Over the past few years we’ve tested loads of VPN services, checking for performance, privacy policies, and extra features. We’ve done most of this work for the PC, and you can find our absolute favorite best VPN picks here. But we’re also testing the Android apps to see which service reigns supreme on Google’s OS. While some services are champs on any platform, others particularly shine on Android devices and we’re here with a curated list to help you choose.
We consider several criteria when determining the best VPNs for Android. First, it has to be a top performer on the OS. Also, we understand that Wi-Fi can be inconsistent at times, therefore we test these apps over three days, running a total of 15 tests each day (three times for each test country location). Then we considered the Android app itself and whether it was easy to manage, as well as other things such as pricing and the number of simultaneous devices allowed per account. We provide links to the stand-alone app in the Google Play store as well as links to our reviews of the full desktop program—in case you want a complete AV solution for all your devices.
Without further ado, here are our recommendations for the best VPNs for Android.
1. Speedify – Best Android VPN overall
Harnesses multiple connection types
Interface is not user friendly
Switching countries is a pain
Speedify’s claim to fame is that it harnesses all your active connections to make one super-zippy VPN connection, and the effect was undeniable during our tests. Speedify maintained a jaw-dropping 83.56 percent of the base speed. These speeds only happened when the phone had Wi-Fi and cellular connections available. One other nice thing about Speedify is that the switch from Wi-Fi to mobile network is near seamless. So if you’re streaming a song and step outside of your wireless network’s range, the connection will switch to mobile without missing a beat.
Speedify’s app design is not the simplest or most straightforward design, but it’s easy enough. It also maintains some statistics such as how many seamless failovers you’ve had with your device, how much data’s been transferred, and your top download and upload speeds. It would be better if you could pick your country location before connecting, as opposed to the current setup: connecting, choosing a new country location, and then reconnecting. Still, it’s a minor quibble for an excellent mobile VPN.
Read our full Speedify review
2. NordVPN – Best Android VPN for Netflix
Price goes up after initial subscription period
NordVPN is easily one of the most popular services around. The company offers 59 country locations with 5,500 servers. It also promises that its service will work with Netflix. It doesn’t offer dedicated servers for this. Instead, Netflix is just supposed to work no matter which server you’re on, and it does in our tests.
NordVPN’s Android app is similar to the desktop app in that it has the same style of map that you can use to select a location. The rest of the app is very mobile friendly with a movable carousel of popular locations, and a full country list underneath. The Android app also supports Nord’s specialty servers for P2P file sharing, TOR over VPN, and double-hop VPNs. NordVPN also offers malware protection that is activated by default.
Read our full NordVPN review
3. CyberGhost – Best Android VPN for rookies
Very easy-to-understand interface
Not as many options as other competitors
Another good choice for newcomers is CyberGhost from Kape Technologies. This VPN has a similar-ish design to ExpressVPN (below). It has a simple on/off button at the top of the app, and underneath that is the tile where you can pick the country location. Tapping on the country location option takes you to a list where you can choose a connection based on the country, or you can choose a streaming location, or choose from your own favorites list. In our tests, CyberGhost maintained close to 61 percent of the base speed.
That’s about all there is to this app, which makes it an excellent option for first timers. For the full program CyberGhost charges $51.48 for a single year, or you can get two years for $78, or three for $89.31.
Read our full CyberGhost VPN review
4. ExpressVPN – Best Android VPN for rookies runner-up
Very easy-to-use app
Logs data transfer amounts
ExpressVPN has always been very easy to use and is another Kape-owned VPN. Combine ease of use with its excellent speeds, and Express is a great choice for rookies. In our tests, ExpressVPN maintained 72.14 percent of the base speed, which is excellent and earned it a second place finish behind Speedify. Switching locations is as easy as tapping on the tile underneath the on/off button at the top. When the VPN is not active the app background is red, and when the VPN is connected the background turns green.
ExpressVPN for Android also supports split tunneling, auto-connect, and a kill switch to help maintain privacy should the VPN connection drop.
This VPN is more complicated than CyberGhost, which is why it’s our second choice for rookies, or those looking for something a little more advanced but still decidedly in newbie territory. Express VPN costs about $100 for the first 15 months for the multi-device subscription.
Read our full ExpressVPN review
5. Mullvad – Best Android VPN for privacy
Excellent privacy measures
Best option for pseudo-anonymity
Not as many extra features as other options
Not guaranteed to work with Netflix
It’s no surprise to see Mullvad as our top choice for privacy. It’s simply unbeatable when it comes to staying as anonymous and private online as possible while using a VPN. Unlike most other services, Mullvad doesn’t even ask for your email address. Instead, it generates a random account number and then you use that to log in and pay for the service. The service will also accept cash, as well as Bitcoin, PayPal, and credit card giving you an even wider number of options to stay as anonymous as possible.
Mullvad promises it won’t track your browsing habits (as all the services in this roundup do), and it has good speeds. In our tests, Mullvad for Android maintained around 57 percent of the base speed. That’s not as good as some of the other services, but it’s definitely good enough for most uses. Mullvad charges €5 per month, which at this writing was a little over $5.
Read our full Mullvad review
6. ProtonVPN – Best VPN for privacy runner-up
Good speeds, but not as good as on Windows
Lots of features
Read our full ProtonVPN review
How we tested
We use the same approach on Android as we do on Windows. We picked five country locations and tested each location three times on three separate days. Then we took the average global performance of the VPN as an average, and then compared that to the average base speed. Then we represented the difference as a percentage. The reason we do that as opposed to showing actual megabytes-per-second scores is that those numbers can change based on so many factors such as your ISP, equipment, and time of day. What we really need to know is how much speed we lose when connected to the VPN (it’s always a loss). That is an experience that is more likely to translate across various setups as opposed to specific speeds.
What to look for in a VPN
To get the most out of a VPN you need to consider a few factors. First, you want something that respects your privacy and logs as much information as you’re comfortable with. If that means no data at all then something like Mullvad or ProtonVPN is best for you. If you don’t mind a little logging and your primary concern is speed or Netflix support then there are many VPNs that will suit that purpose. Speed is also a concern since you want to make sure the service can support whatever it is you want to do, be it streaming video, gaming, or just browsing the web. Going with a known quantity is also critical since VPNs are handling such important, and personal, data you need to know who’s behind the company and what their reputation is—reading reviews will help with that. Finally, after all that, consider pricing and what best suits your budget. Keep those tips in mind and you’re likely to find an excellent VPN service that’s right for you.
That’s it for our roundup of the top five Android VPNs. If you want to take a look at more VPN services check out PCWorld’s complete VPN roundup. While the reviews are focused on PC, almost all of the services we’ve covered offer an Android app as well.
If you’re interested in also using a VPN with your other devices (which we highly recommend), check out some of our additional best VPN roundups to learn more:
What is a VPN?
A VPN, otherwise known as a virtual private network, disguises your identity and encrypts your internet traffic while browsing. In addition, you can connect to VPN servers all across the world. So if you want to access location restricted content like streaming services, you can connect to the appropriate country’s server and gain access to that country’s specific content.
How does a VPN work?
A VPN effectively hides your IP address by redirecting it through a remote server hosted by the VPN company. If anyone is watching, the VPN server then appears to be the source of your data instead of yourself. These remote servers can be located both in your own country as well as in different countries around the world. Additionally, your network traffic from your computer to the VPN is encrypted adding an extra layer of privacy.
If you are connected to a VPN while browsing the internet, the VPN will act as a kind of middleman between your computer and a website. When your computer sends a request to the VPN, it then passes it along to a website. The website in return, sends its response back to the VPN, which forwards it via a secure connection all the way to your computer.
Are VPNs legal to use?
Yes! In the United States as well as most countries, using a VPN is legal. You may find that certain websites try to block VPN connections, but they are still okay to use. You should know though, while using a VPN is legal, some of the activities done while using a VPN might be illegal. Activities such as downloading pirated copyrighted content or accessing dark web markets are both illegal with and without a VPN.