With a market share of over 71%, Android is by far the world’s most popular mobile operating system.
Despite this popularity, accessing the internet using a public Wi-Fi network via an Android phone is not always as secure or as private as many users want to believe. Using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) is the best way to protect your data and your privacy when browsing the net on an unsecured Wi-Fi network.
In this article, I’ll explain exactly what a VPN does, and why you should have one if you are an Android phone user. Then I’ll take an in-depth look at the top VPNs for Android users in 2021. By the time you have finished reading, you will have all the info required to choose the best VPN for your needs.
Best Android VPN apps of 2021
Comparison of all VPN services
|Brand||Average Rating||Logs||Netflix||Lowest Price|
|Hotspot Shield VPN||77,14%||No*||Yes||$7.99|
|Malwarebytes Privacy VPN||74,25%||No||No||$3.33|
|Bitdefender Premium VPN||67%||No||Yes||$2.49|
What is a VPN exactly?
Let’s start with the basics: VPN stands for ‘Virtual Private Network’. VPNs are used to create a highly secure internet connection that provides users with enhanced security and privacy. Using a VPN means that you won’t be able to be tracked by websites or monitored by malicious hackers.
So, how do they work? In simple terms, a VPN routes your internet connection across the world via a collection of encrypted servers. By doing so, VPNs obscure and encrypt your IP (Internet Protocol) address. This means that your internet activity and your actual physical location cannot be traced back to you.
What an Android VPN Does not Do
Although VPNs hide your online activity, they are not true anonymization services. Unlike a system such as Tor, you can’t use a VPN to log onto the so-called Dark Web and browse hidden websites.
VPNs do encrypt your data for your protection, but this does not mean that users are not still vulnerable to malware, phishing sites, or viruses. Users still need to be careful what sites they visit, where they input data, what data they download, and what attachments they open.
VPNs can only encrypt data while it is on their servers. Once a text or email is sent, then it will not have the full protection of a VPN. There are applications you can use to ensure your messages are always encrypted.
Why You Should Use a VPN for your Phone
Anytime you connect to a public or an unsecured Wi-Fi network, you are putting your data and your privacy at risk. If you are using an unfamiliar network, then it may have been configured incorrectly, which will make it easy for hackers to steal your data.
Most public Wi-Fi networks use shared passwords and are completely unsecured. Without taking precautions, logging on at your local café, shopping center or library can be dangerous.
Hackers use what is known as ‘Man in the Middle’ or MTM methods to steal data. Common MTM scams include setting up fake Wi-Fi networks to trap users and collecting data via fake websites that look exactly like the real thing.
As well as the risk of so-called ‘Black Hat’ hackers, using unsecured Wi-Fi – or any networks, actually – still means that advertisers and websites can track your usage. This data is often shared with government agencies.
By using a VPN, your data will be transmitted through an encrypted server. This means that if someone is trying to eavesdrop on your digital activity, all they will see is useless, unintelligible data.
People use VPNs for a variety of reasons. As I’ve mentioned, most people use VPNs to stay secure while browsing the internet. You can also use a VPN to unblock global content (for instance, to get access to US Netflix while traveling), to avoid censorship, and to ensure that you can torrent safely.
Will a VPN Slow Down Your Internet Connection?
Many Android users choose not to have a VPN application installed as they believe it will slow down their connection speeds. And this is a real concern since VPNs can indeed make your connection speeds slower.
Because VPNs use multiple servers in many countries, this can impact web browsing speeds and download speeds. This is going to depend on what networks the VPN uses, where they are located, and how good their infrastructure is.
This decrease in connectivity speeds means that most new VPN users are simply on the lookout for the fastest VPN available. And while speed is a major factor in choosing a VPN, it is by no means the only metric users should keep in mind.
How to Choose an Android VPN
Not all VPNs have the same levels of quality or security. Choosing the right VPN means making sure you are well-informed of what the application does. Although there are hundreds of free VPNs available, most of these are not reliable and some are downright scams.
When choosing a VPN for the first time, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
Make sure the VPN has top-level encryption. Ideally, you should be looking for 256-bit AES encryption. Check if the VPN has a Kill Switch. If the VPN connection is interrupted, it will stop all internet traffic. Ensure your VPN has leak protection and that it uses multiple protocols such as OpenVPN, WireGuard, or IKEv2.
If you want to unblock content, you need to first check that this is an available function on your VPN of choice. Not all VPNs can unblock restricted websites.
You’ll also want to ensure the VPN has fast speeds and a large global network of servers, and that it is compatible with a range of streaming devices. Lastly, I recommend that you use a VPN with a ‘no-logs policy’, which means none of your usages will be recorded or logged in any way.
The Top VPN Recommendations for 2021
Currently, the Google Play Store has over 200 VPN applications available to users. The sheer number of VPNs makes it incredibly hard for new users to find a reliable, safe, and trustworthy application.
To save you the time and hassle of digging through hundreds of apps yourself, here are four of the best VPNs out there in 2021.
If you want an easy-to-use, super-fast VPN, then ExpressVPN is a great choice. Located in the British Virgin Islands, ExpressVPN operates via over 3,000 high-speed, P2P-enabled servers scattered throughout 90 countries.
ExpressVPN uses its own patented TrustedServer technology that makes certain that all servers are using the latest software. It has military-grade security, with 256-bit encryption and a zero-logs policy.
ExpressVPN has DNS leak protection and an automatic kill switch feature, which keeps users safe when they are on public Wi-Fi connections. ExpressVPN supports torrenting and can be used to unblock many popular streaming services, including Netflix, HBO, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video.
If ExpressVPN has a downside, it is that it’s not the cheapest VPN option on the market. However, it does offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, so new users can try it out on up to 5 devices for a month, risk-free. It’s worth checking their website to see what discounts and deals they are currently offering, as these can bring the price of ExpressVPN into line with other VPNs.
NordVPN is massively popular with Android users and is often touted as the best VPN on the market to date. It’s easy to see why, since NordVPN offers users a lot of features for a small price tag.
Based in Panama, NordVPN has more servers across the globe than any other VPN, with over 5,500 servers in more than 60 countries. This huge base of servers makes NordVPN fast, reliable and ideal for streaming. In fact, users can unblock over 400 geo-restricted streaming sites with NordVPN.
NordVPN offers users top-level security with a double encryption option, an automatic kill switch, 256-bit encryption, and a zero logs policy. Additionally, the NordVPN Cyber Sec feature stops unwanted advertisements, website trackers, and malware.
Users should keep in mind that NordVPN does not have total PayPal support in every country. Alongside the affordable price tag, NordVPN also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee for new users and regularly offers discount coupons on their website.
If you want to use your VPN simultaneously across multiple devices, then Surfshark VPN is the one to go for. Although the Surfshark network is smaller than other leading VPNs – it has just 3,200 servers throughout 65 countries – Surfshark still provides fast speeds and is great for streaming.
Surfshark VPN offers users unlimited concurrent device connections, which means you can use one account to provide protection for all your devices. This feature makes Surfshark VPN a great choice for households or small businesses.
Based in the British Virgin Islands, Surfshark VPN provides top 256-bit encryption and uses a zero logs policy. It has robust obfuscation settings, which means it can easily bypass VPN bans or censorship, making it a good choice for travelers.
The Camouflage Mode feature hides your VPN connection, while NoBorders Mode allows you to use Surfshark VPN in restricted regions. The MultiHop setting will automatically bounce your connection through multiple services, giving you added security.
Surfshark VPN usually does not offer deals or discounts, but it does come with a 30-day money-back guarantee. New users should be aware that the Surfshark VPN email customer support service can be slow to respond to tickets.
If you are new to the whole idea of using a VPN and want a fast, simple-to-use, and easy-to-set-up VPN, then CyberGhost VPN is the perfect solution. Cheap, quick to download, and with a straightforward interface, CyberGhost VPN is ideal for VPN newbies.
CyberGhost VPN operates out of Romania and has 6,400 servers operating in 89 countries around the world. It is a great VPN for accessing streaming sites and can unblock sites like Showtime, Netflix, and Hulu. CyberGhost VPN offers simultaneous connections on up to 7 devices.
CyberGhost VPN rates well on the security scale as the VPN goes out of its way to protect users from malicious websites, ads, and trackers. CyberGhost VPN uses 256-bit encryption and also maintains a strict no-logs policy. It also features a reliable automatic kill switch.
It must be said that CyberGhost VPN is not the cheapest option available, but it does offer a 45-day money-back guarantee or 14 days for one-month plans. Users who travel should also take note that at the time of writing, CyberGhost VPN does not work in China.
Some Last Words on Android VPNs in 2021
To sum up: if you are not currently running a VPN on your Android phone, you should be. With the rise of public Wi-Fi, hackers and scammers are becoming more prevalent and using smarter and more devious ways of getting your data than ever. A VPN can help protect you, your data, and your privacy.
Right now, it is totally legal to use a VPN in more than 95 percent of countries. Users need to take care when visiting places such as China, Russia, Belarus, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates. VPNs are either illegal or restricted in these countries. Although international tourists have yet to report any issues using VPNs in these countries, we recommend exercising caution if you choose to do so.
Most VPNs are totally safe to use and can be easily downloaded from the Google Play Store. Again, users must be cautious, since there are many free VPNs that are not as reliable as user pays models. That is why I have not chosen to recommend any free VPNs.
To break it down, my recommendations for Android VPNs in 2021 are:
- ExpressVPN – Super fast speeds at a reasonable price
- NordVPN – Fast, secure, and ideal for streaming
- Surfshark VPN – Great for travelers, families, or businesses
- CyberGhost VPN – Perfect option for VPN newbies
A VPN is a powerful tool that can be used to help users protect themselves and their data while online at home, in public, or when traveling overseas.
Whatever VPN you choose and however you choose to use it, I hope that you have found this article informative and helpful.
- Read my article on the cheapest VPN of 2021.
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Author Per-Erik Eriksson
Per-Erik-Eriksson is the main author of VPNetic. Everything you read here has been written by him or one of his colleagues. Per-Erik has 10 years of experience within cybersecurity and has previously worked at Microsoft as a software engineer.
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