5 Best VPNs for Smartphones

In this article we show you the best VPNs to protect your privacy on your smartphone.

ExpressVPN, NordVPN and SurfShark is some of our favourites.

There is a big chance that you’re reading this article on your smartphone. Nearly half of the world’s population own a smartphone, and the numbers are climbing. As of January 2020, over four billion people access the Internet through their mobile phones. 

This doesn’t come without consequences. As the number of Internet users continues to grow, the number of hackers and information thieves are also on the rise. Without adequate protection, hackers can gain unauthorized access to your interaction on the Internet through your smartphone.

A VPN would stop anyone from barging into your phone’s network and from invading your privacy. Apart from this, there are many things that a VPN can do for a smartphone user. But there are so many VPNs available it’s hard to choose one for yourself. So we’ve taken it upon ourselves to select the five best VPNs for smartphones. You’re welcome.

ExpressVPN

Features

  • Number of servers: More than 3,000
  • Speeds: Unlimited
  • Server locations: 160 in 94 countries
  • Maximum devices supported: 5
  • 24 live chat: Yes
  • 30 day money back guarantee: Yes

Pros/Cons

  • Fastest VPN out there
  • Strict no logs policy
  • 256-bit AES encryption
  • Few discounts

ExpressVPN is our top pick for a smartphone VPN. Since its establishment, this VPN has continued to dedicate itself to web privacy and a free Internet. 

Most VPNs have the obligatory kill switch to prevent hackers from using a flaw in your VPN connection to steal your information. There’s also the requisite DNS leak protection. ExpressVPN has both, and a true no-logs policy to protect users’ security while browsing the web. But there’s also another layer of protection within a new feature called TrustedServer. This technology allows the little information that is collected while you browse to be eradicated once you switch off your connection. You control your data.

ExpressVPN doesn’t slack off when it comes to streaming either. There might be a new program that you want to watch that’s restricted for whatever reason in your area. ExpressVPN can unblock these shows and let you visit that website. It can unblock channels such as Netflix, Hulu, HBO GO, BBC iPlayer, Crunchyroll, etc. 

There are over 3000 ExpressVPN servers spread across 94 countries. These servers are all optimized for speed, so they’re capable of streaming shows in HD and 4K quality. You can also connect up to five devices on one ExpressVPN account, so you’re covered across all devices. The ExpressVPN apps for both Apple and Android smartphones are user-friendly. If you have any issues with any of ExpressVPN’s services, the 24/7 live chat customer care is there to help.

ExpressVPN has three plans. A year’s subscription is worth $8.32/month, billed at $99.95 at once. Six months goes for $9.99/month, charged at $59.95 every six months. It’s $12.95 if you want to pay every month. It’s not cheap, but we don’t think it’s too expensive for a quality VPN. And you can always get your money back within thirty days if you feel it’s not the VPN for you.

  • Pros: Fastest VPN out there; Strict no logs policy; 256-bit AES encryption
  • Lowest price: $8.12

NordVPN

Features

  • Cryptocurrency accepted? Yes
  • Simultaneous connections: 6
  • Dedicated IP-addresses? Yes
  • Servers: 5342 in 58 countries

Pros/Cons

  • Lots of pricing options
  • Netflix support kept up to date
  • 256-bit AES encryption
  • Slow app

This VPN is our second favorite provider. NordVPN was created in 2012 and has continued to dominate the VPN market for a while now. 

NordVPN is utterly dedicated to providing the best security for their clients, and they’ve added features to allow them to do that. The Double VPN feature lets users route their data through two NordVPN servers, which encrypts it twice and does not allow your data to be tracked. Users can also route their data through Tor servers to be encrypted multiple times and make information impossible to decode for hackers. That kill switch we talked about earlier? With NordVPN, it’s impossible to turn off. Like it or not, you’re protected.

NordVPN didn’t forget about streaming and torrenting, either. NordVPN has optimized servers for torrenting. Its feature, SmartPlay, automatically unblocks any media channel and website that you go to. It efficiently unblocks giant media services like HBO GO, BBC iPlayer, Netflix, and Hulu. It also thwarts any throttling your ISP might be doing to your network speed without your knowledge. And with 5500+ servers concentrated in 58 countries, you’ll be able to watch your shows in HD and 4K quality without any buffering or lagging. Plus, you can watch these shows on six devices with one account. 

NordVPN has plans that are meant for a long and commuted relationship. There’s a three-year plan for $3.49, billed at $125.64. The two-year plan is $4.99/month and $119.76 charged every two years. It’s $6.99/month for a year, $83.88 paid at once, and $11.95 for the monthly plan. There’s a 30-day refund policy so you can test this VPN out without consequence.

  • Pros: Lots of pricing options; Netflix support kept up to date; 256-bit AES encryption
  • Lowest price: $2.99

SurfShark

Features

  • Free trial? Yes
  • Simultaneous connections: unlimited
  • Ad blocking? Yes
  • Servers: 1000+ in 61 countries

Pros/Cons

  • No footprints
  • Allows torrenting
  • 256-bit AES encryption
  • Not the cheapest around

SurfShark is relatively young compared to other VPNs on this list, but it’s a rising star if we do say so ourselves. It has features that are comparable to other older VPNs and a stellar reputation to match.

SurfShark’s most significant advantage is that it offers an unlimited number of connections to one account. That is, you buy one account and can link it so that SurfShark works on any device. It has top-notch security features. MultiHop is Surfshark’s version of a double VPN, and it routes users’ data through servers in different countries, to mask IDs and hide digital footprints. Camouflage Mode hides the fact that a VPN is being used at all, even to your ISP. It does this while still encrypting your data, so fear not your data is safe. 

All barriers are broken with Surfshark’s NoBorders mode. This feature unblocks and uncensor any content that users want. It quickly unblocks even the most robust geo-blocker and removes limits from your browsing experience. You can torrent freely as well. There are over a thousand SurfShark VPN servers in over 61 countries, so your network speed is basically guaranteed. The CleanWeb feature keeps away ads, trackers, malware, and phishing attempts. There’ll be no interruptions while you’re watching or browsing.

Both Android and iPhone versions of the SurfShark app are both easy to set up and use. If you have any difficulty, their 24/7 customer service is always there for you. They’re also there for you in case you buy a plan and want a refund within thirty days. 

SurfShark has three plans. The two-year plan is the cheapest at $1.99/month, charged at $47.76. The one-year plan is $5.99/month, that’s $71.88 every year. A monthly subscription is $11.95/month.

  • Pros: No footprints; Allows torrenting; 256-bit AES encryption
  • Lowest price: $1.99

PureVPN

Features

  • 24/7 support? Yes
  • Simultaneous logins: 5
  • Dedicated IP-addresses? Yes
  • Servers: over 2000

Pros/Cons

  • Port forwarding
  • Servers located all over the world
  • 256-bit AES encryption
  • Not the cheapest

PureVPN is a veteran VPN service, with over a decade’s worth of experience in the business. Over the years, they’ve maintained their stance for Internet privacy and security. 

PureVPN has an extensive reach, with over 2000 servers functioning in 140+ countries. These servers use the best encryption technology available and are capable of handling any protocol. This gives the user the freedom to choose the protocol that works best for them. Their technology works to anonymize their users and make sure that they leave no tracks behind. 

When it comes to streaming, PureVPN is on the up with servers optimized just for streaming. These servers ensure buffer-free streaming with no lag. There are also servers optimized for P2P sharing in countries where torrenting is allowed so that you can download without worry. 

To get the speed that’s necessary to run all its features and still stream in high quality, PureVPN has engineered their own services and apps to allow evolving broadband connections. This creates a faster connection and better quality all round. PureVPN has apps designed to be easy to use across many platforms, including smartphones.

PureVPN’s two-year plan costs $3.33/month. A year’s subscription is $5.83/month, and the monthly plan is a bit cheaper than average at $10.95. If you don’t like PureVPN after buying a package, you can get a refund within thirty-one days.

  • Pros: Port forwarding; Servers located all over the world; 256-bit AES encryption
  • Lowest price: $3.33

Ivacy

Features

  • Cryptocurrency accepted? Yes
  • Simultaneous connections: 5
  • Supported devices? All, including TVs
  • Servers: Over 1000 in 63 countries

Pros/Cons

  • Streaming support
  • Support for torrenting as well
  • Military grade 256-bit encryption
  • Speed issues

Ivacy is not a young VPN either. Like the VPN we discussed before, it’s been in the Internet privacy business for a long time. In that time, it’s not changed in its commitment to keeping its users safe while browsing. 

Ivacy has a trump card within its many features. A feature called Smart Purpose Selection. We all have one or two reasons for investing in a VPN, be it seeking a safer Internet, masking our IP addresses, wanting to secure our downloads, or wanting to unblock or uncensor content. One of these reasons may dominate each of our browsing sessions. The Smart Purpose Selection feature allows you to identify the purpose of your connection to a VPN and helps you to optimize the tools you need for that purpose. 

Ivacy uses some of the best encryption technology available, but they allow their users to choose a protocol that works for them. It also has leak protection and a kill switch. Its split tunneling feature allows you to choose which data you want to be routed through the VPN and those you’d prefer to leave to go through regular servers. It also has DDoS protection, so no attacks while gaming for Ivacy users.

Ivacy VPN has 1000+ servers concentrated in over fifty countries. This factor and optimized servers allow users to watch streamed content in high quality without any buffering or lagging. Ivacy can support five logins on one account and supports all major platforms, including smartphones like Android, iPhone, and BlackBerry. 24/7 support will help if you’ve got any problems with Ivacy’s apps.

Ivacy has a one-year plan at $3.50/month, billed at $42 every year. To buy Ivacy for six months is $4.33/month, charged at $25.98. The monthly plan is $9.95. But there’s a discount available for a limited time right now. If you buy Ivacy for five years, you’ll get it at $1.5/month, which is billed at $90. Ivacy also offers a free trial for a day and a 30-day money-back guarantee. Not a bad deal, eh?

  • Pros: Streaming support; Support for torrenting as well; Military grade 256-bit encryption
  • Lowest price: $3.50

Is it necessary to have a VPN on your smartphone?

Strictly speaking, no, it is not necessary. Your phone will still work without a VPN, and you’ll still be able to do whatever you want to do. However, there are some benefits having a VPN will give you that can’t be brushed off. 

  1. Privacy: You may not know it, but everything you do online is tracked. In every site you visit, you leave a  sort of footprint, an indication that you were there. Within these footprints, all kinds of identification can be found out. Your address and web history, for instance. Your Internet Service Provider is under no obligation to keep this information to itself. Organizations buy this information and use it for whatever they want. Smartphones have lots of information on their owners, a veritable goldmine for those who can trace it and find such details. Your VPN stops all that noise in its tracks. If they can’t see your information, they can’t sell it.
  2. Security: We said before that our smartphones had become sources of information on their users. They’re like little storage points where most of us keep crucial details of our life. Hackers know this too, and if your phone has no protection, then it’s susceptible to getting hacked. You can get hacked by merely connecting to a public Wi-Fi network. Or by clicking an ad or opening an email. A VPN stops these hackers from getting any information because all the information is encrypted and indecipherable, anyway.
  3. Streaming: This is the kicker. Who doesn’t have a show they’re in love with? Sadly, for some smartphone users, their favorite shows aren’t available to them in their country. However, they can easily bypass those rules with a VPN. A good VPN has the technology to fake your IP address to match the one in which the content is available. Of course, sometimes, a media company’s blocker can catch on to the fact that you’re using a VPN. But that’s why a VPN has several servers to choose from. You can simply switch servers and try again. 
  4. Torrenting: P2P sharing is illegal in some countries, half-illegal in others, and not a concern in some. For those who live in countries where it’s illegal or frowned upon, a VPN is nearly a must. Paid VPNs allow users to torrent freely, and some even encourage it by creating optimized servers for it. They do this by creating servers in countries where torrenting is allowed, which bypasses the laws of torrenting for VPN users.
  5. Shopping: This is a little-known advantage, but having a VPN can be great for your wallet as well. A VPN allows you to change your IP address to make it look like you’re browsing from any country that you wish. Some online shops change their prices based on where the IP address says the buyer is browsing from. You can take advantage of this and get the best deals on goods, and even stuff like plane tickets and hotel rooms. You only live once, y’know. 

Can you use a free VPN on a smartphone?

Yes, you can. There are thousands of VPNs out there, and most, if not all, have smartphone apps. But we cannot in good conscience, allow you to think that using a free VPN is a good idea.  In the Internet privacy world, a free VPN might seem like a tool that can let you take advantage of the things a VPN provides for free. However, it’s not that simple. You can’t get something for nothing.

To start with, most “free” VPNs aren’t really free. They’re more like a caricature that paid VPN developers sometimes make to advertise their paid VPN and entice users to buy. The free VPNs usually have lower versions of all the features that the paid version has, or some features aren’t there at all. For example, not having access to all the servers or being denied access to specially optimized servers. 

However, these free VPNs are probably more honest with your data than others that offer all the features of a paid VPN for free. These VPNs are the more dangerous ones because their no-logs policy is usually iffy or a straight out lie. 

The reason is, VPNs and their developers have provided a service and most likely intend to make money off of it. The VPNs that offer a muted service for free make their money from ads. VPNs that provide full services for free, however, are probably not making their money through any honest means. It’s possible that such VPNs might be making money off selling your information, the very thing most privacy-concerned people want to avoid.

It costs money, a lot of money, to run any type of VPN. Don’t let the tag of “free” deceive you. 

In conclusion

Smartphones may be small, but they are significant to their users. They basically help organize our lives, in some small way or the other, so they’re full of information on us. A VPN can help guard our phones and, therefore, our data, which is why it’s crucial to pick the right one. We hope our list has helped you pick out a favorite from the plenty out there.