Apple is known for the strong security of its devices. So, if you’re an iPhone user, you can assume that you don’t need the extra protection of a VPN or virtual private network. But even if you have an iPhone, a VPN has its advantages. An iPhone VPN can help you better protect your privacy, stay safe on public Wi-Fi networks, avoid ad tracking, and even bypass geoblocks on streaming services. And there is good news for iPhone users. You can now find several VPN services that are the most reliable and optimized for mobile.
In the past few years, the mobile VPN market has grown rapidly. According to a report by research firm Top10VPN, more than 480 million mobile VPN apps were downloaded worldwide in just 12 months between 2019 and 2020. This is a 54% increase over the previous year. Although free services account for 84% of all mobile VPN downloads, we recommend avoiding free VPN apps and instead using a tried and truly paid VPN if possible. This means that getting your money’s worth is important.
This list is basically a subset of the best VPN lists, but with a special focus on VPN clients for those looking for mobile browsing protection for their iPhone or other iOS device. If the service here ranks higher than the one on the VPN default list, it’s because the mobile app experience is better. (You can also check our selection of the best VPNs for Android.) Keep in mind that this is an ever-evolving list. We’re actively working on more research and hands-on testing, so check back regularly as you expect this list. Changes throughout the year. Here are the best iPhone VPN apps we’ve tested so far this year:
Note to editors, February 9, 2023: The VPN industry has undergone major changes over the past few months, and all of our top three VPN options have announced major changes in company ownership. In December, ExpressVPN announced that it had officially joined Kape Technologies, a company that already owns several VPNs and has raised privacy concerns in the past. In February, NordVPN and Surfshark announced the merger of the two companies, but will continue to operate independently. In light of these changes, we are reassessing our best choices. We will update our reviews and rankings as necessary to take into account this new competitive landscape.
- Intuitive app interface, with plenty of power under the hood
- Number of servers: 3,200-plus
- Number of VPN server locations: 65
- Country/jurisdiction: British Virgin Islands
Despite its customizable features and powerful performance as a VPN, Surfshark ‘siOS VPN (and Android) app offers first-time users a surprisingly easy-to-use interface. The four-tabbed design elegantly hides various privacy tools and connectivity options, and highlights the one-click connect button on the app’s landing screen.
You can quickly access one of Surfshark’s multiple storage connection options from the main locator screen without having to dig into the app’s VPN settings. Surfshark also earns bonus points that make it easy to make available customer support options, including a help ticket feature and a library of user guides.
Surfshark’s network is smaller than some of them, but its VPN service makes up for it with features. Let’s start with the biggest win, unlimited device support. If you want to run your entire home or office with Surfshark’s VPN, you don’t have to worry about how many devices you have or are connected to. It also offers anti-malware, ad blocker and tracker blocker as part of the software.
Surfshark scored high overall when its Chrome and Firefox extensions were audited for privacy by German security firm Cure 53 (PDF link to full report).
VPN providers offer a solid set of app support that works with Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, FireTV, and routers. Additional hardware such as game consoles for Surfshark can be configured via DNS settings. We especially like the ability to whitelist certain apps and websites to bypass VPNs automatically. For some business purposes, this can be very important.
Along with the multi-store, Surfshark also offers two other special modes designed for those who want to circumvent restrictions and hide their online steps more discreetly. The spoof mode hides your VPN activity, so your ISP won’t know that you’re using a VPN. and NoBorders mode allows “Surfshark to be used successfully in restricted areas.”
Be careful. Doing any of these three things may be illegal in your country and subject to severe penalties. There were no DNS or IP address leaks during testing and we had no issues accessing Netflix.
Unlike many other VPN providers, Surfshark doesn’t offer a one-year plan. The best offer is $2.30 per month for the two-year plan (about $60 upfront). The 6-month plan costs $6.49 per month (about $39) and the monthly plan costs $13 per month. Be sure to take advantage of the generous 30-day trial to decide if you like the service (if you opt for the 2-year plan, you can set a reminder after 23 months to see if you can talk about it at a lasting discount).
Read our Surfshark VPN review.
- Simple, fast, effective iOS app
- Number of servers: 3,000-plus
- Number of VPN server locations: 160
- Country/jurisdiction: British Virgin Islands
Just as ExpressVPN continues to position itself as one of the fastest VPNs on the market, the apps for iOS (and Android) are designed in a minimalist style aiming for easy and fast connections. A single button on the landing screen lets you connect quickly with the only option that comes with a drop-down server locator with the fastest nearby city selected by default.
This faster VPN has its own security and privacy tools, account and settings options, and other options such as a support page, all neatly hidden under various three-line garden icons in the upper-left corner of the screen. And they are worth checking out. ExpressVPN comes equipped with an IP address checker along with several leak testing tools and password generators.
The company has stated that its network is powered by TrustedServer technology. This technology was created by ExpressVPN to ensure that there are no logs of your online activity. When it comes to privacy, ExpressVPN has a proven record of having servers robbed by authorities who at the time proved that their no-logs policy was correct. I also like the quality of the VPN setup guide and the detailed information in the FAQ.
Like the other top 5 VPN services we reviewed, ExpressVPN offers a useful kill switch feature that prevents network data from leaking outside the secure VPN tunnel if the VPN connection fails. But unlike others, ExpressVPN supports Bitcoin as a payment method to earn points. It’s not our favorite offer, but it does add a layer of privacy during checkout. Best VPN with best-in-class voice security and encryption. Express VPN has super-fast servers that provide unlimited bandwidth around the world.
The company has been in business since 2009, ExpressVPN has a large network of fast VPN servers across 94 countries, and the best plans cost less than $7 per month for an annual package with 3 months free.
Read our review of ExpressVPN.
- An easy to use, reliable VPN application
- Number of servers: 5,200-plus servers
- Number of VPN server locations: 62
- Country/jurisdiction: Panama
NordVPN is one of the most popular VPN brands. Part of brand awareness depends on intuitive design. The Nord VPN iOS app has a similar design, making it as easy to interact with as the desktop client. If you’re new to the app and want to move from your desktop to a mobile iOS device such as an iPhone or iPad, it doesn’t constitute a learning curve.
Just like the desktop client, Nord’s iPhone app opens a familiar bluescale landing screen map where iPhone users can select a country or automatically connect to the fastest server. Nord gets bonus points for its split-tunneling feature that lets you choose other apps you don’t want to run over an encrypted VPN connection.
Nord offers a generous number of simultaneous connections, allowing up to six across the network. Almost all other providers offer 5 or less. NordVPN also offers a dedicated IP option for those who want a different level of VPN connection. NordVPN offers a kill switch and the ability to convert your VPN to Tor. We didn’t detect any privacy leaks during our testing and found it to be reliably fast.
The company’s one-year subscription plan costs $4.99 per month ($60 per one-time payment). This annual price is lower than most other competitors, but the $12 monthly fee is at the top of the spectrum. However, VPN providers offer a full 30-day money-back policy.
NordVPN has been on the top VPN list for a long time, but after reports in 2018 that one of its leased servers was being accessed without permission, it moved to the box in October 2019 to reevaluate its recommendations. This was done after Nord’s found several security audits, a small reward program, and a large investment in server security.
While NordVPN prefers to disclose issues early, the fact that hacking is inherently limited and does not contain any user identifiable information further confirms the fact that NordVPN keeps no logs of VPN user activity. As a result, Nord remains on our list of recommended VPN service providers.
Read our review of NordVPN.
- Most customizable VPN app
- Number of servers: 1,600
- Number of VPN server locations: 75
- Country/jurisdiction: US
IPVanish’s big advantage is its fun and configurable interface, making it an ideal client for those who want to understand what a VPN does on the inside. The iOS app allows IPVanish to tie the same extensive numeric knobs and numbers to a small screen for impressive effects.
If you’re looking for the ability to fine-tune your VPN connection, IPVanish is the obvious choice. From creating visual graphs of your internet activity, to a set of switches that control split tunneling, allowing LAN connections, and more, IPVanish is the iOS app for organized skill coaches with precise control over mobile traffic.
The multi-platform flexibility is also ideal for those focused on finding a VPN that is compatible with Netflix.
A unique feature of IPVanish that arouses our interest is VPN support for Kodi, an open source media streaming app formerly known as XBMC. All serious media fans will use Kodi or XBMC or have it built into their media player. The IPVanish Kodi plugin provides access to worldwide media.
At $13 per month or $90 per year, IPVanish VPN is definitely trying to move you to an annual program. We’re a bit disappointed that they only allow a 7-day trial, not a full 30-day, but they offer a full money-back guarantee. However, the recent increase of 10 unlimited simultaneous connections has made the company famous. We also liked the kill switch feature, a must for anyone who values anonymity while browsing the web.
Read the IPVanish review.
What is the best VPN for iPhone right now?
With incredible performance and unlimited device support, Surfshark is the best choice for the best iPhone VPN right now. ExpressVPN is our 2nd choice and offers a simple and effective iPhone VPN app. It’s not the cheapest, but it’s one of the fastest VPN options out there. Our third choice, NordVPN, is a sledgehammer. It costs more than Surfshark, but cheaper than Express, has a large network that is consistently faster and more secure, and is the most reliable service we’ve tested.
What is a mobile VPN?
Avoid slow speeds and increase data privacy for your entire device by using a mobile VPN. Mobile VPNs typically have a smaller memory footprint and require less processing power than desktop VPNs, so they run faster and save more battery power. The three best VPNs listed above have excellent and easy-to-use mobile app options for their services. Some VPNs only work on one type of platform, such as Apple or Android, and some are universally compatible. Check out our other mobile VPN guides below to find the mobile VPN that’s right for you. We regularly update retest information, so check back often.
What is the best free VPN?
None of them. There are many good free online security and privacy apps, but unfortunately a VPN is not one of them. Secure VPNs are expensive to implement and maintain security in businesses, and free VPN apps are almost always hacks with malware. But there is good news. The burgeoning VPN market is very competitive right now, so even the best VPNs regularly drop below $5 a month. In fact, the cheapest VPNs we’ve seen so far are among the top three overall in terms of security and speed. Check out our quick list of budget VPNs to find one that fits your price point.