The usage of mobile devices is increasing, and so is the range of activities you can do on the go. People use their phones and tablets to check their email, log into their bank account, follow the news, read ebooks and keep in touch with friends. Within this broad scope of activities, your phone may be vulnerable to cyberattacks or other security threats.
Cybersecurity has become a subject of interest for mobile users everywhere. You can find multiple apps that claim to protect your smartphone from viruses but, in reality, they’re still harvesting your data.
Malware protection software is still relatively new when it comes to mobile operating systems, so there’s no guarantee that it will always protect you or that it won’t come with security bugs. Here arises the need for other security measures, such as VPNs.
What Is a VPN?
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a set of protocols and encryption methods that will add a secondary layer of security to your device. In simple terms, VPNs allow you to browse the internet while being secure and anonymous. It’s like traveling through the internet with nobody knowing who you are.
VPNs have been present in the PC industry for years, but providers only recently decided to start offering their services in the mobile industry. The good thing about their Android apps is that they are really easy to set up, contrary to some PC or macOS VPN providers.
Why Use a VPN?
There is a general misconception that VPNs are used only by people who travel or want to download torrent files.
The truth is, VPNs can and should be used by anyone who uses the internet—whether for work or fun.
Besides bypassing geolocation restrictions, these types of networks add another security layer to your device, and, together with your antivirus software, they provide a user with 100% secured anonymity. Everybody stores a lot of personal data on their Android devices, so it is becoming crucial to use Android VPN apps.
OpenVPN Networks and VPN Apps
OpenVPN is one of the numerous Virtual Private Network protocols, and it is the most appropriate and efficient option for Android VPN usage.
This is important:You should know that it’s not possible to directly use OpenVPN servers from your Android device because Android doesn’t have built-in support for these servers; you will need to download an OpenVPN app.
Before you start using this app, it is necessary to root your device. Depending on your needs, you might even need integrated VPN support.
Integrated VPN Support
There is integrated Virtual Private Network support for PPTP and L2TP protocols only. When you connect to any of these VPNs, you won’t need to install any additional Android apps.
Just enter your smartphone settings and go to the More option that can be found in the Wireless and Networks menu. There, you will find the VPN or VPN Settings option, depending on the version of your Android software.
Here you can add a VPN connection by filling out some simple information, such as a network name, a type of VPN server and an address of the VPN. The address can be a numerical IP address like 192.292.3333.45.44, or you can enter a web-based IP address like vpn.provider.com (these are only examples).
Pro Tip:You can use multiple integrated VPNs at one time and connect to them whenever you want. In order to add a network, you first need to have an Android VPN account.
In the next section, we’ll go through the best apps on the market today.
What Is the Best VPN for Android?
Most popular VPN apps have an easy setup process so that you can get access to quality security protection within minutes. Using any of these VPN providers will allow you to connect an integrated VPN to your Android device.
Here you will find some of the best Virtual Private Network providers on the market. We’ll be focusing on the options offered for Android devices.
Money-Back Guarantee: 30 days
NordVPN is one of the top Virtual Private Network service providers in the world, known for its high standard of encryption and its no-logs policy. Its Android app is very user-friendly, with a simple and clean interface that’s easy to navigate.
The app’s ‘Quick Connect’ feature allows users to connect to the closest server with just one tap on the screen. Or, you can choose from servers in 59 countries around the world. The app also offers a ‘CyberSec’ feature that protects you from malware and other threats you might encounter while browsing the internet. The app is available for free on the Google Play Store.
- User-friendly Android app
- 'Quick Connect' Function
- Extra features such as malware protection
- Some users report having problems with server blacklisting
- Speed is not as good as other VPNs
Read the full NordVPN review here.
Money-Back Guarantee: 30 days
ExpressVPN is another one of the best VPNs for Android. If you don’t believe this statement, you can try their services for free during the trial period. One of the best things about ExpressVPN is that it has servers in more than 72 locations on three continents: Europe, North America and Asia. Tests have shown that it doesn’t decrease the speed or bandwidth of your internet connection, and it provides top-notch online security. The ExpressVPN Android app has been made available for free on the Google Play Store, too.
- Decent speeds
- Advanced encryption
- Not as many servers as other competitors
- Some Google Play Store Reviews mention that the server connections aren't always reliable or consistent
Read the full ExpressVPN review here.
Simultaneous Connections: Seven
Money-Back Guarantee: 45 days
CyberGhost offers a huge network of 6,400 servers spanning more than 89 countries. You can also search for servers that are streaming-friendly, with some options offering more quality than others. The app offers 256-AES bit encryption for top-notch security. The company has a no-logs policy, meaning your usage data will not be stored on their systems. You can download the app for free on Google Play.
- Large network of servers
- Easy to use
- Servers for streaming
- No 'quick connect' feature to link to the closest/fastest server
- In Google Play Store reviews, some users noted problems connecting to streaming servers
Read the full CyberGhost VPN review here.
Is There a Free VPN for Android?
It is not uncommon for people who are new to the VPN field to try out free VPN services for Android first to avoid spending money unnecessarily. We’re used to getting things from the internet for free.
Unfortunately, when it comes to free VPN apps for Android, it is best to stay cautious.
Typically, the company behind the Android VPN app would be making money thanks to the users’ subscription fees. In the case of free Android VPN apps, the providers need to find alternative methods of keeping the operation afloat. Unfortunately, some of those methods could have negative consequences for the users.
According to a 2016 study, 38% of the top free VPN apps for Android devices were found to contain malicious programs. Apart from hidden lines of code that were supposed to benefit the service providers at the expense of the users, it was not an easy task to find a free VPN app that wouldn’t be plastered with ads. Still, if the software you have downloaded comes with ads, but the provider doesn’t store information about your online activity, you could say that you have found a good free VPN for Android.
Many Virtual Private Network providers store such data and later sell it to third parties. Now, that doesn’t mean all mobile VPN Android providers are doing this, but it’s best to be careful.
Pro TipAvoid downloading any free VPNs on your device without reading online reviews first. Also, don’t forget that numerous companies behind VPNs are conducting aggressive marketing campaigns. It’s best to base your opinion on several sources, or you might be deceived by paid reviews.
Which Free VPN Is Best for Android Devices?
Another critical aspect that you should focus on when choosing free VPN Android software is whether the logs about the user’s activity are stored. If a particular Virtual Private Network provider stores connection logs, then, unless you live in a region where using VPNs is illegal, you shouldn’t worry too much.
Connection logs contain information about when the users logged in and how much time they spent browsing the internet. Of course, the best VPN apps for Android won’t even store these logs.
It is important to note that connection logs don’t reveal what websites the users visit. It means that if government surveillance agencies or your internet service provider get their hands on those connection logs, they will learn that you’ve been using a VPN, but in most countries, the act of using VPNs is not illegal.
VPNs aren’t only used to mask criminal activity. They allow companies to protect their confidential information by providing their employees with private connections that are mostly resistant to hackers’ attacks.
Still, there are countries, such as Russia or China, where the use of VPNs is illegal, even if they aren’t used to mask any illegal activities. If according to the laws of your country of residence, the use of VPNs is illegal, you should ensure that you choose the best free VPN on Android devices that won’t keep any type of logs. One such app that doesn’t store connection or usage logs is hide.Me.
Should I Use a VPN on My Phone?
We are used to the convenience provided by the internet. There’s no need to go to the bank – you can log in on your bank’s website and transfer funds in a matter of seconds. The same applies to shopping – you don’t need to travel anywhere, as you can order almost any item imaginable off the internet.
However, this convenience also means that there’s a negative trade-off involved. Apart from obvious threats, like hackers, the data about your online activity is being stored by your internet service provider, who then sells it to third parties such as companies that deal with ads. There’s a reason why the advertisements that you encounter while you browse the internet match your online history.
If you install a Virtual Private Network on your Android device, your ISP won’t have access to your online habits.
This isn’t the only reason why the popularity of VPN software has skyrocketed in recent years. Here are some more benefits:
- VPNs will help you bypass network throttling by your ISP. Although installing a VPN on your device would help to protect your privacy from your internet service provider, that’s not all. If you make sure that you have a VPN app for Android installed on your device, your internet speed might actually go up. Why is that? Although, in general, it is true that installing a VPN will reduce your internet speed significantly, some internet speed providers throttle their customers’ internet speed. It could happen for many reasons, such as inadequate hardware owned by your ISP, but it also might be the case that a company suspects that some of their users engage in illegal activities and they respond by throttling their connection. In such a situation, if you install a fast Virtual Private Network service, you might be surprised that browsing the internet is no longer an ordeal. Before you download any VPNs on your device, make sure to check if the chosen software has monthly limits on bandwidth usage. Even the best free VPNs for Android devices do not offer users more than 2 GB per month. If you browse the internet often, you could consider spending some money to get a paid VPN service that offers significantly more powerful servers.
- You can use a VPN to circumvent censorship and get access to news and information online. If you happen to live in a country that has limits on free speech, you should consider installing the best Android VPN that you could find. This way, your entire online activity would be encrypted, which means that any third party wouldn’t know what sites you visit. There are some countries where it is forbidden to use VPNs, even if you wouldn’t engage in anything against the law. As a result, if you live in such a place, you should download the best VPN app available, so that your security wouldn’t be under threat. Sure, it is possible to find a free service that is reliable, but a smarter choice would be to choose paid Android VPN apps, as those usually offer better security. If you live in a country where the use of VPNs is not banned, then sure, your safety is of vital importance, but if things go awry, the consequences wouldn’t be as horrible. As we have stated before, it is possible to find a good VPN for Android for free. But, alternatively, you could spend $5 to $10 per month to choose an even better option that doesn’t have a financial incentive to sell your data because they get their revenue from you, the subscriber.
- You can use a Virtual Private Network to unblock geo-restricted content from streaming services. More and more people subscribe each year to streaming platforms such as HBO Now, Amazon Prime or Netflix. Unfortunately, if the users log in from different parts of the world, they will be able to access different content. This means that if you log in to your Netflix account from Bulgaria, it might be impossible to watch all the movies, documentaries or TV series that would be available to users who log in from Canada or the U.S. The best way to deal with this issue is to install a Virtual Private Network on your device. You’ll be able to change your IP address to bypass those geo-restrictions. This way, even if you travel around the world, you won’t have to worry that some of your favorite Netflix or Hulu content might be blocked. Make sure to install the fastest VPN for Android, so that your internet connection is decent. Otherwise, you might spend too much time waiting for the video to buffer.
- VPNs can also help you unlock other online services. Some services are blocked in certain countries, and it doesn’t apply only to streaming platforms. For example, websites related to gambling or adult content are often banned in Middle-Eastern countries. If you live there or are just on vacation there, you could gain access to those websites if you change your IP address using a top Android VPN provider. In this case, it is better to choose a paid service, as such websites often have installed software that detects whether someone is using VPNs. That’s why you should only choose the best Android VPN app capable of tricking this software.
- Even if you are not doing anything illegal, you might just want some privacy and anonymity. None of us would agree to have cameras installed in our house that our government could use to spy on us. If you think that third parties do not monitor your online activity, then you are severely mistaken. You might hear that people who use VPNs only do so because they are doing something illegal, but this is not true. We wouldn’t want our entire slate of online activity to become known to our friends and family. The same applies to the government agencies that are monitoring citizens. Thankfully, more people become aware of this fact, which is why the amount of Android VPN clients is increasing each year as the demand for privacy tools grows.
Virtual Private Network software for Android devices is a relatively new market. Not all high-quality PC VPN providers also offer quality Android services.
That’s why we tested and listed the best possible options above for you. We want to hear your experiences with OpenVPN and integrated VPN services for Android devices.
Maybe we’ve missed out on some good apps, so feel free to comment below if you know of any lesser-known Android VPN providers worth sharing.