If you didn’t yet notice, the App Store is becoming crowded with VPN apps from service providers all over the world. As a result, finding a quality solution is getting increasingly more difficult.
I’ve reviewed plenty of great choices in the past, but one of my favourite providers recently released an iPhone app of their own, so I decided to give it a shot. I’ve been using the VPN.AC app on my iPhone 6s for the past week and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by its simplicity.
Before we dive into the app, there are a few things I feel the need to clarify. For starters, you’ll need to have an existing subscription to VPN.AC before you can configure the VPN profile on your iPhone. Second, I want to mention that as of January 2017, the iPhone app is still technically a “beta” so further improvements are to be expected down the road.
With that out of the way, let’s take a look at what VPN.AC has to offer their Apple users.
The very first thing you’ll notice after downloading the VPN.AC app, is its ease of use. I’m not exaggerating when I say it took me less than 30 seconds to set everything up and get back online. The simplicity of the whole process is one of the best things about this app, meaning that anyone, regardless of their skill level, can quickly secure their connection and start browsing.
The initial set up is very similar to that of other providers. After opening the app for the first time you will be prompted to install a VPN profile and certificate. When this step is complete you’ll be taken back to the app where you can quickly connect to one of their servers.
If you only care about getting a new IP and encrypting your connection you are done here. But if you’re looking to hop the geofence and access content restricted to a specific country, you can tap “Select location” and pick a specific server from the list. That being said, VPN.AC unfortunately falls a bit behind their competition when it comes to server selection.
While their website advertises 20 countries with even more servers, the iOS app offers a much smaller selection. At the time of this review, there were just 11 countries to chose from. That being said, most popular geohopping locations like Australia, Canada, US, UK, and Singapore, are available. The reason for this discrepancy in server count amounts to the fact that only “bare-metal” (non-virtual) servers are included in this version of the app.
When it comes to further customization, there’s a lot left to be desired.
The “Settings” panel offers a very limited number of adjustable settings, and most users can go without ever touching anything under the hood.
As you can see from the screenshot, aside from toggling “Auto Connect” to automatically connect when picking a new server, and “On Demand” to force a reconnect in case the connection is dropped, there’s not much else to do within the app.
It’s also worth noting that VPN.AC includes a China-exclusive toggle that will grant Chinese users access to an alternative server list in order to offer a better local experience.
By now, you’ve might have noticed that the app doesn’t seem to offer any choice when it comes to the VPN protocol used. Interestingly enough, the App Store description states that VPN.AC is a “full feature VPN supporting IKEv2 IPsec and OpenVPN.”
I’ve found this curious at first, but after some digging I stumbled upon the following statement from the provider:
VPN.AC Client for iOS encrypts all mobile traffic using the IPsec+IKEv2 VPN protocol with AES-GCM encryption ciphers.
Overall, my experience with the VPN.AC app has been quite smooth. Despite being less feature packed than most of their peers, the speeds offered by VPN.AC more than make up for its lack of custom options.
That’s pretty much it – if you’re not concerned by the customizability constraints, or the limited selection of servers, then I would certainly recommend giving these guys a try. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something a little bit more advanced, check out our detailed list of VPN providers to find one that will work for you.