If you’re on the fence about whether you need a VPN on your cell phone, allow us to spoil the entire article for you: absolutely, unequivocably yes. Today, we dive into the reasons why a VPN is a must-have install for any mobile operating system, whether you use iOS, Android, Windows, or something else.
It’s easy to think of VPNs as software people only use on their desktop or laptop for anonymous web surfing. The truth is VPNs come with an enormous variety of benefits, most of which are arguably more effective when used with smartphones, tablets, and other portable devices.
Enhance your phone’s security with these mobile-friendly VPNs:
- NordVPN – Best Phone VPN – Who says you have to make sacrifices to functionality on mobile? NordVPN offers full-features apps that allow you to tweak your VPN connection for optimal performance and privacy.
- Surfshark – Slim, trim, and highly intuitive user interface. Adblocking, obfuscation, unlimited simultaneous connections.
- ExpressVPN – The king of speed; works great with Netflix, one-tap interface, uncompromising safety.
- CyberGhost – Our favorite provider for the less tech-savvy user looking for mobile security that just works.
- PrivateVPN – 100% provider-owned network, flexible encryption, excellent logging policy.
- PureVPN – The VPN of choice for blasting through China’s Great Firewall.
So, what’s the use of a VPN on your phone? There are tons of benefits everyone can enjoy. Maybe you want to access blocked websites, use public Wi-Fi without fearing for your digital privacy, or stay safe from censorship and mass surveillance in countries where Internet freedoms are at risk. No matter your purpose, running a reliable VPN can keep you safe on your phone.
In short: if you’re still asking yourself the question “Do I need a VPN on my phone?”, the answer is a strong YES, absolutely. Our research will show you why your phone needs a VPN and which are the best services to pick from.
Staying safe on your phone with the best VPN
It doesn’t matter whether you want to stay safe on Verizon or secure your phone on China Mobile, running a VPN can grant you a ton of privacy, plenty of safety, and some new benefits, as well, including the ability to unblock Netflix and stream anonymous movies from around the world.
To pick a good VPN for your phone, you’ll want to prioritize a number of features. This includes looking for fast servers, putting a priority on VPNs with DNS leak protection and automatic kill switch features, making sure your service offers lightweight apps that are compatible with your device, and double checking to guarantee the VPN has a strict zero-logging policy.
We used these very same criteria to evaluate and rank the recommended VPNs below. Each one is fast, secure, easy to use, and works perfectly on most mobile phone devices such as iOS and Android.
NordVPN is a popular, safe, and reliable VPN that runs an impressive network of over 5,800 servers in 59 countries. Each of these is available without a single limitation on speed or bandwidth, allowing you to sign on and enjoy endless downloads and streams from anywhere in the world. This massive amount of variety also allows NordVPN to offer unique features like double encryption, protection from DDoS attacks, and onion routing over VPN for extra online privacy.
NordVPN’s lightweight apps come with everything you need to stay safe on any device, from PC to Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Fire TV, and more. You also get 256-bit AES encryption, DNS leak protection, an automatic kill switch, and a zero-logging policy that covers time stamps, DNS requests, IP addresses, and traffic when you join. It’s extremely easy to set up NordVPN and use it on your phone thanks to its amazing app design.
Read our full NordVPN review.
- Highly affordable plans
- Fast and stable connections
- Zero leaks: IP/DNS/WebRTC
- “Double” data protection
- Live chat support is available.
- They can take 30 days to process refunds.
Surfshark is an excellent choice for cutting-edge flagships and outdated beater phones alike, with its hyper-minimalist Android, Windows, and iOS apps. In fact, Surfshark’s UI is among the snappiest we’ve ever tested, opting for raw functionality over flashy graphics and bloated menu options.
And speaking of bloat, Surfshark takes a big bite out of the Internet’s biggest annoyances: ads. Their CleanWeb module intercepts and blocks adware, pop-ups, tracking, and malware links before they even have a chance to load, saving you data, time and sanity.
The core VPN experience provisions are all updated to their latest iterations, including 256-AES-GCM encryption and OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPSec, WireGuard (plus Shadowsocks on Windows phones) tunneling protocols. You can connect to over 800 servers located in 50 countries worldwide, making it simple to spoof and unblock your favorite sites (including Netflix).
Finally BVI jurisdiction, RAM-only servers, and a strict no logging policy all ensure you never leave a trace of your activity or identity online with Surfshark.
- Unblock 15 international Netflix libraries, including the US and Japan
- Server selection is dead simple and quick
- Accepts all major credit cards, Apple, Google, and Amazon Pay, PayPal, and even Bitcoin
- Logging policy independently audited and verified
- Get help any time of day via email, phone, or live chat.
- Server network is not nearly as expansive as major competitors
- Young VPN still has plenty of room to grow in terms of advanced functionality.
Read our full Surfshark review.
ExpressVPN is one of the fastest and most reliable VPNs you can use, hands down. It runs smoothly on iPhone and Android, as well as other platforms like PC, Mac, Fire TV, and many more, all with the same one-click interface and lightweight design. It’s easy to log on and enjoy full online privacy and anonymity features on your phone, complete with a host of security features working behind the scenes to keep you safe at all times.
Data passing through ExpressVPN’s network is secured with military-grade 256-bit AES encryption and backed by a strict zero-logging policy on traffic, DNS requests, and IP addresses. Information stays safe by an automatic kill switch and DNS leak prevention features on its software, as well. All of these work with ExpressVPN’s network of over 3,000 servers in 94 different countries to give you a fast and secure connection anywhere in the world.
Read our full ExpressVPN review.
- Unblocks US Netflix
- Fast serves with minimal speed loss
- OpenVPN, IPSec & IKEv2 Encryption
- Keeps no logs of personal data
- Great support (24/7 chat).
- Priced slightly higher.
CyberGhost delivers an amazing VPN experience for anyone interested in keeping data safe on their favorite devices. The company’s lightweight app runs on nearly every platform imaginable, from iPhones and iPads to Android devices, tablets, laptops, and more. As soon as you sign up you’ll have access CyberGhost’s impressive network of over 6,000 servers in 87 countries, all with unlimited data and no restrictions on speed.
CyberGhost’s privacy features keep everyone safe with 256-bit AES encryption on all data, a zero-logging policy on traffic, time stamps, and IP addresses, and both DNS leak protection and an automatic kill switch. These features hide your identity whenever you go online, allowing you to connect with fully encrypted data and an anonymous IP address no matter where you travel.
Read our full CyberGhost review.
- Unblocks US Netflix + BBC iPlayer
- Special profile designed for torrenting privately
- GooglePlay users rating: 4.3/5.0
- Strict no-logging policy
- 24/7 Live Chat Support.
- WebRTC leak detected
- Some streaming sites cannot be unblocked.
PrivateVPN is a strong, secure, and safe VPN that makes it easy to keep your data and identity locked down. It offers some of the best apps in the industry, all designed with ease of use and security in mind. With PrivateVPN running you can surf and stream in complete privacy on PC, iOS, Android, Mac, and other devices, all thanks to the company’s lightweight and straightforward software that makes securing your data a breeze.
PrivateVPN operates a strong network of 150 servers in 59 different countries. Data is locked down and secured with 256-bit AES encryption to keep your connection safe, and an automatic kill switch and DNS leak protection prevent accidental identity reveals. PrivateVPN also delivers a zero logging policy on all traffic ensure your privacy is never at risk.
Read our full PrivateVPN review.
PureVPN puts a different spin on what constitutes a good VPN experience. The service offers strong security and anonymity features, just like any top-tier VPN, but it also includes a wide array of security suite options few of its competitors can deliver. Have you ever wanted anti-virus protection on your device? How about malware shields, app blocking features, and built-in website filters? All of this is included with PureVPN’s software, allowing you to toggle protections on and off with a single click.
PureVPN keeps data secure with a zero-logging policy on traffic, an automatic kill switch, military-grade 256-bit AES encryption on all data, and DNS leak protection. These features work to keep your data secure no matter where you access the internet from. And with PureVPN’s self-owned network of over 2,000 servers in 140 different countries, you’re guaranteed a fast connection and anonymous IP address at all times.
Read our full PureVPN review.
Do I need a VPN on my phone? Pros and Cons
A surprising number of people, especially iPhone users, believe their phones are already safe from harm since they utilize device encryption. This is only a small part of the picture, though, and doesn’t offer all the benefits a true VPN can deliver.
VPNs secure private data
Smartphones are constantly connecting to the nearest internet connection, sending and receiving all kinds of data in the background. This includes e-mails, social media accounts, text messages, and private logins from banking, shopping, and other online services. You don’t even have to actively use your phone for many of these things to occur. A lot of the time it happens even while the phone is asleep!
Accessing open networks or any kind of public Wi-Fi immediately puts your smartphone at risk. This is because you can never be sure who runs the hotspot in question, or what kind of logging or surveillance practices they’re running behind the scenes. Each time you log on you could be sharing private data with the Wi-Fi owner.
A VPN instantly makes this a non-issue, all thanks to encryption. Before any data leaves your device, VPN apps wrap everything in a cloak of incredibly strong encryption, making it impossible to read what’s inside the data. They also anonymize the information so it can’t be traced back to your device, providing a dual layer of security without you ever having to lift a finger.
There really aren’t any cons of using a VPN in terms of securing your private data. The only thing to watch out for is your VPN itself. If you use a free VPN service, they may be archiving or selling your data, which obviously isn’t good. Stick with reliable paid services, however, and you’ll be safe at all times.
VPNs unblock restricted content
Have you ever tried watching a movie on YouTube or Netflix and received that frustrating “This content is not available in your area” message? That means you’re the unfortunate victim of international content laws, which prevent movies and TV shows from being available to worldwide audiences. Before you give up, though, know that a good VPN can help you bypass this geo-restriction, and much more.
Accessing movies from other countries with a VPN on your phone is as easy as logging in, choosing a server in the right country, and clicking “Play” on your favorite streaming site. This feature masks your location and identity, which makes non-local streaming a reality. You can also use this to bypass firewall restrictions and access censored websites and other region-locked content.
The only con, in this case, is that not all VPNs can unblock every piece of content all of the time. Due to the complexity of accessing restricted information, it’s hit or miss. Some services work better than others, however, which minimizes the frustration to an extent.
Access private files and accounts from anywhere
Since mobile devices are, well, mobile, they go wherever we go. This means you could hop from country to country with the same piece of hardware. Nothing changes as far as you’re concerned, but because you’re in a new region, you are immediately assigned an IP address from that area. If you have bank accounts or corporate servers back at home, you may find your access restricted.
VPNs can makes this a complete non-issue. All you have to do is open the app on your phone, choose a server in your home country, then connect and try again. In most cases you’ll be able to sign into any account or access any file from a secure server, even while working remotely. No cons in this case, just a whole lot of pros.
Setting up a VPN on my phone
Is it difficult to set up a VPN on my phone? Should you get someone else to help you? The answer to both of these questions is a straightforward “no”. You can easily install, sign in, and use any smart VPN service as easily as you would install any other app. Follow the guide below and you’ll be safe and secure in no time.
Step 1 – Download the VPN
After selecting one of the recommended VPNs from the section above, you’ll be ready to download and install the VPN. The specific steps will vary depending on the VPN itself, but the outline below should help you through the process from start to finish.
- Open a web browser on your PC, sign into your VPN account, and visit the downloads section of your dashboard.
- Look for a link to the VPN app for your phone. Almost all VPN services support iOS and Android by default.
- Click the link to download the app. In most cases you will be redirected to the app store to complete the process.
- Install the VPN app to your device. If you can’t send it directly to your phone from the browser app store, manually search the marketplace for your VPN. Make sure it’s the right app and not a copycat!
Step 2 – Sign in and connect
With the right app installed, you’re ready to connect it to your VPN account and start surfing the web safely and securely.
- Launch the VPN software on your phone and sign in using your account details.
- Most apps will automatically connect to the fastest server. If you don’t have any IP address preferences, you won’t need to do anything else.
- Look through your VPN’s settings menu and set it to automatically connect each time you start your device. This will ensure you’re always protected each time you go online.
- Minimize the VPN or let it run in the background. As long as it stays connected, your Internet connection is secure.
Step 3 – Verify your IP
If you just switched VPNs or if you’re new to VPNs as a whole, you can run a quick test to make sure the service successfully connected and is keeping you safe. All it takes is a couple of seconds, but it can mean the difference between online security and losing your privacy. This step is optional, but highly recommended.
- Make sure your VPN is active and connected on your phone.
- Open a web browser on your device and go to ipleak.net.
- Wait for the page to load, then run an IP address lookup.
- Look at the box at the top beneath “Your IP address”. If it shows a country other than the one you’re currently in, the VPN is working correctly.
- If the box shows your physical location, check with your VPN provider to resolve an IP leak error.
Step 4 – Extra security measures
Strictly speaking, following the steps above is all you need to install a VPN on your phone and keep it safe. There are some added things you can do for even tighter security, however. These are especially recommended if you travel a lot or work with sensitive data.
- Use a more secure browser – Whether you’re connecting on a desktop or through a smartphone device, browsers will make up the bulk of your data usage. Use our guide on the most secure browsers to choose the safest software possible.
- Install HTTPS Everywhere – HTTPS Everywhere is a browser extension made by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). It forces websites to use a secure HTTPS connection for every element on the page, ensuring no data entering your device wasn?t encrypted beforehand.
- Encrypt your phone – Mobile devices are capable of encrypting their data each time you put the device to sleep. This is essential for locking out hacking attempts when you aren’t actively engaging with your device. Check out our guide on how to encrypt an Android phone to get started.
Making sure data is safe on your phone requires more than just setting a good lock screen passcode. You need to secure every piece of data that leaves the device, preferably by using a reliable VPN. Installing the right service and using it on a daily basis is all you need to keep your identity and information secure.
Got any other tips for keeping your data safe on mobile devices? Share your experience 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.