Best VPN for Android (and PC) in 2017
A VPN service is a must-have to secure your traffic over the public Internet. There are several major benefits:
Our top picks
Having one “top” pick wouldn’t be possible unless we ignore some of the needs we outlined above. Instead, here are our top three picks — each is suitable for a different reason:
- Privacy: if you’re primarily looking for a privacy-friendly VPN provider, PureVPN is a good choice although it will cost you slightly more than other providers. That being said, you can get a lifetime subscription for $69 through the XDA-Developers Depot.
PureVPN: Lifetime Subscription
- Bypassing restrictive networks: despite being a bit expensive, VPNSecure is an excellent choice for this. Fortunately, you can grab a lifetime subscription is available from the XDA-Developers Depot for $39. A free trial is also available.
VPNSecure: Lifetime Subscription
- A good balance: want something that strikes a fairly good balance between all the needs we’ve highlighted above? Private Internet Access will do that, with acceptable prices and a good list of features. You can get a subscription for two years through the XDA-Developers Depot for $60 only.
Private Internet Access VPN: 2-Yr Subscription
It’s worth noting that no VPN provider is perfect: always do your own research and make sure it fits your needs! Another provider or even a self-hosted VPN might be the best choice for you. While there are dozens of VPN services out there, we specifically looked at the ones available on XDA Depot. Buying products and services from Depot supports XDA.
Why would you want to use a VPN?
Why would someone need a VPN? Reasons vary from user to user, but there are a few major reasons:
- Privacy: a VPN provides an extra layer of privacy to keep your information secure, which is extremely useful when you’re connected to a public WiFi such as your favorite café’s hotspot, or if you’re living under an oppressive government. Trust is a huge concern here: an untrustful VPN provider won’t do much good, as any VPN provider will be able to read and log unencrypted traffic. Keep in mind that just using a VPN won’t make you anonymous.
- Bypassing geographical restrictions: popular streaming services such as Netflix aren’t available in most countries, or have a severely limited inventory in many of them. Using a VPN to connect to the Internet through another country gets around these limitations.
- Circumventing throttling or restrictive networks: some ISPs throttle specific web traffic, such as torrenting (be it for legal or illegal purposes). Some network also completely block access to large parts of the Internet, thanks to an overzealous filtering system. Using a VPN can avoid that. In these situations, random ports are often throttled or blocked as well. In that case, using specific ports that are usually open and unthrottled is necessary.
- How we picked and tested the VPN providers
- Detailed VPN providers comparison
- Speed (Latency/download/upload speeds)
- Summary table
How we picked and tested the VPN providers
We took a look at several VPN providers offered through the XDA-Developers Depot with the above uses in mind, taking a look at the following criteria in particular:
- Privacy: the VPN provider’s logging policy (what information does the provider log?), accepted payment methods (are anonymous payment options available?) and the provider’s location (which can be an important factor if you’re avoiding the Fourteen Eyes). One caveat: we have to take the providers at their word when it comes to their logging policy, since we can’t verify it ourselves.
- Geographical restrictions: does the provider offer several countries to choose from for the exit node? This is usually the case for most VPN providers.
- Restrictive networks: are any helpful features supported for users behind restrictive networks, such as using TCP port 443 or Obfsproxy?
- Convenience: does the provider have OpenVPN support? Does it offer any custom VPN client programs, and what platforms are they available on? If the provider has an Android application, does it support some features such as selecting which applications are routed through the VPN (available since Lollipop) or Quick Settings tiles (available since Nougat)?
- Pricing: this one’s pretty self-explanatory! Whether the price is fair or not will depend on your needs.
- We also tested each provider’s latency, download speed and upload speed. You can find these results in the “Measurements” section.
Detailed VPN providers comparison
- Geographical restrictions: VPN Unlimited has more than 50 locations, and is quite suitable if you want to bypass geographical restrictions.
- Restrictive networks: while VPN Unlimited promises that it can bypass office restrictions and the Great Firewall, they don’t go into much details. TCP port 443 seems supported with OpenVPN (though you won’t find it mentioned in their FAQ, only in device-specific manuals).
- Convenience: OpenVPN is supported, and official clients are available for download for major operating systems. The Android application is fairly basic, allowing you to select the server location and TCP port 443, but not much else. While you can’t be selective about which applications are routed through the VPN, fingerprint authentication is supported which is a nice touch.
- Pricing: the yearly plan would usually cost you $30 per year. You can get 3 years for $19 or a lifetime subscription for $39 through XDA-Developers Depot. A free trial is also available.
“VPN Unlimited seems like an acceptable choice for cheap depending on your needs, but some features aren’t available and the documentation is a bit lacking.”
- Privacy: VPNSecure promises no logging of IP addresses, timestamps or bandwidth. Payment through Bitcoin is supported and only an email address is required. IPv6 and DNS leak protection are offered. VPNSecure is based in Australia, which is part of the Fourteen Eyes.
- Geographical restrictions: VPNSecure has servers available in 48 countries, making it another good choice for bypassing geographical restrictions.
- Restrictive networks: TCP port 443 and Obfsproxy (“Stealth VPN”) are both supported. SSH tunneling is also available.
- Convenience: OpenVPN support is there, as well as official clients for most major operating systems. The official Android application is fairly basic: you can change the server’s location, but no advanced options are available unless you import a custom OpenVPN configuration file. You can’t enable or disable the VPN for individual applications.
- Pricing: a VPNSecure OpenVPN yearly subscription costs $80, but you can grab a lifetime subscription from the XDA-Developers Depot for $39. A free trial is also available.
“VPNSecure is an excellent choice if you’re worried about bypassing restrictive networks, though it’s a bit on the expensive side. Fortunately, you can try it for free first.”
- Geographical restrictions: PureVPN has servers in 141 countries, and will definitely fill your needs here.
- Restrictive networks: TCP port 443 is supported, but not for all commonly used protocols. You’ll be able to use it with SSTP, but not OpenVPN for example. A “Stealth protocol” is also available on Windows.
- Convenience: PureVPN supports several protocols, including OpenVPN. They also offer clients for most major operating systems. Their Android application is easy to use with “purposes” tailored to specific uses (e.g. streaming), and also offers some advanced features such as TCP/UDP selection and an automatic port detection option. The “Split tunneling” feature lets you select which applications use the VPN.
- Pricing: the yearly subscription usually costs $65 (with the yearly discount), but you can get a lifetime subscription for pretty much the same price ($69) through the XDA-Developers Depot.
“PureVPN is a bit more expensive than some other providers, but it’s an excellent choice if you’re looking for privacy and supports most features you would need.”
Private Internet Access
- Privacy: Private Internet Access (PIA) promises that it doesn’t log traffic, and accepts payments through Bitcoin should you wish to pay anonymously (only an email address is required). It also offers IPv6 and DNS leak protection. Note that PIA is based in the US, which is part of the Fourteen Eyes.
- Geographical restrictions: PIA advertises having more than 3000 servers in 25 countries, including commonly countries used to bypass geographical restrictions.
- Restrictive networks: you can use TCP port 443 with PIA. Does not seem to support Obfsproxy.
- Convenience: OpenVPN support is available. PIA also has official clients for major operating systems. Their Android application is fully featured and includes options such as choosing the region to connect to, switching between TCP and UDP and picking which port to connect to. It also supports Android-specific features such as a Quick Settings tile to connect to or disconnect from the VPN, and choosing the applications affected by the VPN.
- Pricing: the yearly cost is $40 (after the discount), but you can get a two years subscription for $60 through the XDA-Developers Depot and save an additional $20.
“Private Internet Access strikes a fairly good balance between all these needs, with fair prices and a good list of features.”
Hotspot Shield Elite VPN
- Geographical restrictions: Hotspot Shield has servers available in 20 countries, which should be suitable.
- Restrictive networks: no special features are available to bypass restrictive networks.
- Convenience: OpenVPN is not supported. Official clients are available for Windows, Mac, Android and iOS. Users of unsupported platforms are out of luck when it comes to using Hotspot Shield. The Android application only supports choosing the server’s location; it doesn’t let you include or exclude certain applications from using the VPN, but can start automatically when certain applications are launched.
- Pricing: a yearly subscription to Hotspot Shield Elite would usually cost $48 (after the discount) and a limited lifetime offer for $100, but you can get a lifetime subscription for $70 through the XDA-Developers Depot. A free trial is available.
“Hotspot Shield Elite seems overly expensive, as it lacks in features compared to other VPN providers and doesn’t even support some popular platforms.”
- Geographical restrictions: HideMyAss! has servers in more than 190 countries, making it a good choice for bypassing geographical restrictions.
- Restrictive networks: using TCP port 443 is possible with OpenVPN.
- Convenience: OpenVPN and other protocols are supported. Official clients are provided for all major operating systems. The Android application is fairly basic and doesn’t offer much beyond choosing the server’s location.
- Pricing: a yearly subscription to HideMyAss! VPN would usually require you to pay $79 at the discounted rate, but you can grab a two years subscription for $55 instead from the XDA-Developers Depot. A free trial is available.
“HideMyAss! is too expensive for the features it provides. Should you choose it, the free trial is useful to make sure it fits your needs.”
For each VPN provider, we always chose the nearest VPN server to our location (MN, US) then recorded the latency, download speed and upload speed. We ran each test five times via Speedtest (always using the same test server).
Note that this table oversimplifies some aspects and completely omits others. It is not meant as a means to accurately compare the different VPN providers, but to provide you with a quick idea to see if a VPN provider might be suitable for you.
For additional information, please refer to the detailed review.
|VPN Unlimited||Accepts Bitcoin
Supports TCP 443
Fingerprint authentication on Android
Based in the US
No per-app control options on Android
Supports TCP 443, Obfsproxy, SSH tunneling
Android app supports OpenVPN configuration files
|Based in Australia
No per-app control options on Android
|PureVPN||Accepts Bitcoin & other crypto currencies
Based in Hong Kong
Supports TCP 443, “Stealth” protocol (Windows)
Android app has per-app control
|Private Internet Access||No logging
Supports TCP 443
Android app has per-app control & Nougat tile
|Based in US|
|Hotspot Shield||Excellent download speed||Logs IP
Only accepts PayPal & CC
No OpenVPN support
Very basic Android app
|HideMyAss!||Accepts Bitcoin (through an official reseller)
Supports TCP 443
Excellent download speed and latency
|Based in UK
Very basic Android app