With its glorious 4.8 inch 720p Super AMOLED screen, 1.4 MHz ARM quad core processor, expandable Micro-SD memory capability, removable battery and raft of genuinely innovative features, since its release in 2012 Samsung’s Galaxy S3 has taken the mobile phone world by storm, and posed the first serious challenge to Apple’s monopoly of the high-end phone market.
The great news for GS3 owners who use VPN is that it is very easy to set up on your phone. The S3 now uses version Android version 4.1.2 Jelly Bean, so we will have a look at how to set things up on that (many VPN guides are for more outdated versions of the OS).
Probably the greatest advantage to using VPN on your phone is that that it protects you when using a public WiFi hotspot. These are notorious for attracting hackers who use packet snooping software to ‘listen in’ on unsecured connections, usually in the hope of stealing passwords and other valuable information. However, with the Android ecosystem providing a range of apps that when coupled with the sheer power of a Galaxy S3 allow you to do most things on your phone that you can do on a more traditional computer, VPN is also as useful for your phone as it is for your desktop or laptop computer.
Setting Up your Galaxy S3 for PPTP and L2TP/IPsec
Support for PPTP and L2TP/IP is baked into the Android operating system and is very easy to set up. Although Kepard has a fantastic Android app (see more about this later), they also provide instructions for setting up PPTP and L2TP/IPsec so we will use them as an example. The setup process for PPTP and L2TP/IPsec is more or less identical, although as we discuss in this article, we strongly recommend the use of L2TP/IPsec over PPTP for security reasons.
Which VPN to choose?
1. Enter the settings menu
2. Click More settings
3. Then select VPN
4. If you do not have a screen lock set up for your phone you will be asked to do so as Android won’t allow you set up a PPTP or L2TRP connection without one. It’s a good precaution anyway, in case you lose your phone or have it stolen. If you already have a screen lock set up on your S3 then you can miss the next couple of steps.
5. We went for a pretty screen unlock pattern.
6. But there is always a backup PIN number just in case.
7. Setting up the VPN is a simple matter of entering details provided by your VPN provider. This stage is a bit simpler with PPTP as you don’t need to enter a long case-sensitive IPsec pre-shared key. When you are finished select Save.
8. In the VPN screen select on the VPN connection you want.
9. Enter your VPN customer details.
10. And ta-da! You are connected! If you select the connection then some more details will appear. You can also always see whether you are connected via VPN by looking for the key icon in the Notification Bar (top left).
Until very recently using OpenVPN on an Android device was only possible if the device was rooted. While some tech-heads are happy to invalidate their guarantees and risk bricking their by doing this, the rest of us fainter souls have likely been put off. However, in around December 2012 the free app ‘OpenVPN for Android’was released, which brings generic support for OpenVPN on unrooted Android devices sporting version 4.03 (like the S3) or above of the OS. There has since also appeared OpenVPN Connect which needs Android 4.0 or above. These programs should work with any OpenVPN service as they use standard OpenVPN configuration files.
In addition to this, Kepard have created a great Android app which brings their OpenVPN service to any Android device.
OpenVPN for Android
1. Install OpenVPN for Android from Google Play
2. Download the OpenVPN configuration files from your VPN provider. These almost always come in a Zip file which must be unzipped on your desktop PC. The folder with the unzipped config files then needs to be copied to you phone either by USB connection or Kies Air.
3. Fire up OpenVPN for Android and select the folder icon.
4. Navigate to the folder you copied the config files to, chose which server you want to connect to, and tap Select.
5. Wait for OpenVON for Android to import and parse the config file.
6. You will be returned to the main screen, where you need to tap the little icon to the right of the profile name to edit the settings.
7. All sorts of settings can be edited from here, but usually all you need to do is select Basic…
8. …and fill in your VPN username and password.
You can see that you are connected by looking for the key icon in the Notification Bar. If you drop down the Notification Bar you can find out more details by taping on the OpenVPN connection.
The above methods for using VPN on your Galaxy S3 are not difficult to set up, but by far the simplest way we have yet found is to download the Kepard app from the Play Store. It comes with a 15 day free trial of Kepards’s VPN service, and once installed on your phone only needs you to enter your Kepard username and password to be up and running.
The interface is dead simple – just tap the big ‘power on’ button! It is also easy to choose different servers and whether you want to use a TCP (more reliable) or UDP (faster) OpenVPN connection.
Testing your VPN connection
The best way to check that your connection is working as it should, and that the connection is fast enough, is to download Speedtest.net’s free app from the Play Store.
uTorrent for Android
Although securing your internet connection when connecting though a public WiFi hot spot is perhaps the greatest benefit to using VPN on your phone, there are other things it good for too… like torrents! The uTorrent app is downloadable from the Play Store and brings the classic BitTorrent client to your GS3.
Although it can take a couple of minutes to set up, once done VPN works seamlessly on a Samsung Galaxy S3, protecting you against hackers when connected to a public WiFi in addition to providing all the benefits that VPN brings when used on a desktop or laptop computer. As you will probably want to use VPN on your phone at the same time as you are running it on your ‘main’ computer, it is a good idea to check that your VPN provider allows more than one simultaneous connection.