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Best VPN apps for iPhone and iOS in 2021

Best VPN for iPhone (iOS)

Apple’s iPhone and iPad devices are in a league of their own when it comes to device security. The FBI–Apple encryption dispute is one of the highlights that shows their attention to user data protection.

Still, while iOS devices are indeed secure, you’re still relying on Internet Service Providers for connections. This can be a privacy threat or a severe bottleneck, especially if your government is very restrictive on what pages are allowed. That’s where VPNs come in.

In this article, you’ll learn what the best VPNs for iOS are in 2021. Secure your data and unlock a world of content with these great tools!

Best iPhone VPN apps:

No time to read? Here are the best VPN services for your iOS device. They are sure to unlock the full potential of your iPhone.

  1. NordVPN – the ultimate iOS VPN
  2. Surfshark – the VPN for iOS value king
  3. Private Internet Access – a feature-rich VPN for iOS
  4. Windscribe – superb iPhone VPN for streaming
  5. Hide.me VPN – a quality VPN for users in Asia

VPNs for iPhone and iPad – our detailed list:

Don’t be swayed by the overblown promises of VPN ads. Creating a quality VPN for iOS is no small task. Even the top VPN service providers have a hard time creating functional apps. Here are the best-in-class VPNs for iPhone and iPad that excel in security, performance, and have numerous useful features.

1. NordVPN – the ultimate iOS VPN

nordvpn banner
Based in:Panama
Simultaneous connections:6
Servers/countries:5,542 servers in 59 countries
Unblocks Netflix:Yes

NordVPN is the best VPN for iPhone, no question about it. iOS app developers are often forced to cut features as they’re hard to implement due to Apple’s strict supervision. Still, even though NordVPN is going against all odds, they emerge victorious.

You could probably count the number of iOS VPNs that have a kill switch on the fingers of one hand. NordVPN is one of the select few that have it. It’s always on, and you can’t disable it, but then again, you shouldn’t want to anyway.

NordVPN even includes small tweaks specifically for the iOS app. There’s a favorites tab, which allows you to quickly access servers you use most frequently. As you would expect, the app aligns with your system-wide color scheme. It will automatically use the light or dark theme, depending on which you’re using elsewhere.

The service is impressive in other technical regards, as well. It encrypts your connection with the military-grade 256-bit AES cipher. Plus, on iOS, you can use the IKEv2, OpenVPN (UDP/TCP), and NordLynx tunneling protocols. This covers all the bases, giving you the ultimate security and good versatility options.

You can unblock most streaming services, and there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Pros

  • Includes kill switch
  • Favorites tab
  • Unblocks Netflix
  • Great speed test scores
  • Independently-audited privacy policy
  • Built-in adblocker
  • Siri shortcuts
  • Anonymous payment options
  • Specialty servers
  • 24/7 live chat support
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Cons

  • No free version
  • Sign-up requires email address

2. Surfshark – the VPN for iOS value king

surfshark banner
Based in:British Virgin Islands
Simultaneous connections:Unlimited
Servers/countries:3,200 servers in 65 countries
Unblocks Netflix:Yes

Surfshark is currently one of the best offerings on the VPN market, and the same holds true for iOS users as well.

Surfshark has a kill switch when most of their rivals don’t include it on iOS. It can be a problem if the connection between your device and the server gets interrupted. This could expose your IP address and give your ISP intel on what you were doing online. You can turn it on or off, depending on how you want it to be set up.

You also get the CleanWeb feature, which functions as a filter for your browser. It blocks out URLs known to be associated with phishing and malware. This can come in handy if you’re in the habit of clicking on suspicious links.

If you’re living in a country with strict internet rules, Surfshark will automatically enable NoBorders mode. Then, it will give you a special list of servers configured to perform under such circumstances.

Your privacy will be protected with the AES-256 cipher, which is unbreakable for petty hackers and government institutions alike. You can route your connections using IKEv2, OpenVPN (UDP/TCP), or WireGuard. All of them have their uses and are great picks, making the service all the more usable.

Pros

  • Includes kill switch
  • Built-in adblocker
  • Automatic NoBorders mode
  • Unblocks Netflix
  • Smart DNS
  • Strict no-logs policy
  • 24/7 live chat support
  • Data breach alerts
  • Private search engine
  • Unlimited simultaneous devices
  • Free trial for Android and iOS users
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Cons

  • No free version
  • No logs policy hasn’t been audited

3. Private Internet Access – a feature-rich VPN for iOS

private internet access banner
Based in:United States
Simultaneous connections:10
Servers/countries:29,000 servers in 77 countries
Unblocks Netflix:Yes

You can’t go wrong with Private Internet Access on any platform. Though, it’s worth pointing out that their iOS variant might be the most minimal.

The same customizable encryption setting is present on the iPhone/iPad app, allowing you to choose between AES-128/256 and their CBC and GCM variants. It can be combined with IPSec/IKEv2, OpenVPN, and WireGuard tunneling protocols. PIA even includes a kill switch that triggers when you’re reconnecting.

There are quite a lot of things that you can tweak, including remote ports and the ability to use smaller data packets. The latter could even make your connection more streamlined if your Internet isn’t reliable.

iPhone and iPad users get some additional surprises too. You can connect with a unique phrase using Siri shortcuts to avoid clicking buttons. Both connect and disconnect commands can be personalized.

PIA also adds some nice extra subscription benefits like Safari Content Blocker. This works the same way as MACE, their ad-blocker they have on other versions of the app.

Safety aside, PIA unblocks the US and UK Netflix libraries. This presents a great opportunity to increase the number of TV and movie titles available dramatically. This is one of the main ways of spending time on your iPad, anyway.

Although there’s no free plan, PIA offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. That’s plenty of time to try the service.

Pros

  • Customizable encryption
  • Includes a kill switch
  • Smaller data packets toggle
  • Siri shortcuts
  • Safari Content Blocker
  • Unblocks Netflix
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • 10 simultaneous connections
  • 24/7 live chat support
  • Enormous server fleet

Cons

  • US-based (Five Eyes country)

4. Windscribe – superb iPhone VPN for streaming

windscribe banner
Based in:Canada
Simultaneous connections:Unlimited
Servers/countries:480 servers in 60 countries
Unblocks Netflix:Yes

Windscribe is one of the coolest VPN services that you could install on your iPhone. I suspect that this would still be true if they weren’t that great at roasting competitors on Twitter.

When we look at their product, it remains solid. Windscribe includes a firewall that acts like a supercharged kill switch. It blocks all connections outside your VPN tunnel, thus protecting you from unwanted IP addresses, DNS, or WebRTC leaks. You can also manually change the connection mode, adjusting the protocol and port.

When you’re connected to their servers, your connection is encrypted with a military-grade AES-256 cipher. You can choose between IKEv2, OpenVPN (UDP/TCP), and Stealth tunneling protocols.

The service has a special toggle for Windflix locations. These are dedicated streaming servers that unblock UK/US Netflix libraries. Though, during our tests, they also worked with other services. If your current media library starts to look a bit stale, it’s a good way to refresh it.

They go as far as offering a free version without asking for your email address. Though, if you decide to provide it, you get an additional 8 GB to the baseline 2 GB of monthly data. It’s worth mentioning that the total number of countries will be restricted, too.

Pros

  • Includes firewall
  • Unblocks Netflix
  • Free version
  • Good speed test scores
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Cons

  • No live chat
  • Located in Canada (Five Eyes)

5. Hide.me VPN – quality VPN for users in Asia

hide.me vpn banner
Based in:Malaysia
Simultaneous connections:10
Servers/countries:1,900 servers in 47 countries
Unblocks Netflix:Yes

Hide.me VPN is one of the most underrated VPNs. This is a shame, as they do deliver an excellent VPN service.

They have a kill switch in their iOS app when most competitors are cutting features left and right. You can even toggle it on and off, which doesn’t tie you to a permanent mode.

Additional options include the ability to connect the application on start and autoconnect when connected to a particular network. So, if you don’t want to use a VPN while at home but need it for public hotspots, you can automate the process.

The added security benefit with the AES-256 cipher is well worth it and makes your connection anonymous. You can couple it with a handful of available tunneling protocols: IKEv2, OpenVPN (UDP/TCP), and WireGuard. With the latter, you’re getting the fastest tunneling protocol on the market.

In addition, Hide.me VPN unblocks most streaming services, including Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and DAZN. So, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to put their fast speeds to good use.

If you’re keen to try the service, you can get their free version with no strings attached. Even as a premium user, you’re getting a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Pros

  • Includes kill switch
  • Unblocks Netflix
  • Free version
  • WireGuard tunneling protocol
  • Privacy-friendly jurisdiction
  • IPv6 support
  • Great selection of servers in Asia
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Cons

  • Lacks unique features
  • Expensive

6. ExpressVPN – one of the most solid VPN services

expressvpn banner
Based in:British Virgin Islands
Simultaneous connections:5
Servers/countries:3,000 servers in 94 countries
Unblocks Netflix:Yes

You might have heard a lot of things about ExpressVPN. I can confirm that the part about their speeds being great holds true.

Although, Lightway, their fastest proprietary tunneling protocol, isn’t available on iOS. OpenVPN (UDP/TCP) and IKEv2 work well, and you can still get very fast VPN speeds. Even if IKEv2 doesn’t work, you’ll always be able to rely on OpenVPN.

Even if something goes haywire in your app, you can fix the issues without deleting the app. You can just head to Settings, and click on reinstall VPN configuration. This will reset your iPhone VPN connection settings, which should fix issues, and doesn’t require you to re-download the whole app again.

You can set up the app to connect automatically. The feature will do it for you if you constantly forget to connect to a VPN. It will also reconnect if your connection is interrupted. However, it’s worth mentioning that the app doesn’t include a kill switch.

Still, ExpressVPN unblocks most streaming services, so if you’re looking for a VPN for entertainment, it will work wonderfully. You can unblock Netflix, the BBC iPlayer, DAZN, to name a few.

Although an iOS version of ExpressVPN could be a bit better, you’re still getting a premium customer service. Plus, you can try it for a month with their 30-day money-back guarantee.

Pros

  • Great speed test scores
  • Easy to reset VPN configurations
  • Connection automatisation options
  • Unblocks Netflix
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Spotless reputation
  • 24/7 live chat support
  • Anonymous payment options

Cons

  • Expensive
  • No free trial

7. VyprVPN – best companion for Apple devices

vyprvpn banner
Based in:Switzerland
Simultaneous connections:5
Servers/countries:700 servers in 70 countries
Unblocks Netflix:Yes

VyprVPN is one of the best services for Mac, and it doesn’t disappoint on iOS. You do get quite a lot of useful features.

Your connection will be encrypted with AES-256 cipher, and there’s plenty of tunneling protocols to choose from. There’s IKEv2, OpenVPN, WireGuard, and Chameleon. This selection works to your advantage whether you want to defeat restrictive censorship or get fast VPN speeds. In either scenario, VyprVPN has your back.

You can toggle Public Wi-Fi protection to automatically connect to a VPN when you join unfamiliar networks. For cases when your connection becomes interrupted, you can turn on automatic reconnect. Sadly, this setup is missing a kill switch.

The service is also pretty versatile when used for entertainment. It did unblock most streaming platforms that we tested, including Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and DAZN. So, whether you’re a sports or TV-series binger, you’ll have plenty of things to watch.

Even though VyprVPN doesn’t have a free version, you can still try it. iOS and Android users can take advantage of a special 3-day free trial. The only downside is that you’ll have to provide payment details for it to work.

Pros

  • Public Wi-Fi protection
  • Unblocks Netflix
  • 3-day free trial
  • Excellent security and privacy
  • Works in China
  • 24/7 live chat

Cons

  • Lacks unique features
  • No anonymous payments
  • No free version

How we selected and tested these VPNs

Finding cybersecurity products for an iPhone is no small task. The limitations of the iOS itself play a role. All third-party apps are sandboxed and can’t easily modify parameters that Apple decides shouldn’t be touched. This makes adding features like a kill switch difficult, as it interferes with a lot of other processes.

In turn, it also makes choosing a VPN all the more problematic. The best VPN for Android will have little to do with which is better for iOS. Here are the criteria that we selected when choosing the best ones.

  • Security. Although Apple’s App Store is much better curated than Google Play Store, you may still end up with a sub-par service if you’re not careful. The fact that you can download the app doesn’t mean that it’s safe or will protect your connection. You need to make sure that your service uses strong encryption ciphers with secure tunneling protocols.
  • Privacy. Technical qualities are important but don’t underestimate the business location. Past collaborations with law enforcement can be serious red flags. Take a note of whether the service has publicly audited its privacy policy. All of this can paint a pretty accurate picture of how it will deal with your connection details.
  • iOS client. Most VPN clients for iOS are garbage, especially compared to what Android or desktop users are getting. Still, it doesn’t mean that you just give up and get used to whatever is on offer. There are some notable examples of VPN providers that push the envelope further, granting essential features that you need.
  • Performance. A faster and more efficient VPN means less waiting around and getting more things done. Using the same tunneling protocols doesn’t mean that they will be implemented equally. Implementation is a factor, and even if a service has WireGuard, it doesn’t mean that it will always be faster than OpenVPN. You have to check how the service acts in real life.
  • Censorship circumvention. The ability to access restricted websites is one of the reasons why people are looking into VPNs. Yet, unblocking media streaming websites is a hard nut to crack, and not all services can deliver. The best ones are compatible with Netflix, and others, giving you more usability out of your VPN subscription.
  • Price. There should be a healthy ratio between the price and the things that you get. If there is an imbalance, this isn’t something that gets you higher up the best VPN for iPhone list. Though, in most cases, with VPNs, it’s quite easy to find a service that gets you a lot of bang for your buck.

Do I really need a VPN on my iPhone?

Whether you’re using iPhone or iPad, there are several reasons why installing and using a VPN isn’t such a bad idea.

  • Increased privacy. Although iOS is a secure operating system, it still relies on the ISP for online connectivity. So, as soon as your data leaves the device, it’s subject to surveillance. Not to mention that the things that you do online leave breadcrumbs all over the Internet. It makes it all the easier to connect the dots if there’s the same IP address.
  • No censorship or geo-blocking. Your ISP-assigned IP address can hold you back when accessing content that the right’s holders decided shouldn’t be available in your region. If you disagree, you can dodge this by connecting through another country, which, unsurprisingly, allows you to view it.
  • Data saving. Usually, when you’re going through websites, you’re downloading text and images and sending data to various web trackers. Most quality VPN services use various web filters to prevent them from loading. So if you find yourself constantly exceeding your carrier’s data cap, this is one way to save it.

How to set up a VPN app on iOS

There are two routes on how you can set up a VPN on iPhone: installing an app that automatically adds all the needed configurations or setting it up manually. If you’re going down the manual route, it’s worth mentioning that you should already have a remote VPN server to connect to.

How to set up a VPN on iOS manually?

  1. From your home screen, go to Settings
  2. Tap General, then VPN
  3. On the new screen, tap Add VPN configuration
  4. Tap Type, then select the appropriate protocol
  5. Enter the required VPN settings information
  6. Enter your login data
  7. Tap Done and slide the Switch to turn it on

How to install a VPN app on iOS?

  1. Head to Apple’s App Store
  2. Search for the provider’s app name
  3. Click on the icon and tap Get
  4. The app will download and install
  5. Launch the app and log in
  6. The app will ask to add VPN configurations, allow it
  7. You can now connect to their servers via an app

Is it safe to use a VPN on iOS?

As long as you’re relying on a reputable VPN service provider, there’s little that you have to worry about. A trustworthy VPN will purge any logs that they have on you as soon as you disconnect from their service. Even if the government came knocking on their doors, they would have nothing to show them.

That is not to say that all providers have identical definitions of what a no-logs policy should mean. Some even scrape the concept altogether and sell off your data in turn for a free forever VPN service. Needless to say, such products have little to do with cybersecurity and can be a considered a threat to your privacy. The fact that you’re using an iOS device doesn’t make you immune to this.

Does iPhone have a built-in VPN?

No, iPhone doesn’t have a built-in VPN. iPhone has built-in support for IKEv2, IPSec, and L2TP tunneling protocols. This means you don’t have to install anything, and your phone will have configurations for these pre-installed.

What this doesn’t give you is the server that will accept your incoming connections. You’ll either have to set it up yourself or turn to a third-party VPN service provider. Without one, it’s the same as having a call function on your phone but no contacts to reach out to.

Is there a free VPN for iPhone?

Some premium VPN service providers have free versions alongside their paid offerings. Their tactic is to get you to try the service and eventually convert you into a paying customer. Still, if you never convert, there are opportunities for free forever VPN services.

Even in this list, Hide.me VPN and Windscribe both have free versions that you can install on your iPhone without paying. Even if a service doesn’t have a free version, you can take advantage of their money-back guarantee. Get a monthly subscription, and then when it’s nearing expiration, ask for a refund. Not only you’re getting your money back, but you also get access to a premium service.

Conclusion

If you’re shopping for a good VPN for iPhone, the options are a bit scarce, but it’s possible to find one that does its job well. If you’re choosing from trustworthy providers, you can get a secure tool that increases your privacy and unlocks a truly global browsing experience.

You don’t necessarily have to spend a fortune to get one, too. Some of them have handy free versions, which you can use to decide whether you need more features or servers to connect to. Either way, an iOS device with a VPN is a superb combination.

FAQ

How do I keep my iOS VPN connection always on?

To pull this off, you’ll need to reset your iPhone completely and put it into supervised mode as if you were an organization administrating the device. Then, you’ll also need to create an always-on VPN configuration profile using Apple Configurator.

Does VPN harm your phone?

If your service is trustworthy, there’s nothing to be afraid of. Your connection becomes much more secure with a VPN than without it. Keep in mind that a VPN is a piece of software, which can be subject to bugs and vulnerabilities. That’s why penetration test results and bug bounties are important.

Does a VPN work on an iPad?

iPhones and iPads share the same operating system (currently, iOS 14.5). This makes them identical, which means that the apps are cross-compatible. So, naturally, VPN apps for iPad are the same as VPN apps for iPhones. There might be some icon size tweaks, but generally, you’re getting a very similar product.

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Comments 2
  1. such a pro says:

    hello. maybe you know about stuff like this from before? I have problem on my iPhone wifi after vpn use. I cant connect to internet, it just is loading but never loads nothing. maybe I forgot to turn something on? i use iphone 7

  2. chipper says:

    I agree that Nordvpn is the top rated vpn for iphone. They just think about their customer: design is clear and simple, while the quality is top notch. IMHO, a truly good match!

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