There are plenty of VPNs for Android out there but choosing one is a more complicated affair.
In this guide we've rounded up the six leading VPN apps for your mobile and tablet to help you stay secure, unblock content and more.
If you're an Android user, then you're in good company. In fact, as recently as the end of 2019, according to Statcounter  over 72% of all smartphone and tablet devices are running some version of Android.
That's a lot of users worldwide!
This means that VPN choice is vast on Android systems and with lesser regulation than the Apple app market, for example, the chances of getting a poor VPN app are higher.
ExpressVPN is our favourite Android VPN app we tested this year, but there are other options. If you need a VPN for Android, these 6 are the ones you'll want to be checking out.
Top 6 Android VPNs
Keeping your mobile devices secure is critical these days as you're more likely to be out and about when using them. Equally, unblocking services like Netflix and BBC iPlayer on mobile devices has become commonplace.
Below are our experts round-up of the top six choices of VPN apps for Android for all purposes.
Simplicity is key when using an Android VPN app and ExpressVPN have certainly achieved this with their user-friendly app.
Connection can be made right from the main screen of the app by simply tapping the connect button securing you with 256-bit encryption.
There's also a couple of ‘Recent Location' options which allow you to connect to some of your favourites quickly. A new neat addition is the ability to customise ‘app-launch' buttons making your five favourite apps accessible straight from within the ExpressVPN app after connection.
Settings are minimal on the app and apart from choosing between TCP and UDP OpenVPN protocols, there are few other customisable security features. The app can however be set to auto-connect when you switch your phone on so you don't even need to enter the app itself to stay protected permanently.
You can select from ExpressVPN's extensive network of VPN locations in over 94 countries which are split into ‘Recent' and ‘Recommendation Locations' and also grouped by ‘Continent' if you need to select a specific country.
The service is covered by their 30-day money back guarantee so you've got loads of time to test their strict no logging service in different circumstances across Wi-Fi and mobile networks.
Our #1 Recommended Android VPN
30-day money back guarantee
NordVPN's Android app is completely different to ExpressVPN's offering and provides a more feature-rich experience.
While you can still connect with just one click using their ‘Quick Connect' option, the bulk of the app is taken up by a map view. If you regularly need to connect to a specific country, then you'll find this novel approach to your liking.
You can also connect via a list of countries and even select specific servers to one of their 5,600+ VPN servers. Speciality servers have their own section including P2P, Double-Hop VPN, Dedicated IP and Obfuscated options. You can also neatly set your Favourites for quick connection.
Behind the scenes, NordVPN will protect you from some malware, phishing and other risks if you wish and there's a handful of other basic options for you to tinker around with.
The app works well for unblocking services such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer, iFollow and more. Plus there's a 30-day money back guarantee letting you test the app risk-free.
3. CyberGhost VPN
CyberGhost VPN's Android app looks much the same as their desktop and Fire TV Stick counterparts. If you want to use their service across your range of devices, then you'll like the simplicity. If you can use one of their apps, you can use them all.
Connection is possible from the main app screen only by clicking the ‘On' switch although there are available server options just a further click away.
These are split into individual countries, favourites and ‘Streaming Friendly‘. If unblocking TV services on your Android device is a top priority, then you'll love this feature.
You can search and connect to individual servers in locations plus add them to your favourites. We like this feature because if you find a specific server in a location you love, then you'll always be able to find it quickly in future.
The app also has a built-in ad-blocker, protection against malicious websites, online tracking prevention and a data compression option which may allow you to squeeze a little more data out of your mobile internet service.
On top of an all-round very good Android app, they've got the biggest money back guarantee stretching to a mind-blowing 45 days.
If you consider yourself a bit of a techie, then Private Internet Access is the Android VPN app you want to download. Beginners need not apply here and should stick with one of the earlier apps.
Admittedly the interface of the app isn't the best although it's functional.
But behind the somewhat lacking user-interface, there's a feature-rich app which has options that are lacking from most of the competitors. Settings allow you to select the remote port to connect to, which DNS servers and data encryption to use, what authentication, handshaking and more.
There is also a built-in kill switch and other features that block certain types of Android-specific leaks. In all honesty, there are too many options and features to list here.
If you like getting your hands dirty, know exactly what you're doing or need a higher level of customisation and options then the PIA Android VPN app is the one for you.
VyprVPN's Android app is one of the better ones we've seen that has a nice balance between simplicity and features.
Connection can be made directly from the main app screen and they've designed it in such a way that you can access both advanced features and VPN server selection all from the main screen.
Servers are broken down into a country listing showing you the speed of each but unfortunately, you can't pick specific servers which is a nice feature of some of the earlier ranked services.
Behind the scenes there's enough to keep you interested and not too much to confuse you.
Protocol and DNS options are available but the standout feature for us has to be the ability to exclude certain apps from using the VPN connection. So if you wanted everything to use the VPN service except your banking app, for example, then this is possible.
There's also a Kill Switch and the usual variety of automatic connect options. VyprVPN offers a 30-day money back guarantee.
IPVanish rounds up our Android app selection but it won't be winning any awards for its interface as it isn't the most pleasing to the eye.
However, it does a good job of securing your Android connection and that's the significant bit.
Connection can be made easily from the home screen of the app or you can choose different Countries, Cities or even specific Servers.
Behind the scenes you can switch between a UDP and TCP OpenVPN connection. Two other features we found extremely useful was the ability to select a specific port to connect through and the ‘Scramble‘ feature which lets you break through some restrictive networks by disguising the VPN connection.
There's also a Split Tunneling option that lets you select apps to fall outside the VPN connection.
Couple that with their ten simultaneous connection limit and you can protect not only your Android device but every other device in your household.
How we choose and ranked the VPNs
In order to determine which VPNs are good and which are not, we use several aspects.
While we use many considerations here are some of our main ones:
1) Security Features
All VPNs come with security features, some of which are the ones that define a VPN such as encryption like 256-bit and security protocols such as OpenVPN. While others are additional benefits not part of the regular VPN offering.
With very little to distinguish two providers apart, it's often the added security features that help you choose.
Naturally, you need a VPN that will be useful, meaning that it can unblock content that you wish to access, and that it has fast enough speeds to let you stream videos without buffering or similar problems.
Speed is a critical part of our assessment. While it isn't hugely crucial for regular browsing, if you're planning on streaming videos or doing other media-intensive tasks on your Android device, then it's an essential consideration.
For a VPN to be considered good, it also needs to be accessible. This means being available in countries around the world so that anyone can use it, no matter where they live.
We also prefer those with large server networks, so that they can allow you to access as much foreign content that may be geo-restricted or censored.
Finally, we recommend those that have a large number of servers, spread across a wide variety of countries, so you're not plagued by overcrowding leading to substandard connection quality and unreliable speeds.
Last but not least, we also consider the cost of VPNs. While it's not a critical consideration because many are priced similarly, it pays to shop around.
After all, we want you to get a great deal, which includes top features at an affordable price. You should not pay more than what is necessary to get a good deal.
How to choose an Android VPN?
VPN apps work across many devices but choosing one for an Android device has specific considerations.
What's suitable for your Windows or Fire TV Stick isn't necessarily the best for your Android tablet or phone.
Consider the following features before choosing a virtual private network for your Android device to help you make the best choice.
- Android app: It may seem silly to say but make sure the VPN service you sign up to has a dedicated Android app. While most do, there are still some that don't. That way your Android phone or tablet can be protected quickly
- Limited clutter: While desktop VPN apps are about features, Android apps should be minimal. Using a VPN is going to drain your battery somewhat due to encryption so making sure the app has the smallest footprint will improve your usability. For mobile devices, you want to get connected and forget about the VPN, not be bogged down by unnecessary features.
- Widgets: If you love controlling your Android apps from your phone's home screen then a limited number of VPN apps have built-in widgets that allow you to turn the VPN on and off at the flick of a switch.
- Money back guarantee: Although this isn't an Android-specific feature, it's essential to choose a VPN app that offers a money back guarantee. VPN apps can vary depending on your location and usage. Having a money back guarantee is simply peace of mind allowing you to test the service without risk.
Which Android VPN is best for you?
Above we've listed 6 of the most reliable VPN apps for Android devices. All work great on both phones and tablets.
The standout VPN for us is ExpressVPN. It has the best balance of simplicity and features. However, choosing a VPN is not an exact science and much of which is ‘best' will be down to your usage.
To help you make a decision on which is the best Android VPN app for you we've listed some of the most common uses:
If you want excellent privacy protection, choose ExpressVPN. With servers in 94 countries, a tested and audited no-log policy and being registered off-shore there is no better service to keep your usage private while using your Android device.
If you want an app easy to use, get NordVPN. Their app is one of the best designed that we've seen. Even if you're a beginner, you'll be able to navigate your way around and with one-touch connection, it's impossible to get it wrong.
If you want a feature-rich Android app, take PrivateInternetAccess. This is definitely the expert's option. With features to select everything from encryption to authentication types, you'll be in setting heaven.
If you want to unblock & stream more TV content, choose CyberGhost VPN. With dedicated options to unblock services like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Sky, Hulu, YouTube and more, CyberGhost VPN will make your Android device the ultimate portable entertainment system.
If you want a risk-free experience, select ExpressVPN, NordVPN or CyberGhost. All three VPN apps offer 30, 30 and 45-day money back guarantees respectively giving you plenty of time to test them for your needs without commitment.
What makes an Android VPN suitable?
An Android VPN is useful because it can protect your phone, regardless of whether you are using WiFi or cellular data for connecting to the internet. Of course, using mobile internet does have its advantages and disadvantages.
Mobile data does not come via the router, and it is generally much safer than connecting to, let's say, public WiFi. It can also be pretty fast, while the quality of your WiFi depends on the router quality and model.
An Android VPN should also be able to work regardless of the network you're connected to and move seamlessly between them with little interruption.
It should be inconspicuous and allow you to connect and forget about it without slowing down or bloating your phone or tablet.
Do these Android apps work on tablet or phone?
All 6 VPN apps ranked above work on both tablets and phones.
It doesn't matter what type of Android device you have, they're compatible with all kinds of devices.
The good news is that you can install the app on both types of devices and all of the services listed above allow you to use their service on between 5 – 10 devices at the same time.
This allows you to keep your tablet and phone secure at the same time.
How can I sign up for an Android VPN app?
Most VPN apps don't allow you to sign up directly in the app itself although some like NordVPN and VyprVPN do.
The more reliable way to get a VPN app for your Android device is first to visit the VPN service's website directly using a web browser on your tablet or phone.
Sign up for their service and then visit the Google Play store. Search for the name of the service you signed up for and download their app.
You'll then be able to open the app and login with the username and password you created when signing up.
Can I use an Android VPN on mobile data or Wi-Fi?
One of the best features of using an Android VPN is they can protect your connection or unblock content regardless of what type of network you're connected to.
Using both mobile data or connecting to Wi-Fi is possible with any of the recommended apps above.
Most of the VPN apps will automatically connect when changing network. Still, it's worth double checking if you're automatically logged into a Wi-Fi network when it moves between mobile data and the Wi-Fi connection to ensure you're still connected to the VPN.
You can do this by merely opening the VPN app and checking the connection status, then opening a regular web browser and testing you can access any website.
What can't a VPN do?
While a VPN can do a lot, there are some things that even this technology cannot provide or protect you against. For example, no VPN can:
1) Stop Google from tracking you
If you are logged into Google, you use Google Chrome, you have a Gmail account, and alike – Google can track everything that you are doing.
A VPN cannot protect you from it.
The only way to get rid of Google would be to stop using any tool, service, or functionality that the company is offering, and that is becoming harder and harder to do by the day.
2) Act as an antivirus
A VPN is not antivirus software, and you should not treat it as such.
The best that the VPN can do is collect a list of malicious websites and possibly prevent you from accessing one of them if it finds itself on that list.
Other than that, you are just as vulnerable with a VPN as you are without it. More even, if you have a wrong understanding of what it can do to keep you safe.
3) Allow access to the dark web
You also cannot usually access the dark net just because you have a VPN. To do that, you need a special kind of browser, such as Tor.
A VPN can let you access content as if you are located elsewhere, while at the same time, it prevents others from seeing your traffic.
It can also prevent your data from being recorded on your ISP's servers, and it can stabilise your speed in certain circumstances, but that's about it.
For any ‘special' activity, such as visiting the dark web, you need an additional tool to do so.
Choosing any VPN app is difficult regardless of the device you use but choosing one for Android has some unique considerations.
In our tests, we found ExpressVPN to offer the best combination of features and simplicity. It doesn't bombard you with options making it suitable if you're a beginner but it also has strong privacy protection keeping you secure regardless of your skill level.
Couple that with being able to unblock most TV streaming services and it's the all-round best VPN app for Android.
If you have the time it's worth checking out the other 5 Android VPN apps because you may find a specific feature that suits your usage.
You really can't go wrong no matter which app you end up choosing because they're all great services for Android devices.
- Statcounter | Mobile & Tablet Operating System Market Share Worldwide
- DigitalTrends | The best VPNs for Android
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