5 Best VPNs for iOS – 2014 Edition

26 Mar 2014 |

The Operating System powering Apple’s sky-rocketing ascent since 2007 is iOS. At the end of 2012 it had a healthy market share of 26%. Moreover it had enabled an astonishing 410 million devices half way through that year. Thus it has for some time dominated the mobile computing market. It is only recently that a real challenger has emerged in the form of Google’s Android.

iOS is now on version 6 and runs on the iPhone, iPad, iPad mini, iPod touch and Apple TV. These iOS devices are powerful, internet connected computers which, for many users are the primary method of accessing the computer and surfing the web. You have to admit that curling up on the sofa with an iPad is so much more comfortable than sitting at a desk in front of a computer screen. Even so, it is just as important to protect your on-line privacy when using your mobile device as it is when using your desktop computer.

To set up VPN on your iOS device you have the option of using the vPN client that is built into iOS and which supports the PPTP and L2TP/Ipsec VPN protocols. Alternatively, you can download the third party OpenVPN Connect client from the iTunes Store. In this way you will manually configure the OpenVPN protocol.

PPTP and L2TP/IPsec

We discuss the differences between the various VPN protocols you are likely to encounter in some depth in this article. For the short story of PPTP and L2TP/Ipsec, you should know that:

  • PPTP is very easy to set up in iOS. It is supported by almost all VPN providers. The bad news is that is isn’t very secure. In fact, its inventor, Microsoft, has advised against its use. But as a fixture of business VPN networks it remains very popular. Hence, PPTP is not a viable permanent VPN solution. It is, though, a ’quick and dirty’ method. It is also a protection option against packet snoopers when using a public WiFi spot.
  • L2TP/Ipsec is secure but a bit more difficult to set up than PPTP. This is due to the need for a pre-shared IPsec key. A downloadable auto-configuration file, offered by some VPN providers, makes this job a bit easier.

The VPN client built into iOS can be found by tapping:

Settings -> General -> Network -> VPN

Your VPN provider will give you instructions for the settings you need to enter.

ios_vpn
The VPN icon in the task bar lets you know the device is connected to a VPN server

OpenVPN

OpenVPN has only recently become available for most iOS users. This came about in February 2013 with the release of the generic OpenVPN Connect app. Theoretically, any VPN’s generic OpenVPN configuration (.ovpn) files can be used with OpenVPN Connect to set up an OpenVPN connection. Since May 2013, support for OpenVPN remains quite limited-more so than for its rival Android OS. AOS enjoys greater support for its generic OpenVPN app, for which an increasing number of VPN providers have released their own dedicated OpenVPN apps. To the best of our knowledge no such dedicated OpenVPN apps have released for iOS. We don’t understand why this is and we’ll keep you informed of any new developments.

  • OpenVPN is very secure and very fast and is now the default VPN protocol for most desktop services. Setting up OpenVPN must be done manually because there are no dedicated VPN provider apps available for iOS. It will require more work than setting up PPTP or L2TP. It is not that difficult and OpenVPN is the protocol we recommend.

Some VPN providers have yet to catch up with the arrival of OpenVPN Connect. These have instructions for setting up OpenVPN using the GuizmOVPN app. There is a problem with GuizmOVPN. It requires a jail-broken device to work with it. This is not ideal for most users now that OpenVPN Connect is available.

This article is about ’best VPNs for iOS’. Because of this we have focused on provider’s specific support for the OS. But keep in mind that any OpenVPN service should be usable on the platform through the OpenVPN Connect app.

Summary

Rank Provider StartingPrice Review Link

1

cexpressvpn_logo $8.32/mo 9.9
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2

logo $4.95/mo 9.7
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3

logo $6.95/mo 9.5
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4

$6.99/mo 9.4
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5

logo $9.00/mo 9.3
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Editor’s Choice

Winner – ExpressVPN

Positives: Servers in 33 countries including Central America, East Asia and North Africa, good VPN client, 30 day money back guarantee

Negatives: Not the cheapest, but worth the price

Cheaper providers can’t compete with ExpressVPN’s ultra reliable network of servers(58) and world class support. EVPN has really impressive speeds, top-notch security features and software to support all devices. A single EVPN account will support simultaneous connections from both computer and mobile devices.

They make setting up L2TP/Ipsec on your iOS device easy. They provide you with an auto-config file which you download from a link in your welcoming email. This will automatically configure its service into your iOS VPN settings. It also gives manual instruction for the L2TP with screenshots.

Their software for any device is excellent. One of the most important aspects of a VPN is speed. EVPN doesn’t disappoint. In fact, their speeds were awesome. They’ve also built their own technology to get around the great firewall of China. It is just one example which demonstrates their dedication to the service they provide.

While the $8.31/month price is not the cheapest, it is well worth it for the service you get. So, ExpressVPN provides a fast, simple but functional client. They also keep no logs of your internet activity.

Try Out the Best VPN for iOS Today!

Visit ExpressVPN »

30 day moneyback guarantee

2. ibVPN

Positives: cheap, no logs (but many caveats), accepts payments via Bitcoins, P2P: yes, lots oi support for iOS

Negatives: painfully slow on a regular basis, many caveats to ‘no logs’ claim, no support for OpenVPN Connect

ibVPN is a very low cost service ($4.95/mo)aimed explicitly at Torrent users. But it does provide much support for iOS devices. These are in the form of detailed set up guides (with screenshots) for PPTP and L2PT/Ipsec. They also feature OpenVPN guides for both OpenVPN Connect and GuizmOVPN. It is interesting that ibVPN offers a dedicated iOS app. This not only supports PPTP and L2TP/Ipsec but it also makes setting up the service on your device very easy. It makes ibVPN the most comprehensively friendly iOS provider we have yet reviewed. Unfortunately we are less than thrilled about the service in general. This is mainly because it is regularly very slow and its no logs policy is rather loose.

» Visit ibVPN


3. Private Internet Access

Positives: accepts Bitcoin, no logs, blazingly fast, client features port forwarding, VPN kill switch and DNS leak protection, P2P: yes

Negatives: No free trial, no server statistics, no support for OpenVPN Connect

Arguably our favorite VPN provider, PIA supplies both a great desktop client (Windows and OSX) and the best Android app we have seen. It is a fairly no-frills VPN service but it delivers on the things that matter most to a VPN provider. Among these are ease of use, speed and anonymity. In this vein, they offer shared IPs so individuals can’t be identified. The groovy Windows and OSX desktop client features port forwarding, DNS leak protection and an internet kill switch.

iOS support is ok but not earth-shaking. Basic (no screenshots) guides are available for PPTP and L2TP. PIA does, however, provide generic default OprnVPN configuration files. This should work fine with OpenVPN Connect. We were also happy with their customer service. All things considered they are a good provider. Why don’t you give them a try.

» Visit Private Internet Access


4. CyberGhost

Positives: no logs, fast, great VPN client with internet kill switch, good free service (although not fast enough for 4oD), 30 day free trial, 11 UK servers, P2P: yes

Negatives: Does not accept Bitcoin, VPN client is Windows only (although guides are provides for setting OpenVPN up on other devices), no support for OpenVPN Connect

They stand out as the only VPN provider to offer their service for free for 30 days. Though we should point out that the Free VPN service will be automatically disconnected after six hours. You then must manually reconnect immediately to continue usage. You also will be subjected to adverts.

But we like CyberGhost because they provide a good, sensible and logs-free service. Also because it has a good Windows client which includes an internet kill switch. Add to that a generous 30 day free trial and a rather good free service and you begin to get a picture of a fine VPN service.

Regarding iOS support, CG provides full set up guides with screen shots for PPTP and L2TP/Ipsec. This is for the Premium service. The free service is OpenVPN only. So with free service and an extended 30 day free trial, you have reasons to consider giving them a try!

» Visit CyberGhost


5. AirVPN

Positives: accepts Bitcoin, no logs, 256-bit AES encryption, dynamic port forwarding, real-time user and server statistics, support for Tor over VPN and VPN through SSL and SSH tunnels, good speeds, 3 day free trial, P2P: yes, setup instructions for OpenVPN connect

Negatives: none

AVPN offers a host of features not commonly found elsewhere. This is augmented by technological muscle that provides a simple but elegantly effective service.

AirVPN wins this category by virtue of providing iOS setup instructions for OpenVPN Connect. Though we must point out they are basic ones and without accompanying screenshots. But we are fans of their service in general.

AirVPN was established in 2010 by a group of Italian net neutrality and internet privacy activists and hacktavists. Their OpenVPN only service features a super-secure 256-bit AES encryption that focuses on privacy and security. AirVPN is proud of adhering to various privacy related EU directives and codes of best practices. But as an Italian VPN provider, they do not conform to the Data Retention Directive. The DRD does not apply to Italy. AVPN supports terrific security measures such as VPN over TOR and VPN through SSL and SSH tunnels. In addition, they provide total ’transparency’ via some beautifully presented charts and graphs. These let you monitor the network in real-time.

» Visit AirVPN


Conclusion

Setting up PPTP or L2TP/Ipsec on your iOS device is very easy using the built-in VPN client. This is well supported by most VPN providers. For OpenVPN support is somewhat sketchier. We would recommend a reliable no logs service such as AirVPN, PIA or CyberGhost. Then spend a little extra time figuring out how to set up OpenVPN Connect. This might be a better way to go than by just signing up with a more iOS friendly service that, overall, we were less happy with. Good luck!


And here’s the summary once more:

Summary

Rank Provider StartingPrice Review Link

1

cexpressvpn_logo $8.32/mo 9.9
Read Review
Visit Site

2

logo $4.95/mo 9.7
Read Review
Visit Site

3

logo $6.95/mo 9.5
Read Review
Visit Site

4

$6.99/mo 9.4
Read Review
Visit Site

5

logo $9.00/mo 9.3
Read Review
Visit Site
Author Picture Written by Pete Zaborszky
Pete runs Best VPN and wants to get detailed information to the readers. He is dedicated to being the best and providing the highest quality at anything he does. You can also find him on Twitter or Google+