iOS is the second most popular mobile operating system after Android. This is pretty incredible considering that it can only be used on Apple products like the iPhone and the iPad. Want another jaw-dropping statistic? It’s used by over a billion people around the world each day.
If you’re reading this, chances are you’re one of the billion. Since you’re in such good company, you’ll have plenty of options when it comes to choosing a VPN for your iOS device. The wide range of options means that choosing the best VPN for iPhones and iPads is a relatively straightforward process.
The trick is to ensure you’re going with the best VPN for iOS that meets your personal requirements and expectations. While all VPNs are similar, they do differ in terms of certain features and functionality that may suit different needs.
Choosing the best VPN for iOS is pretty much the same as picking the best VPN overall; most good VPN providers have a native iOS client in addition to their Windows and MacOS offerings.
Why Use a VPN on iOS?
Although Apple’s iOS products are pretty safe and stable, there are still security and privacy risks when you use them. Let’s not pretend Apple’s own App Store isn’t riddled with suspicious applications.
In today’s digital world and general tech climate, it’s good practice to use a VPN throughout your day-to-day to shield your online activities; VPNs are no longer only used by people up to no good—they are increasingly being used by regular people who simply want to ensure their security and privacy online.
In addition to improving your privacy, using a VPN also enables you to access restricted content on streaming services, get around government-backed censorship, and share your views online without fear of state persecution. They also hide your online activities from your ISP and other parties who may be snooping on you, meaning you can avoid bandwidth throttling and other nasty ISP practices (if yours does this.)
What Makes a VPN One of the ‘Best’?
While no one VPN is the same, there are certain features and characteristics which all the best VPNs share. These are—
- Seamless setup: One-click installs and plug-in-and-play functionality is always nice to see. Given that iOS users are more likely to want a seamless and functional experience, this is an important factor in our picks for the best VPNs for iOS devices.
- Privacy: The best VPNs will always make your privacy their #1 concern. Strong encryption (e.g. AES-256), good tunneling protocols (e.g. OpenVPN), and an anti-logging policy means that your activity is kept secret and cannot be compromised.
- Bypass blocking: Whether it’s state-mandated censorship or simply streaming U.S. Netflix content in the UK, the best VPNs for iOS will consistently let you bypass any form of blocking with relative ease.
These are just three of the most important factors. Others include speed, torrenting, where the VPN’s company is located, and payment methods, among other things. These are all accounted for in our list below.
Our Picks: The 5 Best VPNs for iOS
These are what we believe are the very best VPNs for iOS devices. Whether you’re using an iPhone, iPad, or iPod, these VPNs are brilliant solutions that will do everything you could possibly need.
1. NordVPN: The best VPN for iOS devices
NordVPN is a VPN service that has a functional app made specifically for iOS. Personally, we prefer NordVPN’s app over ExpressVPN’s because it’s more well-designed and offers more flexibility.
From the main page in the app, you can see important information displayed next to the ‘quick connect’ feature that tells you information such as the best server closest to you and how full it is.
Although the app may be better (in our opinion) than ExpressVPN’s, it could still be better—this is something all VPN providers can learn from.
NordVPN also has plenty of servers with thousands of locations spread out across the world. You can connect up to six devices to the network at any given time with one single subscription, and all servers we tested in our comprehensive review of NordVPN demonstrated great results.
As far as security is concerned, NordVPN uses AES 256-bit encryption, double data encryption by routing your traffic through two servers, and OpenVPN. They also operate an anti-logging policy and an automatic kill switch, something that ExpressVPN doesn’t have (as you will see below.)
Slightly cheaper than ExpressVPN, NordVPN’s pricing starts at $11.95 for a month-to-month subscription. You can opt to pay $107.55 for 3 years, which works out at $2.99 per month. If you aren’t impressed by the service, you have 30 days to get your money back under their unconditional money-back guarantee.
2. ExpressVPN: Hands down one of the very best VPNs across the board
We’ve featured ExpressVPN at the top of every single review we’ve done so far aside from this one, and there’s a good reason for that. It’s an amazing VPN that delivers the very best in terms of functionality, service, and safety.
At the time of this review, no VPN company does better than ExpressVPN and it looks like they’ll safely hold on to their crown for a while longer.
With a native iOS app, ExpressVPN is the perfect accompaniment for any iOS device.
Located in the British Virgin Islands—far outside the jurisdiction of any international intelligence-sharing agreements such as 5 Eyes—ExpressVPN boasts a huge network of servers that span across the world. Currently, there are well over 2,000 servers across more than 100 countries.
The service is fast and ideal for streaming, boasts top-of-the-line encryption, and uses OpenVPN and traffic obfuscation. To say you’re safe while using ExpressVPN would be an understatement.
It’s worth noting that there’s no ‘Network Lock’ (kill switch) on the iOS app and you cannot change from OpenVPN to another tunneling protocol. This could be a dealbreaker for some users, which is why we gave it our #2 spot despite its other features.
It’s very easy to install ExpressVPN on an iOS device. Simply head to the App Store, download the app, and sign in. Within a matter of seconds, you’ll be connected to the ExpressVPN network.
Because it’s a trusted VPN service at the top of its game, ExpressVPN’s pricing starts at a relatively steep $12.95 a month, or $99.95 if billed annually. This comes out to about $8.32 a month, which we think is a quality investment for a reliable service that’ll get rid of your online-induced headaches.
3. Private Internet Access (PIA): Proven anti-logging policy
PIA has certainly been around the block – plenty of time to prove itself as a serious VPN service worthy of our notice. When they say they have a robust anti-logging policy, they’re not just paying lip service. It’s a fact that’s actually been proven twice in court where the authorities failed to force PIA to hand over information on its users.
Not that any information handed over would have been much use, though—PIA uses 256-AES encryption (and 128-AES) which protects traffic alongside the industry standard OpenVPN protocol. All this in addition to a kill switch that protects you if your connection to PIA drops makes for a very safe and secure VPN service.
In our comprehensive testing of PIA’s desktop application, we were very impressed by the speeds we managed to pull, and it’s the same story when using the iOS app; we didn’t see any huge loss of download and upload speeds.
Through PIA’s native client that runs on iOS 9 and above, you can quickly and seamlessly connect to the PIA network on your iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. Although the app is a little bit basic, it does what it needs to do—connect you to the PIA network and provide a reliable service that protects your privacy. While it would be nice to see more features, it’s not a deal breaker by any means.
PIA’s pricing is on the low side at $6.95 on a month-to-month subscription. There’s a 7-day money-back guarantee if you’re unsatisfied.
4. IPVanish: Great speeds and native client
Just like PIA, IPVanish has a native client for iOS that supports devices running iOS 9 and higher. It works across the entire range of iOS devices without any fuss and automatically connects you to their most suitable server whenever you’re connected to the internet (you can disable this in the app.)
Unlike NordVPN and ExpressVPN, IPVanish has a couple of extra features built into the app such as the ability to see the ping and load times in real-time.
In terms of security, IPVanish ticks all the right boxes. As well as utilizing strong encryption, users of IPVanish’s iOS app can choose which tunneling protocol they want to use such as IKEv2 and IPSec.
The downside is that OpenVPN isn’t available at the moment; nor does the app come with a kill switch. On the bright side, IPVanish doesn’t collect your online activity data while you’re connected.
One place where IPVanish falters a little is the lack of servers compared to other providers. They are also based in the U.S., a country that falls within the 5-Eyes agreement. Under previous ownership, IPVanish had a history of logging. Today, they claim that they do not log anything.
Pricing for IPVanish starts on the more expensive side at $10 per month and you can file for a refund within 7 days. It gets cheaper the longer you subscribe for; 2 years costs $3.74 billed once at $89.99.
5. CyberGhost: A service that constantly gets updated
Romanian-born VPN service CyberGhost is loved by millions of people worldwide because of the consistently reliable and private service that’s always being updated with exciting new features.
Although it was founded in 2011, CyberGhost already has a robust network of over 20 million users. This makes it by far one of today’s most interesting VPN services.
CyberGhost has a native app for iOS that looks rather slick and allows you to seamlessly connect to the CyberGhost network. Although there’s limited functionality through the iOS app, you get all the same features that you get with the desktop app, including a kill switch.
When you first fire up the CyberGhost iOS app, you’ll spot a simple and intuitive interface that lets you connect with one click, access servers that work with streaming services such as Netflix, and choose which location to connect to.
With a guaranteed anti-logging policy, AES-256 Encryption, and OpenVPN, CyberGhost keeps your browsing activity secure over its super quick network that’s more than capable of handling modern-day mobile computing.
At $2.75 per month when you subscribe to CyberGhost for 3 years, you can take advantage of all these impressive features through their intuitive iOS app. If you’re unsatisfied, you can get your money back within 30 days of your purchase.
What VPN Do We Recommend?
You might be surprised to read that it isn’t ExpressVPN we’re recommending this time around… the winner is NordVPN!
NordVPN has the very best app for iOS devices by far—it looks good, it’s quick, it connects seamlessly, and there’s a kill switch. You get access to all the same quick servers as you would on their desktop app. Not to mention the server choices you get:
ExpressVPN’s iOS app definitely came close, but it doesn’t include a kill switch. Unfortunately, this is enough for it to lose its usual top spot—a kill switch is something that we expect to see on all VPNs.
The lack of a kill switch on many iOS VPN apps seems to demonstrate that VPN providers don’t deem it as a necessary inclusion on iOS – probably because most people are just going to use iOS VPN apps for streaming – but this does alienate a huge section of a VPN’s user base.
If you’re going to download a VPN on your iOS device, go for NordVPN—you won’t be disappointed.