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.
- 12 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.
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.
Privacy-conscious users can pay using crypto-currency via Coingate which includes the likes of Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple and Litecoin.
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.
A neat addition is the support for ShadowSocks which is great for users in repressive countries like China, however speeds could be better – but more on that later.
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 33 countries and 42 cities around the world although we were unable to ascertain the number of servers. This is a respectable 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 between six and twelve simultaneous connections with every subscription depending on how long you subscribe for. Their cheapest package (the 2-year subscription) comes in with the biggest amount of concurrent connections.
In comparison to other providers it’s a decent amount of connections regardless of which package you choose.
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.
The services makes use of their own DNS servers stopping your ISP or others from recording the domain names of websites you’re visiting which is a nice touch and one they don’t advertise.
Aside from that their one of few services that allows you to utilise IPv6 which can be enabled or disabled and is a nice bonus.
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 unblock Netflix US.
VPNCity currently offers mobile apps for Apple iOS and Android devices. We tested out their iOS app on an iPhone XR and their Android app 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.
Taking note of past criticisms the interface has been greatly improved. Searching for locations or browsing them is now much easier than in our previous tests and it’s good to see a service taking on board suggestions.
Overall the desktop apps are clean cut and easy to use and don’t look out of place compared to any of the more established VPN services.
VPNCity also has browser plugins available for Chrome and Firefox but at present, their VPN cannot be used on Linux.
The service recently released an Amazon Fire TV app suitable for Fire TV, Fire TV Stick and Fire Cube.
Its interface mirrors both their desktop and mobile apps which makes using the service across multiple systems a breeze. The clean layout makes connection quick and effortless which is what you want when accessing on your TV.
They’re also the only VPN service I’ve seen that works directly with the BBC iPlayer app on the Amazon Fire TV devices.
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.
The information doesn’t initially jump out at you but after a little digging a blog post explains their credentials.
AES-256 bit encryption is used with a 4096-bit RSA handshaking key in most instances – but again, this all depends on the protocol and device you’re using.
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 VPN City 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.
The new lower prices are a welcomed addition and certainly make the service more attractive than it was just months ago.
It appears things are changing rapidly at this plucky newcomer and they’ve pretty much implemented all the features you would expect from a reputable VPN service.
If you’re tired of the big name providers then it’s certain a service that ticks almost all the boxes you’ll need.
Illustration © Suleyman Mahsumov | Dreamstime.com