5 Best VPNs for Android 2014

11 Apr 2014 |

With all the modern revolutions come the modern problems of privacy & security concerns, with leaks and problems appearing on a monthly basis. Not to mention that every major company – GCHQ, Google, Facebook, NSA, etc. – is tracking your online movement.

So it’s no surprise that the use of VPNs is becoming ever more popular even if it’s just to protect yourself from hackers while using the public WiFi in your favourite coffee joint.

In our ‘VPN Buying Guide’ we cover the full range of concerns to watch out for, here we have used the following criteria:

  • Speed of service
  • Quality of the software
  • Quality of customer service
  • Number of servers/ IPs
  • Price

Using these criteria here is our list of the best five for your Android device. After the rankings you can read more about each in depth and we also explain how to best set up your VPN connections. 


Summary

Rank Provider Starting price Review Link

1

ExpressVPN $8.32/mo 9.9Read Review Visit Site

2

vyprvpn_logo $6.67/mo 9.6Read Review Visit Site

3

logo $7/mo 9.3Read Review Visit Site

4

Mullvad logo $9 9.0Read Review Visit Site

5

 Screen Shot 2013-02-25 at 18.38.21 $9.95 8.9Read Review Visit Site
Editor’s Choice

Winner – ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN

Positives: No logs, great speeds, 30 day money back guarantee, great Android support

Negatives: Medium Price, US company

ExpressVPN is the best (in our humble opinion) as it provides the best all-round service. The company has an exceptionally outstanding Android app (maybe it sees that Android is the future) with a great set of features and dedicated 24/7 support. The speed test was constantly green across the board and with their 30-day money back guarantee you have a fantastic opportunity to experience it without risk.

However, they are let down by the US location which makes their no-logging policy a bit hazy.

Starting at $8.16/month it might not be the cheapest service but it is definitely worth it, so click the link below to begin experiencing it for yourself.

Visit ExpressVPN »

30 day moneyback guarantee

2. VyprVPN

Positives: fast, great encryption service, Android app, iOS app, 7 day money back guarantee, up to 3 simultaneous connections, P2P: yes, free cloud storage

Negatives: based in the US, keeps logs for 90 days

Android_Vypr

VyprVPN is run by the Golden Frog ‘internet freedom’ consortium meaning that not only do they have their own dedicated data centres – meaning better speeds – but you also get a free online cloud storage account with Dump Truck.

We have only reviewed the Pro and Premium accounts as the basic service only offers PPTP which is considered to be insecure. The company offers up to 256-bit OpenVPN encryption, P2P downloading, up-to 3 simultaneous connections and  has recently developed its own high-end encryption service code named Chameleon.
Again as with ExpressVPN the company is let down by their logging policy but they have a free 3-day trial and a 7-day money back gurantee so give me a try today:

» Visit VyprVPN


3. 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: 0 simultaneous connections

AirVPN is more advanced than most of the other VPN software out there, keeps no logs and accepts Bitcoin payment. It provides a high level 256-bit AES encryption, great monitoring services and support for further safety measures such as VPN over Tor and, VPN through SSL and SSH tunnels.

The let-down is that it only provides a text setup guide and the configuration files so you will need a small amount of tech savvy.

» Visit AirVPN


4. Mullvad

Positives: accepts Bitcoin, no logs, good speeds, cheap, client features internet kill switch and DNS leak protection, P2P: yes

Negatives: A number of things didn’t work.

Mullvad is a small start-up company which does mean that there are a few problems but do not let this put you off as they are constantly improving. They have a great set of features including; leak protection, kill switch, server load information and port forwarding. Unlike other companies it has a 100% no logs policy and requires absolutely no personal information. Even the payment is secure; Bitcoin, Cash in post or wire transfer!

As AirVPN it provides only the minimal but adequate set-up support.

» Visit Mullvad


5. IPVanish

Positives: fast, lots of server locations
Negatives: ‘no logs’ policy is bollocks, P2P: no

When using IP Vanish be very careful as even though they state a no logging policy within 48 hours of using it we received a ‘cease and desist for torrenting!

On the upside it provides a fast service with servers in 41 different countries.

» Visit IPVanish


How to set up VPN on Android

android-logo-white

Though initially the smartphone (and later the tablet) market was dominated by Apple, Android has come through stronger year-on-year. Googles OS definitely poses a large advantage for the security conscious due to its open source nature. The only downside with this is that there are so many various versions on so many different devices that it makes it near impossible for companies to develop software that works for everyone. However, all the latest high end devices (Galaxy S, HTC One, Google Nexus, etc) all run the latest version so you should not experience a problem with this.

VPN for Android

The number of recent security concerns that have arisen in the world (see NSA) clearly highlight the need for the use of VPN services for the ‘common folk’ and not just for the paranoid or safety conscious.

In addition it is always advisable to protect yourself against governments and companies when using common file sharing services such as torrents, as well as the risks posed by using public WiFi spots.

 uTorrent  aTorrent

µTorrent and aTorrent are great Androids apps – just another reason as to why you should use VPN on your device

Android’s built-in VPN client

Android automatically comes with built in PPTP and L2TP/IPsec VPN protocol support and newer versions also support OpenVPN. (Heavily modified systems such as the Kindle Fire are more difficult – see here).

This article discusses – in depth – all of the protocols but here is a brief summary:

  • PPTP – the easiest to set-up and most supported but also the least secure. We therefore do not recommend it as a stable solution but as a quick-fix for using a public WiFi spot it is acceptable.
  • L2TP/IPsec – a lot more secure but it is trickier to set up due to the need to input a pre-shared IPsec key, though most VPN providers provide detail guides or even an auto-configuration file to simplify this.
  • OpenVPN – One of the fastest and most secure with the use of the amalgamation of a number of security technologies but it is very fiddly to set-up and needs a third party software – which might lead to more battery drainage. Until recently it was only available for jailbroken phones but with 2012 release of OpenVPN all high end versions have this ability.

Setting up VPN using the native VPN client

1. Open the VPN setting by going Settings – More Networks – VPN (this varies between devices but usually very similar). Irritatingly you will have to set up a screen-lock to be able to access this so follow the prompts if you don’t already have one.

VPN_Settings

2. Touch ‘Add VPN Network’ or the ‘+’ sign on some devices.

VPN_Add

3. After giving a suitable name, enter all the details of your VPN.

PPTP L2TP

PPTP setup is ridiculously easy

L2TP/IPsec setup is still pretty easy, but needs you to enter a pre-shared key (which can be long & complex)

4. To start your VPN, go to VPN settings (step 1), touch the VPN connection you want, and enter your VPN username and password.
5. That’s it – you should be connected. A small key should appear in your taskbar indicating this.

Connected

 

OpenVPN for Android

As mentioned above with the release of the ‘OpenVPN Connect’ application, unrooted phones are able to use OpenVPN as long as a configuration file is provided and your phone is running Anroid 4 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or later.

Setting up VPN using OpenVPN for Android

1. Obtain your configuration file from your provider. Either directly download to your phone or you can do it through your computer. It might come in a .zip file in which case you’ll need to extract it (We recommend WinZip for your phone).

2. Download, install and run ‘OpenVPN Connect’ for Android. Then touch your functions button, select import and import from SD file.

OpenVPN_Import1 OpenVPN_Import2 OpenVPN_Import3
Touch your functions button and press import. Choose import from SD card and find the location you saved it to. Once you have selected your chosen profile the above screen should appear.

3. Enter your username and password

4. When first using the app you will need to accept the trust certificate (only once).

OpenVPN_Trust

5. You should now be connected (note the key in the taskbar as well as the OpenVPN logo)

OpenVPN_Connected

VPN provider custom apps

Since the possibility of OpenVPN has been enabled, some companies have created their own apps which pose benefits such as auto-reconnect and port forwarding as well as making the whole set-up process more streamlined. These are usually available for older devices too albeit using the slightly less secure L2TP/IPsec protocol while still enabling the same benefits. See the individual VPN provider reviews to find out more details.

Testing your VPN connection (all methods)

It is natural that you wish to check that you’re receiving the service that you are promised and there are two main ways of achieving this; IP check and Speedtest.

Using a website such as 123myip.co.uk allows you to check that your IP is indeed in the country of the server you have selected and check that your identity is indeed disguised.
The free speedtest.net app (or alternatively their website) allows you to check your speeds and make sure you that you’re getting sufficient connection rates.

Connected to a server in Holland.

Speed test results


Conclusion

Android is clearly a more suitable platform for VPN compared to iOS with a number of providers providing great support for it (even their own apps!), though some are still yet to catch up with the OpenVPN update. Even if you have an older phone you’re still able to use the L2TP/IPsec protocol so we definitely recommend signing up to a VPN service today! See below for our summary of the ratings to help you chose:


Summary

Rank Provider Starting price Review Link

1

ExpressVPN $8.32/mo 9.9Read Review Visit Site

2

vyprvpn_logo $6.67/mo 9.6Read Review Visit Site

3

logo $7/mo 9.3Read Review Visit Site

4

Mullvad logo $9 9.0Read Review Visit Site

5

 Screen Shot 2013-02-25 at 18.38.21 $9.95 8.9Read Review Visit Site
Author Picture Written by Peter S
I am an engineer by trade and tech geek by night, who's passionate about sharing his knowledge with the people. Find me on Google+.