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The best VPN for the iPhone or iPad in 2022

Your phone stores tons of private information about you and what you do online. Many of the apps you use can and do access to your data, and can sell it at will. How can you protect yourself? A virtual private network (VPN) makes it easy to shield your browsing data and other private information. When you set up a VPN app for iPhone, it creates a VPN configuration profile installed in your iPhone’s settings. After installation, you can enable or disable the VPN session directly from the app or manually select which VPN server country to connect to.

While Apple concentrates heavily on protecting user privacy and will be including a VPN in iOS 15, but at the moment it can only do so much. It cannot control criminals snooping on unencrypted web traffic, apps that leak user data, rogue Wi-Fi networks, or carriers that sell your data. Only a VPN can protect your data from snoopers and mask your true location. It hides your online activity in a secure tunnel that outsiders can’t penetrate, but you must choose wisely since you’re trusting your VPN provider with all your online activities. Do some research to make sure the company behind the VPN isn’t selling your data or bandwidth to third parties. If the service is free, you have to wonder whether you’re the product.

Here, we’ll tackle what you need to know about VPNs and take a closer look at the best and most secure options to protect your private information.

If you’re looking for additional ways to keep your data private, check out our encryption explainer to find out what it is and why it works. Keep in mind that you may need to install the OpenVPN Connect client and follow a guide in order to take advantage of the OpenVPN protocol on iOS. All the apps below work with IPSec or another protocol by default.

Surfshark VPN

SurfShark app.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Surfshark VPN takes the astronomical time element out of managing your privacy and security. The app secures your online identity with a no-log policy, hides your IP address, encrypts all traffic, shields your true location, and makes sure public Wi-Fi is safe, all in a speedy and powerful package. It can connect to 3,200 servers in more than 65 countries to send your confidential files, protect against DDoS or doxxing, conduct online banking, or anything you need to do online. It costs $11 per month or $48 per year.

CyberGhost VPN

CyberGhost VPN large.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

CyberGhost is a solid VPN service that offers decent speeds. You can select from more than 7,000 servers in 90 countries, connect up to seven devices simultaneously, and get secure access to streaming services. It’s also available for Android, Windows, and MacOS. The service supports PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, and OpenVPN protocols and offers up to 256-bit encryption. CyberGhost has a decent privacy policy and doesn’t log your activity or store personal data. CyberGhost VPN is a subscription plan that costs $13 per month or $59 per year, but is free for a seven-day trial.

VPN by Private Internet Access

VPN by Private Internet
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Private Internet Access (PIA) anonymous VPN service is a popular option on iOS. Speeds are generally fast, and the service supports 256-bit encryption and OpenVPN. It’s also based in the United States and promises not to log traffic and VPN usage. While the desktop clients offer all sorts of configuration options, the iOS app is very straightforward. You log in, pick a destination from a list, and away you go. Speed information is an obvious omission, and it does sometimes disconnect you. There’s no free trial for PIA, but the service does offer a seven-day, money-back guarantee. It costs $10 per month or $40 for the year.

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

With ExpressVPN, you can connect to more than 3,000 servers in 94 countries worldwide. You’ll also find support for 256-bit encryption and OpenVPN. There’s no logging policy, so the service won’t track your online activities. The app shows locations in a list or on a map, and you can tap to connect. There are more than 160 regions to choose from, with the option to set your favorite for later. Express VPN also offers Windows, MacOS, Android, Linux, and router apps with support for devices running Apple TV, Fire TV, and Android TV. Subscriptions run $13 a month, $60 for six months, or $100 for the year. You can connect five different devices simultaneously.

NordVPN

NordVPN app.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

NordVPN has had an interesting couple of years. Having confirmed in 2019 that one of its 5,000+ servers had been breached in 2018, it has since made security improvements that have helped it regain trust and re-earn a place on this list (as well as our best VPNs list). It now employs double 2048-bit SSL encryption, making your connection highly secure, while also offering servers in around 60 nations worldwide. Other notable features include unlimited data, high connection speeds, custom DNS addresses, two kill switches, and the ability to use six devices with a single account. It’s easy to use and set up, making it one of the best VPNs for the iPhone. The newest versions feature multi-factor authentication to boost your account’s security. Dark web alerts now come in the language of your app.

IPVanish VPN

With 700 servers placed in over 60 different countries, you shouldn’t run into any issues with connecting to IPVanish. It guarantees zero-logging while still effectively offering substantial support for OpenVPN and 256-bit encryption. Further, it admits P2P traffic, which is usually blocked by some other services. You’ll discover that the iOS app is relatively user-friendly. You can quickly and easily scan through using your current location and the most popular countries. It has a broad array of premium subscriptions — $10 per month, $27 for three months, or $75 each year. It offers infinite bandwidth, and you can have a maximum of 10 concurrent connections on various devices.

Frequently asked questions

Should you get a VPN for your iPhone?

The short answer is yes. Using a VPN keeps your online data and identity secure and protects against hackers, snoops, and thieves by encrypting your data, masking your iPhone’s IP address and anonymizing your internet use by re-routing traffic through the VPN’s servers. It lets you use unsecured public Wi-Fi hot spots or browse via Wi-Fi at home without worrying about your data getting exposed. With cybercrime increasing, a VPN is almost a must-have for some people.

What are the benefits of having a VPN on your iPhone?

Internet use is perilous, and most of that contact is through your mobile phone. So having a VPN on your phone has multi-pronged advantages, particularly if you are a traveler or must use public Wi-Fi. VPNs not only protect you from criminals, they also prevent your own trusted carrier from monetizing your data and invading your privacy. In the U.S., carriers like Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile can track your online activity to create profiles it can sell for advertising. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission levied $200 million in fines against Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile for their sale of user location data without consent. An iPhone-based VPN hides your internet activity from your mobile carrier, in the same way that it hides your online activity from your ISP.

What can you do with a VPN for your iPad and iPhone?

Having a VPN on your Apple mobile device confers many advantages. It can help improve your gaming experience, bypass workplace and campus firewalls, bypass geographical restrictions, remotely connect to your workplace or home network, and even circumvent censorship statutes in some countries.

Using a VPN with iPhone gaming ensures your connection is optimal. Hiding your gameplay prevents your ISP from throttling your connection and chopping your bandwidth, a serious impediment to a gaming experience. A VPN can help you get around browsing, search, or time restrictions imposed by network administrators of all types and institutions from school to work. And while we do not encourage it, we acknowledge that VPNs can help you dodge geographical restrictions — rules that do not allow viewing of certain content because of your location. Since VPNs hide your location, you could be anywhere.

Do you have any more questions about VPNs? Here’s everything you wanted to know about VPNs but were afraid to ask.

Simon Chandler

Simon Chandler is a journalist based in London, UK. He covers technology and finance, contributing to such titles as Digital Trends, Forbes, Business Insider, InsideBitcoins, Cryptonews.com, and CryptoVantage. He has also contributed to Wired, TechCrunch, TechRadar, the Daily Dot, the Verge, Cointelegraph, CCN.com, the New Internationalist, Bandcamp, the Sun, and numerous others.

He specializes in mobile technology for Digital Trends, covering smartphones, tablets, wearables, and games. Beyond consumer gadgets, his main interest is in how tech is changing the way we live and who we are, for better and for worse.

Jackie Dove
Contributor

Jackie is an obsessive, insomniac tech writer and editor in northern California. A wildlife advocate, cat fan, and photo app fanatic, her specialties include cross-platform hardware and software, art, design, photography, video, and a wide range of creative and productivity apps and systems. Formerly senior editor at Macworld and creativity editor at The Next Web, Jackie now writes for a variety of consumer tech publications.

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