you get your VPN set up. The first screen says Configuring your VPN and you just need to tap OK to start. Next you see an Android popup notifying you of a Connection request, and you should click OK
- Now you’ll see a screen titled Help Improve ExpressVPN. Click on Don’t allow to not send crash reports or on Allow to agree to send them
- Now the setup is done and you’ll be taken to the ExpressVPN home screen. You’ll see a big round grey button icon, and you just have to tap the button to connect to a VPN server
- Text appears that says Connecting… and you have the option to cancel if it takes too long. Once the connection is ready, it will say VPN is ON and the button background will turn green. This means that your VPN is connected and is protecting you. You’ll also see a key symbol in your notification bar which means that a VPN is active
- When you connect to ExpressVPN for the first time you’ll be connected using the smart location feature which finds a server near you for best speeds. However, if you want to connect to a server in a particular location then look to the right of the big connect button for a smaller round button which says CHOOSE LOCATION. Click on this
- Now you’ll see four main options. At the top is a search bar, where you can enter the name of a city or country to quickly search for a server in this location. Below are three options for sorting the data: Recommended, All, and Recents. Recommended helpfully list around 10 of the most frequently used and fastest countries you can connect to, with a flag of each country to help you find it quickly. If there is a grey triangle to the left of the flag, that means that there are servers available at multiple locations within that country – for example, in the UK there are currently servers in East London and Berkshire. All has a list of all of the servers available across the entire network, organised by continent. And Recents show you the servers that you have connected to recently
- If you’re confused, the app has a How do I pick the right VPN location? section in the FAQ which has all the details you could need
- Once you have picked a server to connect to, tap on it and you will be connected to the new location
- When you disconnect from one server and reconnect to another, remember that there will be a few seconds in which your internet connection will not be protected. The app will show you a reminder about this which you can acknowledge and check the Don’t show again box to not see it again
- If there’s a location that you use for your servers often, you can add it to your favourites by clicking the star to the right of the country name, which will then turn red. You can see a list of your favourites in the Recents tab
- Now your VPN is on and you can use the internet in safety
IPVanish is a great choice for users who don’t want their VPN to slow down their browsing, as it offers lightning fast connections that won’t cause any delays. The security is excellent too, with strong 256-bit encryption to keep your data safe and a no logging policy to protect your privacy. With this service you’ll get access to a large network of over 1,300 servers in more than 60 countries, so you can access the internet as if you were browsing from anywhere in the world.
The IPVanish app for Android is more fully featured than other VPN apps, with a graph to display data upload and download speeds, plus advanced options like auto connected setup, an auto reconnect option, the ability to choose which VPN protocol to use, and the option to choose which port is used. This makes the app ideal for those advanced users who want fine grained control over their VPN connection. In addition to the Android app, the IPVanish software can also be installed on other devices including those running Windows, Mac OS, iOS, and Linux.
Read our full IPVanish review.
How to install the IPVanish app for Android
- Open the Google Play Store
- Use the search bar at the top to search for IPVanish
- Find the item IPVanish VPN. It’s the one with a black and green logo with a P
- Click the big green Install button
- You’ll see a screen appear about the permissions the app needs to run. You will have to give it permission to control your wifi connection information by clicking the green button that says Accept
- The app will begin downloading and installation will commence
- You’ll see an icon in your notification bar once installation is complete. Click the green button in the store which says Open
- This will open up the IPVanish app
How to set up and use the IPVanish app for Android
- When you first open the app you’ll see a log in screen. Enter your username and your password, then click Login
- If this is the first time you’re using the app, you’ll see a tutorial. Click Begin tutorial to see the walk-through or Skip if you already know how to use the software
- The tutorial will show you the key features of the app and how to use it. We recommend that first time users look through it
- Once the tutorial is complete or skipped, you’ll be taken to your IPVanish home screen. In the bottom half of your screen you’ll see your Quick connect preferences
- Click on Country, City, or Server to choose which server you will be quick connected to when you log in. Now you can press Connect and you’ll be connected to the VPN
- You’ll see an Android system warning you that the VPN will monitor your network traffic click on OK
- Now you’ll see a graph of your VPN activity and the button at the bottom will turn red and now say Disconnect. This means that your VPN is up and running
- To connect to a server in a different country, click on the three horizontal grey lines in the top left to bring up the menu, then go to Server. This opens up a list of available servers which you can search or filter using the spyglass and filter icons in the top right of the screen. Click the name of any server to connect to it
- To change your settings so that you are automatically connected to your VPN when you start the IPVanish app, open up the menu and go to Settings, then look in the General tab. The default option is Do not automatically connect. Instead, you can check one of the following boxes: Connect to last connected server, Connect to fastest server, or Connect to fastest server in country
- Your VPN will now keep you safe when using the internet on your Android device
A VPN is an essential tool for Android users, so we’ve shown you how to install and use three of our top VPNs for Android: ExpressVPN, IPVanish, and NordVPN.
Have you tried out these VPNs on Android? Let us know what you experience with them was like in the comments below.
If you need a VPN for a short while when traveling for example, you can get our top ranked VPN free of charge. NordVPN includes a 30-day money-back guarantee. You will need to pay for the subscription, that’s a fact, but it allows full access for 30 days and then you cancel for a full refund. Their no-questions-asked cancellation policy lives up to its name.