Are you overwhelmed by the choice of VPN apps on the Play Store? In this guide, we’ll show you the best VPNs to use on Android in 2021 – whether you need one for a smartphone or tablet.
What are the best VPN apps for Android?
These are the best of the VPN apps for Android that we tested:
We summarize our experts’ top 5 Android VPN recommendations below. If you want more info on these services or some alternative services, click here.
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A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is an Android app designed to give you online privacy. A VPN for Android can be used on both a smartphone and tablet, via custom software that encrypts your traffic and allows you to spoof your location.
Using a VPN conceals what you are doing from your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and the government. It also prevents websites and services from tracking your IP address (which is used to monitor you each time you return). As a result, you can use the internet both at home and on public Wi-Fi without fear that you are being unfairly monitored.
Due to the way it functions, a VPN for Android is the ultimate anti-censorship tool. It will let you bypass geo-restrictions to access regional content. And it will unblock websites and services that have been restricted by the government.
A VPN also lets you access services that have been restricted by local network admins at work or in school (whether that be YouTube, Facebook, Reddit, or anything else). This makes a VPN the ultimate tool for gaining freedom of access.
As avid Android users ourselves, we know that there are huge numbers of dodgy Android VPNs currently circulating. Studies have revealed many Android VPNs to have flaws and vulnerabilities that make them a risk to use. This is why it is vital to stick to services that are properly implemented and have strong privacy policies.
When picking our best VPN for Android list, we looked for:
- Robust privacy policies
- Top-grade encryption
- Fast servers for streaming and downloading
- Key security features, such as kill-switches
- A seamless Android app
If, and only if, a VPN meets our above criteria can it be considered for inclusion in our list of the best VPNs for Android devices.
Proceed with caution
It is worth noting that, thanks to Google’s relaxed policing policy, there are a lot of unsafe VPN apps in the Play Store. So please only install safe VPN apps from respectable and trustworthy VPN services such as those listed below. If you want to avoid the app store, you can download these services via an APK file hosted on their website.
The Best VPNs for Android Devices to use in 2020
Below, you’ll find our full list of the best Android VPNs – recommended by our experts by for both mobile phones and tablet. All of the services we’ve hand-picked offer stellar security measures, privacy features, and geo-unblocking powers – as well as myriad other benefits. If you’d like an even more in-depth look at the providers mentioned here, check out our detailed reviews.
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The fastest VPNs available for Android
A fast Android VPN is better for streaming, making video calls, playing games, and anything else that requires more data throughput. To help you tell which VPN apps are the fastest, we run tests three times per day on our top picks and display the results in the table below.
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Improve your privacy and security on Android with a VPN
Below, we look at how a VPN can help you stay secure online from hackers and snoopers, including your ISP and the Government. But, before we get into the benefits, let’s start with the basics…
How does a VPN work on your Android device?
When you access the internet all your data passes over a local network before going through an ISP’s gateway servers. This path to getting online creates two potential opportunities for your web visits and data to be tracked and potentially harvested and sold on. Once on the local network, and when you pass through your ISPs gateway.
What a VPN does is it encrypts your data before it leaves your Android device, before routing it to a VPN server. This ensures that nobody can see what you are doing online and prevents websites and online services from detecting your actual IP address.
This setup might sound simple, but it can supercharge your mobile internet experience in the following ways:
The privacy benefits of a VPN for Android users
- A VPN server can block your ISP’s “view” of what you get up to online.
- Governments can no longer enforce blanket mass surveillance on you, as they rely on data provided to them by ISPs. So, if your ISP has no idea what you’re doing, neither will your government.
- A VPN will prevent websites from knowing who you are because, instead of seeing your real IP address, the website will just see the IP address of the VPN server – meaning you can stop annoying ads.
- Public WiFi hotspot hackers won’t be able to steal your data, and hotspot operators won’t be able to sell your browsing history since they won’t be able to see anything that you’re doing online through the VPN tunnel.
- A VPN will help you to torrent on Android by preventing peers (which can include copyright enforcers) from seeing your real IP address.
- A VPN will prevent your government or ISP from censoring content, be it on political, social, moral, or copyright grounds. VPN services run servers from countries all over the planet, so just connect to one located somewhere that does not censor internet content and you’re good to go!
Android VPNs for Netflix
That’s right, with a VPN, you can “spoof” your geographic location in order to watch streaming services such as the US version of Netflix on your phone or tablet, which has a much larger catalog of titles than paying Netflix customers living elsewhere can access. You can also unblock other free services, for example you can watch BBC iPlayer outside the UK, which are only available in certain countries. For more information about this topic, check out our how to unblock Netflix on Android page.
Android VPNs for Gaming
There are benefits for gamers too. Particularly if you live in a country that restricts access to certain gaming titles. With a VPN, you can change your Google Play region with a VPN to unblock apps that were previously unavailable to you. Or even connect to new servers to play against opponents from other countries.
Beware of some Android apps
If you’re an Android user, you must be aware that, while a VPN app will do its job to secure your sessions when using a mobile browser, it can’t stop Android apps from sending personal data back to their developers – as well as Google, via the Play Services Framework.
You should therefore always use a service’s web portal rather than its Android app whenever possible when you’re using your VPN. It’s not always an option, but when it is, it’s the best way to maximize your privacy.
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Setting up a VPN on Android
Using a VPN on an Android device isn’t really much different to using a VPN on any other platform, so if you want to know more about VPNs, in general, then please check out our Beginner’s Guide to VPNs for more info on what they are and how they can make your life better.
If you would like help getting set up with your VPN, check out our step-by-step guide on how to install a VPN on Android.
Can I get a free VPN for Android?
There are plenty of free Android VPNs for Android users lurking in the Google Play Store, but don’t be lured in – the vast majority of these providers are known to be risky. Studies have revealed that most free VPNs are a scam, designed to harvest user data. Free VPNs have been found to have dangerous privacy policies, critical leaks, unreliable apps, weak encryption, and even adware or spyware.
Running a VPN is an expensive business, and it incurs a lot of costs and upkeep. As such, it’s impossible to run a VPN that’s entirely free without also creating a revenue stream from user data. Most free VPNs for Android users are, in actuality, a honey pot designed to snoop on you – and that’s the exact opposite of what a VPN should do!
The good news is that there are some reputable free VPN services on the market that offer a free plan. These limited free plans cap speeds, limit data usage, and limit the number of servers you can use. Thus, they are only really there to offer a trial version of their service designed to make users upgrade onto a paid subscription.
Using our recommended VPNs is not dangerous, because other than the limitations they involve, they don’t skimp on privacy or security in any way. So, if you do need a free VPN, please be sure to stick to our recommendations. Using other free Android VPN apps on the Play Store is dangerous and will cause you to have your data harvested. In fact, some free VPN services on Google Play can even contain exploits that infect your phone or tablet to steal more data.
Remember, if you are not paying for the product, then you are the product! Nobody is offering a “free” service simply out of the goodness of their hearts.
Want a Free VPN for Android? We Recommend Windscribe (Best Free VPN for Android)
Windscribe is a no-logs, privacy-friendly, Canadian VPN service that offers users 2GB data allowance per month completely free, or a very generous 10GB in exchange for your email address.
Windscribe’s speeds are decent for a free service. We achieved 55 Mbit/s download results using a server in our own country (UK), although this will depend on the speed of your raw broadband or 4G connection.
Free users can connect to servers in ten countries, including the USA, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania. Switzerland, the UK, and Hong Kong. This is actually quite generous for a free service and gives free users plenty of options for unblocking content.
This superb free VPN is offered by Windscribe in order to advertise its full-featured premium plan. By upgrading, you’ll be able to access Netflix and other sought-after streaming services from all over the world.
Try an Android VPN without risk
You might be on the fence about VPNs if you’ve never used one before. And this is totally understandable! After all, you won’t know what a VPN can do for you until you try one for yourself. The good news is that you can do just that with all of the VPNs in this guide, thanks to their money-back guarantees.
This allows you to test the VPN out for unblocking content and gaining privacy online – without actually risking your hard-earned cash. We think once you experience the freedom of being able to access blocked content at work or in school, or experience unrestricted access to geo-restricted services around the world – you will decide to keep your VPN.
However, don’t forget that if you want to, you can try a few different services to see how they each differ. That’s the beauty of these refund promises; it allows you to shop around and decide which service you prefer.
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Google VPN – another option
If you’re a Google One user – good news! You’ll soon be able to check out a new VPN as part of your subscription, (provided you’re paying for one of the higher tiers).
VPN by Google One will be available as part of the $9.99 p/m plan, which also provides an extra 2TB of expanding Drive storage. The VPN is also baked into the 10, 20, and 30TB plans. Keep an eye out for updates over the next few weeks – Google plans to introduce the VPN to Android users in the near future, and it’s reported that customers will be able to enable and/or disable the service via their mobile app.
Android VPNs to avoid
There are literally dozens of bad or dangerous VPNs for Android. Far too many to list here. That is why searching for a VPN on the Play Store is so risky. The best advice is to stick only to our recommended VPNs, as those are known to be reliable and secure.
Paid-for services that also have full desktop VPN support (so are not just otherwise no-name Android apps) are more likely to be trustworthy, but we still recommend hunting down reputable VPN reviews before trusting them with your privacy.
[[post-object type=”accordion” question=”Does Android have a built-in VPN?” answer=”It’s true that Android has a built-in VPN client that can be setup manually to work with PPTP and L2TP/IPSec. You’ll get a full, custom VPN app that comes with tons of extras if you pick one of our recommended VPNs, however, including features you wouldn’t usually get when setting up a VPN manually. So, it’s much better to stick to an official VPN app. As a result, you will never really need to use the built-in VPN client.” /]]
[[post-object type=”accordion” question=”Is it safer to download an Android VPN via APK?” answer=”As long as you’re certain you’re downloading your chosen provider’s official VPN app from the Google Play Store, then you’ll be safe. But if you want to proceed with extra caution and avoid potentially downloading a malicious app from the Play Store, then it can indeed be more sensible to download the app via APK directly from the provider’s website.” /]]
[[post-object type=”accordion” question=”What are the best VPNs for Android Tablets?” answer=”We’d recommend any of the VPNs highlighted in this guide. They’re all great picks for Android tablets as well as smartphones, and we’ve gone to great lengths to ensure that the user experience maintains the same level of quality and clarity regardless of the device you’re using.” /]]
[[post-object type=”accordion” question=”If I use a VPN can my phone still be tracked?” answer=”Unfortunately, yes. Whilst a VPN encrypts all of your internet traffic, smartphones and tablets use geo-location and cellular network technology. This can be used by authorities to track you. In addition, you can give your location away by connecting to a WiFi network – so be careful!” /]]