The Best VPN for Android
Set Up VPN on Your Android Device Today and Browse with Renewed Freedom!
Apple and Google have for a long time wrestled for control of the Smartphone and tablet market. In fact, in the last half decade, Apple’s iPhone and iPad devices have always beaten Android devices in direct sales.
However, the tide is slowly shifting and the adoption of Google’s Android is steadily catching pace. Analysts currently list the confectionary-themed Operating System (OS) as the most widely used mobile platform across the globe.
How Android managed to grow so fast remains a mystery. However, there is no doubt that the OS is very user and developer friendly. Android is a cross-platform OS which means that you can develop apps in Windows and Linux and easily use them on Android.
Android actually has a developer kit (SDK) that developer’s can use to create new apps. Apple on the other hand requires software (app) developers to submit an application for a service that want added to the iOS for vetting. Only approved applications are ever accepted on iOS.
It is also likely that consumers prefer Android devices because Android apps are cheaper and more readily available. The Android user base is so diverse and this has led developers to be very creative which explains the lower app prices.
In a nutshell, Android promises great value for money and anyone considering a Smartphone should probably try Android devices.
And YES, most of the latest high end devices including the Galaxy S, the HTC One, and Google Nexus all run on Android.
Geo blocking and unauthorized tracking ruining the Android experience
With bigger devices (both smartphones and tablets), Android users are increasingly using their devices to watch TV and videos online and to stream content. It’s a great experience.
However, just as with other internet-ready devices, Android users continue to be blocked from specific websites for reasons best known to the owners of those websites. Security corporations for example will attempt to block any entry into their online systems.
The same applies for several government facilities. This is somehow understandable considering that governments and security agencies might want to keep their operations completely private.
What’s baffling is when premium entertainment providers such as Hulu and Netflix start blocking people from certain content just because you don’t come from a certain region. Try visiting Netflix from Australia for example and you’ll be turned away because you don’t live in the US.
It’s frustrating to watch from the sidelines as American residents enjoy unfettered access to Hulu and Netflix while the British gorge themselves on BBC iPlayer.
To add salt to injury, even iTunes and the Amazon people outside the US are treated as second-class citizens. Geo blocking simply means blocking users from a certain geographic location from accessing certain content. So, for instance Netflix can say that people in Canada can’t access their content.
The only thing they need to do is locate your IP address, see where you’re browsing from, and decide whether or not you’re allowed to access their content. This has caused Android users across the globe to miss out on lots of fun available on the internet.
Apart from geo blocking, android users are also exposed to unauthorized tracking by companies like Facebook, Google and so on. In fact, if you’re browsing from a Wi-Fi hotspot, it becomes very easy for other people to see the data transmitted from your android device.
This way, anyone who has average knowledge of networks can easily see what you do online. Fortunately, you can put a stop to both geo-blocking and unauthorized tracking using a VPN.
Benefits of VPN for Android
1. VPN security features
If you install VPN on your android device, the VPN effectively replaces your IP with an IP from the VPN server. Once your IP is replaced, websites and third parties cannot build a profile about your browsing or tell where you’re browsing from.
There are several protocols used by Android VPNs, also known as built-in VPN clients the most popular being PPT and L2TP/IPsec.
The differences are minor but nonetheless important. PPT comes with very fast speeds but uses a 128-bit encryption. L2TP/IPsec on the other hand provides very strong 256-bit encryptions, however, they are slower. Newer versions of Android devices also support OpenVPN.
2. Secure browsing
Security is probably the biggest concern for Android lovers who use VPNs. Without an Android VPN, third parties can easily access your data especially if you’re accessing the internet from an unprotected public Wi-Fi. The VPN will protect you from hackers waiting to pounce on your data.
ISPs often use Deep Packet Inspection to see what users do online and may use this information to limit your access to certain content. When you connect to the internet through a Android VPN, the ISP can only see encrypted data and your VPN server. They can’t see your data at all.
3. Unblock websites
You also need an Android VPN to unblock restricted websites. Many websites restrict access to specific geographic regions. With a personal VPN, you can bypass such restrictions and browse the desired websites freely.
The best VPNs for Android
When you’re finally ready to use a VPN, it’s important to choose wisely. With so many VPN products in the market, you must first evaluate each.
How we look at Andorid VPN App
When it comes to the best VPN for Android, we’ll have to take a closer look at the Android App of course, because the VPN providers client app is where most VPN connections are started from and managed with. It’s easier than setting up a VPN on Android manually, and more secure when it comes to the kill switch feature and stuff like this. Some Android distributions may have more features in the VPN adapter settings, but for most users an Android App is the better choice for their Android phone or tablet.
- Does the VPN app look clean and intuitive?
- Rich graphics or basic android style?
- Does it provide a 1 button connect feature?
- Does it have a country chooser
- Does it have a “automatic reconnect after X Minutes” feature?
- Can you use streaming services?
- Which configuration options are available?
- How fast is the VPN connection? Depends on your internet connection aswell!
- Is a Speedtest feature included in the software?
- Does it have a VPN Kill Switch? (essential for secure vpn to avoid DNS leaks)
- Is Double VPN available?
- Does it modify the DNS settings?
- Does it block any non-vpn connections?
- Which protocols are supported (PPTP, UDP, TCP, L2TP/IPSEC, SSTP)
- Does the VPN service offer a money-back guarantee?
- Free VPN trial available?
- Split tunneling available?
- unlimited bandwidth?
- available in play store? or as APK only?
VPNs are generally rated by
- Speed of the VPN service
- Number of IPs/Servers
- Quality of the software
- Quality of customer support
1. Speed of the VPN service
Especially for mobile users it’s important to have decent speeds when surfing the web or streaming stuff like music or videos. It’s because we use our smartphones in hectic times and don’t want to wait seconds or even minutes to load contents while on the road. In days of high speed mobile internet, there is no need to wait if you chose the right provider and tariffs.
Number of IPs and VPN servers
VPN servers matter for users that are in need of specific countries IP addresses or have to switch servers more often than not. It’s usually important when you are accessing streaming services – like Amazon Prime or Netflix – that are blocked in your country and you want to make sure to have the best possible connection in terms of speed. Sometimes it takes time to find the right server, and some IPs might be alreadys banned by the service in use. You want to make sure to have a bunch of servers available in each country you want to stream contents from, to change whenever you face difficulties accessing your favourite web service or stream.
Quality of software
This part is crucial for a Android VPN service. Because Android is used on mobile devices most of the time, especially smartphones and users want the best experience and therefor need a great Android app for their VPN service of choice.
1. Vypr VPN
Pros: fast, has an android app, great encryption service, up to 3 simultaneous connections, peer-to-peer (P2P) downloads, free cloud storage, 3 days no risk trial period.
Cons: US based, keeps logs for 30 days
Vypr VPN is a product of the Golden Frog Consortium, a popular “internet freedom” company. The company has its own dedicated data centers – meaning fast speeds. Upon signing up, you’ll get a free cloud storage account with Dump Truck. Golden Frog also runs its own network, connected at the highest level that guarantees excellent speeds no matter where you are browsing from.
The company offers 256 bit OpenVPN encryption which is as secure as you can get, allows P2P downloading, supports up to 3 simultaneous connections and most recently developed its own high-end encryption code – the Chameleon. More about VyprVPN.
2. Express VPN
Pros: Doesn’t keep usage logs, excellent speeds, great android support, 30-day money back guarantee
Cons: Moderately priced
Express VPN, according many, is the ultimate VPN. The all-round VPN has an excellent Android app with a great set of features and reliable user support. The speeds are also very good and the 30-day money back guarantee shows just how much faith the developer has on the product.
Express VPN also provides great user experience. It has a quick connect home-screen widget so you can easily connect and disconnect without necessarily opening the app. The “Recommended Locations” feature makes your recently connected locations easily accessible.
However, starting at $8.32 per month, it’s not the cheapest of VPNs. More about ExpressVPN in this review.
3. Air VPN
Pros: no logs, accepts Bitcoin, employs 256-bit encryption, real time user and server statistics, dynamic port forwarding, supports Tor over VPN and VPN through SSH and SSL tunnels, great speeds, P2P downloads, and 3-day free trial.
Cons: not any worth mentioning
Air VPN might not be the most popular VPN in the world but it’s definitely one of the most advanced. First, it accepts Bitcoin which most others don’t. Also, it keeps no logs and employs a high level 256-bit AES encryption.
Users also benefit from monitoring services and have access to support services such as Tor over VPN, and VPN through SSH and SSL tunnels. A minor let down is that it doesn’t have a video set up tutorial; everything is in text and pictures.
4. IP Vanish
Pros: fast and has lots of server locations
Cons: the no log policy is doubtful, no support for P2P
IP Vanish is a very good VPN for Android users trying to browse the internet securely and with freedom. With lots of servers located in 41 countries, you are always assured access to whichever content you want.
The only problem with IP Vanish is that the “no log” policy could be doubtful. Users have complained about receiving “cease and desist” warnings when trying to access certain torrent websites. More about IPVanish in this review.
How to set up VPN on Android
Now that you’ve purchased a VPN solution, it’s time to set it up on your Android device. There are two ways to use VPN on Android. The first method is through a VPN app; the second involves manual configuration.
Setting up Android VPN using the native VPN client
- Open the VPN setting. Go to “Settings > More Networks > VPN.” The actual steps might differ depending on the device but that’s basically what you need to do.
- Touch “Add VPN Network” or the “+” sign depending on your device.
- Fill in the required details as appropriate.
- To start your VPN, go to VPN settings as described in step 1, select your preferred VPN connection, and enter your username and password.
- And, that’s it. Look out for a small key in your task bar indicating you’re connected.
Setting up OpenVPN for Android
If you’re using a newer Android device (Android 4 Ice Cream Sandwich or later), you can also choose the freely available OpenVPN.
Heres how to set up OpenVPN;
- Obtain the OpenVPn configuration file from your VPN provider. You can either download the file directly to your phone/tablet or you can download it on your PC/laptop and transfer it to your phone. Often, it comes as a .Zip file which has to be extracted. Use WinZip for the extraction.
- Download and install OpenVPN Connect for Android. Then run the application.
- Touch your “Functions” button and select “Import > Import from SD Card.” Then locate the file you downloaded and open it.
- You’ll be prompted to enter your username and password. Enter them as appropriate.
- For your first use, you’ll also be asked to accept the Trust Certificate (only once). Click “Accept.”
- You should be connected. To confirm a connection, you’ll see a key in the left corner of your taskbar and the OpenVPN logo somewhere below the key.
Testing your connection
After you’re connected, the first thing you need to do is confirming that you’re connected to the right place. For instance, if you want to watch Netflix, you need to be in the US. You may be connected through a VPN but actually browsing from China. To check where you’re browsing from, simply enter “My IP” in your search bar and touch “Enter/Search/Ok.” You will see several results. You can click on any to see your location. A popular website for locating your IP is whatismyipaddress.com.
You may also want to check your connection speeds just to ensure your VPN provider meant their word. To do this, simply go to the speedtest.com website. Alternatively, you can download the Speed Test app.
Customizing your Android VPN
As technology advances and Android users increasingly adopt the VPN for safer, freer browsing, some smart companies have come up with several apps with varied benefits such as auto-reconnection and port forwarding. Some even promise to make the whole set-up process easier. It’s important to review such products before making a purchase decision.
Android is clearly the way to go if you want to browse securely. Although there are also VPNs for Apple iPhones and iPads, you always have a wider variety to choose from in the Android market. Moreover, the user support offered by Android VPN providers is way more satisfying.
If you already have an Android device, then the next thing you need to do is review the many VPN products in the market, pick one that impresses you most, and install it on your device. You’ll thank yourself later when you start accessing blocked websites and watching your favorite Netflix programs on your Smartphone again!