ExpressVPN

5 Best iOS VPN Apps & Services

Earlier this month, Apple released the latest version of its hugely popular mobile operating system, iOS 10. In this article, we look at the best iOS VPN Apps and Services. We will also consider the security and privacy implications of using an iPhone or iPad.

Apple made high-profile news at the start of this year by refusing to help unlock an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters. This highlighted an ongoing conflict between Apple and FBI Director James Comey over Apple’s introduction of secure end-to-end encryption. This is now installed by default on all new iOS devices.

A side effect of this conflict is that Apple regained the trust of many of its users. This was a trust badly damaged by Edward Snowden’s revelations that Apple cooperated with the NSA in its blanket mission to “collect it all.”

Using a VPN on your iOS device can make you even more secure. More on that later, but first let’s run down the list of the best VPNs for iOS.

Best iOS VPN Services Summary

Disclosure: compensated affiliate: click here for more information

Rank Company Score Price Link

1

IPVanish Logo
Read Review10/10
$6.49 / monthVisit Site

2

ExpressVPN Logo
Read Review9.2/10
$8.32 / monthVisit Site

3

NordVPN Logo
Read Review8.4/10
$5.75 / monthVisit Site

4

SaferVPN Logo
Read Review8/10
$7.50 / monthVisit Site

5

PrivateInternetAccess Logo
Read Review7.4/10
$3.33 / monthVisit Site
Editor's Choice Award

Winner

IPVanish

5/5

Best VPN for iOS

  • ProsPROS
  • No logs
  • IKEv2 for iOS app
  • 2 simultaneous connections
  • 61 countries
  • P2P: ok
  • ConsCONS
  • Based in US
  • Poor support

This high-profile VPN company has good privacy credentials, despite being based in the US. It keeps no logs (at all), accepts payment in Bitcoin, and permits torrenting. IPVanish also throw in a free Smart DNS service for all customers. Although it’s a little basic, the desktop client works well. iOS users should be pleased to note that the iOS app supports the secure IKEv2 VPN protocol. IPVanish also boast servers in over 70 countries. This great for performance, as you will always find one nearby.

Additional features: P2P allowed, mobile apps for iOS and Android, 5 simultaneous connections.

Download best iOS VPN App!

Visit IPVanish »

7-day money back guarantee

2nd place

ExpressVPN

4.6/5

ExpressVPN

  • ProsPROS
  • 30-day money back guarantee
  • No usage logs
  • Servers in 78 countries
  • Excellent customer service
  • P2P: yes
  • ConsCONS
  • Connection logs
  • A bit pricey

This popular VPN service is now based in the British Virgin Islands for greater protection against the NSA (although the BVI’s relationship with GCHQ remains unclear). A highly polished and professional provider, ExpressVPN excels at customer service and its 30-day money back guarantee is also exceptional.

iOS is supported with a slick dedicated app, plus manual setup instructions for L2TP/IPSec (OpenVPN Connect is not supported, but it can be setup using ExpressVPN’s standard OpenVPN configuration files). ExpresVPN is not the cheapest service out there. But when you consider that a full Smart DNS service is thrown in for free, it works out as great value for money.

Additional Features: iOS app, five simultaneous connections.

Visit ExpressVPN »


3rd place

NordVPN

4.2/5

NordVPN

  • ProsPROS
  • No logs at all
  • Six simultaneous devices
  • Servers in 47 countries
  • 30-day money back guarantee
  • “Double-hop VPN”
  • ConsCONS
  • Speeds can be slow

Based in Panama, NordVPN is well outside the immediate reach of the NSA! It backs up this distinction be being very privacy-focused. NordVPN keep no logs at all, use strong encryption, and accept payment via Bitcoins. Some may appreciate NordVPN’s “double-hop” VPN chaining feature, although I am dubious about its value.

NordVPN’s iOS app uses good encryption – IKE(v1) with an AES-256 cipher and SHA2-384 data authentication, combined with Perfect Forward Secrecy and 3072-bit Diffie-Hellmann keys. Unfortunately, NordVPN is sometimes a little let down by the performance of some of its servers.

Additional Features: P2P: yes.

Visit NordVPN »


4th place

SaferVPN

4/5

SaferVPN

  • ProsPROS
  • No usage logs
  • P2P: yes (NL server only)
  • Great 24/7 support
  • 2 simultaneous connections (Premium plan)
  • Servers in 24 countries
  • ConsCONS
  • Some connection logs

This smart Israeli VPN service impressed us with great connection speeds and a robust attitude to privacy (although it does keep some connection logs). We also found the software easy to use, and appreciated the 24-hour free trial and 14-day money back guarantee. SaferVPN has servers located in 24 countries, offers 24/7 support, and accepts payment via Bitcoins. SaferVPN’s nifty iOS app uses the secure IKEv2 protocol.

Additional features: iOS and Android apps, IKEv2 support, accepts Bitcoins, SmartDNS service promised soon, 24-hour free trial and 14-day money back guarantee.

Visit SaferVPN »


5th place

Private Internet Acess

3.7/5

Private Internet Acess

  • ProsPROS
  • No logs
  • Accepts Bitcoin
  • Client features kill switch and DNS leak protection
  • P2P: yes
  • 5 simultaneous connections
  • ConsCONS
  • Some reports of glitches on iOS app

PIA is based in the US, but keeps no logs at all. It permits up to 5 devices to connect simultaneously, and yearly subscriptions are ridiculously cheap. Its desktop software supports multiple security options, a VPN kill switch, and DNS leak protection. Port forwarding is also permitted. There are reports of the iOS app being a little glitchy, but PIA remains an impressive VPN service.

Additional features: Port forwarding.

Visit PrivateInternetAcess »


VPNs for iOS Considerations

How VPNs for iOS can help you

If you are an iPhone or iPad user and care about security and privacy, then using VPNs for iOS should be considered an essential tool in your toolkit. They can hide your true IP address from websites you visit, prevent your ISP or mobile carrier seeing what you get up to on the internet, and protect you from criminal hackers when using public WiFi hotspots.

VPNs for iOS are also useful for geospoofing your location in order to watch content that is restricted to certain counties. Examples of this include US Netflix, and the UK’s BBC iPlayer.

iOS VPN

As with all mobile platforms, however, you should be aware that apps send information back directly to their developers. This bypasses any protection and/or geo-spoofing capabilities afforded by using a VPN.

In order to gain the full benefit of using VPNs for iOS, therefore, you should access online services via their web portals. That is, via your web browser, rather than using dedicated apps.

Use Firefox for iOS

Although Safari is a good browser, it is not the most privacy-focused one. Firefox for iOS is fully open source. It is also compatible with many of the privacy-oriented add-ons that make the desktop version of this browser so popular with security experts. Recommended add-ons include:

  • uBlock Origin – a lightweight FOSS ad-blocker that does double duty as an anti-tracking add-on.
  • HTTPS Everywhere – HTTPS Everywhere was also developed by EFF and tries to ensure that you always connect to a website using a secure HTTPS connection, if one is available.
  • Self-Destructing Cookies – automatically deletes cookies when you close the browser tab that set them. This provides a high level of protection from tracking via cookies without “breaking” websites. It also provides protection against Flash/zombie cookies and Etags, and cleans DOM storage.

In order to prevent WebRTC leaks, the instructions for Firefox here also work with Firefox for iOS. It is worth noting that Safari is not vulnerable to the WebRTC “bug”, as Apple’s browser does not support the WebRTC standard.

iOS 10

The good

On the privacy and security front, iOS 10 is something of a mixed bag. It introduces 8 important security patches that fix a number of major security flaws in the last version iOS 9.

Alarmingly, “One of the world’s most evasive digital arms dealers is believed to have been taking advantage of three security vulnerabilities in popular Apple products in its efforts to spy on dissidents and journalists.

iOS VPN App

Apple has also moved all updates to a securely encrypted HTTPS channel. This should prevent the possibility of a man-in-the-midddle (MitM) attack during the update process. As an update, it is frankly badly overdue.

An issue existed in iOS updates, which did not properly secure user communications. This issue was addressed by using HTTPS for software updates.”

The bad

On the other hand:

“iOS 10 uses on-device intelligence to identify the people, objects, and scenes in Photos, and power QuickType suggestions.

Indeed, iOS 10 is very talkative in general when it comes to communicating with Apple. And Siri, of course, relies on collecting and analyzing a great deal of your personal data in order to fulfil its mission statement of being your digital personal assistant.

iOS 10 introduces a concept known as differential privacy. Apple claims this will improve users’ privacy by injecting random “noise” into everything a user does. It says this will hide users’ identity, while at the same time allowing it detect “trends” in your data that Siri can make use of.

Details on how differential privacy actually works are rather thin on the ground, however. It is also hard for outsiders to determine how well it works. Which brings us to…

The ugly

iDevices and the iOS software they run are 100% proprietary. This means that they are closed source, so there is no way whatsoever to verify that they are doing what Apple says they are.

Users must therefore place complete trust in Apple. As noted at the beginning of this article, this trust has not always been well placed.

iOS VPN App Considerations

In general, I always recommend using the OpenVPN protocol where available. All custom iOS apps, however, make use on the official Apple VPN API, which does not support OpenVPN.

It instead allows them to access iOS’ built-in PPTP and IPSec (usually IKE/IPSec, or IKEv2) settings. IKEv2 in particular is considered very secure, although it does not support Perfect Forward Secrecy (ephemeral keys) out of the box.

If you prefer to use OpenVPN, there is a generic OpenVPN Connect app for iOS. This is developed by OpenVPN Technologies, Inc., which holds the OpenVPN trademark. Unlike OpenVPN itself (and OpenVPN for Android), which are 100 percent open source, OpenVPN Connect also includes proprietary closed source code.

OpenVPN Technologies Inc. additionally develops the Private Tunnel VPN app, but this uses the official Apple VPN API, and therefore (somewhat confusingly) does not support OpenVPN.

Best VPN for iOS Conclusion

The truth is that iPhones are not a good choice for privacy fanatics (although they are arguably very secure). In order to provide the seamless user experience that Apple is so famous for (and for which is its products so popular), Apple collects a great deal of personal information about its users.

Combined with the fact that Apple products are completely closed source, this requires placing a great deal of trust in what is, at the end of the day, a market-driven corporate entity.

That said, there are many things you can do improve this situation. And using VPNs for iOS can provide meaningful privacy and security benefits.

Best iOS VPN Summary

Disclosure: compensated affiliate: click here for more information

Rank Company Score Price Link

1

IPVanish Logo
Read Review10/10
$6.49 / monthVisit Site

2

ExpressVPN Logo
Read Review9.2/10
$8.32 / monthVisit Site

3

NordVPN Logo
Read Review8.4/10
$5.75 / monthVisit Site

4

SaferVPN Logo
Read Review8/10
$7.50 / monthVisit Site

5

PrivateInternetAccess Logo
Read Review7.4/10
$3.33 / monthVisit Site

Douglas Crawford I am a freelance writer, technology enthusiast, and lover of life who enjoys spinning words and sharing knowledge for a living. Find me on Google+

Related Coverage


One response to “5 Best iOS VPN Apps & Services

  1. First, thank you so much for posting this! I have been going crazy trying to figure out why none of my https connections were working. I personally think there is a glitch in the keychain. I ended up having to reset all the content settings on my iPad after the update with the keychain off. It seems to have fixed most of the issues with the exception of the keychain. Although I have turned it back on, it still doesn’t offer to store passwords. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one with the problem. I noticed after resetting. I get prompted to allow the site due to the certificate. The only I found was on apple’s website stating that it would only be using ikev2 in ios 10. Most vpn apps are not working and I’m pretty sure my isp’s dns is not helping. No luck on the web until now!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *