How to setup a VPN on iPhone: Beginner’s Guide

iPhone 7

There are a multitude of online threats these days and the need to use a VPN to protect all of our online activity has never been greater. Yet, whilst more and more people are catching onto its importance for their computers, fewer are registering their importance with our mobile devices.

But with many people accessing the Internet more through their smartphones and tablets than ever before, it is just as crucial for this activity to be protected. And it’s really easy to do this by using a VPN.

With the iPhone being among the most popular smartphones on the market, we have put together this short guide on how to install a VPN on your iPhone. As you will see, it is a simple and straightforward process.

Before you start

The first thing you will need to do is sign up with a VPN provider. There are lots of these and making a choice between them can seem daunting. But it doesn’t have to be.

We compare 20 of the best VPN providers in our VPN Comparison Guide but if you just want a selection of the very best VPNs for iPhone users, we recommend the following three:

  1. IPVanish – Editor’s Choice
  2. ExpressVPN
  3. NordVPN

All of these are excellent VPN providers and all offer a great service for iPhone users, with excellent user-friendly apps, which we will come onto shortly.

Any VPN worth its weight should offer a dedicated app for devices which run on the iOS operating system (iPhones and iPads). All of our recommended VPNs do, but some other do not so be sure to check this before signing up. Without a dedicated app, setting up a VPN on your iPhone can be rather more complicated.

For the purposes of this article, I shall be using NordVPN as an example of how to set up a VPN on an iPhone.

How to setup a VPN on iPhone

Once you have setup a VPN account with your chosen VPN provider, you will need to download the software onto your iPhone.

Apple are very strict about what software they allow to run on the iPhone and all apps have to be downloaded from their App Store. So, head over there and search for the name of your chosen VPN; in this case NordVPN.

Apple app store NordVPN

The NordVPN is called ‘VPN by NordVPN’ in the App Store. Click Install to download the app and, if necessary, enter your iTunes password to authorise the download. Once the app is downloaded, click Open to open the app on your iPhone.

Once the app is open, you will see the home screen, which consists principally of a map of the world, which you can scroll around to navigate. It has markers in each of the countries where NordVPN offer servers.

NordVPN iPhone app home

In the top right corner of the screen is a menu icon (comprising three lines). This is where you need to go first to sign in to your NordVPN account. To do this click on I already have an account and then enter your account details.

You can, if you haven’t already, sign up for a VPN account here too by clicking the Sign-Up button and following the on-screen instructions.

Once you are signed in, you can return to the home screen and choose a location. Then press the Connect power button.

Your connection is now secure.

Which country should I choose?

At the bottom of the home-page screen are three menu options.

The Quick Connect button will connect you to the best server for you depending on your location. The Map option brings you back to the home-screen, while the countries option takes you to a list of countries where you can choose to connect to the best server for each.

If you have decided to use a VPN for privacy purposes, any connection will serve the purpose. It is best to connect to a server in your own country as this will give you the best connection speeds.

If you are worried about your government surveilling your activity, or want to get around online censorship or geo-restriction, you can connect to another country. But again, try to stay as close to home as possible for best speeds.

For example, if you are in the UK, choose a server somewhere like Iceland or Ireland, and in China, you can try a server in Hong Kong or Taiwan.

Additional Settings

If you return to the menu you will see various additional settings.

The Kill Switch option will cut your internet connection if your VPN connection drops and is a wise precaution in countries where there is a risk of repercussions from your online activities.

Activating the Smart Reconnect means that if you lose your connection for some reason, the app will automatically reconnect you to the best available server.

The Servers submenu lets you choose precisely which server to connect to in each country as well as allocate favourite status to servers you use regularly to be able to access them quicker.

The option for My Account lets you access and edit account details, while Need Help? and Signout are self-explanatory. You can also read the Privacy Policy, Terms of Service, and Subscription Info here if you are so inclined.

You can choose to use or not use these additional features as you see fit.

Both the IPVanish and ExpressVPN apps offer broadly similar features and are also simple and user-friendly.

And with that, you have your VPN set up on your iPhone. Congratulations.

David Spencer

Author: David Spencer

David is VPNCompare's News Editor. Anything going on in the privacy world and he's got his eye on it. He's also interested in unblocking sports allowing him to watch his favourite football team wherever he is in the world.

Away from writing, he enjoys reading and politics. He is currently learning Mandarin too... slowly.

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