The Independent’s journalism is supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission. Why trust us?

Best mobile VPN apps: Which provider has the best app?

Verified by Molly Dyson

In this digital age, the security of your mobile data is more crucial than ever, especially with the rise in cybercrime. One strategic tool for securing your data is a Virtual Private Network, or VPN, a technology with many benefits. VPNs encrypt your data, offering increased privacy and anonymity online. This secure encryption is a fundamental countermeasure against cyber threats.

Choosing the best mobile VPN app extends this protection beyond your home network, encompassing any data transmitted while connected to public wifi. This is paramount given the susceptibility of public networks to malicious activities. Cybercriminals frequently exploit these networks to intercept and steal personal data. By creating a private tunnel for your mobile data to pass through, a VPN significantly diminishes this risk.

Another advantage is access to geo-restricted content. A VPN allows your device to appear as if it’s in a different location, granting you access to region-specific content that would otherwise be unavailable. 

Our technical proficiency, in-depth understanding of cybersecurity trends, and commitment to user-centric design make us a trusted reviewer in the VPN sector.

Our top three mobile VPN apps

In our testing, each of these providers demonstrated excellent levels of security, along with fast download and streaming speeds – all ideal for your mobile VPN needs.

How we research and rate mobile VPN apps

100+
hours performance testing
500+
customer reviews read
200+
hours comparing mobile VPN apps
25
VPN providers compared
3
VPN experts consulted

Our reviewers are dedicated to bringing you the most accurate and up-to-date information so you can make an informed decision when it comes to buying a VPN for your mobile. We will only recommend a VPN after hours of testing, head-to-head mobile app feature comparisons, and after taking into account verified customer feedback and reviews and the opinions of industry experts.

Our mobile VPN app review scores are determined the following categories:

  • Privacy and performance (30%)
  • Features and functionality (30%)
  • Reputation and credibility (20%)
  • Plans and pricing/value (10%)
  • Customer experience (10%)

We research and test a total of 25 elements within these categories including:

  • Number and location of servers
  • Streaming service accessibility
  • Security features such as AES-256
  • Performance (upload, download, latency)
  • Value for money, guarantees, and customer service
  • Independent server-site security audits

All of our VPN articles are verified by our in-house team of fact-checkers, so you can be assured our content is accurate and up to date as possible. To find out more, read our article on how we review VPNs.

The best mobile VPN apps compared

A mobile VPN should be fundamentally defined by its commitment to security and privacy. It must employ robust encryption standards to ensure the confidentiality of your data, thus making it almost impossible for malicious entities to decipher it. AES-256 is widely considered the most unbreakable encryption available at present. Advanced features, such as split tunnelling and kill switches, are also advisable for security purposes.  

User privacy is another cornerstone of a good VPN. This involves a strict no-logs policy – often audited by a reputable third party – ensuring the VPN provider does not store any information about your online activities. Transparency in its privacy policy is vital, allowing you to understand how your data is managed.

Speed and performance are also key factors to consider. Providing fast and consistent connection speeds, enabling you to browse, stream, torrent and download without noticeable delays, defines a good VPN service. 

VPNs should provide global coverage, allowing you to bypass geographical restrictions and access content from around the world. They also need to offer reliable customer support to assist with any issues.

Price From £2.49/m From £6.92/m From £1.79/m From £1.78/m From £3.88/m
Free version No No No No Yes
Max number of connected devices 6 5 Unlimited 7 10
Number of servers 5500+ 3000+ 3200+ 9000+ 2700+
AES-256 encryption Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Audited no-log policy Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Where to buy

Some prices exclusive of VAT or local taxes. Prices correct as of 23/6/2023

The best mobile VPN apps reviewed

Our experts have meticulously tested a number of VPNs, focusing on their app performance on mobile devices. We’ve dedicated more than 150 hours to assessing factors such as speed, privacy protocols, and security features to identify the best mobile VPN app options on the market.

NordVPN: Best overall VPN app for mobile

nordvpn logo
  • Lowest price: £2.49 per month for a 24-month subscription (plus three months free)
  • Free version: No
  • Maximum number of connected devices: 6
  • Number of servers: 5,700+ in 60 countries
  • Encryption: AES-256
  • VPN protocols: IKEv2/IPsec, OpenVPN, and NordLynx (WireGuard protocol)
  • No-log policy: Does not log user activity 
  • Audited: Yes, by PwC and Deloitte
  • Headquarters: Panama

Pros and cons

NordVPN has several pros and cons, and you should consider the impact of these before using it on your mobile device.

Pros Cons
Effective encryption and robust security protocols No free plan
Audited no-logs policy Automatic subscription renewal enabled by default
Specialist servers No split tunnelling feature in the iOS app
Extensive server network
24/7 customer support
30-day money-back guarantee

Also named our Best overall VPN, Best VPN for iPhone and Best VPN for Android, NordVPN is intended for anyone who uses the internet – from the privacy-conscious individual to businesses that can take advantage of NordLayer, a business-oriented solution providing secure remote access for employees.

NordVPN’s strength lies in its advanced security features. It uses strong encryption protocols to protect your data from prying eyes, making it a reliable shield against cyber threats. It also employs a strict no-logs policy backed up by independent audits, meaning it doesn’t store any information about your online activities, further enhancing your privacy. 

The provider has speciality servers such as Double VPN, which routes traffic through two servers for additional encryption, and Onion Over VPN, allowing you to access the Onion network without installing Tor. It also offers a kill switch, a safety measure that disconnects your device from the internet if your VPN connection drops, preventing accidental data leaks.

However, there are a few limitations to note. Advanced features, such as split tunnelling, are unavailable on some platforms. Additionally, the cost of the service may be considered higher than average, particularly for its premium plans.

Cost

NordVPN has three payment tiers – Standard, Plus and Complete – and each is available as a monthly, yearly, or two-year plan. The monthly subscription is billed every month, while the other two plans require payment upfront, but you’ll receive an extra three months free. 

There is also a 30-day money-back guarantee across all the tiers.

Subscription Term Standard plan Plus plan Complete plan
Monthly £10.39 ($12.80) / month £11.19 ($13.79) / month £13.09 ($16.13) / month
12 months £3.59 ($4.42) / month (£53.85/$66.36 up front for 15 months) £4.39 ($5.41) / month (£65.85/$81.15 up front for 15 months) £6.39 ($7.88) / month (£95.85/$118.13 up front for 15 months)
24 months £2.49 ($3.07) / month (£67.23/$82.85 up front for 27 months) £3.19 ($3.93) / month (£86.13/$106.16 up front for 27 months) £5.19 ($6.40) / month (£140.13/$172.72 up front for 27 months)

Security

NordVPN employs the sophisticated AES-256 algorithm. Acknowledged as one of the most robust encryption methods, AES-256 is commonly employed by military and government entities to ensure online privacy and data security.

NordVPN states it does not store any user-specific data or track online behaviour. This no-logs claim has received independent validation from reputable auditing firms PwC and Deloitte, reinforcing its credibility.

User experience

NordVPN’s mobile app design is straightforward and intuitive, with features including Meshnet and speciality servers, accessible via the main screen. Its map-based interface is visually appealing, and users can effortlessly connect to a VPN server by tapping on a country pin or selecting a server from the list. There’s also a Quick Connect button for those who prefer a fast, automated selection.

For those seeking further customisation, the app offers settings to adjust its functionality, including adding Siri commands, swift in-app support access, and quick access to their preferred features. It’s worth noting that, despite being appreciated for its ease and speed, there have been a few complaints about difficulties in accessing geo-blocked content.

Performance

NordVPN offers one of the fastest download speeds of the VPNs we’ve tested, with around 5 per cent degradation from the baseline. The latency rate allowed our researchers smooth gaming and streaming experiences, although, as seen with our other VPNs, this became worse when using Australian servers.

Download speed (Mbps) Upload speed (Mbps) Latency (ping) Percentage of base download speed Percentage of base upload speed
No VPN 36.9 9.23 10ms
UK to UK 35.4 8.69 12ms 95% 94%
UK to US 35.5 8.72 85ms 96% 94%
UK to Australia 35.7 7.61 317ms 96% 82%

Customer service

NordVPN’s customer support team are contactable through the in-app chat option, or via email, and it has mixed reviews from users. 

The VPN provider has a Trustpilot rating of 4.4, 4.7 on the App Store, and 4.5 on Google Play. Some customers have had positive experiences, mentioning speedy, helpful responses, while others are less satisfied with its support, referring to problems receiving refunds and connectivity issues. 

“I accidentally paid twice under two different accounts, then realised it a couple weeks later when I received my visa statement, and the support I received from George was seamless! Amazing refund, quick, and easy.”

“It’s a very good paid service with multiple options, usually reliable and quick enough even for downloading. Multiple weekly updates and lots of servers. It used to be very fast and reliable as well, but during the last few weeks I [have] experienced slow downs and connection issues for both the mobile and Windows apps. [I] hope these will be sorted. No matter which server you connect to, sometimes it just doesn’t work properly.”

Verdict 

In summary, NordVPN offers an extensive range of features, solid online privacy protocols and robust security measures. With an expanding portfolio of cutting-edge technology, including NordLayer, Meshnet, and Dark Web Scanning, and a user-friendly interface, it appeals to a broad user base.

Despite NordVPN occupying the pricier end of the spectrum in some cases, the quality of its mobile app makes it a worthwhile investment. Whether you’re new to VPN services or a seasoned user seeking a comprehensive online privacy and security solution, NordVPN is a compelling choice.

Score: ★★★★½

Read our full NordVPN review.

Today’s best NordVPN deals
NordVPN 2 year £2.49 /Month
£2.49 /Month
NordVPN 1 year £3.59 /Month
£3.59 /Month
NordVPN 1 month £10.39 /Month
£10.39 /Month

ExpressVPN: Best mobile VPN app for bypassing geo-restrictions

ExpressVPN logo
  • Lowest price: From £6.92 for a 12-month subscription
  • Free version: No
  • Maximum number of connected devices: 5
  • Number of servers: 3,000+
  • Encryption: AES-256
  • VPN protocols: Lightway, IKEv2
  • No-log policy: Yes
  • Audited: Yes
  • Headquarters: British Virgin Islands

Pros and cons

The pros and cons of using ExpressVPN on your mobile device:

Pros Cons
Wide server network across 94 countries Premium subscription cost
User-friendly mobile apps No split tunnelling for iOS
Tracker and malicious website blocker No multi-hop connections
Auto-reconnect option
30-day money back guarantee

ExpressVPN, also named our best VPN for Mac, operates an extensive network of servers across the globe, which is beneficial for users seeking to circumvent geo-restrictions. The comprehensive server coverage also contributes to maintaining reliable, fast connection speeds necessary for downloading or gaming. 

Security-wise, ExpressVPN employs robust AES-256 encryption protocols and features such as a kill switch and split tunnelling – although this isn’t available for iOS. Users can tailor their online experience by choosing the most suitable protocol for their needs, including the company’s proprietary Lightway protocol, which is designed for faster speeds and more stable connections, and its apps are generally user-friendly, catering to both users with technical expertise and those with little to no prior VPN experience.

However, ExpressVPN has a few limitations. It is one of the more expensive options on the market, which could be a barrier for some users. It also allows for fewer simultaneous connections than some other VPN services. 

Cost

ExpressVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee and three subscription terms.

Subscription Term Price
Monthly £10.78 ($13.28) / month
6 months £8.31 ($10.24) / month (£49.88/$61.46 up front)
12 months £6.92 ($8.53) / month (£83.16/$102.46 up front)

Security 

ExpressVPN uses several advanced security protocols to ensure data safety and maintain the privacy of its users. These include IKEv2, providing mobile users with a rapid reconnect when it’s temporarily lost, such as when you switch between wifi and mobile data, and its proprietary Lightway, designed to be lightweight and fast without compromising security. 

ExpressVPN has a solid no-logs policy, which PwC independently audited in 2019. Although the provider has passed security audits more recently, including a Lightway audit in 2022, that was the last no-logs audit.

User experience

Our experts found ExpressVPN’s mobile apps offered a crisp, clutter-free interface that provides a suggested location, a large connect button, and a menu guiding users to additional features. These include Threat Manager, which blocks trackers and harmful websites. 

Although ExpressVPN users like its user-friendly apps, some advanced users have complained about a lack of detailed configuration options.

Performance

ExpressVPN had very similar speeds to NordVPN in our tests. The latter produced better latency rates than NordVPN when connected to a server in Australia, but online communication was still problematic with the intermittent connection.

Download speed (Mbps) Upload speed (Mbps) Latency (ping) Percentage of base download speed Percentage of base upload speed
No VPN 37.2 9.15 9ms
UK to UK 35.4 8.57 15ms 95% 93%
UK to US 36.8 8.52 158ms 98% 93%
UK to Australia 36.3 8.66 265ms 97% 94%

Customer service

ExpressVPN has an impressive 4.7 on Trustpilot, 4.5 on the App Store, and 4.3 on Google Play, suggesting users are happy with its service across the board. Its in-app live chat makes contacting the customer support team quick and easy. 

“ExpressVPN has an easy user interface and does what it says it will do. Within the first 48 hours it identified three of my accounts that had been subject to data leaks, so it’s a great reminder to regularly update passwords. Our phones contain our entire lives and are our most vulnerable devices that we take everywhere. Setting up ExpressVPN on my mobile device was easy and having it constantly in the background has hardly affected the battery consumption. Highly recommend this product.”

Verdict

ExpressVPN is popular for its mobile app’s user-centric design, showcasing a sleek interface and readily accessible tools. Nonetheless, it falls short on the universal accessibility of certain features, such as split tunnelling, and it doesn’t match the extensive functionality found in NordVPN’s app.

ExpressVPN does hold an ‘excellent’ Trustpilot rating, but it’s important to note this score pertains to the entirety of ExpressVPN’s services, not solely for its mobile apps. However, the range of features found within NordVPN’s apps tips the scale in its favour, nudging ExpressVPN to a close second place.

Score: ★★★★½

Read our full ExpressVPN review.

Today’s best ExpressVPN deals
ExpressVPN 12 month £6.92 /Month
£6.92 /Month
ExpressVPN 6 month £8.31 /Month
£8.31 /Month
ExpressVPN 1 month £10.78 /Month
£10.78 /Month

Surfshark: Best mobile VPN app novices

surfshark logo white on blue
  • Lowest price: From £1.79 per month for a 24-month plan (plus two months free) 
  • Free version: No
  • Maximum number of connected devices: Unlimited
  • Number of servers: 3,200+
  • Encryption: AES-256
  • VPN protocols: WireGuard, IKEv2, and OpenVPN
  • No-log policy: Yes
  • Audited: Yes
  • Headquarters: The Netherlands

Pros and cons

Surfshark’s mobile apps come with several advantages and disadvantages.

Pros Cons
Unlimited simultaneous connections Price hike upon renewal
Broad global server network No split tunnelling on iOS
IP Rotator feature Confusing privacy policy

With an extensive global server network, Surfshark enables users to bypass geographic restrictions, providing access to content that is blocked in their location. This particularly benefits users who wish to access streaming content or overcome internet censorship.

Surfshark incorporates a range of security features, including high-level encryption, a kill switch, and IP/DNS leak protection. The service also includes CleanWeb, a tool to block ads, trackers, and malware. Some of its servers offer MultiHop, or double VPN connections, which route traffic through two servers for additional security.

Despite its range of features, Surfshark maintains a user-friendly interface across its applications, making it suitable for both VPN novices and experienced users. 

It should be noted, however, that Bypasser, Surfshark’s split tunnelling feature, is only available on its Android app, and some users have found its privacy policy unnecessarily complex. 

Cost

Surfshark offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, but while its pricing is competitive, especially with longer-term plans, some users might find the increase in cost upon renewal a bit surprising.

Subscription Term Price
Monthly £12.29 ($15.14) / month
12 months £2.29 ($2.82) / month (£32.06/$39.51 up front)
24 months (+2 months free) £1.79 ($2.21) / month (£46.54/$57.35 up front for 26 months)

Security

Surfshark uses AES-256 for its encryption, widely acknowledged to be robust enough for military organisations and government departments. It also employs kill switches, camouflage mode, and multi-hop servers. Deloitte has verified its solid no-logs policy.

User experience

Surfshark’s mobile apps are notably user-friendly and adaptable, boasting appealing options for light or dark themes. The features, of which there are plenty, offer clear, intuitive paths for navigation and single-click connectivity. However, neither split tunnelling nor GPS spoofing are available on iOS platforms. While Surfshark’s simplicity is a plus for most users, tech-savvy users looking for advanced customisation options might find it lacking. 

Performance

As with all the VPNs we’ve tested, the speeds delivered by Surfshark were very similar across the server locations, but the high latency from the US and Australian servers seriously impacted our online gaming and streaming experience.

Download speed (Mbps) Upload speed (Mbps) Latency (ping) Percentage of base download speed Percentage of base upload speed
No VPN 36.5 8.99 10ms
UK to UK 35.8 8.64 24ms 98% 96%
UK to US 36.1 8.62 103ms 98% 95%
UK to Australia 34.5 6.48 345ms 94% 72%

Customer service

Surfshark has a Trustpilot score of 4.5, 4.8 on the App Store, and 4.5 on Google Play, suggesting a high level of customer satisfaction. However, some users have reported problems with refunds and the money-back guarantee. 

“I have used Surfshark for nearly two years now, and I have no problem whatsoever with the app. The connection speed is really fast, it has a lot of servers and I can easily access any geographically limited services I want. And their customer service is great too. Ivan in the customer support team solved my problems in a flash and I am really impressed, because you have to wait for two or three days when using other services.”

“Giving five stars, as it’s working as expected. Speed is okayish, but not the best. I also set up Surfshark on my Raspberry pi via OpenVpn. Wireguard didn’t work. I usually get around 1Gbps on my connection, but if I run through Surfshark, I usually get either 100 to 120Mbps (through Wireguard protocol, in the native app), 40 to 50Mbps (through IKEv2 and OpenVPN UDP protocol), or eight to 10Mbps (through OpenVPN TCP protocol). TCP is much more reliable (not for streaming), but other protocols are much faster.”

The support team can be reached via the in-app chat or email, with the chat feature being quick and responsive.  

Verdict

Despite lacking a few features in the iOS app, Surfshark’s mobile apps are straightforward and visually pleasing. Ideal for VPN beginners, our researchers especially appreciated the clear directions and explanatory labels, making it effortless to get started quickly.

Score: ★★★★½

Read our full Surfshark review.

Today’s best Surfshark deals
Surfshark 24 month £1.79 /Month
£1.79 /Month
Surfshark 12 month £2.29 /Month
£2.29 /Month
Surfshark 1 month £12.29 /Month
£12.29 /Month

CyberGhost: Best mobile VPN app for streaming and gaming

cyberghost logo
  • Lowest price: From £1.78 per month for a 24-month plan (plus three months free)
  • Free version: No
  • Maximum number of connected devices: 7
  • Number of servers: 9,500+
  • Encryption: AES-256
  • VPN protocols: OpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuard
  • No-log policy: Yes
  • Audited: Yes
  • Headquarters: Bucharest, Romania

Pros and cons

As with every other VPN, there are pros and cons to using CyberGhost.

Pros Cons
Large, well-distributed server fleet Parent company has a poor reputation
Specialised servers Geo-restrictions in some countries, including China, the UAE, and Turkey
45-day money-back guarantee

CyberGhost is well worth considering if you’re looking for an affordable, user-friendly VPN, with strong AES-256 encryption, and a large network of servers worldwide, including dedicated gaming and sports streaming-optimised servers.  

With features including an automatic kill switch, split tunnelling, and dedicated IPs, while CyberGhost may not have the same extensive features as its competitors, it still provides effective unblocking capabilities and responsive wifi protection.

Cost

CyberGhost offers an impressive 45-day money-back guarantee with its six- and 24-month subscriptions and a more typical 14 days with a monthly subscription. It ranked first when we analysed the top VPNs for value for money

Subscription Term Price
Monthly £10.89 ($13.41) / month
6 months £6.19 ($7.63) / month (£37.14/$45.75 up front)
24 months (+3 months free) £1.78 ($2.19) / month (£49.92/$61.49 up front for 28 months)

Security

Deloitte Romania verified CyberGhost’s no-logs policy in 2022, however there are concerns surrounding its parent company – Kape Technologies, formerly known as Crossrider. Once known for creating adware, Kape Technologies states it has left its old business practices behind and is fully committed to user privacy. Some privacy advocates are wary because of the company’s past. 

User experience

Our researchers found CyberGhost’s mobile apps simple and intuitive to use, with  clean, organised interfaces. iOS, as with many VPNs, misses out on the split tunnelling feature, and several users have mentioned issues regarding which server they are connected to. The latter point was also a problem for our researchers.

Performance

Using CyberGhost to connect to a UK server noticeably slowed our download speeds, but didn’t hinder our experience, and we were surprised that by connecting to an Australian server, only the latency was severely affected. CyberGhost has over 9,500 servers globally, many of which are specifically optimised for streaming and gaming, allowing users to pick the optimal server from its vast library, and thus avoid any negative impact from a high latency.

Download speed (Mbps) Upload speed (Mbps) Latency (ping) Percentage of base download speed Percentage of base upload speed
No VPN 37.1 9.26 10ms
UK to UK 33.9 8.56 13ms 91% 92%
UK to US 32.9 8.29 84ms 88% 89%
UK to Australia 36.3 7.99 377ms 97% 86%

Customer service 

Trustpilot awards CyberGhost a rating of 4.3, and it gets 4.2 on Google Play, and another 4.2 on the App Store, with customers generally satisfied with the level of support received via the online chat function. There is also an impressively comprehensive online help section which appears to be regularly updated. 

“Works great, especially the functionality that cuts connection to the internet if the communication with the VPN breaks down (which happens rarely), so that nothing can leak out. Though the GUI is sometimes a bit confused, as it says it is connected to VPN server A, while in reality it is connected to VPN server B.”

“[I] have used [CyberGhost] for several years. The one time I had a problem connecting to a certain hotel wifi, tech support stuck with me until they got it working.”

Verdict

While CyberGhost does have a few drawbacks, such as concerns regarding its parent company and the absence of split tunnelling for iOS users, it still presents a compelling package, especially for gamers and sports streamers. 

Score: ★★★★

Read our full CyberGhost review.

Today’s best CyberGhost deals
CyberGhost 2 year £1.78 /Month
£1.78 /Month
CyberGhost 1 year £6.19 /Month
£6.19 /Month
CyberGhost 1 month £10.89 /Month
£10.89 /Month

Proton VPN: Best mobile VPN app for file sharing

Proton VPN logo featured thumbnail
  • Lowest price: From £3.88 per month for a two-year plan
  • Free version: Yes
  • Maximum number of connected devices: 10
  • Number of servers: 2,900+
  • Encryption: AES-256
  • VPN protocols: IKEv2, OpenVPN, and WireGuard
  • No-log policy: Yes
  • Audited: Yes
  • Headquarters: Switzerland

Pros and cons

These are the upsides and downsides of Proton VPN you should consider before making a purchase.

Pros Cons
Free version available Live chat is only available 9am to 5pm weekdays
Open-source apps No-logs policy not verified by “Big Four” auditor
Numerous advanced privacy features Kill switch issues

Proton VPN’s service is provided by the same Swiss company that operates Proton Mail, a popular, secure email service, and it’s one of the few VPNs we tested that offers a free version (which was named our best free VPN). The provider prioritises user protection by implementing top-tier encryption and introducing an integrated feature known as NetShield, which safeguards users from malware, unwanted ads, and tracking. 

Cost

Proton VPN offers subscription terms of monthly, 12 months, and 24 months, and the same terms under its Proton Unlimited plans (which include the company’s other services – Proton Mail and Proton Drive). It also provides a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Subscription Term Price
Monthly €9.99 (£8.63) / month
12 months €4.99 (£4.31) / month (€59.88/£51.72 up front)
24 months €4.49 (£3.88) / month (€107.76/£93.07 up front)

Security

Proton VPN uses AES-256 encryption, while its Secure Core feature routes traffic through multiple servers in privacy-friendly countries for added security. The provider claims to have a robust no-logs policy, which Securitum, a European security auditing company, has verified. However, the other VPNs we’ve reviewed have employed at least one of the Big Four auditing firms to verify their policies, which we feel offers more authority. 

User experience

Our Proton VPN researchers found the mobile interface cluttered, which could initially overwhelm those new to VPNs. Online user reviews suggest the promised speeds are not materialising, and ads are not being effectively blocked. 

Performance

The speeds produced from Proton VPN’s servers were very similar to the other VPNs we researched. However we were impressed with the 36.7Mbps achieved via an Australian server – only a 99 per cent drop from the baseline of 37Mbps, equal to that of using a server in the US.

Download speed (Mbps) Upload speed (Mbps) Latency (ping) Percentage of base download speed Percentage of base upload speed
No VPN 37 9 10ms
UK to UK 35.2 8.7 19ms 95% 96%
UK to US 36.7 5.8 306ms 99% 64%
UK to Australia 36.7 8.57 216ms 99% 95%

Customer service

Proton VPN’s Trustpilot rating is a ‘poor’ 2.4, with users complaining about poor customer service, problems subscribing to Proton Unlimited, and refunds being provided in credits. However, on Google Play, the provider has a rating of 4.4, and 4.6 on the Apple App Store.

“[Be] careful, [as] when you cancel a paid subscription they immediately end your subscription and keep your money. They ‘refund’ in credits. Please don’t make the same mistake like me and get a paid subscription here.”

“[A] very nice and straight forward [VPN]. This app is one of the best I’ve used till now, and it’s got good features like network usage net speed on the top screen menu, which I really like.”

Customer support can be accessed through the in-app chat feature, email, or an online form. 

Verdict

Proton VPN appears to be a solid choice for users wanting online privacy and security, but it might not satisfy those seeking an intuitive interface and effective ad blocking. However, it does offer the rarely-found free version (though this is limited) and has a broad range of features for mobile users.  

Score: ★★★★

Read our full Proton VPN review.

Today’s best Proton VPN deals
Proton 2 year £3.88 /Month
£3.88 /Month
Proton 1 year £4.31 /Month
£4.31 /Month
Proton 1 month £8.63 /Month
£8.63 /Month

What to look for when buying a VPN app for mobile

When looking for a VPN for mobile use, there are several key considerations to bear in mind:

  • Security: Look for a VPN with strong encryption – AES-256 is currently the gold standard – along with secure protocols, a reliable kill switch, and DNS leak protection
  • Privacy: The VPN should have an independently verified no-logs policy, meaning it doesn’t store data about your online activities. The jurisdiction of the VPN (i.e., where it’s legally based) also matters because it can impact privacy laws and data retention policies
  • Speed: Since VPNs can slow down your internet speed, consider a VPN known for good performance and fast servers
  • Server network: A broad server network with a wide geographic distribution can help you bypass geo-restrictions and find a nearby server for better speed
  • Mobile apps: Make sure the VPN provider offers a dedicated app for your mobile operating system (iOS or Android), and check whether the app is user-friendly, stable, and regularly updated
  • Reliability: The VPN connection should be stable, without frequent drops
  • Customer support: Reliable and accessible customer support (ideally 24/7 and via various methods such as live chat, email, etc.) is beneficial if you run into any issues
  • Price and value: Compare features, performance, and prices across different VPN services to determine the best value for your needs. Consider the terms of the free trial or money-back guarantee, if any
  • Reviews and reputation: Check recent reviews and user feedback to understand the VPN’s reputation and how well it lives up to its claims

Frequently asked questions about mobile VPN apps

Using a VPN on your phone can significantly enhance digital security and privacy. With a VPN, your internet traffic is encrypted, which protects your data from potential snoopers, especially when you’re using public wifi networks. It can also mask your IP address, giving you increased online anonymity.

Using a VPN on your mobile device can affect your data usage. A VPN encrypts your internet traffic, adding an extra data layer that can slightly increase the total consumed. While this increase is typically minimal at around 10 to 15 per cent, it can still make a difference if you’re on a limited data plan.

Round up of today’s best VPN deals
NordVPN 2 year £2.49 /Month
£2.49 /Month
Surfshark 24 month £1.79 /Month
£1.79 /Month
ExpressVPN 12 month £6.92 /Month
£6.92 /Month
CyberGhost 2 year £1.78 /Month
£1.78 /Month
Proton 2 year £3.88 /Month
£3.88 /Month
PIA 2 year £1.57 /Month
£1.57 /Month
Atlas 2 year £1.34 /Month
£1.34 /Month
PrivadoVPN 2 year £1.48 /Month
£1.48 /Month
Windscribe 12 month £1.96 /Month
£1.96 /Month
IPVanish 2 year £3.33 /Month
£3.33 /Month

The data in this review is reported from a neutral stance and should be used for informational purposes only. We review free VPN services from the perspective of:

  • The quality of the product based on the security it affords the user
  • User experience of the application(s)
  • Level and quality of customer service

Independent Advisor does not endorse the streaming of content from regions other than where the subscription is held, nor does it endorse the downloading or consumption of illegally pirated content.

Overall Score: 4.5/5
Overall Score: 4.5/5

Our award for the best overall mobile VPN app goes to NordVPN. If you’re looking to protect your privacy over everything else, then NordVPN is the best option, bar none, with its best-in-class security. It’s one of the longest-running VPN providers around and has great experience in the market. Its double VPN encryption adds more privacy to your browsing, while private DNS protection means no threat of hijacking and no logging of your online activities. Performance is top-notch too, and it boasts a huge number of servers located in pretty much any country you’d need.

Surfshark: Best for beginners
Overall Score: 4.5/5
Surfshark: Best for beginners
Overall Score: 4.5/5

Our choice of the best mobile VPN app for beginners has a slight but notable advantage over the competition in terms of performance – in our tests it demonstrated the lowest level of degradation for download and upload speeds when locating your IP abroad. Surfshark’s security is also top-notch with AES 256-bit encryption, an audited no-log policy, and automatic kill switch. The price is hard to beat too.

ExpressVPN: Best for unblocking content
Overall Score: 4.5/5
ExpressVPN: Best for unblocking content
Overall Score: 4.5/5

If you’re looking for a great all-round option that is good at unblocking geo-restricted content, then this is the VPN for you. ExpressVPN has all the market-leading features you could want: top security, a fast connection, and it’s a great option for streaming from the internet. It also has some great, user-friendly apps, for every platform you could wish for. The only real downside is that ExpressVPN is more expensive than its rivals, so better value can be found elsewhere.

Katharine Allison

Energy Saving Writer

As Independent Advisor’s energy saving expert, Katharine, a keen advocate for sustainability, is an authority on solar panels, double glazing, and cutting-edge renewable energy technologies. Her dedication merges with a commitment to enlighten and steer readers toward embracing eco-friendly solutions and the latest trends in sustainability.

With over 10 years of experience, she has worked with some of the UK’s leading companies and publications, including the Federation of Master Builders, Architectural Digest, and Denon Construction. 

Katharine is particularly passionate about consumer causes and animal welfare and has art, philosophy, and psychology degrees. She lives with her sled dogs in East Sussex.

Molly Dyson

Editor

After growing up with a passion for writing, Molly studied journalism and creative writing at university in her home country of the United States.

She has written for a variety of print and online publications, from small town newspapers to international magazines. Most of her 10-year career since relocating to the UK has been spent in business journalism, writing and editing for admin professionals at PA Life magazine and business travel managers at Business Travel News Europe and representing those titles at conferences around the world.

Now an Editor at the Independent Advisor, Molly is an expert in a broad range of consumer topics, that include solar panels and renewables, home improvements and home insurance, and consumer technology such as home security and VPNs.

In her free time, Molly can usually be found exploring the outdoors with her husband and their young son or gardening.