Ah, the eternal debate — Apple vs. Android.
You’ve clearly made your selection since you’ve found your way to this page, and rather than admonish or deride you for your choice in mobile devices — to be honest, there’s argument among our ranks as well, typed out in blue and green speech bubbles — we’d rather talk about protecting that mobile device you selected.
And protect it you should. You’re far more likely to fall victim to cyber-attacks when you’re out and about and connecting to unsecured Wi-Fi networks. The best way to stay covered? Use a virtual private network (VPN).
VPNs mask your IP address and encrypt your data, making you effectively invisible to anyone lurking on the network who’s trying to get their grubby hands on your sensitive information. They’re one of the best consumer tools available for bolstering digital privacy and keeping cyber threats at bay.
But not all VPNs are created equal, and if you’re looking for one that’s Android-specific, there are some considerations to be made. So let’s get into our picks for the best VPNs for your Android device.
Speed and security are the first two things that come to mind when we think about PIA. The second two are ease-of-use and customizability. These factors combined make this VPN a great option for Android users.
PIA is one of those rare VPNs that just checks all the boxes. They’re fast, secure, easy to use and easy to customize. In fact, in our Private Internet Access review, we found that they’re one of the most highly customizable VPNs we’d ever worked with — something we know you probably value as an Android user.
But the ability to tinker under the hood isn’t their only selling point. PIA offers world-class protections and blazing-fast speeds. They are definitely one of those set-it-and-forget-it VPNs; they’ll hum right along in the background, keeping you invisible to internet creeps without any disruptions or slowdowns. This is all great news for mobile browsing and streaming.
Another interesting item to note: PIA supports the WireGuard protocol, which is a newcomer on the scene that will most likely overtake OpenVPN as the preferred industry standard. It’s always good to get in on the ground floor of something, as we’re sure you’re aware.
There are a number of reasons PIA would be appealing to Android users, right down to the color palette (dark gray and green on dark mode); adding to that list is the price. If you check out our guide to Private Internet Access costs, you’ll find they’re one of the most affordable VPNs out there.
Surfshark is another great choice for Android users. It offers great core protections, safeguards an unlimited number of devices, and a mile-long feature list of elevated security measures to keep you safe no matter your circumstance.
Surfshark is one of our favorite VPNs for Android users for a lot of reasons, but the primary one is its impressive list of elevated security features. Its multi-hop feature doubles up your VPN protection, and its camouflage mode will help you bypass extreme internet censorship protocols put in place by certain countries like China’s great firewall. Want to watch American Netflix on your phone on your business trip to Beijing? Surfshark’s the VPN for you.
They also offer some pretty impressive speeds. When we reviewed Surfshark, we never noticed any significant slowdowns. Their network is 3,000 end-points strong across 65 countries, meaning that when you’re using the VPN’s standard connections, you’re rarely going to experience any interruptions. The features mentioned above might give you some slight performance issues, but that’s understandable.
Surfshark’s app is also worth pointing out. It’s well-designed and intuitive, including all of the features included in the desktop version of the VPN. They stand out in this regard for one reason in particular: Most VPN apps are really stripped-down versions of their desktop counterparts. Not so with Surfshark.
One thing we will say, though: Their month-to-month pricing is a little steep, but if you read our guide to Surfshark’s plans and costs, you’ll see their subscription packages become far more affordable — to the point that they’re one of the least expensive VPNs in the industry today. This is bad if you want to use them for a one-off trip, but great if you want to sign up for the long-haul.
Easily one of the most easy-to-use, secure VPNs on the market, ExpressVPN shouldn’t be overlooked in your search for the perfect Android VPN.
We’ll come right out and say it: There’s hardly anything we don’t like about ExpressVPN. They’re consistently showing up at the top or near the top of our ranking lists, and for good reason. In our ExpressVPN analysis, we found them to be the perfect marriage of form and function, meaning they’re extremely easy to set up and use while offering some of the most powerful protections in the industry.
They also offer extremely fast speeds, which is a major plus when you’re on mobile. In our tests, Express never faltered. Their speeds were consistently fast, and the connections were consistently stable.
ExpressVPN’s app also mirrors their prioritization of simplicity. Push a button, and you’re protected. While we certainly can appreciate the knob-fiddling PIA offers, there’s something to be said for a system this easy, too. More information on that in our Private Internet Access vs ExpressVPN overview.
One thing you might not like, though, is the price. ExpressVPN is a little on the expensive side. There’s more on that in our guide to ExpressVPN’s costs, but in our honest opinion, this VPN is worth every penny.
For it to operate? No, you don’t need a VPN on your Android device. For it to operate safely? Yes, absolutely. From a cybersecurity and digital privacy standpoint, you’re most at risk when you’re connecting to unfamiliar Wi-Fi networks. And when do you connect to unfamiliar Wi-Fi networks? You guessed it: when you’re on your Android phone.
FYI: It’s extremely easy for hackers to passively monitor public Wi-Fi networks and skim anything from phone numbers, to passwords, to financial information. You really need to be careful if you’re on an unsecured network — there’s no telling who’s on there with you.
Consider how much sensitive information is on your phone. Pictures of your family. Your banking information. Your email. Your passwords. If you’re taking all of that information and connecting it to an unsecured Wi-Fi network, you’re taking a huge gamble that any bad actors sharing that network with you at the coffee shop aren’t harvesting data with malicious intent.
Now will a VPN automatically protect you from every cyber threat out there? No, it won’t really help you if your password is “password” or if you’re clicking on links from Nigerian princes, but the right VPN will go a long way in preserving your anonymity and privacy online.
Simply put, there aren’t many, and none that come close to offering the features or the security of the ones we’ve listed here. Free VPNs can be a little clunky, a little slow, a little unstable … you get our point. You’re much better off spending a little money on the front end to massively reduce your headaches on the back end.
We like to save a buck as much as the next guy. However, when you consider there are so many great VPNs on the market today that cost pennies a day for sophisticated digital protection, it’s kind of senseless to use one that hardly works — just because it’s free. If you’re looking to protect yourself on a budget, check out our list of the best cheap VPNs, or if you want to see how you can save on some of the higher-end services, check out our guide to VPN deals and sales.
Truth be told, there are a few minor frustrations that can pop up when you’re using even a reputable VPN. For one, your speeds might suffer, but only slightly. In all the time we’ve tested VPNs, we’ve only run into a handful where we’ve noticed performance issues, and only then when we were really putting them under some strain. For the most part, any slowdowns you’ll experience will be imperceivable.
Pro Tip: Although it’s not commonplace, some VPNs might even improve your performance slightly. Check out our live tests of NordVPN for more on that.
Another drawback is that sometimes a VPN will register as bot traffic with certain websites. This affects banking websites in particular. Which means you might be asked frequently to do those annoying CAPTCHAs where you have to select all the pictures of a bicycle over and over again to prove you’re a human. To avoid that though, you can use a VPN with split tunneling, like we saw in our IPVanish review. In essence, this allows you to create a whitelist of certain sites that your device won’t use the VPN to access, which is pretty handy stuff.
Like we said above, you can never be too careful online these days. Cybercrime is rampant, and identity theft is on the rise. Public Wi-Fi networks are a breeding ground for this kind of activity, so it pays to be proactive in protecting yourself.
There are plenty of VPNs available for your Android device that will hum quietly along in the background, helping to ensure that no bad actors gain access to your private data. Whether you’re browsing Facebook at the DMV or watching Netflix at the coffee shop, you’ll know no one else is watching and that you’re on a far superior device. Sorry iPhone friends — green bubble forever!
This goes without saying, but you want to find a VPN with a strong mobile client. The ones on our list check the right boxes, but be aware that some VPNs are definitely better than others on mobile.
Again — at the risk of being obvious — you want a VPN that is going to keep your privacy intact at all times. Look for strong security postures with advanced features and frequent updates.
Speed can be an issue when you’re on Wi-Fi out in the world, and if you’re using the wrong VPN, your browsing experience can get sluggish in a hurry. Look for VPNs with large server networks to ensure speeds remain high and connections remain consistent.
You’re an Android user, so you likely enjoy the ability to tailor your mobile experience to your liking. The same should go for your VPN. Look for lots of features and options to ensure you can dial things in exactly how you want them.
The reason you’re using a VPN is to maintain your privacy online, so why would you want one that’s keeping track of what you do? Look for no-log (sometimes called zero-log) policies. Bonus points if the provider has third-party security audits to confirm their claims.
A lot of folks like to watch shows or movies on their smartphones. If you’re one of them, find a VPN that has optimized portions of their server network for these purposes.