Top 3 reasons to use a VPN on your phone

VPN
VPN (Image credit: Android Central)

You've probably heard your security-conscious friends talking about their favorite VPNs from time to time, and why using one is so important — or maybe you are the security-conscious friend having these conversations — but what exactly is a VPN, and why should you be using it?

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It's basically a way for you to connect to the internet without your ISP or anyone else seeing what you're doing. By using a VPN, you're connecting to a separate network that works as a middleman between you and the sites you're visiting, typically encrypting your sensitive information like passwords and banking info.

What is a VPN and should I use it on my phone?

Security

It's pretty much a no-brainer that encrypting your information is a good idea. Whether you're on a public WiFi network at your local coffee shop or hotel lobby, or your job is extra concerned with security, using a VPN can be the only thing standing in the way of an unwanted third party gaining access to your data.

VPNs aren't perfect, and using one doesn't guarantee that your information is perfectly safe, but it's far better than not having any kind of protection at all. Most good VPNs feature end-to-end encryption so that even if someone were to intercept your data, they'll have a hard time deciphering it. The important thing is finding a VPN you trust, since they're the ones handling your info back and forth.

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Header Cell - Column 0 (opens in new tab) (opens in new tab)
Who It's ForEveryoneEveryoneEveryoneEveryone
Free Version?7-day Money Back3-day Trial30-day Money Back7-day Money Back
Lowest Price$3.70/​month (opens in new tab)$6.99/​month$8.32/​month (opens in new tab)$2.91/​month (opens in new tab)
Ad Blocking?NoYesNoYes
Server Count1200+5100+3000+3200+
P2PAllowedOn P2P ServersAllowedAllowed
Connections10635
Router?YesYesYesYes
Anonymous Payment?YesYesYesYes

Just keep in mind that this back and forth handling can be slow, since you're adding an additional step in the browsing process. VPNs let you choose your simulated location, so play around with your options until you find a decently fast connection.

Outside access

Choosing your location isn't just useful for finding faster VPN connections, it's also the best way to experience the internet from other users' perspectives. Maybe you're visiting China and need to access Google services. Maybe you're trying to watch a TV show on that streaming service that isn't available in your country. There are plenty of reasons you might want to browse the web from different regions of the world.

You might be surprised to learn how many services are region-locked — especially if you live somewhere like the U.S. that rarely misses out on features and services. Whether it's something you think about every day or hardly even a passing thought, there are plenty of ways to experience the internet differently than you might be used to.

Downloading

There are plenty of torrenting apps are on phones these days, and if you've ever taken advantage of them, you might have received an email notice from your carrier or ISP who, along with the company that rightfully owns your pirated media, wasn't too happy with your recent activity. There are plenty of legitimate reasons to download torrents — you might already own a legal copy of the file or it might not be copyrighted in the first place — but without getting into the legality of it, torrents happen.

So do plenty of other forms of downloading content, and to avoid getting on your ISP's bad side for it, you can use a VPN, which replaces your IP address with a completely different one based on the location you chose to use.

Do you use a VPN?

Not everybody needs to use a VPN, especially if you only browse from a desktop at home. But when you're using an unsecured network on your phone, it can be a huge help in making your online experience a bit safer and more private. There are plenty of great VPN services out there, from NordVPN (opens in new tab) to Private Internet Access (opens in new tab), IPVanish (opens in new tab), and TunnelBear (opens in new tab). Most (but not all) will run you a small monthly or annual fee, but it's well worth it for the peace of mind they'll provide you with.

Do you use a VPN service on your phone? And if so, which one is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

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 online 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.

Hayato was a product reviewer and video editor for Android Central.

18 Comments
  • I purchased the ivacy unlimited service from the android central digital store for under $35. It's not the best but works for what I want it for. I get some disconnections when using it but not horrible. Speed it also very good. Not great but for the price it does what i need.
  • I've been using ivacy for around 2 years, just renewed on one of their deals 5 years for $26, worth every penny.
  • I made my own vpn service on digital Ocean droplets.
  • I've been using Nord for a while now & it's fast enough that you don't even notice it running. Internet Kill Switch is another nice feature that will end user specified apps/programs if the VPN loses connection. The 2 & 3yr subscriptions are super cheap. The Nord apps for Android & Windows are very user friendly too.
  • I use Nord and am very happy with it. Use it on my laptop and Chromebook as well. I don't even notice it's there.
  • I use NordVPN. I got a 3 year subscription for $99. Totally worth it!
  • I tried out all the well known, constantly discussed ones but settled on ProtonVPN. Works great and I'm never more than 10 percent slower than non VPN.
  • I have used Cactus VPN for years! Worldwide servers, p2p access, fantastic app for your androids! Log in is way simple. Best of all, they keep no logs. 6.99 a month. Check them out. (Allows you to sort severs by speed, awesome!)
  • PIA on everything, phones, tablets and computers. Works all the time and I can never tell it's there. I like to watch stuff from other countries and switching regions is fast and easy. Android and Linux is easy to turn on because it is part of the connection process. All VPNs suck on Windows
  • Using Nord now and quite happy with it. I tried PIA for a year and there was a noticable speed hit, even while browsing. Also, Netflix blocked PIA IP's so I wasn't able to enable it on my router. Don't have the same problem with Nord. In both cases, the UI was easy to use on specific devices. I've used them on Windows, Android, and IOS.
  • Is this (VPN) what people use when their on kodi? Does kodi even work anymore?
  • Yes and yes.
  • PIA on all my devices.
  • I use PIA on all my Windows and Android devices.
  • Using a unsecured public hotspot without a VPN is a lot like having unprotected sex with a stranger - - you might end up regretting the experience. A VPN is like a digital condom...but much safer and more reliable. I use NordVPN on both my phone and tablet. It's a small price to pay for peace of mind.
  • Do any of these vpn dump their data daily?
  • I personally use X-VPN which has plenty of servers and different protocols on the free version. There are ads but they're not too annoying.
  • I would say the importance of using VPN on phone is same as on the computer, as people spent more and more time browsing on their smart devices. I used Express VPN before, but now I found a new provider Surf Shark. They are quite new, but is it nice in terms of speed, as not so many people using it yet. Plus, it is quite good for Netflix users which is optimized for fast video content delivery.