VPN apps for Android: Best and Free
Nowadays Android is the most popular platform for Internet connections. Many VPNs have been developed. They help to bypass blocking, protect in public Wi-Fi, relax with media content without borders and censorship.
What can you do with a VPN on a smartphone?
How to deal with the abundance of VPN apps and prevent installing malware? How to choose a reliable and efficient application?
Why is it necessary to pay money for the best VPNs?
Is it possible to use a VPN on Android?
I will answer these and other popular questions in my review of VPN applications. Also, I will give you some recommendations based on the personal long-term experience of using VPN on different platforms, and I will help to prevent disappointing mistakes which may reverse the benefit from using Virtual Private Network.
It’s easier to answer this question by the list of the tasks which a VPN app solves:
- Changing of your IP to another virtual address from any location all over the world of your choice (read more information in the article “How to hide your IP address on the Web” )
- reliable encryption of the data
- full concealment of visited website addresses;
- unblocking of websites;
- protection of a smartphone and data in public Wi-Fi networks;
- additional protection of payments via the Internet;
- VoIP telephony without borders;
- anonymous torrenting;
- bypassing censorship;
- access to geo-limited content (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc.);
- free iGaming.
As you can see, the list is quite impressive. Moreover, there are only basic features. Every good VPN provider has extra functions which help to solve the tasks more effectively and open new opportunities. I will tell you about further features of VPN apps for Android in descriptions of this review.
So, I offer the top 3 best and the top 5 free VPN applications chosen from almost 100 candidates based on the tests, feedback, and my experience.
3 greatest Android VPNs
I begin my review from the list of the best VPN apps because their use is more effective and open more possibilities than other free analogs.
1. NordVPN: the largest provider, 7 days free of charge
NordVPN has been the leader on the list of the best VPNs in most categories for almost a year. The VPN provider with safe Panamanian jurisdiction is popular and reliable for both the users of Android and the users of other devices.
The distinctive feature of NordVPN is the biggest infrastructure with more than 5000 servers in 60 countries all over the world and the greatest user-friendly apps. NordVPN is perfect for Android. The developers have achieved full compliance with the desktop version despite all the nuances of this platform. This is confirmed by our tests and a lot of positive reviews.
It bypasses even the Great Firewall of China. The application for an ordinary user is limited to the choice of a location and the choice of launching a VPN. You do not need to interact with a VPN later. VPN is activated for all applications at once.
The score of NordVPN in Google Play Market is 4.4 with 133K comments:
The application has a very comfortable virtual world map where you may choose the locations by one click. A 7-day free trial offers all app’s opportunities for users of mobile gadgets. There are many of them
- All 11 basic opportunities listed in the chapter “When do you need to install a VPN on Android?”
- Up to 6 simultaneous connections;
- CyberSec (protection from malware and attacks);
- Custom DNS (you can write your domain name server);
- Obfuscated servers (servers for hiding VPN traffic for bypassing censorship);
- P2P servers (special servers for safe torrenting);
- Dedicated IP (static IP).
Before the trial period starts, you have to subscribe for one of the paid plans If you want to save money, I recommend you to choose the cheapest plan for $3.49 per month for 3 years.
- $3,49 per month ($125.64 for 3 years)
- $4,99 per month ($119.76 for 2 years)
- $6,99 per month ($83.88 for 1 year)
- $11,95 per month with the subscription for 1 month
You have a 30-day money-back guarantee. You may contact its customer support which is available 24/7. The highest standards of encryption and IP leak protection in combination with a high speed make the use of NordVPN on Android secure and barely unnoticeable. I recommend NordVPN because I think it’s number one.
Or read the full review of NordVPN.
2. Surfshark: The most affordable Android VPNs. 7 days free of charge
Surfshark is the most accessible from the top three and generally the best provider. It offers users everything for proper use of the VPN for $1.99 per month.
The Android app allows you to either activate the VPN for a device at once, or choose apps that don't need a VPN or exclude separate URLs. It’s comfortable when you need to visit local websites with a real IP address. Besides, the Android version has a Kill Switch that protects your applications during reconnecting VPN when changing locations or unstable connections.
The Popularity of SurfShark is lower than NordVPN or CyberGhost because the company is a bit over a year.
But the amount of positive reviews confirms its professionalism.
The score in Google Play Market is 4.1 with 1k comments:
It doesn’t have such extended infrastructure as other competitors, but its user-friendly application for Android works fast, safely and has important extra features which the competitors don’t have:
- Use small packets (including this setting makes higher the stability in certain mobile networks);
- The choice of encryption protocol (AES-256 or Chacha20Poly1305) and tunneling protocol (IKEv2 or OpenVPN);
- Kill Switch shutdown;
- Multihop (13 variants of chains of two VPNs for maximum privacy).
Furthermore, there are 2 functions which are similar to the features of NordVPN or CyberGhost:
- Whitelister (choice of applications and website URLs which should not be routed via VPN)
- CleanWeb (the protection from tracking and malicious websites)
- 6 devices simultaneously
Surfshark suggests the choice among 800+ servers in 50 countries. Speed tests showed controversial results. There are locations with a good speed more than 50Mbit/s, and there are locations with the speed lower than 20Mbit/s:
DE: 65 Mbit/s
US (Chicago): 7Mbit/s
US (Denver): 22Mbit/s
That’s why, if you need a stable high speed, I recommend you to choose NordVPN app. Surfshark is one of the perfect VPNs for Netflix, Torrenting, and KODI. Surfshark’s safe jurisdiction on the British Virgin Islands beyond 5 eyes and 14 eyes alliances allows being loyal to the users’ actions.
“Bulletproof” encryption and the lack of IP leaks in the applications for all platforms guarantee the customer’s security. Unfortunately, the obfuscation of traffic in the app for Android hasn’t been developed yet. It’s necessary for working in China or in other countries with a blocked VPN. Only NordVPN from the top 3 leaders includes this opportunity for Android.
- $1.99 per month with the subscription for 2 year ($47.74)
- $5.99 per month with the subscription for 1 year ($71.88)
- $11.95 per month with the subscription for 1 month
You have a 30-day money-back guarantee. You may contact its customer support which is available 24/7.
Although Surfshark was launched only in 2018, it has already had everything which is necessary for solving most of the VPN’s tasks. Of course, the speed on any location is not the highest, but the price is very affordable. I suggest Surfshark as an all-purpose VPN for any platform, if the greatest speed is not important for you.
Or read the full review of Surfshark.
3. CyberGhost: A multi-purpose Android VPN for $2,75 per month. 1 day free of charge
CyberGhost is one of the largest VPN providers which has more than 3200 servers in 60 countries. It has a secure Romanian jurisdiction and a strict “No Logs” policy.
The application for Android fully repeats the functionality of the desktop version.
You can completely hide all network activity of a device, hide IP address without leaks, bypass most of the blocks. Thanks to smart settings, the CyberGhost application does not require any special knowledge from the user. You only need to choose a location (or trust the application which will find the one with an optimal speed) and activate a VPN.
Initially, it protects all the applications of any device at once, but unlike NordVPN, CyberGhost allows you to choose applications where a VPN can be disabled.
The reviews generally confirm the high level of services.
The score in Google Play Market is 4.3 with 54k comments:
Additional opportunities of CyberGhost for Android:
- Servers for Netflix;
- Up to 7 simultaneous connections;
- App Split Tunnel (you can choose apps with offline VPN);
- The protection from malicious websites;
- Additional data condensation;
- Prevent online tracking.
CyberGhost is particularly interesting by the availability of special servers for unblocking streaming video (Netflix and others) in more than 10 countries. Perhaps, CyberGhost is the only one which includes much optimized geo-limited content for unblocking.
This is the smallest part of servers for streaming
App Split Tunnel is especially useful if you need to visit special local websites with your real IP address. In this case, you can use two different browsers on a smartphone or a tablet.
- $2,75 per month ($99 for 3 years)
- $3,69 per month ($88.56 for 2 years)
- $5,99 per month ($71.88 for 1 year)
- $12,99 per month with the subscription for 1 month
Android VPN for $2,75 per month. 1 day free of charge
You have a 45-day money-back guarantee. You may contact its customer support which is available 24/7.
CyberGhost, like NordVPN, has fast servers, reliable 256-bit encryption and the lack of IP leaks.
I recommend CyberGhost for multi-purpose use and unblocking streaming services. The combination of reasonable price and a high level of services ranks it as the third at the top 3.
Or read the full review of CyberGhost.
The top 5 of free Android VPNs
Now we turn to several free providers, which can’t harm your device and can’t overwhelm you by an advertisement. There is not a free VPN app to use. There are only different free plans provided by paid VPNs. Meanwhile, each of them has its restrictions on speed limitations, the volume of traffic or the time of using.
I sorted out 5 free VPNs for Android, which have the best free using conditions with good technical specifications.
1. Hide.me VPN for Android
In my opinion, the Malaysian service Hide.me is the most convenient free VPN for smartphones.
There are the main advantages and disadvantages of this free VPN:
+ relatively fast servers
+ 2Gb of traffic per month
+ Kill Switch
+ Split Tunneling
+ the activation without email or credit card
- 4 available countries
- Netflix doesn’t work
Of course, 2 Gb of traffic per month is not so much. But you can hardly find free VPNs without restrictions. If you want more traffic with a good speed, security and privacy, so you need to use paid VPNs for Android.
2. Windscribe VPN for Android
Canadian VPN Windscribe offers from 2 to 10Gb of traffic per month.
2Gb – if you register anonymously.
10 Gb – if you leave your e-mail.
Pros and cons of Windscribe VPN:
+ 2-10Gb of traffic
+ Firewall (Kill Switch)
+ 11 countries
- low speed (measurements showed from 0.6 to 6 Mbit/s)
The version for Android doesn’t include any additional opportunities.
Windscribe is good for unblocking websites without video content.
A free version offered by this provider is not appropriate for multi-purpose use on the Internet.
3. ProtonVPN for Android
The Swiss VPN provider ProtonVPN highlights two directions:
- A high-quality free plan
- The best standards of security
The first 7 days of using a free version is a trial of a “Plus” plan. That’s why, starting with ProtonVPN, you may appreciate a high-speed VPN for free without any restrictions.
Besides basic capabilities, you will be able to:
- Unblock Netflix;
- Use torrents anonymously;
- Use a VPN in cooperation with TOR;
- 33 countries are available;
- The possibility to use specially protected servers located in a special bunker at a depth of 1 km.
On the eighth day you will get the message about the transition to a free plan:
After this message, only 3 countries (the US, NL, JP) will remain and other restrictions from the message will enter. I tested the ProtonVPN application for both regimes, so everything is true. I must add that the speed on accessible locations decreased significantly, but it remained enough for comfortable web-surfing. So, after the end of a free trial you will have only basic opportunities, but with unlimited traffic. ProtonVPN restricts only the speed.
Overall, free ProtonVPN may function the first 7 days for everything, and then you may use it for solving the tasks with the VPN servers in the US, NL or JP at a low speed, but with a high level of privacy.
4. TunnelBear for Android
There is one more amazing VPN, which offer to know more about a paid version during a free trial, but with a traffic restriction. TunnelBear requests from 500 to 1000 Mb of traffic per month for free.
You must admit, this is nothing. Moreover, in order to get 1000 Mb instead of 500, you should tweet it. There is a button in the application:
When you still have traffic, all the expanded functions are accessible in the application. There are lots of it:
- GhostBear (the obfuscation of traffic for the hiding of a VPN)
- VigilantBear (Kill Switch)
- SplitBear (It is available only for Android. It allows listing the apps with a disconnected VPN).
Therefore, TunnelBear will be particularly helpful for bypassing the censorship with high requirements for the privacy and local websites with VPN’s restrictions.
When I tested the app for Android, I found out two more significant characteristics:
- unblocking Netflix
- availability of torrents
It may be effective even with limited traffic when you use VPN rarely.
The provider is located in Canada with strict copyright laws. So be careful when you use the torrents. Even though there is not a 100% guarantee that it is saved.
5. Opera VPN for Android
If you need VPN only for the views on the websites, so you should try Opera VPN.
It is not a real VPN, but a proxy. Strictly speaking, almost all of the VPN services offer enhancements for web-browsers, which are also a proxy with the encryption of traffic. Opera did the same thing, but with simpler functionality.
What opportunities does the Opera VPN present for Android?
- hiding IP and visited addresses
- unblocking websites
- unblocking video streaming
Opera VPN isn’t suitable for:
- VoIP telephony
You may choose 3 locations in three regions of the world. Opera VPN doesn’t have any other configurations or additional opportunities, as well as a paid plan. Everything is free.
The test showed the speed of no more than 20 Mbit/s at all locations, which is less than the best VPN services with the speed up to 80Mbit/s.
There is a particular challenge in initial VPN activation for Android in Opera configurations. Originally, VPN is activated only in private tabs, so you need to create a private tab:
Only after this action the “VPN” icon will appear, through which you may insert this function for all tabs and choose a location:
Opera VPN has a great disadvantage – you need to give up on your accustomed web-browser.
In conclusion, I want to share the experience of using VPN applications for Android. There are some platform’s technical peculiarities, which you should keep in mind, especially if you solve very responsible tasks.
А VPN can shut down on its own on your device while the screen is off.
Unfortunately, I noticed one unpleasant feature at all devices with Android I used or tested. It doesn’t matter what VPN application I installed they shut down at particular moment left my device defenseless. All the secure functions were disconnected with the application’s exit. I should mention that some VPNs less frequently emerged such as CyberGhost and Windscribe. You may control the VPN status via indicator at the top panel of a screen:
Many people don’t like an iPhone or an iPad, however, it has never happened on these devices. And isn’t about the settings or the applications, but it’s about the operating system architecture.
When you use VPN on mobile devices, you need to remember that an extra application working in the background and the encrypted traffic influence the time of battery life. The time decreases and sometimes it becomes much lower.
You may improve battery life by deactivating all the additional functions of VPN application and lessen the level of encryption if the settings are available in the software of your provider.
Android VPNs have positive peculiarities. A prompt connection is one of them. It happens much quicker than on Windows and takes only 1-3 seconds. It’s important in the cases when you need to choose an appropriate location and reconnect many times. The same task on the PC may take a very long time.
The VPN providers have placed their software in Google Play Market. It’s an extra guarantee of the fact that the software is safe and doesn’t consist of viruses and Trojan horses. It’s also convenient that firstly you can download Android VPN. Then you may register and activate a subscription directly from the application avoiding the provider website.
I hope that the article was helpful to you.