The Best Android VPNs: 5 Paid & 5 Free (2023)
Forget about problems with restrictions or blockages when you choose an Android VPN from this article! Cooltechzone lists the leading VPN services with their pros and cons, letting you know the best VPN apps of 2023.
VPNs for Android are specially created apps that give you access to a virtual server network to bypass blocking and anonymity. They allow you to send or receive data securely over a public network and, in some cases, increase your connection speed.
There are two types of Android VPNs:
- Paid services with unlimited access and maximum functionality
- Free services or apps that allow you to easily perform the basic tasks for which VPN technology is intended
In either case, a VPN for Android will help you unblock your favourite sites, surf the Internet anonymously and protect your data even on the most vulnerable public Wi-Fi networks.
There are three problems when choosing a VPN to use on Android:
- Not all VPNs offer apps for Android
- Not all services take into account the technical characteristics of the mobile device's connection to the network, which means the possibility of data leakage
- Some VPN apps drain the battery too quickly
Below are the 10 best Android VPNs that are free from these disadvantages (based on the results of thorough testing).
5 of these are VPN services of the highest level, working at the highest speeds and offering advanced technologies such as WireGuard, Kill Switch, Double VPN and more.
5 others are free VPNs that also provide good performance, but have limitations in speed, bandwidth, choice of locations and support for some sites.
In the list, you will find download links for the various Android VPNs. You can also register for the current promotion and get an additional 35% discount (for ExpressVPN).
Top VPNs for Android Mobiles
- ExpressVPN: 3000 servers in 91 countries, latest Lightway protocol, TrustedServer technology.
- NordVPN: Super user-friendly app with support for NordLynx, Kill Switch, Double VPN and more.
- Surfshark: The cheapest professional-grade VPN that offers powerful apps for mobile devices. Pay only $ 2.49 monthly.
- CyberGhost: The largest VPN, offering servers in 91 countries. Has all the usual features; optimized for streaming and torrenting.
- PureVPN: Powerful VPN with lots of positive user reviews.
Free VPN Apps
- ProtonVPN: High-speed free Swiss VPN without data limitation. Not suitable for streaming and torrenting.
- Hide.me: An Android app that effectively helps you achieve privacy and security with some restrictions.
- Hotspot shield: One of the most popular free website-unblocking tools.
- TunnelBear: Unrivaled speed available on a free plan.
- Opera VPN: Connect directly through your browser. Doesn't protect other apps.
The ratings were based on the results of a test conducted in early 2022. Feedback from Reddit users was also taken into account.
What is VPN
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a virtual network based on the regular Internet that redirects data to a special channel between the device and the VPN server in the selected country.
In a modern VPN, data is additionally encrypted and becomes inaccessible to the ISP (Internet Service Provider) and any other observer between the VPN application and the server.
In addition, a VPN hides your real IP address, replacing it with the IP address of the server. This ensures complete anonymity.
What is VPN? Briefly about the main points.
How VPN for Android Works
There are some particulars of Android architecture to consider when choosing a VPN. On the one hand, Android allows some apps to access data from other apps. This compares favorably with iOS and allows you to implement powerful functionality, including the latest technological protocols.
After all, the main task of a VPN is to protect all apps on the device (with the exception of Opera VPN).
On the other hand, devices on this platform are most often used on the move. This is associated with increased requirements for maintaining a VPN connection in the following situations:
- Unstable cellular internet signal;
- Switching between cellular internet and WiFi;
- Switching between different access points.
This is where Android differs from Windows or Mac, which are most often used in stationary situations and only rarely are prone to problems associated with disruption of the Internet connection.
Disadvantages of Android VPN
But not all VPNs work effectively in the real world. The peculiarities of reconnecting mobile devices to the network make data leaks or even complete VPN failure possible.
A good VPN for Android maintains a stable connection on the move and when switching between different networks. Additionally, it can block all data in the event of a virtual link failure.
Cooltechzone only publishes links to trusted Android VPNs.
In addition to connectivity issues, many VPN applications still use legacy VPN protocols that are not energy efficient enough.
Fortunately, in 2022, there are already VPNs offering support for protocols such as LightWay (ExpressVPN), NordLynx (NordVPN) and WireGuard (Surfshark).
These offer high performance with minimal CPU overhead, allowing the VPN to run invisibly (without any noticeable impact on battery drain and speed).
Best VPNs for Android based on test results
Cooltechzone has tested over 50 popular and new VPN apps. As a result, the best VPNs have been identified, those that combine high speed, performance, security and economy. The winner was ExpressVPN...
ExpressVPN is the most technologically advanced VPN service in the world. It combines safety and speed with highly requested functionality for 2022. It is also one of the best VPN services for Unblocking Geo-Restricted Netflix Content...
ExpressVPN is the perfect solution for always-on secure Internet access on Android and any other platform.
- Very high speeds
- Locations in 91 countries
- Perfect software
- Netflix and Hulu support
- High-speed Lightway protocol
- Support of all platforms including TV and gaming consoles
- Speeds faster than 180 Mbps
- Has passed all security tests
- Incredible number of positive user reviews
- 5 simultaneous VPN connections
NordVPN is the largest VPN service in the world. At the same time, it has affordable prices and a huge variety of functions. This service is highly rated by the Reddit community and is one of the three fastest-growing VPNs.
NordVPN is equally good at bypassing blocking, protecting privacy, torrenting securely, and streaming.
It is especially convenient when used with the NordLynx protocol. At the same time, the operation of the VPN app is completely invisible to the user
- More than 5400 servers
- Very convenient apps
- Double VPN
- Servers with obfuscation
- NordLynx protocol
- Support of all platforms including routers, FireTV, etc.
- Has passed all tests on Android
- Maximum security level even on the default settings
- Widely used to bypass geo-restrictions
- Double VPN
- 6 simultaneous VPN connections
- 30-day money-back guarantee
Surfshark has an ideal quality to price ratio when used on mobile platforms. Although it ranks among the most powerful VPN services (and even above them when it comes to additional features), this provider has managed to offer one of the lowest prices on the market without sacrificing quality.
Surfshark VPN is ideal for novice users.
- Extremely versatile functionality
- Very low price (from $2.30)
- Low battery load
- Netflix support
- Supports all platforms, including web browsers
- Passed all security tests
- Double VPN, dedicated IP, streaming, torrenting
- Unlimited simultaneous device connectivity
- 30-day money-back guarantee
CyberGhost VPN is the main competitor of NordVPN in terms of technological infrastructure. And in terms of the number of countries supported, it actually surpasses NordVPN. The number of features offered by CyberGhost VPN is somewhat lower, however.
One distinctive feature of the provider is the availability of lists of servers for streaming. This allows you to unblock any of more than 15 video services for the desired region in almost 100% of cases.
- Dedicated servers for streaming
- Always-on Kill Switch
- Locations in 91 countries
- Multiple new IP addresses
- Support for all platforms, including TV
- Servers for streaming and torrents
- Split tunneling
- 7 simultaneous VPN connections
PureVPN has a powerful network of servers in 78 countries around the world. This makes it a handy tool for anyone who needs to change their IP address to the IP of a less popular country.
It is especially convenient to do this using a conveniently configured app that supports options such as port forwarding and dedicated IP.
The downside of PureVPN is that there is no support for Netflix and similar popular streaming sites.
- Smart client design
- Expanded functionality
- Locations in 78+ countries
- Kill Switch
- Support for all platforms
- Split tunneling
- Tor over VPN
- 10 simultaneous VPN connections
What differences are there between VPN services?
There are a number of criteria that distinguish VPN services from one another. These include:
- Trial period
- Number of unique IP addresses
- Number of servers
- Number of unique countries
- Number of simultaneous connections
Based on your personal needs, each of these may have more or less influence on your decision.
When choosing the best Android VPN, you should focus on a few basic parameters that will affect the ease with which you use the network and the overall data protection.
- Speed: using a VPN app will slow down your internet a bit, but if you use a fast service and connect to a server near you, you're unlikely to ever notice it.
- Dedicated Android app: in most cases, you won't need to configure anything manually; the app is downloaded from Google Play and configured automatically.
- Good technical security: reliable WireGuard encryption, NordLynx, IKEv2, and some others are signs of a good VPN service.
- No logs: not everyone uses a VPN for privacy, but if that's what you want, choose a company that does not keep logs.
- Wi-Fi protection: this is a feature we are increasingly seeing in Android VPN apps. It detects when you connect to an unknown Wi-Fi network and automatically offers to turn on the VPN for your protection.
Free VPNs for Android
Free VPNs for Android: Which is the best choice?
You never know what an Android user might need a VPN for. But one thing is common to all users: you want it to be free. Alas, you'll have to sacrifice something for that. Free Android VPNs tend to annoy users in certain ways.
Whereas ten years ago virtual private networks were the domain of sysadmins and paranoiacs, today they have become a pressing necessity. Whether a smartphone user wants to search for a job on LinkedIn, watch Netflix, or read about politics, a free Android VPN comes in handy.
However, free VPNs are only very conditionally free. The creators of VPNs for public use must maintain their servers somehow. Therefore, by offering a free service with varying degrees of annoyance, they force the user to buy a subscription. You should not blame the creator for this, but consider what you are willing to sacrifice for the sake of a free service.
For some simple tasks, it's convenient to use a free VPN. There is a large selection of free VPN apps for Android, many of which have decent features. But I do not recommend installing the first app that comes along, as today there are many apps from unknown manufacturers in the Google Play Store. Their software has not been tested for resistance to adverse operating conditions and the overwhelming majority uses slow OpenVPN.
Apart from legacy VPN protocols, many free VPNs contain too many embedded ads.
Cooltechzone has put together a list of free Android VPNs that have been thoroughly tested for you and have as few downsides as possible. The apps listed below are guaranteed to secure your connection with minimal restrictions and support many of the advanced features available in their paid versions.
Swiss VPN service ProtonVPN has two great features:
- High quality free data plan
- Best safety standards
For your first 7 days of using the free version, you get a trial version of the Plus tariff plan. Therefore, with ProtonVPN, you can enjoy high speed VPN for free without any restrictions
In addition to the basic features, you can:
- Unblock Netflix;
- Use torrents anonymously;
- Use VPN in collaboration with TOR;
- Choose from 63 countries;
- Use specially protected servers located in a special bunker at a depth of 1 km.
After 7 days, you will receive a message about the need to switch to a free tariff plan:
After this message, only 3 countries will remain available (US, NL, JP) and the other restrictions mentioned in the message will come into effect.I have tested the ProtonVPN app in both modes and can confirm that everything is correct.
I must add that when switching to the free plan, the speed in the available locations decreased, but it remained sufficient for comfortable web surfing.
So, after the free trial ends, you will only have the basic features, but with unlimited bandwidth. ProtonVPN only limits the speed.
In short, for the first 7 days, the free ProtonVPN works the same as the paid version, and after that you can use it with restrictions.
In my opinion, Hide.me's Malaysian service is the most convenient free VPN for smartphones.
These are the main advantages and disadvantages of this free VPN:
- relatively fast servers
- 10 GB of traffic per month
- Kill Switch
- Split Tunneling
- activation without email or credit card
- 4 available countries
- no Netflix support
Of course, 10 GB of traffic per month is not a lot in 2022. But you will see that it is much more than many competitors. If you want more traffic with good speed, security and privacy, then you will need to use one of the VPNs for Android described at the beginning of the article.
3. Hotspot Shield
Hotspot Shield is fast, using Hydra's proprietary tunneling protocol and a robust server roster spanning over 80 countries (for the paid version). It also unblocks Netflix and protects torrents.
What do we get for free?
1 location (presumably NL), no Netflix support, data limit of 500 MB per day. In terms of a month, this is about 15 GB. That's more than hide.me offers though.
Therefore, Hotspot Shield’s free tariff will be convenient for those Android users who do not care about the location of the VPN server and who do not need to receive or transfer a large amount of data.
- average speed
- up to 15 GB of traffic per month (500 MB per day)
- Kill Switch
- WireGuard protocol
- 1 available location
- no Netflix support
- it is not possible to use the entire monthly data limit at once
According to the test results, TunnelBear showed the highest speed of all the free Android VPNs - over 40 Mbps. This is more than 2 times higher than its nearest competitors.
But don't be in a hurry to jump to a conclusion.
It has a strangely low data limit in today’s terms - only 500 MB per month (!).
This may be its only drawback though.
Otherwise, TunnelBear has only advantages. Its free plan has no limits other than the amount of data. There are more than 26 countries available, Netflix is supported, torrenting is allowed.
The TunnelBear app is also one of the most beautiful and user-friendly around - the animated interface makes it easy to select countries and manage your connection.
- high speed
- Kill Switch (Vigilant Mode)
- Additional obfuscation (VPN usage masking - GhostBear)
- US Netflix
- 500 MB per month (Tweet for an extra 1GB)
- No support for the latest protocols
5. Opera VPN
The next Android VPN is not exactly what is commonly called a "VPN". Opera VPN is more correctly called a proxy. Its main difference from the other apps listed in this article is that it only protects Opera browser traffic. It does not affect other installed apps in any way. Whereas both ProtonVPN and the other VPN apps protect the connections of all your smartphone apps.
All Opera users can activate VPN in their web browser settings. After that, you can turn VPN on and off, as well as select the country of connection in 1-2 clicks.
- Ease of use
- No need to install additional app
- Low speed
- Only protects Opera
- 3 regions
- Opera VPN IP addresses banned on many resources
How to Install a VPN on Android
What do you need to do to install an Android VPN?
For all the services listed in the article, apps have been created for all platforms, including Android. Therefore, the VPN installation comes down to the usual app installation of the selected service.
Download links are available on the VPN service website.
There is a lightweight method of installing a VPN app. In this case, you do not need to enter a username and password. If you choose ExpressVPN, then after registration you will receive an email with a link to a page with a special button that allows you to install the ExpressVPN app in a single click and log in to it. This is especially useful for mobile devices and Android TV, as it eliminates the need to enter credentials.
How to install and use an Android VPN:
- Go to the VPN service website;
- Choose a suitable tariff plan and register;
- Go to the Apps section (or similar) and select Android;
- Click on the link to the Google Play Store. If you are using a Huawei or Honor smartphone, go to the Huawei AppGallery yourself and find the app for your device there.
- Install the VPN app, agreeing to all requests and installation of drivers;
- Log in;
- Select the country of connection (optional);
- Click Connect.
All of the listed Android VPNs maintain connectivity until the user turns it off in the app. There are times when protection may be lost after a device reboot. But you can always monitor the VPN status using the indicator on the main screen:
The screenshot shows an example of using NordVPN...
At the top of the screen (status bar), regardless of the VPN app used, an indicator similar to a key is always displayed. It is a generic symbol for a Virtual Private Network in the Android system.
What is Android VPN?
An Android VPN is an Android app designed to make it easy to connect to a secure Virtual Private Network. A good Android VPN allows you to change the connection configuration (country, protocol, port, and others) through the app menu. Previously, this required time-consuming manual configuration of system functions.
How does a VPN work?
A VPN works like a virtual network over the regular Internet. To anonymize and unblock sites, a virtual network of two devices is used - the user's device and the VPN server. Data from the device enters the network and is protected and transmitted to the server. From there, it goes to the Internet anonymously. It works similarly in reverse.
Are VPNs Legal?
VPN technology is absolutely legal and in demand all over the world. Only a few countries have laws that prohibit foreign or unapproved VPNs that are used for anonymization. These are countries with Internet censorship. Examples are Iran, China, the UAE and some others.
How to hide your location using a VPN for Android?
Below are the steps you need to take to mask your location using a VPN app:
This will change your external IP address to the IP of the server to which you are connected. Your real IP address will be hidden.
How to run a VPN without an app?
You don't need to install an app to connect to a VPN. Here's what you need to do to run a VPN without an app: