Protecting your internet connection while you’re at home or on your laptop on the go is important.
But why protect just one part of your internet use?
If you’re using an Android phone, you should be using a VPN whenever you connect to the internet.
Let’s talk about why that’s a good idea, then discuss the best VPNs for Android phones. We’ll go over our selection criteria, then provide our recommendations.
Why Use an Android VPN?
Just like the internet traffic that you send from your home or work computer, the traffic you send from your phone should be protected. A VPN provides that protection.
For a detailed explanation, check out our full beginner’s guide to VPNs. In short, though, using a VPN on your Android:
- Hide your IP so you can remain anonymous and private
- Bypasses geo-restrictions (especially useful for streaming Netflix, Hulu, Youtube etc…)
- Helps keep your personal data safe and secure
- Protects your anonymity online and online spying
You might not think that you have any reason to hide the internet traffic coming from your phone, but remember that you send texts, photos, and emails from it. Would you want someone spying on those? Even if you’re not sending anything particularly private, you still don’t want anyone snooping.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation recommends using VPNs to avoid surveillance by your ISP. The same is absolutely true of your mobile data provider, and for all the same reasons.
There are certainly other reasons you might use a VPN, but these are the most popular. Protected browsing is crucial for streaming and torrenting from your phone, but the security benefits alone are worth setting up a VPN.
5 Best VPN Apps for Android Devices
Without further ado, here are 5 top VPNs for Android devices that are fast, safe and secure:
1. NordVPN – Most VPN Servers With Different IP Addresses
NordVPN is a top contender in every category, but it stands out among Android VPNs for the remarkably high reviews it gets from its users: NordVPN’s app earned a 4.3 ranking on Google Play, one of the highest we’ve seen:
In addition to one-tap access to over 5,200+ servers in 60 countries, the app also has a built-in adblocker so you can browse the internet more freely and use less data. All you need to do is tell NordVPN where you want to connect, and you’ll be instantly connected to their network.
We also love that they offer a no questions asked 30 days money back guarantee, so you can check out the Android app to see if you like it. If you don’t, all you have to do is cancel the service and request a refund.
We think you’ll like it, though; with solid speed scores (74 Mbps download on our 100 Mbps connection), industry-standard encryption, and a mind-boggling number of servers, there’s not a whole lot more you could ask for. It’s not the fastest out there, but it should be plenty fast for anything you’re doing from your phone.
Another great feature is NordVPN’s extra-secure Double VPN.
It routes your traffic through two VPN servers instead of a single one to give you doubly encrypted data. This feature might slow down your connection, but if you need to be absolutely sure that no one knows what you’re doing online, you can be confident in Double VPN.
When you top all of that off with a very affordable pricing structure, you get a winner. If you sign up for a two year plan with NordVPN, you’ll only pay $3.71 per month. Not many VPNs charge less than that.
Speed: 74% from the benchmark
Users Rating (Google Store): 4.3/5.0
Logging Policy: No Logs
Torrenting: Torrenting Allowed
Read the full NordVPN review here.
2. ExpressVPN – Best for Security & Fastest Connections Speeds
ExpressVPN is one of the fastest providers that we’ve tested, clocking over 83 Mbps download speed on our 100 Mbps connection.
While the speed you get on your Android phone will vary largely based on your phone and your connection, you can be confident that you’ll get about as fast a speed as possible with ExpressVPN.
The Android app works with a variety of Android installations, from the latest version, Oreo, all the way back to Jelly Bean. Even if you’re running an old version of Android, your VPN will work and be secure.
One of the great features included in ExpressVPN’s Android app is the recommended location; as soon as you fire up the app, it will recommend servers to you based on where you’ll get the best connections. With a tap, you can connect to their fast servers all over the world. It doesn’t get much easier than that. You can also save your favorite servers for faster access.
We also like that the app defaults to OpenVPN, the most secure VPN protocol. And the 4.1 rating is confidence-inspiring, as well.
The only place ExpressVPN falls notably behind its competitors is in price. If you pay for a full year up front, it works out to $8.32 per month. If you pay 15 months upfront, it’s $6.67/mo.
That’s on the more expensive side of top-tier VPNs. That being said, if you’re going to use your Android VPN a lot—which we recommend—it’s worth it.
Speed: 83% from the benchmark
Users Rating (Google Store): 4.1/5.0
Logging Policy: No Logs
Torrenting: Torrenting Allowed
Read the full ExpressVPN review here.
3. Surfshark – Cheap VPN for Streaming on Android
Despite being a newcomer and offering a relatively small server pool, Surfshark is a great VPN choice for your Android device.
One of the big advantages of Surfshark is their cheap cost.
If you opt in for 2 years, you’ll get it at a monthly cost of $2.49, which sums up to $59.76 for 24 months. They also use strong VPN protocols (OpenVPN and IKEv2) and allow unlimited simultaneous connections.
Beyond that, the app has everything you’d expect from a top-tier Android VPN app. It’s super easy to use, has simple server choice, and offers a convenient Whitelister feature, which allows excluding some websites from the VPN connection.
The 4.1 rating on the Google Play Store is also reassuring:
Although it doesn’t compete with NordVPN’s server range or speed, it’s a great option for buyers on a budget.
Speed: 69% from the benchmark
Users Rating (Google Store): 4.1/5.0
Jurisdiction: British Virgin Islands
Torrenting: Torrenting Allowed
Read the full Surfshark review here.
4. Private Internet Access – Most Flexible Android VPN
PIA is known for its high speeds. It maintained 81% of our 100 Mbps connection speed when we tested it on a PC, logging one of the fastest speeds we’ve ever seen. So if you’re looking for the fastest Android VPN, you should give Private Internet Access a shot.
The app also has a 4.0 rating in the Play Store—people really like it. It’s not hard to see why, with easy connections, automatic server recommendations, per-app VPN rules, and ad blocking.
Although we recommend using a VPN for any internet connection on your Android, we understand that you might want more speed when you’re using certain apps. Letting some of them connect outside of the VPN will do that.
PIA has over 3,300 servers, which is staggeringly high. You’ll always be able to find one in the country you want that’s not getting slammed with traffic. And because you can get a two-year subscription that brings your monthly cost little over $3, it’s also one of the most affordable VPNs.
Speed: 81% from the benchmark
Users Rating (Google Store): 4.0/5.0
Jurisdiction: United States
Netflix: Not working well
Read the full PIA review here.
5. TunnelBear – Best Rating on Google Play
As we mentioned previously, the app itself has to be good for us to recommend an Android VPN. And TunnelBear has a fantastic app—which is one of the reasons why it’s currently rated 4.4 on the Play Store, one of the highest we’ve ever seen for a paid VPN.
That’s not much of a surprise, considering how fun the app is to use. Like everything else made by TunnelBear, it’s full of fun graphics and cute bears. Which might not sound like it’s worth anything, but if the app is easy and pleasant to use, you’re more likely to use it.
And the VPN itself is great, too. Android, unlike iOS, gets 256-bit OpenVPN encryption, which means your traffic is secure. It’s not the fastest VPN out there (we got 52 Mbps download speed on our 100 Mbps connection), but it is stable and they have a no-logging policy that we really like.
Their paid plans, which start at $4.99 per month, paid annually, are some of the cheapest we’ve seen. And there’s a free plan so you can try the app out to see how it works for you. You’ll be limited to 500MB, but you shouldn’t need much more than that to see if it’s worth paying for.
Speed: 52% from the benchmark
Users Rating (Google Store): 4.4/5.0
Netflix: Not working
Torrenting: No info
Read the full TunnelBear review here.
Why We Don’t Recommend FREE VPNs for Android
Lots of people know that they should be using a VPN. But fewer are willing to pay for it. That’s why there are thousands of people out there looking for the best free Android VPN. As you’ll see in a moment, we don’t recommend any free VPNs.
Why not? Because free VPNs come with compromises. First, they’re often not very reliable. Providers of paid VPNs aren’t likely to prioritize the traffic of their free users, and if you aren’t willing to pay, you’re going to get second-rate service.
The same applies to speed. Free Android VPNs just aren’t going to be able to compete with paid options on speed. You’ll get faster, more stable connections from a paid provider, and that’s worth a lot.
Second, providers of free VPNs still have to make money. And if they’re not getting it from you, they’re getting it from advertisers. Free VPN providers are more likely to log your information, sell your data to third parties, and display ads while you’re connected. While ads are annoying, having your data collected and sold is a violation of your privacy.
And because privacy is one of the most important underlying principles of any VPN, that’s bad news.
For all of these reasons, we recommend that you always use a paid VPN for Android. You’ll get a faster, more stable service, and your privacy will be better protected. And with the low costs of many of the VPNs below, you can get those things affordably.
What We Look For in Android VPNs
So what makes a great Android VPN? In most cases, it’s the same factors that make any VPN a good one. High speeds. No logging of any kind (or, at the very least, minimal logging). Solid encryption for security and privacy.
We also prefer that VPNs not be headquartered in countries that have strict surveillance and data retention laws, like the US, Canada, the UK, and much of western Europe. Some VPNs in these places are very trustworthy, but we prefer that they are housed in more lenient jurisdictions. Though any worthy VPN will have servers all over the world.
Simple, straightforward apps are also a big plus. If you have to spend a long time figuring out how to get online with your VPN, you’re much less likely to use it regularly. And that could expose you to security and privacy risks. The easier it is to get online, the better.
We also look at app reviews in the Google Play Store to see how users feel about the app. If a VPN app has more one- and two-star reviews than other apps, it’s cause for a closer look.
And, of course, we look at the price. We know that an expensive VPN doesn’t fit into everyone’s budget, so we try to highlight the options with the best value.
The Best Android VPNs Are at Your Disposal
The five VPNs we listed above are fantastic options for Android users. They’ll keep your traffic private, help you get around geo-restrictions, and keep your ISP from throttling your traffic. And because they’re at least relatively affordable, they’ll do it all without breaking the bank.
- NordVPN – $3.71/mo
- ExpressVPN – $6.67/mo
- Surfshark – $2.49/mo
- Private Internet Access – $3.49/mo
- TunnelBear – $4.99/mo
If you’re not using an Android VPN, you should start doing it now. You can’t go wrong with any of these choices, so pick one and start browsing more safely today!
10 thoughts on “Best Android VPN Apps (*UPDATED 2023)”
Thanks for this comparison – helps a lot. Do these VPNs all work on latest Android software?
We’ve just tested them and all the VPN providers listed on this page work 100% with the latest Android software.
I appreciate your list and summary, especially the NYT quotes/link…hadn’t seen that before.
I think it’s a bit confusing saying apps can’t have the same privacy as VPN, but then saying apps are stealing all of your personal information (very true), so the solution is a VPN.
I think I get what you were getting at, just could be confusing for average user. Otherwise helpful
I also wonder how you rated apps. I’m always looking for in-depth things (may be too much for some). But I think important factors for each VPN are things like where the company is based (i.e. subject to warrants by your country), whether they have been shown to uphold privacy policies such as zero-logging rather than just saying it, what DNS is used, whether the app has strict end-to-end encryption, etc. Also helpful would be info about what permissions the apps require (critical!), whether anonymous payment is possible, and if/to what extent apps are dependent on Google Play services.
Thanks a ton for going through all these reviews and ratings on my behalf. I’m using PIA and I think it’s a solid option, but if a free option is needed, you can also try CyberGhost (not sure if their free version works on Android).
Great article, and I will definitely buy one. But I have a dumb question. If I turn on the VPN, will it hide my ip when I use other apps like Instagram or Facebook or does it only work while using my internet Brower (chrome)? Sorry but I’m new to this and just want to make sure I’m paying for full security if I purchase a plan.
Yes, your IP will be hidden.
Because this review is for android users, pointing out which VPN’s offer a “kill switch” (and what kind) ought to be as important as any other criteria in the comparisons. No kill switch VPN’s will consistently leave their users wide open to snooping and tracking when they think they are secured and have privacy. Especially using a phone which moves around and can drop or change cell phone towers.
Thank you for your input. I will work that into this article. If you go to the review pages of the VPNs listed on this page, you can read the full review, including info about “kill switches”.
How does NordVPN work with Android in 2022? I used it around 3 years ago & then switched to Express but willing to try Nord again. Thanks!
NordVPN works just fine on Android, it’s still the most popular VPN.