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Best free VPN for iPhone and other iOS devices in 2024


A VPN has become our go-to everyday option, granting more privacy and security, especially in geo-restricted locations. It's essential for streaming, torrenting, or just casual browsing, helping you stay private and protect your online activities. While iPhones support VPN connections, they don’t have a built-in VPN service, requiring users to install a VPN app from the App Store.

In this case, free VPNs become very tempting. And even free VPNs provide essential security benefits, such as basic encryption and protection on public Wi-Fi. This makes them far better than no VPN at all. Especially if you choose a reliable provider.

Together with our research team, I have tested over 42 VPN services to find the most trustworthy options that grant adequate security and privacy at no cost. Continue reading and find the best free VPN services so you won’t have to worry about data collection or other cybersecurity issues.

Best free VPNs for iPhone without a subscription

BrandRatingDescription
Proton
4.2
The best free VPN for iPhone
Hotspot Shield
3.5
Fastest free VPN with great feature selection for iOS
Hide.me
3.5
Great free, easy-to-use VPN with split tunneling
TunnelBear
3.3
Best free VPN app for iPhone with the highest score in the App Store
Windscribe
3.7
Free VPN with unlimited simultaneous connections

Is there a good free VPN for iPhone?

Yes, there are good free VPNs for iPhones. However, they cater to basic needs. They provide essential privacy and security features, making them suitable for everyday browsing. However, free VPNs usually have limitations, such as fewer servers and slower speeds. Also, many VPNs on the App Store aren't very good and might compromise your security. So, it's essential to choose a reliable free provider or go for a premium VPN if you take security seriously.

Opting for paid VPNs that offer free trials is always a better idea for reliable performance and a wider range of features. These trials let you experience the full capabilities of the VPN before committing.

Best free trial VPNs for iPhone

I believe free trial VPNs are better than entirely free iPhone VPNs. They are more reliable and perform better in terms of speed and security. The only downside is that they are temporary, but once you try them, you likely won’t want to go back to free VPNs.

Here are 3 best VPNs for iPhone I recommend trying:

  • NordVPN. Overall, it is the best VPN for iPhone, as it serves the fastest speeds and greatest security measures. To try this VPN before committing, you can use its 30-day money-back guarantee.
  • Surfshark. Top cheap iPhone VPN with unlimited simultaneous connections. For iOS users who want to test the service, Surfshark offers a 7-day free trial period directly through the App Store.
  • Norton Secure VPN. Reliable iOS VPN with antivirus included. To get to know this provider and its premium features, activate the annual plan and get a 7-day free trial for your device.

You can also check our teams’ article about the best VPNs for iPhone to find the ones with free trials.

How we tested free iOS VPNs

To choose which providers to test, I checked out popular 42 VPN services. I tested them on an iPhone 13, focusing only on those with free versions. Here are the main criteria and scores I used to rank free VPNs for iOS.

  • Privacy (20%). To evaluate VPNs, I looked at their privacy features and policies to ensure they don’t keep logs. I also checked for independent audit reports to confirm these claims. Additionally, I considered if the VPN operates from a privacy-friendly country and whether it offers extra security features.
  • Security (20%). Working with a research team, I focused on services that use advanced encryption like AES-256. I also checked for modern tunneling protocols and ensured that the VPN had no DNS leaks and that its kill switch worked well on iOS. To test DNS leaks, I used a DNS leak test website, and for the kill switch, I tested with IPleak.net.
  • Bandwidth and connection speeds (20%). I thoroughly researched if a VPN for iOS restricts speeds or bandwidth in its free version. If there were any limitations, I included them in the provider review. The research team and I also tested the speeds of each VPN's free version using in-house speed-testing methods.
  • Server availability (10%). I examined each service's server network to see which offers better coverage in their free versions. We only considered VPNs with a large server fleet since some free versions provide very few servers, making it difficult to access different streaming libraries. I checked if a VPN is available in popular countries like the US, India, China, the UK, Australia, Canada, Japan, Argentina, New Zealand, Singapore, and the Philippines.
  • Use cases (10%). A free VPN must be able to handle tasks like gaming and streaming. Many users want to access different streaming libraries without issues or play games without lag or buffering. My research team and I tested whether a VPN could unblock specific streaming libraries and how well it performed while watching favorite content. We also tried popular games to see if the VPN provided smooth performance.
  • User reviews (5%). I looked at user reviews and insights on the App Store for each VPN's app. Additionally, I checked Reddit and similar sites to understand the issues each VPN might have.
  • Device compatibility and multiple device usage (5%). When filtering VPNs for the list, I checked if the free version for iPhone supported other iOS devices, like iPads, or Apple TV. Additionally, I checked how many multiple devices the VPN supports.
  • Premium features and services (5%). To determine the value of a free VPN, I checked if its premium features and services were restricted in the free version.
  • Personal experience (5%). I evaluated whether free VPN apps for iOS were easy to use and identified any confusing features. If a feature was missing in one app compared to another, I noted it in my review.

Best free iPhone VPNs – detailed list

The Cybernews research team and I reviewed and tested 42 VPNs and their iOS app functionalities. Our evaluations included running speed tests and researching free server fleets, privacy practices, security measures, and more.

1. Proton VPN – overall the best free VPN for iPhone

Proton VPN adblocker
Based in:Switzerland
Unlimited data: Yes
Account required:No
Available protocols: OpenVPN, WireGuard, and Stealth

I think Proton VPN is one of the most underrated free VPNs for iOS and other operating systems overall. It offers decent speeds, has essential security measures, and works well for various online activities like streaming and gaming.

Bandwidth and connection speeds – very good ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Proton VPN stands out because it doesn’t have ads, data caps, or speed limits, allowing unlimited usage without worry or interruptions. Its free version uses the WireGuard protocol, which is the fastest market solution available for VPNs today. However, it doesn’t include the VPN Accelerator technology with its free tier, which could make it the fastest free VPN for Android.

Proton-vpn-speed-test-iphone

However, in my tests, Proton VPN's free version performed better than expected, retaining about 43% of my initial speed. This is the second-best result among providers, just behind Hotspot Shield.

Privacy and security – excellent ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Proton VPN is a secure choice for a free VPN. It uses advanced AES-256 encryption to protect your connections. The free version also includes a kill switch to prevent IP leaks if the connection drops. And it has additional DNS and IPv6 leak protection to keep your IP address hidden. When I tested the effectiveness of these features, no DNS or IP leaks occurred. Another great feature for security enthusiasts like me is that Proton VPN is based in privacy-friendly Switzerland and has an audited no-logs policy. This way, the provider ensures that it’s committed to keeping your data private.

Server availability – good ⭐⭐⭐

Proton VPN's free tier lets you connect to an undisclosed number of secure servers in Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, and the United States. It’s a decent number of locations, though not as impressive as with TunnelBear or Windscribe. And the main drawback, which bugged me a bit is that when you want to connect to a Proton VPN, it randomly assigns you a server for optimal speeds. Thus, it’s not as suitable for unblocking restricted content. Moreover, Proton VPN’s free version lacks specialty servers, which makes it stand out with a premium plan.

Use cases – good ⭐⭐⭐

As much as I would like Proton VPN for casual browsing, it’s not so suitable for streaming or mobile gaming. There’s little chance you can unblock streaming services as you can’t pick a server yourself. Even if you do, the servers might get overcrowded and slow. The same might happen if you try to play games on your mobile. And you get only one simultaneous connection, which makes Proton VPN less versatile if you want a VPN for your whole household, for example.

User reviews – excellent ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Proton VPN is one of the providers, highly rated on the App Store – 4.6. Of course, a few users are disappointed, mainly complaining about connection speeds and interface bugs. On the other hand, Redditors are pretty happy and don’t encounter many issues on their iOS devices. Also, I noticed that ProtonVPN representatives respond to App Store comments, even those with 3/5 or 4/5 ratings (suggesting some app upgrades), which indicates they take user feedback seriously.

Compatibility – good ⭐⭐⭐

As mentioned above, if you’re looking for a free VPN for your whole household, Proton VPN might not be your best bet. With its free tier, it has only one simultaneous connection, which will suit mainly basic one-person needs. Also, it is compatible with iPads, iPhones, and Macs, but the free plan doesn’t support streaming services like Apple TV.

Premium features and services – very good ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Proton VPN has all the essential features a VPN could need, including a robust kill switch and DNS leak protection. With strong encryption and advanced tunneling protocols, it is safe and simple to use. Unsurprisingly, the free plan doesn’t include features like NetShield and VPN accelerator. But you can still see them in the app to show what you’re missing without the premium version.

Personal experience – excellent ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

When I first tried ProtonVPN’s free app, the experience was pleasant. It was easy to find and install from the App Store. Plus, I could use it without creating an account, which is perfect if you want quick online protection. The user interface is smooth, straightforward, and uncluttered. The app has three menus: Home, Countries, and Settings, each serving its purpose clearly for easy feature access. As the app is not so feature-rich, it’s very easy to use.

2. Hotspot Shield – fastest VPN for iPhone with feature-rich app

Hotspot Shield banner
Based in:
United States
Unlimited data:
Yes
Account required:
No
Available protocols:
Hydra, IKEv2, and Wireguard

Hotspot Shield is a fastest free VPN for iPhone, especially if you need a US IP address. It offers unlimited data, but you'll have to deal with ads whenever you turn on the VPN.

Bandwidth and connection speeds – very good ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Hotspot Shield’s free version doesn’t have data limits, but you need to watch a 30-second ad every time you enable the VPN. Each ad gives you 15 minutes of connection time, which can get annoying over time. However, it might be worth it if you're satisfied with the service and the service is not bad at all.

hotspot-shield-speed-test-iphone

The free version of Hotspot Shield includes Hydra and WireGuard VPN tunneling protocols, offering good speed potential even for free users. I noticed no major speed loss while browsing with Hotspot Shield enabled. It retained about 50% of my speed, which is the best result among all the providers I tested.

Privacy and security – very good ⭐⭐⭐⭐

My main concern with Hotspot Shield is that it’s based in the USA, a member of the Five-Eyes alliance. Unlike Proton VPN, Hotspot Shield's free version relies on ads, which likely means it shares an estimate of your location to display relevant ads.

On the other hand, the provider, now a part of cybersecurity company Aura, has significantly improved its privacy practices. After the 2017 data retention controversy, the company updated its policies and released annual transparency reports. For example, an independent test by AV-Test ranked Hotspot Shield as the fastest and most secure among leading VPNs, with no detected leaks.

Server availability – good ⭐⭐⭐

The free version of Hotspot Shield offers five location options: Automatic, Los Angeles, New York, Singapore, and the United Kingdom. You can choose your preferred location, which is impossible with Proton VPN. However, I think the selection is limited and best suited for those looking for US servers. As expected, the options were also limited to basic servers without any specialty features.

Use cases – good ⭐⭐⭐

Hotspot Shield isn't the best choice for specific use cases like streaming or gaming with iPhone. You can give it a try, but keep your expectations in check. The servers might get slower and overcrowded over time. And, as mentioned earlier, you have to watch an ad for every 15 minutes of connection time you need. Thus, it’s almost impossible to stream or play games on mobile. In my experience, though, I didn't face any lagging issues while using social media with Hotspot Shield. Photos and videos loaded normally, and messaging was smooth, almost like not using a VPN at all.

User reviews – very good ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Hotspot Shield has a high rating in the App Store, averaging 4.5 stars. Some users complain that the free version is stuffed with ads, while others – experience connection issues. Fortunately, the provider team responds to some comments addressing these main problems. Redditors also tend to highlight connection issues, although I personally haven't experienced them yet.

Compatibility – good ⭐⭐⭐

As expected, this free VPN mainly works for iPhones, iPads, and Macs. If you want to use it with Apple TV, your best option would be to try Hotspot Shield's free trial of the premium plan. Moreover, similarly to Proton VPN, Hotspot Shield only protects one device per account with a free tier.

Premium features and services – very good ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Surprisingly, Hotspot Shield offers more than just the essential VPN features like a kill switch and IP leak protection. You can also enable always-on VPN and trusted Wi-Fi networks to keep Hotspot Shield on when necessary. Additionally, split tunneling is available even in the free version, a feature not found in Proton VPN's free tier.

Personal experience – fair ⭐⭐

Using this free iPhone VPN isn't too complicated, but I didn't like having to watch ads to use it. Privacy is important to me, so if possible, I prefer to disable ads. I don't think it's a good selling point for a VPN app, which is supposed to secure your connections, to be filled with ads like those cheap games where you earn rewards for watching ads. The only things I liked about it were split tunneling and the option to get a VPN without creating an account.

3. Hide.me – free and easy-to-use VPN for iPhone

Hideme vpn banner
Based in:
Malaysia
Unlimited data: Yes
Account required:No
Available protocols: WireGuard, IKEv2, OpenVPN (TCP/UDP)

Hide.me is another great free VPN for iPhone without a subscription, which offers a free version with no trials, payments, or sign-ups required. Additionally, you can get the basic security that the leading providers offer, including a strict no-logs policy.

Bandwidth and connection speeds – good ⭐⭐⭐

Hide.me VPN's website states that the free tier offers unlimited data with restricted speed, which I appreciate for its transparency. Many free VPNs for iPhone don't clearly mention slower connection speeds, although it's usually assumed. Hide.me VPN uses WireGuard, so you should experience only minimal slowdowns.

hideme-speed-test-iphpne

However, when I tested the speeds, the retention rate was only 1%. We tried the test on multiple devices, and the results were consistently low.

Privacy and security – very good ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Hide.me VPN covers the security basics well. It offers protocols like IKEv2, OpenVPN, and WireGuard, ensuring reliable and secure connections. There’s a robust kill switch and auto-connect. Regarding privacy, the service is based in Malaysia, which is uncommon among VPNs but not bad since it's not part of the Fourteen-Eyes alliance. Plus, their no-logs policy was independently audited, and they release their transparency report annually. This assures me that Hide.me VPN can effectively protect our online privacy.

Server availability – good ⭐⭐⭐

On Hide.me's website, you'll find that the free service allows connection to 7 server locations: Finland, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States. However, it's challenging to grasp this from the app because all locations are listed, even though not all are active for selection. The free version doesn't let you choose your desired location, reducing your control over your IP address. Additionally, you can't select specialty servers for specific tasks like streaming or gaming.

Use cases – good ⭐⭐⭐

Hide.me VPN's limited speeds, lack of server selection, and essential features make it quite inflexible. Especially if you want to stream or play a game. It's mainly useful for casual browsing online when you want your IP hidden, but not for activities that require high bandwidth. Honestly, I wouldn't expect more, even from the top free VPNs for iPhone.

User reviews – good ⭐⭐⭐

Hide.me has a 4.5 rating on the App Store, indicating overall user satisfaction. However, some mention previous updates that caused some bugs. Delving into Reddit discussions, I found that while Hide.me used to support torrenting, recent policy updates have restricted this feature.

Compatibility – good ⭐⭐⭐

Hide.me's free version works on iPhones, iPads, and Macs but doesn't support streaming servers, so it's incompatible with Apple TV. Moreover, as with other providers on this list, it offers only one simultaneous connection per account.

Premium features and services – good ⭐⭐⭐

Hide.me, like Hotspot Shield, offers split tunneling and network protection tools such as a kill switch. However, its SmartGuard features, such as an ad blocker, malware protection, and parental filters, are available only with the premium tier.

Personal experience – good ⭐⭐⭐

In my experience, finding Hide.me in the App Store was easy, and using it was straightforward. I liked its simple and modern interface, with no ads disrupting the experience. All features were clearly listed, even though some are only available with the paid plan. However, the downside is not being able to choose your preferred server.

4. TunnelBear – free iPhone VPN with great user reviews

TunnelBear banner
Based in:
Canada
Unlimited data:
Yes
Account required:
Yes
Available protocols:
OpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuard

TunnelBear is a well-known but average VPN option. It provides solid security features, but its free version has a 2GB monthly data cap.

Bandwidth and connection speeds – good ⭐⭐⭐

TunnelBear has a strict data limit, offering only 2GB per month, which is less than the unlimited data you get with Proton VPN and Hide.me VPN. However, on the bright side, it doesn't limit any features.

tunnelbear-speed-test-iphone

Plus, it offers faster speeds. In tests using the WireGuard protocol, it kept about 32% of the original speed. However, it’s not as fast as Proton VPN, for example. And keep in mind that with the OpenVPN protocol, you might encounter a significant slowdown in your connections.

Privacy and security – good ⭐⭐⭐

TunnelBear is strong in security, using AES-256 encryption and SHA-256 authentication. It also includes a robust kill switch. However, it's less privacy-focused than Proton VPN because it's based in Canada, which is a member of the Five-Eyes alliance. On the other hand, TunnelBear has undergone seven independent security audits, the last one in February 2024, to reassure users about their safety.

Server availability – very good ⭐⭐⭐⭐

TunnelBear’s free plan is generous with server access, allowing connections to nearly all 48 countries it supports. The main difference from the premium plan is that you can't choose specific cities. With over 5000 servers, it offers more variety than most free VPNs for iPhone. While it doesn't have special servers for streaming, torrenting, or gaming, the wide server selection makes up for it.

Use cases – good ⭐⭐⭐

At first, TunnelBear seems much more flexible than other VPNs on this list, allowing you to choose your preferred server. It also doesn’t limit features, which makes it an excellent tool for everyday use. However, a 2GB monthly cap is hardly enough for streaming, gaming, or even YouTube watching. So, this VPN is a good choice if you just want to protect your online activities.

User reviews – very good ⭐⭐⭐⭐

TunnelBear has the highest rating among the VPNs we mentioned on this list in the App Store. Most users only mention minor interface bugs. Overall, people think it's a great and fast free VPN. Redditors agree that it's suitable for basic use, although some reviews mention it doesn't work consistently on all Apple devices.

Compatibility – good ⭐⭐⭐

You can use TunnelBear to secure your internet connection on macOS and iOS devices. However, it doesn't support streaming on Apple TV or gaming systems, and it can't be configured on modems or routers. On the plus side, TunnelBear allows unlimited simultaneous connections, setting it apart from other free VPNs on this list.

Premium features and services – very good ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I liked that TunnelBear has very few limitations on features. There's a kill switch called VigilantBear and a feature called GhostBear that makes your VPN connection look like regular internet traffic. I was surprised that it even offers split tunneling, called SplitBear. This makes it another VPN on our list, together with Hide.me and Hotspot Shield, offering split tunneling with their free tiers.

Personal experience – good ⭐⭐⭐

I was initially disappointed that I couldn't use TunnelBear's free VPN on my iPhone without creating an account. While this isn't a deal breaker, other providers don't require it. Another issue is the 2GB monthly data cap. It's okay, but it likely won't suit someone who spends much time on social media or watching YouTube videos on their phone. It's best for occasional security on public Wi-Fi networks. On the plus side, TunnelBear doesn't severely restrict its iOS features.

5. Windscribe – reliable free VPN with ad block

Windscribe2
Based in:
Canada
Unlimited data:
Yes
Account required:
Yes
Available protocols:
Get up to 43% OFF Bitdefender VPN!

Windscribe is a reliable free VPN for iPhone with good features and a flexible monthly data cap. It also includes an ad blocker with its app, making it the only VPN on this list providing such a feature.

Bandwidth and connection speeds – good ⭐⭐⭐

Windscribe offers flexible data cap options. By default, free users get 2GB per month, similar to TunnelBear. You can boost this to 10GB per month by verifying your email address and gain an additional 5GB by posting on X (formerly Twitter). You can also earn 1GB for each friend you refer.

windscribe-speed-test

I appreciate that Windscribe uses the WireGuard protocol, making it a fast free VPN. It also lets you choose your location, giving you better control over your connection. In my experience, it retained about 23% of the initial speed.

Privacy and security – very good ⭐⭐⭐⭐

In my opinion, Windscribe is excellent for online security. It uses strong encryption and includes a kill switch to prevent IP leakage. What really impressed me is the R.O.B.E.R.T. feature, which blocks ads, trackers, malware, and lets you filter out certain website categories like porn and gambling. Windscribe also offers a variety of secure VPN tunneling protocols. However, when it comes to privacy, Proton VPN is stronger than Windscribe. Like TunnelBear Windscribe is based in Canada, a member of the Five-Eyes surveillance alliance.

Server availability – very good ⭐⭐⭐

Windscribe’s free plan offers server locations in 11 countries, which is more than most free VPNs for iPhone, except TunnelBear. I liked that you can also choose your location, a feature many free VPNs don't offer. However, it was frustrating that I couldn't filter out premium server locations for easier selection. Also, there are no specialty servers available, making it hard to unblock region-specific streaming content.

Use cases – good ⭐⭐⭐

Windscribe stands out among free VPNs for Android by allowing you to choose your location, offering more versatility. With access to servers in 11 countries, you can try to unblock foreign content. However, don’t expect to unlock streaming content on services like Netflix, as streaming-optimized servers are only available to premium users. Despite this, Windscribe's solid connection speeds make it great for web browsing. But for gaming, I think the speeds won’t be enough.

User reviews – good ⭐⭐⭐

Windscribe has a solid 4.4 rating in the App Store. However, many users, including those on Reddit, complain about bugs, connection issues, and slowdowns over time, even with the premium version. Additionally, many users feel that customer support needs improvement.

Compatibility – good ⭐⭐⭐

Like TunnelBear, Windscribe, except for the data cap, imposes almost no limitations on free users. You can use all of Windscribe’s apps on iPhones, iPads, and Macs. Unsurprisingly, it doesn't work with streaming services like Apple TV. But you can have as many simultaneous connections as you need with other devices, making Windscribe one of the best free VPNs for multiple devices.

Premium features and services – very good ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I really liked Windscribe's R.O.B.E.R.T. feature because it blocks ads, trackers, malware, and lets you filter out certain website categories. It also has essential features like a kill switch, split tunneling, always-on VPN, and even GPS spoofing. Windscribe could be a great all-in-one solution for those looking for comprehensive protection.

Personal experience – good ⭐⭐⭐

Similar to TunnelBear, I had to create an account to use Windscribe on my iPhone. This makes sense since the provider needs to monitor my data usage across devices. Apart from that, Windscribe is straightforward to use, including its advanced features, offered with a free tier.

Is it safe to use a free VPN on an iPhone?

It is safe to use a free VPN on an iPhone as long as you consider a few security factors. VPNs encrypt data as it travels over the Internet, protecting it from various cyber threats. However, not all free VPN apps are equally trustworthy.

Many free VPN providers may log your data or serve ads based on your browsing habits, potentially compromising your privacy. Additionally, free VPNs often have fewer server options and may experience slower speeds due to the high number of users sharing limited server resources.

It's crucial to research and choose a reputable free VPN app that prioritizes user privacy and security. Ultimately, using a VPN on your iPhone can enhance your online safety, but it's essential to use one from a trusted provider and be aware of potential limitations.

Free iOS VPNs to avoid

Here's a list of some of the worst free iPhone VPNs to show how risky these products can be.

  • Betternet VPN. Despite being a popular free VPN for Android, you should avoid it. It lacks a kill switch, has DNS leaks, and has a poor logging policy, compromising your security. A study also found Betternet embedding malware in their VPN apps.
  • Hola! VPN. Hola! VPN has a questionable privacy policy, collecting your IP address, operating system, browser type, visited web pages, time spent on those pages, and access times and dates. Additionally, it has been accused of installing spyware on devices.
  • Hoxx VPN. Another well-known free VPN that's a poor choice for security. It uses outdated 4096-bit RSA encryption and lacks a kill switch to prevent leaks. Plus, its privacy policy states they may share your data with third parties.
Expert comment
Content editor and security expert

Video review: free VPNs for iOS

Check out our comprehensive video review of the best free VPNs for iOS:

Conclusion

There are many benefits to using a reliable free iPhone VPN. With it, you can gain some privacy and advanced protection online, hide your IP address, and access some geo-blocked content. However, a free VPN might also come with disadvantages: not all have no-logs policies, and many lack additional features, vast server networks, and exceptionally fast speeds. Thus, we recommend Proton VPN as a strong free VPN for iOS, which is reliable and can provide decent security features.

On the other hand, if you value your privacy and security like me, try NordVPN's free trial or sign up for the premium version, which costs only $3.39/month.

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