Nathan Landale

The Technology for The Next Generation

The best Android VPN services of 2024: Expert tested and reviewed
Computer, Gadget & Technology

The best Android VPN services of 2024: Expert tested and reviewed


What is the best Android VPN in May 2024?

NordVPN is my top pick. It offers capabilities beyond basic VPN services with a high level of security and popularity. Overall, it’s a solid choice, and with a 30-day money-back guarantee, it’s worth a try. However, there are also other great VPNs for Android you could consider.

An Android VPN lets you browse the internet anonymously, access geo-restricted content, and avoid being tracked by advertisers, hackers, and government surveillance — making it a key tool for your privacy. I’ve been testing VPNs for years, during which I’ve compared at least a dozen VPNs on their speed, security, the usability of their mobile interfaces, and the server networks on offer. I’ve tested these VPNs thoroughly and frequently to compile a list of the top VPNs for Android.

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NordVPN

Best Android VPN overall

With over 800,000 reviews, NordVPN is one of the most popular consumer VPNs in the Google Play Store. However, that is not why we think it’s the best VPN for Android — its rock-solid performance and speed carried it across the finish line.

NordVPN supports peer-to-peer file sharing, streaming, and a number of other platforms outside of Android. Its Onion over VPN feature removes the need for a separate Tor browser. There are also add-ons available, including a dedicated IP address, password manager, encrypted cloud storage, cyber protection coverage, and a data breach scanner. Recently, NordVPN increased the number of simultaneous connections under one account from six to ten devices.

During our testing, NordVPN connected quickly and reliably to servers, although you’ll want to use the smart connect feature for the best performance. But if you’re still not 100% sold on choosing NordVPN, you can try it out with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Customers like the speed and stability of the VPN and say support is top-notch.

Review: NordVPN

Prices start from $3.69 per month if you purchase two years of service upfront, $4.59/month for a one-year plan, or a standard month-to-month subscription comes in at $12.99 for basic protection. New users who subscribe to a one or two-year plan will receive three months of access free.

NordVPN Android features: Google Play Store rating: 4.5 average, 873K reviews | Simultaneous connections: 10 | Kill switch: Yes | Native app support: Android 6 or higher | Logging: None, except billing data | Countries: 111 | Money-back guarantee: 30 days

Nord VPN Mobile

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Surfshark VPN

Best budget Android VPN

Surfshark is the best option if you want a cheap Android VPN that will keep your mobile data secure and mask your activities.

In our speed testing, we found Surfshark’s performance to be reasonable. Surfshark is extremely easy to use, has an acceptable server and country network to select from, and will suit many users for day-to-day surfing. 

The VPN also offers MultiHop, a feature that creates a more secure connection by routing you through two VPNs. There is also a whitelist function that allows apps and devices to bypass the VPN on your Android device. Additional complimentary tools include ad-blocking, anti-tracking, and split tunneling. 

Surfshark provides 3,200 servers in 100 countries with unlimited connections.

ReviewSurfshark VPN

Surfshark is one of the most affordable VPNs on the market, with two-year plans starting at $2.29/month, plus two months of free access. Yearly plans offer the same number of free months and begin at $2.99 per month. Monthly signups are expensive, ranging from $15.45 to $17.95.

A seven-day trial is available for Android devices.

Surfshark VPN Android features: Google Play Store rating: 4.4 average, 100K reviews | Simultaneous connections: Unlimited | Kill switch: Yes | Native app support: Android 5 or higher | Logging: None, except billing data | Money-back guarantee: 30 days, seven-day Android trial

Surfshark VPN Mobile

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ExpressVPN

Best Android VPN for speed

ExpressVPN is a popular VPN service that made our list due to its generally high speeds, expansive server network, and user-friendly app for Android devices.

ExpressVPN has servers in 105 countries so you can easily find a server to connect to wherever you are. During testing, we found that ExpressVPN offers fast, stable, and consistent speeds, and the Android app is user-friendly. 

In addition to supporting Android 5 and above, ExpressVPN works with a variety of platforms and browser extensions, and an APK is available. Therefore, you should be able to use its app regardless of what devices you own.

Review: ExpressVPN

Subscription costs begin at $6.67 per month if you buy a year of service upfront. As a bonus, ExpressVPN will also give you three months for free, added to the end of the contract term. Alternatively, you could pay $9.99 per month for six months of access or $12.95 on a month-to-month basis. 

A seven-day trial for Android devices is available. Customers say that while this VPN isn’t the cheapest, it offers excellent speeds, a good server network, and strong customer support. 

ExpressVPN Android features: Google Play Store rating: 4.3 average, 363K reviews | Simultaneous connections: 8 | Kill switch: Yes | Native app support: Android 5 or higher | Logging: No browsing logs, some connection logs | Countries: 105 | Money-back guarantee: 30 days, Seven day Android trial

ExpressVPN mobile

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Private Internet Access

Best Android VPN for the long term

Private Internet Access is another solid VPN choice for your Android handset. 

It doesn’t have the most attractive user interface, but it is easy to understand and server selection — of which you can choose from 91 locations — is up there with the top VPN networks available. There is a no-logs policy and as a bonus, PIA supports WireGuard and is open source. 

Private Internet Access is the best Android VPN for the long term. PIA often offers long-term contracts beyond the usual one- and two-year solutions and for a competitive price. For example, at the moment, you can sign up for a three-year plan for the equivalent of $2.03/month (three months free) or a two-year plan is available for $2.19/month. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available. 

Review: Private Internet Access

Customers generally like the service and its connectivity, but some note issues with customer service.

Private Internet Access VPN Android features: Google Play Store rating: 4.5 average, 84K reviews | Simultaneous connections: Unlimited | Kill switch: Yes | Native app support: Android 5 and up | Logging: None, except billing data | Locations: 91 | Money-back guarantee: 30 days

Private Internet Access VPN Mobile

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IPVanish

Best click-and-go Android VPN

IPVanish seems to market itself as a click-and-go VPN service, but it’s much more than that. In terms of performance, IPVanish excels with fast connection speeds and solid transfers.

A bonus of this VPN is its stylish user interface in the app, which not only looks good but is also extremely easy to navigate. IPVanish also features a variety of protocols and server options, and there are extensive options for configuring the app itself. Overall, IPVanish delivers a solid user experience and VPN service compared to many other options on the market.

Review: IPVanish

If you commit to two years, IPVanish offers a discounted plan for $2.99 per month. This increases to $3.99 per month for a yearly plan and $12.99 for a month-to-month subscription. Once your deal ends, you should keep an eye on the price hike unless you’ve chosen to turn off automatic renewal.

IPVanish VPN Android features: Google Play Store rating: 4.3 average, 55K reviews | Simultaneous connections: Unlimited | Kill switch: Yes | Native app support: Android 5.1 and up | Logging: None, except billing data | Locations: 75 | Money-back guarantee: 30 days

IPVanish Mobile

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Android VPN

Price

Simultaneous connections

Kill switch

Native app support

Logging

Countries

Money-back guarantee

Google Play Store rating

NordVPN

Starts at $3.69/month

10

Yes

Android 6 or higher

None, except billing data

111

30 days

4.5/5

Surfshark VPN

Starts at $2.29/month

Unlimited

Yes

Android 5 or higher

None, except billing data

100

30 days, 7-day free trial

4.4/5

ExpressVPN

Starts at $6.67/month

8

Yes

Android 5 or higher

None, except billing data

105

30 days, 7-day free trial

4.3/5

PIA

Starts at $2.19/month

Unlimited

Yes

Android 5 or higher

None, except billing data

30 days, 7-day free trial

4.5/5

IPVanish

Starts at $2.99/month

Unlimited

Yes

Android 5.1 and up

None, except billing data

91

30 days

4.5/5

Note: The information presented in this table is accurate as of our last publish date, and prices, ratings, and other details may have changed since then.

We use our smartphones to access sensitive information and conduct online transactions more often than ever before, so ensuring our digital security is essential.

While you might focus your security on laptops and home PCs, you shouldn’t forget that your smartphone is often the key to your digital kingdom. It may be used to access personal email accounts and hubs, work resources, social media, and financial services — and if you fail to protect it, you may be more at risk of having your accounts compromised.

With the right VPN, you can browse the internet anonymously, access geo-restricted content, and avoid being tracked by advertisers, hackers, and government surveillance.

See also: What is a VPN and why do you need one?

Google’s Android operating system is in billions of devices worldwide, including smartphones, tablets, Chromebooks, and other Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Android functions on a broad range of products, most of which are internet-connected, so VPN providers ensure they support this OS.

An Android VPN service is a virtual private network service that encrypts your internet traffic, hides your IP address, and provides you with an anonymous and secure connection while using your Android device. These may include smartphones and tablets manufactured by companies including Google, Samsung, and Motorola.

How to set up an Android VPN

Once you’ve chosen the VPN you want to install, go to the Google Play Store and search for it. In most cases, you’ll be able to download the VPN app directly from the Google Play Store, but you may have to download it from the VPN provider’s site. (If this is the case, please make sure you trust the vendor and domain.) 

For this example, I will be downloading and installing ExpressVPN on a Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra.

vpn screenshot expressvpn mobile

Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

After the app is downloaded, you can install it, but you may have to provide the VPN with specific device permissions. Open it and log in to the service with your username/email and password you created when you subscribed.

vpn screenshot expressvpn mobile 2

Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Once your VPN has been installed, select a country or choose quick connect, and you’re done!

vpn screenshot expressvpn mobile 3

Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

In rare cases, you may have to manually set up a VPN service on your device. Most VPN providers have extensive FAQ sections on their sites with details on how to complete a manual setup. It’s best to reference those instructions for the specific VPN you’re using and to contact support if you have any issues.

See also: How to set up a VPN on your router

Many providers recommended in this list have been subject to in-depth testing and reviews by members of our ZDNET team. We’ve been talking about other VPNs for years, spoken with their management and their users, and developed a generally favorable impression.

ZDNET does test VPN services from multiple locations, but we can’t test from all locations. Every home, every community, every local ISP, and every nation has a different infrastructure. 

We analyzed the best VPNs for Android below using the following criteria that were most important in helping you make an informed decision:

  • Performance: Our top VPNs must have a minimum level of performance. After all, there’s no point in using a VPN while streaming if your connection continually drops or lags, making it intolerable.
  • Simultaneous connections: Many VPNs limit how many devices you can connect to a service at the same time. If you have a phone, tablet, laptop, desktop, and possibly even a smart TV you want to connect to a VPN, you’d need a service that allows at least five or six simultaneous connections.
  • Security: There’s no point using a VPN unless their security protocols and encryption levels are up to scratch. We also ensured the development team behind each recommended VPN cared about making security improvements over time and patching reported bugs.
  • Kill switch: A kill switch prevents you from having an unprotected connection. It is an important feature for a VPN to have, as it protects by preventing a return to a default Wi-Fi connection should your internet connection unexpectedly drop.
  • Geoblocks and streaming: We know VPNs can be key to accessing local content and services while you’re away from home. We ensured that our top recommendations performed well in these factors and are unlikely to slow down your connection while you are streaming. 
  • Platforms: What systems and devices can you run the VPN on? Our Android VPN recommendations, naturally, have to offer easy-to-use and intuitive mobile apps. 
  • Countries & servers: In how many different countries does the VPN have servers? This can include physical and virtual servers and whether or not there are enough — at least 50 or so — to provide variety.
  • Trial length & price: Each VPN we recommend has a solid money-back guarantee and many will offer mobile users a seven-day trial. 

For a more extensive breakdown, check out our comprehensive VPN testing methodology page.

Choose this Android VPN…

If you want…

NordVPN

A do-it-all secure VPN. NordVPN is a versatile and reliable VPN service that offers high-speed connections and advanced security features for protecting your online privacy.

Surfshark

To pay less. Surfshark is an affordable VPN option that provides a range of useful features, including unlimited simultaneous connections, ad-blocking, anti-tracking, and split tunneling.

ExpressVPN

A user-friendly, simple app. ExpressVPN is known for its easy-to-use interface and simple, user-friendly app that allows you to connect quickly and easily to servers around the world.

PIA

A long-term Android VPN. Private Internet Access often offers plans for three years and provides stable speeds and connectivity.

IPVanish

A plug-and-play Android VPN service. IPVanish is designed to be easy to set up and use, with unlimited connections and fast connection speeds for streaming and downloading.

When you are selecting your new Android VPN, you need to consider the following factors:

  • Cost: You need to consider the overall cost of your new VPN plan. Try to take advantage of promotions, but ignore countdown timers — they typically are just marketing tools. While top-notch VPNs can cost upwards of $10/month, many are available for only a few dollars. Many VPN providers will also give users a free seven-day Android trial. We generally recommend that free VPNs are avoided — with a few exceptions — as they may sell your data or bombard you with adverts.
  • Simultaneous connections: If you’re paying for a VPN suitable for your Android handset, you might still want to use it across multiple devices, such as a desktop PC or laptop. We recommend you sign up for a plan with support for at least six devices. Thankfully, many paid VPN plans will now offer unlimited connections. 
  • Contract length: You also need to decide how long you want a VPN for. If you opt for a two-year term you tend to secure the best prices, but there are other options available. After you’ve made a selection, you typically have a 30-day money-back guarantee. 
  • Apps: When selecting a VPN, you need to try it out first to ensure you like its accompanying Android app. Some VPNs, for example, have great desktop software but lack in the mobile app department, which may not be as intuitive or easy to use. 
  • Free trial: Don’t forget that many VPN providers will give you a week to try out their Android VPNs for free. Visit Google Play and download the options you like and find the right app for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Although we do not typically recommend free VPN services due to their general lack of reliability and heavy restrictions, several free VPNs for Android are supported by premium paid subscriptions and are provided by trustworthy organizations. 

These free services are sometimes offered by reputable VPNs and are generally safe to use. However, they usually have severe data or performance limits, making them useful only as a way to test out the full service. 

We recommend Proton VPN’s free service, which has no data caps, or Windscribe, a trustworthy and free service. However, Proton VPN does restrict your speed, whereas Windscribe imposes a data cap. 

See also: The best free VPNs: Expert tested

The Android operating does have a VPN client that supports PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, and IPSec protocols. However, the client is typically used for accessing private networks, such as when you need a VPN to connect to work resources — and you will need details provided by an administrator to use it. Most users will not need to enable this function and will, instead, download a VPN mobile app.

Some vendors have built upon the native Android client to offer tailored VPN functions. Samsung is among them, and the company’s own VPN solution has been made available through the Samsung Knox security framework. However, this service is focused on mobile device management, the enterprise, and developers, rather than consumers. Still, if you’re interested, you can check out Samsung’s guide to enabling VPN services here. 

Most people’s phone data runs through a local carrier, which is difficult for hackers to intercept. Generally, you’re reasonably safe if you’re using your carrier’s cellular connection. But carriers have data caps and data carriage fees that can get expensive. Even if you have an unlimited data plan, carriers might charge you for hotspot use.

To avoid extra costs, you can use local Wi-Fi that coffee shops, airport lounges, hotels, and schools often offer to the public for free. Unfortunately, these Wi-Fi hotspots are often open and easy to intercept. Having a VPN on your phone can protect your data when accessing the internet through one of these hotspots. In fact, I recommend never accessing the internet through a Wi-Fi hotspot without an active VPN.

Furthermore, you may want to consider using a VPN to remain secure and to be able to pick your preferred location if you are using your Android device to stream content. 

See also: Best iPhone VPNs

To check if your VPN is safe and working properly, first of all, choose a reputable vendor known to have a strong security background. 

The easiest way to check that your VPN is working properly is to compare your IP address before and after enabling a VPN connection. You can find this under your device’s settings (typically under Wi-Fi) or by visiting whatismyipaddress.com. If they both display the same IP, your VPN may not be working properly. 

You can also visit dnsleaktest.com to see if any DNS leaks have been detected while you are using a VPN, which could be a sign that your information is being leaked. 

Finally, be careful with free VPNs being offered by unknown or shady companies, especially if they are outside of official app repositories. This could open your device up to surveillance or malware. 

The easiest way to turn off your VPN on Android is to open the VPN’s app and choose to disconnect. Alternatively, you can go to your Android device’s settings tab, select network (which may appear as connections or connection settings) and select ‘VPN.’ Depending on your device, this may show a list of all apps with VPN profiles. From here, you can change the VPN’s settings or turn it off. 

While these technologies are intended to protect you and your device, they provide different layers of protection. VPNs fundamentally protect data in motion, which is sent to and from the internet. VPN protection is generally provided by encryption, so hackers can’t spy on the data while it moves. However, some organizations will also bolt on malware scanners, data breach monitors, and more. 

Anti-malware software protects against malicious software executing on your device. Those apps scan data, monitor running software processes and downloads, and may intercept suspicious activities or downloads. They may also include checking permissions and ensuring apps don’t have more control over your device than they need.

A VPN is not a one-size-fits-all solution to mobile security but it is an important part of overall mobile security hygiene and data protection.

Yes, Android VPN services are legal in the United States, but the legality of using VPNs varies from country to country. It is important to check the laws of your location before using a VPN. Some countries ban their use outright, such as North Korea, Belarus, and Iraq, whereas other countries frown upon the use of any VPN that is not state-controlled — including Russia and China.

For a list of countries where VPN usage is illegal, check out NordVPN’s guide. 

There are several other Android VPNs you can consider outside of this list. While it isn’t possible to highlight every worthy offering on the market, here are a few more of our favorites:

View at Hotspot ShieldView at ProtonVPNView at WindscribeView at PureVPN





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