Best VPN Apps for Android Android Central 2020
Private virtual networks, or VPNs, are an invisibility cloak for your Android device while online. It keeps your info, like IP address, location and personal data hidden so cookies and internet trackers can't log your browser or app use history. VPNs are also helpful when trying to connect to TV streaming apps while you are traveling outside of your come country. The best VPN for Android devices is ExpressVPN. This service has the most servers in the most locations worldwide but has 100Mbps download speeds, the fastest available of any VPN service.
- Best Overall: ExpressVPN
- Best Value: Private Internet Access
- For Beginners: TunnelBear
- Streaming VPN: PureVPN
- Extra Protection: NordVPN
- Fast Connection: Surfshark
- Public WiFi Protection: Hotspot Shield
Best Overall: ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN has over 3,000 servers in 94 countries. This is the most servers and locations than any other VPN service. Plus, when connected you will have access to download speeds of up to 100Mbps. This is over 40 percent faster than other VPNs and is fast enough to support TV and movie watching without experiencing buffering or slowdown on your device. On top of protecting your online identity, ExpressVPN also ensures your texts and instant messages are kept secure from being intercepted by encrypting all outgoing information from your device. You can tunnel the VPN service on your device to designate which apps use the VPN and which you're comfortable using without the added VPN protection.
All information sent from your device and through ExpressVPN is encrypted using the highest encryption code available. There is an automatic kill switch with this VPN that will block your personal information when either your internet or VPN connection goes down. My only complaint is that ExpressVPN is much more expensive compared to other VPN services I checked out. Even with the discount for paying a year in advance rather than month-to-month is pricier than other programs. However, with unlimited bandwidth and no cap on how many devices can be connected at once, the cost may be ultimately worth it.
- Servers in 94 countries
- Fast download speed
More places to originate from
ExpressVPN has more servers in more countries to help you tap into any information you need while keeping your online activity secure and private.
Best Value: Private Internet Access
Private Internet Access connects quickly to one of its 3,300 servers in 29 countries and encrypts all outgoing and incoming information to keep your online identity private and secure. It has an average download speed of 25Mbps, which is fast enough for use with TV streaming services and allows up to 10 devices to be connected at one time before requiring you to purchase another account. And you get unlimited bandwidth, so you don't' have to worry about your connection slowing down after reaching a monthly data cap.
Private Internet Access includes a firewall to monitor and block unwanted internet communications with your computer and internet connection. This is especially helpful when connected to public WiFi. This VPN service is based in the U.S., however. Because of this, there may be personal information and some activity logs kept by Private Internet Access. Usually, this information isn't held for very long when a VPN service does collect information, 30 days max.
- Military-grade encryption
- Connect 10 devices
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Fewer locations than other services
- Based in the U.S.
No shuttering or stopping
This VPN service will never throttle or stop your service because it doesn't place usage restrictions on your VPN account.
For Beginners: TunnelBear
If you want to try out a VPN without providing a credit card or other personal information, I suggest looking at TunnelBear. Its free version caps access at 500MB per month, which goes quickly, but it's enough to get a feel and idea of how a VPN works. You can always upgrade to a paid account to get unlimited access or downgrade back to the free service. With a paid subscription, you will always be connected to the TunnelBear VPN when your cell phone is on. If it detects an unsafe network attempting to connect to your phone, or if something happens to your internet connection, TunnelBear automatically blocks sensitive files and information on your device from being swiped.
TunnelBear doesn't have as many servers or locations compared to my top pick. It has servers in 20 countries total. It also doesn't support torrenting, which is a person-to-person file sharing technique. TunnelBear also isn't the best VPN to use if you're trying to use one to stream TV. However, if you're just starting out in the VPN world and want to test the waters, TunnelBear is a great way to do it.
- Free option
- Easy interface
- Choose IP address location
- No torrent support
- No automatic kill switch
- Fewer servers than other picks
A good place to start
This is a good app to get your feet wet using a VPN with its free service and easy-to-use interface.
Streaming VPN: PureVPN
PureVPN is one of my favorite services. It's easy to use, secure, quick to connect to, and stays connected without a problem. You can get it for a decent price, it allows five devices to connect at once, and has an impressive download speed average of 60Mbps. This is fast enough to support streaming services and devices, including AndroidTV. Plus, PureVPN is one of the few services that will give you a dedicated IP address. This is helpful when streaming some live TV services, like Hulu, that rely on a static IP address.
You can choose to connect to any of PureVPN's over 2,000 servers. And since it has more than 300,000 IP addresses, it will be very hard for any website, cookies, trackers, etc., to monitor your online activity. Plus, it has an automatic kill switch that will block personal information, including your physical IP address, if your connection drops. The only reason PureVPN doesn't make it to the top is that it has fewer servers and locations than my number one choice. Its download speeds are also slower by 40Mbps. But PureVPN is still a solid choice for keeping your online identity safe and is excellent for tapping into tv streaming services.
- Good for TV streaming
- 300,000 IP addresses
- Automatic kill switch
- Caps number of devices
- Few servers and locations
Protection as you stream TV
PureVPN protects you as you stream TV apps. It's compatible with most viewing apps, devices, and browser accounts.
Extra Protection: NordVPN
No VPN is as secure as NordVPN. While every VPN service encrypts your data, NordVPN sends it through a second server and encrypts it again, just to make sure if it is intercepted your information can't be stolen. Because of this double encryption, it does cause some slowdown to your connection, especially during the initial startup or when downloading large files. But the average download speeds for NordVPN is still 70Mbps, which is still really impressive and fast.
NordVPN has 5,600 servers in 54 countries. This isn't the most servers or locations, but it's up there in the top five. Each time you log in with this VPN service, you are given the choice of being assigned a random IP address or to have a dedicated IP address. In both cases, your information is encrypted as it leaves your computer making it hard for adware, trackers, and snoops to figure out your location and IP address. However, it's a little easier to break through when using a dedicated IP address.
- Dual encryption
- 1,000 servers in 57 countries
- No logging
- Expect a little slowdown
Double encryption for double the protection
NordVPN passes your info through one server then sends the encrypted data through a second server to ensure it's hard to decipher.
Fast Connection: Surfshark
Surfshark's download speeds vary between 68Mbps and 70Mbps, but that is fast and consistent enough to not experience a slowdown or buffering while using this VPN. Plus, you get unlimited device connects with a single account, so everyone in your family can use Surfshark on their cellphones, tablets, and even home computers.
This VPN doesn't work well with streaming apps. It better designed to work with devices like the Amazon Fire Stick and Roku. It does work if you log into your TV streaming service through a web browser. The biggest caution with Surfshark, however, is its no-log policy. While Surfshark is located outside of the U.S. and has a no-log policy, it's worded strangely and isn't clear at all. It sounds and feels like there are loopholes in the policy that may allow some logs to be kept. Surfshark may not be aware of how confusing its official policy is, and it may not keep any user information at all. I wish it was a bit more clearly written out it Surfshark's official policy.
- Fast download speeds
- Unlimited device connections
- Doesn't work with streaming apps
Unlimited connections at lightning speed
Surfshark has impressive download speeds and automatically connects to the fastest available server. Also, connect unlimited devices at once.
Public Wi-Fi Protection: Hotspot Shield
Hotspot Shield is a neat little VPN app that looks closely at your connection and information leaving and coming into your device, especially when connected to public Wi-Fi. Hotspot Shield encrypts all of your outgoing information using AES 256-bit encryption, the same level used by military organizations and financial institutions to secure their data. Hotspot Shield has over 3,200 servers in 80 countries to ensure you can connect quickly and easily to its service. You can set this VPN to automatically connect each time to open a browser or when you start your phone, so you don't have to remember to do it manually.
This VPN service doesn't work well to secure individual apps. This isn't a problem normally since apps are technically covered and secured when the VPN is enabled on the device itself. However, it does interfere with TV streaming apps, like Hulu, Netflix, and Disney+. The workaround to watch these programs is through a browser.
- Automatically connects
- Secure encryption
- Good for securing public Wi-Fi
- No direct app protection
- Reps hard to connect with
Public WiFi Protection
No fuss connection
It doesn't take much for Hotspot Shield to automatically enable its VPN protections and secure all your data with military-grade encryption.
Using a (VPN) when you're online is becoming increasingly important these days. While the internet is a public space, a VPN acts like an invisibility cloak and makes your online activity virtually anonymous, making it hard for someone to track you when you're online — whether you're concerned about your internet service provider, the government, or malicious hackers.
I've looked at and tested the best VPN services across all platforms, but ExpressVPN is my pick for the best VPN for Android. It handles encrypting your data, securing your connection and keeping download speed fast so you can't even tell your internet connection is filtering through a VPN. It has over 3,000 servers in nearly 100 countries which gets two big thumbs up from me. Plus, it's best to use if you need a VPN while tapping into a TV streaming account.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
As a mom of 10 and grandma to five, Nicole Johnston pulls from her years of experience raising her family as she explores, tests and reviews a variety of consumer products from food processors to bed pillows to parental control programs. Nicole has over 13 years of research and writing experience in both the public and private sectors, with five devoted to internet security and privacy solutions.
We test and review VPN services in the context of legal recreational uses. For example:
1. Accessing a service from another country (subject to the terms and conditions of that service).
2. Protecting your only security and strengthening your online privacy when abroad.
We do not support or condone the illegal or malicious use of VPN services. Consuming pirated content that is paid-for is neither endorsed nor approved by Future Publishing.
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