With a VPN for your Android mobile device, you can improve your privacy. To assist you in making the best decision, we’ve put the leading candidates to the test.
What Is a Virtual Private Network (VPN)?
When you connect to a virtual private network, or VPN, your web traffic is routed over an encrypted link to a VPN company’s server. All of your online traffic (as well as the traffic of other VPN customers) will travel in and out of the VPN server, not your Android device, to an observer. Your genuine IP address is also masked while you’re connected to a VPN. All a nosy advertiser or shady spy will see is the VPN server’s IP address. Because IP addresses are scattered geographically, this preserves your privacy while also making it more difficult for others to determine your location.
All of this contributes to the protection of your online privacy. Advertisers and corporations are keen to learn about your online behavior, but a VPN makes it more difficult for them to do so. Your ISP won’t be able to see what you’re doing using a VPN, which is good because they want to monetize your data as well.
With both a Wi-Fi and cellular radio onboard, mobile devices are unique in that they have so many methods to communicate with the internet. They also accompany us outside of our secure home networks and into a variety of other locations. We’ve seen some fascinating research that hints at the privacy implications of mobile devices: false wi-fi devices that imitate well-known networks can ensnare thousands of unwitting devices, and counterfeit base stations can track phones (and perhaps intercept data). These are unusual worries, but it’s critical to be aware of the worst-case possibilities in order to protect yourself.
What a VPN Isn’t
Consumers’ fear, confusion, and doubt are too often used by the security sector. Despite the fact that there are several threats to your privacy and security lurking in the wild, no single technology can protect you from all of them.
While some VPN services claim to protect you from malware and phishing sites, standalone antivirus software is unquestionably more effective. Having an account taken over by an attacker is one of the most dangerous hazards people face. We strongly advise utilizing a password manager to create strong, unique passwords for each site and service you use to avoid this.
Wherever possible, we also recommend using multi-factor authentication. While VPNs make it more difficult for advertisers and snoopers to track you online, they still have a range of methods at their disposal, such as browser fingerprinting. We strongly advise you to become familiar with the privacy options in Android OS and your preferred browser.
Keep in mind that while VPNs increase your online privacy, they aren’t real anonymization tools, and you won’t be able to use them to access secret websites on the dark web. You should use the Tor anonymization network for both of these operations. Tor client Android apps are available on the Google Play store, making it simple to use Tor online.
Do VPNs Work With Netflix?
Location spoofing is a frequent VPN application. When you send web traffic to a remote server across an encrypted tunnel, the data seems to come from the VPN server rather than your actual location. Journalists and activists have exploited this technology to circumvent government-imposed internet restrictions.
However, most users use a VPN to mask their location while streaming content that is banned to specific geographic zones. Video streaming services, on the other hand, are beginning to mature. We’ve discovered that when a VPN is detected, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video frequently block access. It’s worth noting that streaming businesses have every authority to prohibit VPN users. Just because you pay to watch Netflix in the United States doesn’t guarantee you can also watch Netflix in the United Kingdom.
Some VPNs are compatible with Netflix, but their efficiency varies from day to day as streaming businesses and VPN services engage in a cat-and-mouse game of spoofing and blocking.
VPNs and Internet Speed
Rerouting your connection to other, sometimes distant, servers can have a negative influence on your internet speeds, which is unsurprising. A VPN usually increases your latency and slows down your download and upload speeds. The intensity of the impact is determined, among other things, by the location of the VPN servers and the network infrastructure that the VPN provider has access to.
Due to the current COVID-19 outbreak, our access to the PCMag Labs test network has been restricted, forcing us to rethink how we do VPN performance tests. Rather of evaluating all of the products at the same time for a year, we continue to evaluate VPNs and update the results on a regular basis. It’s worth noting that we don’t test VPN performance on cellular networks. This is due to the fact that we have no control over how or when the phone connects to cell towers. Rather, we exclusively measure speeds on Windows PCs. The table below shows our most recent results.
What Are the Characteristics of a Good Android VPN?
Despite the fact that Android phones and tablets have a very different form factor than desktops and laptops, we still look for the same things in a VPN.
The quantity and spread of the company’s available VPN servers are critical. Finding a server near where you live and when traveling should be easier with a service with a large number of server locations than with a service with a small number of server locations. Because there are so many servers, you have a lot of possibilities for spoofing your location.
The location of a VPN provider is also crucial. Local regulations may oblige the corporation to keep user data, depending on where its corporate offices are located. That’s not a good thing, especially if keeping your privacy is your top priority. To properly understand the security and privacy safeguards a VPN provides, we examined each company’s terms of service and spoke with personnel.
Split tunneling is another significant feature that Android users should seek for. This allows you to specify which apps transfer data through the VPN connection and which apps send data outside of it. This is useful for programs like video or music streaming apps, as well as mobile games, that frequently limit VPN access or demand a lot of bandwidth but no security.
On the Move with VPNs
Even when using your smartphone or tablet, VPNs can help secure your privacy. Of course, it won’t protect you from every threat, but it’s an easy way to feel safer.
NordVPN is difficult to surpass, with a massive server network and a superb selection of privacy options. The Android app provides many of the service’s best features, as well as some that are only available on mobile.
ProtonVPN delivers all of the features you might desire for a very low price, and it also has the greatest free membership we’ve seen. We were thrilled to discover that the Android app performs an excellent job of translating the ProtonVPN experience to mobile devices.
3. Surfshark VPN
Surfshark VPN includes nearly all of the privacy features you’ll require. Existing clients will be relieved to see that the service’s superb design is also available on Android.
4. TunnelBear VPN
TunnelBear VPN is a formidable defender of privacy and incredibly transparent, despite its friendly bears at the forefront. TunnelBear’s Android app has all of the functionality offered in the company’s other clients.
Private Internet Access includes a snooze button among its many useful mobile VPN features. On all platforms, including Android, it supports WireGuard and OpenVPN.
6. CyberGhost VPN
CyberGhost boasts the largest VPN server network we’ve ever seen, and a visual makeover has given it a fresh new design. We enjoy that the Android app keeps some of CyberGhost’s advanced features from the desktop apps.
ExpressVPN, with its wide assortment of far-flung server locations, is an appealing option for frequent Android users. However, such access will come at a high price. The Lightway VPN protocol is the only one supported by the ExpressVPN Android app.
8. Mozilla VPN
Mozilla VPN provides consumers with VPN protection while also supporting Mozilla, a non-profit organization. It looks nice and repackages Mullvad VPN’s WireGuard-powered offering. However, there aren’t many other features.
IVPN, like Mullvad VPN, has an account system that secures your privacy right away. On Android, we enjoy how crisp the service’s simple design looks.
10. Mullvad Virtual Private Network
Mullvad VPN incorporates privacy from the start, with its unique account system. The Android app’s simplicity makes it more accessible than the PC client.
Finally, because a VPN may have as much information about your online activities as your ISP, it’s critical to choose a VPN you can trust. When we evaluate VPNs, we read through privacy rules and speak with company personnel to learn more about how they secure their clients. Choose another VPN if you don’t think you can trust one for whatever reason. There are plenty to choose from.