A new VPN offering a decent network, nice apps and excellent speeds. But a lack of transparency in key areas leaves room for work.
- Easy to use apps.
- Reasonable server network.
- 8 simultaneous connections.
- Fast speeds.
- 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Lack of transparency on some issues.
- Apps missing some basics.
VPNCity is a newcomer to an already crowded market. Can they offer something that makes them stand out from the crowd? We have taken a closer look at their service.
*This is a funded post, find out more*
VPNCity has the usual selection of packages including a heavily discounted two-year option which is increasingly becoming the norm these days. Their packages break down as follows:
- Monthly – $6.99 per month (~£5.50)
- 6-Months – $4.99 per month (~£3.93) or $29.94 in total (~£23.59)
- 1-Year – $3.99 per month (~£3.14) or $47.88 in total (~£37.73)
- 2-Year – $2.99 per month (~£2.35) or $71.76 in total (~£56.55)
VPNCity launched their service with some relatively high prices but more recently slashed these quite considerably.
This is a welcomed move which has turned the service from a pricey one into one that competes with even the most cost-effective services out there.
There is a 30-day money-back guarantee available to all users which is to be expected these days but is nonetheless welcome. However, there is no free trial.
Payment is accepted by PayPal, all the usual credit cards, and also Alipay which is helpful for a VPN entering the Chinese market but highly inadvisable to any other users owing to Alipay’s close links to the Chinese Communist regime.
Unfortunately for privacy-conscious users, there is not currently an option to pay anonymously by Bitcoin.
There is a choice of four VPN protocols for VPNCity subscribers, but not all protocols are available on all devices at the moment.
OpenVPN is there of course and remains the default option. But users can also opt for L2TP/IPSec, IKEv2/IPSec, as well as SoftEther.
SoftEther is a newer, more lightweight version of OpenVPN. It offers low memory and CPU usage without compromising on security and is a surprise but very welcome inclusion.
VPNCity clearly states on their webpage that they “do not log any of your online activity”.
In the case of VPNCity, their claims do appear to hold up. Their policy states “we do not store connection time stamps, session information, used bandwidth, traffic logs, IP addresses or other data.”
They will keep a record of your payment data and any customer service enquiries you make. But aside from that, the policy reads well.
VPNCity currently offers servers in 48 countries and 73 cities around the world although we were unable to ascertain the number of servers. This is a respectable server network, especially for a young VPN. But it isn’t challenging the big boys on numbers of VPN servers just yet.
At the moment, all but four of these are in Europe or North America. But their website does detail future expansion plans which appear to include a further six locations in Africa and the Middle East, nine in Asia, and eight in the Americas.
There is no timeframe listed for when these new servers will become available, but the fact that specific locations are listed suggests it will not be too long.
VPNCity offers eight simultaneous connections with every subscription bar the monthly package will still allows a respectable six.
This is by no means the highest number of concurrent connections we have seen, but it is certainly above average at the moment.
Other Notable Features
There aren’t a great many extra features to talk about with VPNCity at the moment but that is perhaps to be expected as they are still a young VPN.
They do offer an inbuilt ad-blocker server which is useful but by no means unique.
They also offer ShadowSocks, which is essentially a proxy service common in China. It is essentially a VPN without the encryption but some people will like it for unblocking websites.
Reports in China suggest ShadowSocks usually works well so may be beneficial for users there.
Great news for TV and movie fans, VPNCity works well for streaming content.
We tested their UK ‘Streaming’ server with BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, Channel 4 and UK Netflix and all worked without a hitch.
Equally, when using their US ‘Streaming’ server, we were able to access US Netflix.
VPNCity currently offers mobile apps for Apple iOS and Android devices. We tested out their iOS app on an iPhone XR and were pretty impressed despite a few issues logging in at times.
Once you have downloaded the app and logged in, everything is very pleasing on the eye and easy to use. You can connect to the fastest available server with a single click and navigating the server list to choose your preferred one is also straightforward.
The homepage is clean with a cartoony design and clearly states which server you are connected to and how long your connection has been up.
In the settings menu, you can choose to enable VPNCity at startup, switch the kill switch on and off, and also enable a function called Easy Firewall traverse. This is supposed to help users in countries like China get around the Great Firewall.
There are also Windows and Mac OS apps available from VPNCity. These are pretty much identical to the mobile apps in both appearance and functionality. Again, we found the MacOS app we tested user friendly and aesthetically pleasing.
Having also tested the Windows version of the app, we found it equally simple to use but felt it lacked some essential user interface functions. A simple scroll bar or search function in the server listing would have improved use dramatically.
While the design of the app is good, it is these little user-experience features that are lacking.
VPNCity also has browser plugins available for Chrome and Firefox but at present, their VPN cannot be used on Linux or other devices.
This is something that may change over time as VPNCity matures.
Without a doubt, good speed is a critical area for VPN services and it can either make or break the quality of their service.
After numerous tests and weeks of usage, we found VPNCity’s speeds to be up there with the best of them.
We tested a wide range of servers from those located nearby in Europe to others located at a distance in New York, US and even as far as Australia.
We’re pleased to report there were no issues. To put these findings into numbers, we tested a handful of their servers downloading a test file and recorded the speed results.
Our connection speed without using a VPN was: 60.63 Mbps.
The speeds achieved while using VPNCity’s servers were as follows:
- UK – 59.94 Mbps
- France – 59.19 Mbps
- Netherlands – 58.71 Mbps
- Switzerland – 59.27 Mbps
- Sweden – 57.01 Mbps
- New York, US – 59.15 Mbps
- Australia – 58.56 Mbps
For a relative newcomer, these are impressive speed results that outperform some of the longer standing members of the VPN industry. It’s not the fastest VPN but it’s certainly up there with them.
Please note speed tests are not 100% reliable. They are merely a glimpse of performance at a certain period. Your results may differ depending on your location, time of usage, services accessed, device used and many other factors.
Encryption & Policies
While the VPNCity website clearly states that it will encrypt your connection, details about the type of encryption they use is not readily accessible.
We contacted their customer support to try and find out more. They clearly had to go away and look it up themselves, which is never encouraging. Eventually, they told us that it varies depending on the protocol connected to, but in general, they use 256-bit encryption.
If this is the case, that’s fine, but given how hard it proved to extract that information from them, we would like to see further evidence before being too confident about it.
It clearly states that they collect a minimal amount of data and nothing that anyone apart from the most privacy-conscious of users should be unduly concerned about. The fact that they are transparent about the minimal information they do retain is definitely in their favour.
VPNCity is registered in Hong Kong, which could either be seen as a good or bad thing.
While it’s common for VPN services to be registered there for privacy reasons, there is the question mark about how this pertains to links with mainland China.
For a newcomer to the VPN market, there is much to praise VPNCity for and it’s certainly a good VPN. Their apps are well designed and easy to use. They offer a large number of concurrent connections, and a reasonable if not huge server network.
The service offers a good range of apps that work with some of the more popular streaming services and there’s a couple of standout features such as protocols that aren’t available from most other providers.
That said, some basic features are missing, which we hope to see incorporated as the service matures.
The new lower prices are a welcomed addition and certainly make the service more attractive than it was just months ago.
That said, with so many established providers, I would find it challenging to choose VPNCity over another more well-known brand.
However, give VPNCity another year and we’ll see how they’re progressing in competition with what else is available out there – they’re definitely on the right track.
Illustration © Suleyman Mahsumov | Dreamstime.com