How we rate Android VPNs
Privacy and security
The most important thing to take into consideration when searching for the best VPN for Android is, of course, how well it protects and hides your identity online.
First off, there’s the encryption – 128-bit is okay, but you really want 256-bit for maximum security. Even modern supercomputers would take millions of years going through the 78-digit possible pool of numbers to brute-force a 256-bit encryption key.
Then, there are the privacy features – does the VPN provider have a strict no-logging policy, and can you be sure that no one will keep tabs on your online activities? The best mobile VPNs can avoid censorship and online surveillance in countries such as China while helping you keep your private data secure.
When talking about privacy and security, there’s more to consider than just encryption and logging features. Good VPNs will have an automatic kill switch, ensuring that you’re instantly booted from the internet until a VPN connection can be restored.
It’s a very convenient feature for those worried about experiencing data breaches should the connection to their VPN falter at some point. Also, you should consider whether your VPN of choice has unlimited bandwidth or caps your speed (or even completely cuts off access) after a certain amount of data has gone through the virtual private network.
The top Android VPN providers also provide protection against DNS leaks, use double encryption, and have a variety of other complex security protocols aimed at keeping your privacy safe. They also often allow for the unblocking of geo-blocked streaming sites such as Hulu and Netflix and are used for accessing regional prices for games on Steam and similar platforms (though that has changed in recent years).
Finally, paid VPN apps usually offer ad-blocking services that can help you get rid of annoying pop-ups, which slow down your internet browsing.
Strong security and privacy are significant features of any decent VPN app on the market, but most people get frustrated if their VPN isn’t fast as well. Even with the fastest Android VPN providers, you still have to connect to a server that’s often far from your actual location.
There’s also the matter of encryption protocols slowing down your connection. Still, unless you’re using free VPN software (which tends to be much slower and more feature-limited), you shouldn’t experience too much of a performance hit with most mobile VPN providers. Some do put a cap on the speed after a certain amount of bandwidth has been spent, though, so be aware of that.
Although not as crucial as some of the other aspects that we’ve mentioned, general usability is still an important factor in choosing the best Android VPN client for your needs. What is the user interface like? Is the program quick to start? How many resources does it use, and does it slow your phone down significantly? All of these aspects have to be considered when choosing between the various VPN Android apps on the market.
Price and value
Our final consideration is often one of the first things people look for when choosing a VPN service.
While many people look for free VPN download options, keep in mind that running a quality VPN service costs a lot of money. That means that the best VPNs for Android are never going to be free. As a rule of thumb, the speed, logging policies, security tools, and other features will be inferior if you opt for a VPN’s free option. They will, however, improve if you switch to the more advanced plans. That said, not all VPNs are equal, nor do they provide the same value for your hard-earned buck. Therefore, it pays to know exactly what you want and how much you’re willing to pay for it.