The Best VPNs for Android of 2020
We tested out these VPNs on Android devices to see how fast and secure they really are.
We spend lots of time on our phones- we’re sure you do, too. Digital security is important, and while we always take special care to protect the files and information on our computers with a VPN, it’s just as important that we take the same precautions with our mobile devices, specifically on Android phones. We rounded up the best VPNs for Androids to make sure we can all stay safe, speedy, and secure when we browse the Internet.
Best for Android
Comparing the Top VPNs for Android
|Minimum Monthly Cost||$6.49||$3.49||$6.67||$2.75||$4.17|
|Contract Length||1 to 12 months||1 to 36 months||1 to 12 months||1 to 18 months||12 to 24 months|
|Split Tunneling||Yes||No||Yes||No||Only for Android|
|IP Addresses||Dynamic||Dedicated, static||Dynamic||Static, shared||Dynamic|
|Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes Member||No||No||No||No||Yes|
|Review||IPVanish Review||NordVPN Review||ExpressVPN Review||CyberGhost Review||TunnelBear Review|
A Detailed List of the Best VPNs for Android
1. IPVanish - Best Global Coverage
IPVanish’s super-fast download speeds and strong encryption earned it the top slot as best VPN for Android.
What We Like
- Ability to torrent
- Can connect up to 10 devices simultaneously
- Split tunneling
- Speedy downloading
What We Don’t Like
- Headquartered in the United States
- Slower on Windows
- Can’t always access Netflix
- Imperfect company track record when it comes to logging data
Coverage Across the Globe
IPVanish offers over 40,000 IP addresses and has servers in more than 75 locations worldwide. This is great because the closer we are to a server, the better off we are in terms of Internet speed. It was good to know that we’d be covered through all our adventures, or even if we just wanted to stay home.
Responsive Customer Service
We reached IPVanish’s customer support in several ways, through 24/7 live chat, email support, and even over the phone. When we reached out via email to ask about subscriptions, we were answered by a real human in a timely manner.
When using IPVanish, we could pick if we wanted to only use the Internet through their VPN, or via “split tunneling.” Split tunneling is when we can connect to two networks at one time, one public, one private. When we chose to do so while at the library, we optimized our bandwidth, which made for faster speeds.
VPN Hack: Many VPN mobile apps allow us to decide which apps we want to access on a public versus a private network, lowering our bandwidth through split tunneling.
2. NordVPN - Best Encryption
Based in Panama, we love that NordVPN can never be forced to surrender our data to the federal government (not that they log too much of our information anyway). We also felt extra safe with their multi-hop double encryption and chose from a flexible selection of pricing.
What We Like
- Solid app ratings
- Minimal logging
- P2P sharing allowed
- Strong encryption
What We Don’t Like
- Static IP addresses
- No split tunneling
- iOS app connectivity issues
- No customer support phone line
Non Member to Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes
NordVPN is based in Panama, meaning that they are not part of any international surveillance alliances such as Five Eyes,1 Nine Eyes, or 14 Eyes. We felt good about that because even though they log minimal information, it’s impossible for the government to force them to share what they have (legally, at least).
NordVPN makes use of multi-hop encryption, meaning that our web traffic was encrypted through multiple servers. Most VPNs only connect us through one server, so this was highly valuable, especially for anyone who might work in more controversial jobs like activists or journalists.
NordVPN offers four tiers of pricing. That being said, the service remains the same for each option; the only thing that changes is the level of time commitment. The no-strings-attached, month-to-month option is $11.95. However, if we signed on for three years and spent $125.64 upfront, that would come to only $3.49 a month. There are also mid-tier options, at $6.99 a month for a one year period ($83.88 total), or $4.99 a month for a two-year contract (59.88 total).
3. ExpressVPN - Best Rotating IPs
A wide network of servers across the globe combined with advantageous headquarters in the British Islands, ExpressVPN offers quick Internet access that kept our information safe.
What We Like
- Over 2,000 servers in 148 locations
- Headquartered in the British Virgin Islands
- Can watch Netflix
- Rotated IP addresses
What We Don’t Like
- Can only connect five devices at the same time
- No customer support available via phone
- Slow on a Mac
- On the pricier side
Rotating IP addresses
Our IP address rotated every time we logged onto ExpressVPN which was great because it reduced the chances of a hacker being able to track us.
We watched our favorite movies and TV shows on Netflix, which can be challenging to do through VPNs. We were happy that we could keep up with all of our favorite shows on Netflix, and could use other video streaming websites, too.
4. CyberGhost - Best Affordability
CyberGhost is a low-cost option that offers wonderful customer support, all while being outside of Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes territories.
What We Like
- Operates outside of surveillance alliances
- Expansive global network
- Great customer support
What We Don’t Like
- Static IP addresses
- No split tunneling
- Logging policy
- Slow on Windows
Insider Tip: Some VPNs will feature a “dedicated IP address.” While these can be beneficial because they are not shared with strangers, they are also static, meaning that they could be tracked more easily.
CyberGhost employs AES-256 encryption, the industry gold standard. The IP addresses are shared with other users on the same server, so that it was even more difficult to track our activity. These two features working together gave us all the confidence we needed to browse the Internet freely.
While a month-to-month subscription cost us $12.99, if we subscribed for six months, our monthly bill would have only been $7.99. Even better, an 18-month commitment costs just $2.75 per month, a great deal. And, we would still get all the same features no matter which subscription timeframe we chose.
CyberGhost has an automatic kill switch so that anytime we lost our connection with the VPN, we didn’t have to worry about our IP address or web traffic being exposed. When a kill switch is activated, it automatically closes out of all webpages, hiding our activity from institutions like the government or our Internet Service Provider. Watch out, though; sometimes when a kill switch is deployed, it can interrupt a big download that might be in process.
5. TunnelBear - Best for Privacy
TunnelBear is another low-cost option that equips us with key VPN features like torrenting, encryption, and a kill switch.
What We Like
- Logs minimal files
- Audits itself through a third-party
- Torrenting allowed
What We Don’t Like
- Located in Canada
- Can’t access Netflix
- Slow customer service
- No free trial or money-back guarantee
TunnelBear uses AES-256 encryption and also authenticates its data with SHA-256, which is the highest standard of information protection. In addition, they employ the Diffie-Hellman Exchange (DH), in which they send cryptographic keys over a public network. When it comes to encryption, the higher the number of bits, the more secure the exchange. Tunnelbear uses 2048-bit DH for Windows, 3072-bit DH for macOS and iOS, and 4096-bit for Android, making it an optimal choice for Android users in particular.
Audited Itself via Third-Party
TunnelBear showed us its commitment to safety and security by commissioning a third-party called Cure53 to assess the product. The audit2 is conducted every year, and reports that TunnelBear continues to improve on its security as weaknesses are identified.
Doesn’t Log Much Data
While all VPNs have to log some data, like our payment information and email addresses, TunnelBear didn’t log our web traffic, an important reason why VPNs are used. However, TunnelBear did log our operating system, what months we used the service, and when we did significant things with our account like create it and make payments, which is pretty bare-bones.
In our video review, we go into detail about each of our favorite VPNs for Androids. We take you through each of the mobile app’s interfaces so that you’ll really be able to see the user experience firsthand before you make your decision.
How We Test VPNs: Methodology
We’ve outlined the metrics we look at when evaluating VPNs so you know exactly what our thought process is. We start by taking a close look at what features the VPN offers (like encryption standards for security, IP addresses for privacy, etc.) to make sure it covers the bases of what a VPN should provide. We do this by putting it through speed and security tests.
We test all of our VPNs on a private Optimum network from our Brooklyn office. Our Internet speed without a VPN serves as an objective control, and we only connect one device at a time. We also take steps to make sure we are covering all our readers by testing all of our VPNs on both a Macbook Air and a Windows Vivobook. We use the website SpeedTest.net to test download speed, upload speed, and ping (latency). First, we perform tests with the VPN, and then, without. Download and upload speed are measured in megabits per second, while latency is measured in milliseconds. Once we gauge these two measures, we identify the difference in terms of a percentage to account for discrepancies between the greatly varied natural speeds of Macs and Windows computers.
Lots of factors impact speed, like distance to the server, operating system, device, etc., but it’s ideal that VPNs have no more than a 40 percent difference in any of our categories.
One of the main reasons why people use VPNs is to protect their web traffic. This consists of domain name servers (website names), and their IP addresses. We also need to know that users’ private IP addresses aren’t being leaked due to WebRTC, which allows browsers to communicate directly with each other. It’s also the default on browsers like Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Opera.
We test for DNS leaks by using DNSLeakTest.com. We compare our computer’s IP address with the IP addresses that the website provides, we can tell if there was a DNS link while using the VPN or not. Then, we test for WebRTC leaks by leveraging a tool available on ExpressVPN’s website. We use a similar tactic where we look at the local and Public IPv4 IP addresses to see if there were any WebRTC leaks.
We also look into a company’s privacy jurisdiction and data-logging policy. Where a company is based matters a lot, because their headquarter location dictates if they are members of Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes, international surveillance alliances that have the potential to legally force companies to hand over customer data. Ideally, companies would be based in countries that are not impacted by such agreements, but we also prefer companies that keep a very minimal amount of users’ account information, like their name, email, and payment information. We don’t see the reason why VPNs would keep any additional information about when customers use their VPNs, like how long they are using it for, how much data they’ve transferred, what servers they use, what websites they visit, and more.
Our full reviews also include analysis of VPN’s encryption methods and Internet protocols to make sure they meet industry standards. We prefer VPNs with AES-256 encryption and OpenVPN, the most secure methods available.
Additionally, we look to see if a company offers anonymous and unique IP addresses to increase the likelihood that we can’t be tracked. It’s better if a company offers dynamic IP addresses because that means they will shuffle each time we log on to the VPN, making it harder to track our activity. Static IP addresses don’t change and are less desirable. Lastly, we check that each VPN has a kill switch, which will close out Internet browsers if the VPN fails.
Another primary motivator of getting a VPN is using it for media like movies and television. So, we pay special attention to which VPNs have access to torrenting and Netflix. The Netflix portion is a bit of a curveball; it constantly updates its code to block VPNs, but we still test our ability to access. so we can’t guarantee that it will always work.
We keep an eye out for split tunneling too, which allows users to use the VPN and a public network simultaneously. The lower bandwidth can create faster speeds. We prefer double or multi-hop VPNs, as they encrypt data multiple times through multiple servers.
We give our readers straightforward cost information and also leverage our expertise in looking at so many VPNs to know if that price is reasonable and worthwhile. Some VPNs are super cheap, costing less than a dollar a month with long-term commitments, while some can be as expensive as $15 a month. We also take into consideration if a company offers flexibility in their pricing options, like a month-to-month price point, or a longer-term subscription for a cheaper monthly rate. We look for the option to take the VPN for a test drive through a free trial or money-back guarantee. Lastly, we spell out what a subscription actually entails in terms of everything from the number of server switchers to the number of devices we’re allowed to run at once. It’s most common for VPNs to allow for unlimited server switches and devices, and some even offer unlimited simultaneous connections.
We check what resources are available in the event we run into issues. Typically, companies offer a live chat feature as well as an online help center. If a VPN service offers a phone line, we view it as a big bonus, since not many companies do. In addition, most services offer a robust FAQ database on their sites, where users’ questions are answered and then published, in case other users run into similar issues.
Finally, we review the app for both iPhone and Android, as well as its app store ratings. A rating below three stars disqualifies an app from being recommended to readers.
FAQs About Android VPNs
- What does a VPN do on Android?
A VPN on an Android creates a private tunnel encrypted between our devices and the public Wi-Fi network. This allows us to browse the Internet in a way that is much more secure than if we were to connect directly to a public network. Another perk of VPNs is that we are able to access the Internet from different servers, which are located in different countries. When we access a server in a different country, we experience the Internet as if we were in that country, bypassing government, and company restrictions.
- How do I get a VPN on my Android?
You get a VPN on our Android the same way you would any other app: by going to the Android app store, downloading the VPN mobile app of your choice, and following the directions to set it up. Once you’re all set, you can usually toggle the service on and off, depending on what kind of Internet connection you are connected to, public or private. Also keep in mind that in order to use the VPN, we had to select a subscription option that is charged through the app store after the download is complete. Most apps will offer a couple of different options when it comes to pricing, so it should be easy to find the one that works best for you.
- What is a VPN?
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. A VPN allows us to use the Internet in a safer and more private way by encrypting our web traffic and hiding our IP address.
- Why should I get a VPN?
Getting a VPN is important for us to keep our information like our files and photos, as well as our Internet activity, encrypted. It is especially important if you work in a field like journalism, activism, or any other career where your activity is at risk of being tracked by the government, or others.
- Will a VPN log my information?
Yes, all VPNs log some information. The most standard things tracked are your email address and payment information. When it comes to things like web traffic, time spent on the VPN, and servers accessed, it differs depending on the VPN.
The Guardian. (2013). History of 5-Eyes – explainer.
Cure53. (2017). TunnelBear Security Assessment Summary 07.2017.