Maybe you want to hide your location to get U.S. Netflix from another country, maybe you’re connecting to a public Wi-Fi network and you don’t want to expose any sensitive data, or perhaps you’re just concerned about being snooped on in general. The online world is rife with threats to your security and privacy.
By using a VPN service — aka a virtual private network — you can ensure that all of your Internet communication is encrypted and potentially protected from prying eyes. You can also use it to connect to servers in different countries and fool websites such as Netflix. However, not all Android VPN apps are created equal. There are countless services on offer, so it can be tough to choose the right one.
Related: How dangerous is public Wi-Fi?
You should also consider what you’re signing up for. You’re placing a lot of trust in the VPN service you choose, and some of them have questionable policies when it comes to privacy. If the service is being offered for free, it’s important to stop and think about the business model. Are they selling your data, or exposing you to other threats? To give just a couple of examples, Hola was found to be selling users’ bandwidth, and VPN Defender is owned by analytics company App Annie.
Possibly the fastest and most reliable service on the market, VyprVPN is provided by Golden Frog, a company that has a solid track record when it comes to online privacy and security. It owns and runs its own networks without third-parties, doesn’t share your data with anyone, and only keeps logs of IP addresses, connection times, and bytes used for 30 days. It offers 50 server locations spread across the globe, support for 256-bit encryption, and a proprietary technology called Chameleon, which masks the fact you are using a VPN service. Chameleon is ideal if you’re looking to stream content from another country.
The Android app is also incredibly easy to use. You can just tap connect to find a local server, choose the fastest server, or browse the list if you want to specify a particular country. You can see basic info on your connection, check a speed graph, and see a connection log. The nice thing about the VyprVPN app is that you can also configure it to automatically connect according to your preferences, including whenever you join an untrusted network, which is perfect for public Wi-Fi protection.
You can try it for free with a 500MB monthly data usage limit. We recommend going for the Pro account, which is $15 per month or $100 annually, or the Premier account, which is $20 per month or $120 annually. Doing so will grant you the extra features that make the service worthwhile. You can even have two simultaneous connections with the Pro account and three with the Premium.
With ExpressVPN, you have a choice of nearly 100 different locations around the world. The service is also generally reliable and touts excellent 24/7 customer support, along with support for 256-bit encryption and the ability to have two simultaneous connections.
The company doesn’t log traffic data or browsing activity, either, and the app is straightforward to use. It provides a list of viable locations with which you connect and usually works pretty well, allowing you to connect within seconds and showcasing your basic speed info. There’s also a home screen widget for quick connections, and you can try ExpressVPN free for 24 hours. After that, you’re looking at spending $13 per month, $60 for six months, or $100 for a year. The feature set is the same across the board, though, and each comes with a 30-day, money-back guarantee.
This service has more than 500 servers spread across 101 countries, and it has a self-managed network, so there are no third-parties involved. It supports 256-bit encryption, offers round-the-clock support, and boasts a zero logging policy for your online activities. You can also have five simultaneous connections going on different devices.
The Android app is easy to use. You can browse based on your country of choice, simply tap to join a server, or just pick the fastest server available. You can also set a purpose for your online activity, whether you intend to stream movies, share files, or look for higher security and anonymity. PureVPN also says it has dedicated servers for these specific purposes, though, we’re not sure what the impact of this actually is.
You initially get 2GB of free data when you sign up, allowing you to briefly try the service before you have to pay the necessary fee. Subscriptions are currently priced at $10 per month, $45 for six months, and $50 for a year, but those prices are a special offer at the time of writing.
If you want something cute and stylish, then TunnelBear is for you. The USP here is simplicity in a friendly, bear-themed package. There is minimal logging, and TunnelBear promises to never track what you do online, to not log your IP, and not to share your data with any third-party. It also supports 256-bit encryption, has servers in 15 major countries, and offers fairly quick speeds.
The Android app is even super cute and easy to use, if a little light on data. You can see server locations on a map and tap to have your bear tunnel to them. There’s also a handy widget for the home screen.
Although you can get 500MB of free data every month, plugging the service on Twitter will net you an extra 1GB. The normal subscription costs $7 per month or $50 for the year, which gets you unlimited use on up to five devices simultaneously.
You’ll find a decent range of servers in Europe, North America, and Asia with Freedome. It covers 16 countries in total right now. Finnish provider F-Secure promises to not log your data and allows you to create an account without registering, though, it also doesn’t allow BitTorrent use in many countries (including the United States and United Kingdom).
The Android app is pretty stylish and couldn’t be simpler to use. Fire it up, and you’ll see a big button that you can tap to turn the service on and off. There are some stats beneath. You can change location, and that’s about it. F-Secure is also an anti-virus provider, so the Freedome app offers protection from viruses, malware, and dodgy websites.
Moreover, you can try it for free for 14 days. After that, you’re looking at spending $36 a year for one device, $40 for three devices, or $48 for five devices.
This is not an exhaustive list, but these are our top Android recommendations. There are scores of other options out there that you might want to check out. For example, Hotspot Shield VPN, CyberGhost, and Hideman VPN are other popular choices. If there’s a VPN app for Android that you’d recommend then post a comment and tell us about it. We’ll update this list over time.