Best VPN for Android (and PC) in 2017

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:

– Privacy: hide your activity from your ISP (or anyone else who might be watching)
– Encryption: protect your traffic on public WiFi networks
– Circumvention of restrictions: access services blocked by your school, work, ISP, government and those like Netflix that are restricted by geography.
 
Everyone should use a VPN. Here is our comprehensive test of the best!

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.

Contents

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

VPN Unlimited

VPN Unlimited

  • Privacy: the privacy policy of KeepSolid Inc, VPN Unlimited’s parent company, states that only the amount of web traffic per session and session dates are logged. Payments through Bitcoin are supported and only an email address is required. DNS and IPv6 leak protection isn’t mentioned in their documentation. Note that VPN Unlimited is based in the US, which is part of the Fourteen Eyes.
  • 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.

  VPN Unlimited: Lifetime Subscription  VPN Unlimited: 3-Yr Subscription

VPNSecure

VPNSecure

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.

  VPNSecure: Lifetime Subscription

PureVPN

PureVPN

  • Privacy: PureVPN’s privacy policy states that they only log the amount of bandwidth per connection, but not the traffic. It also accepts payments through bitpay and CoinPayments, letting you pay with Bitcoin or several other cryptocurrencies. A name and email address are required, though. IPv6 and DNS leak protection are also offered. Last but not least, PureVPN is based in Hong Kong, which is a bonus if you’re looking for a VPN provider that’s outside the Fourteen Eyes.
  • 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.

  PureVPN: Lifetime Subscription

Private Internet Access

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.

  Private Internet Access VPN: 2-Yr Subscription

Hotspot Shield Elite VPN

Hotspot Shield

  • Privacy: Hotspot Shield Elite VPN’s privacy policy states that while it logs IP addresses on connection, it does not log anything associating the IP addresses with the traffic. Only credit/debit cards and PayPal can be used for payment. IPv6 leak protection is supported, but no mention of DNS protection is made in the documentation. Hotspot Shield is based in the US, which is part of the Fourteen Eyes.
  • 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.

  Hotspot Shield Elite Plus VPN: Lifetime Subscription

HideMyAssVPN!

HideMyAss!

  • Privacy: according to HideMyAss!’s privacy policy, the user’s IP address, connection time and amount of transmitted bandwidth are logged. No other traffic information is logged. HideMyAss! no longer supports Bitcoin payments, though an official reseller, BitMyAss, is available for users who’d like to pay through Bitcoin. IPv6 and DNS leak protection don’t seem to be available, though the documentation has directions to block IPv6 traffic on certain operating systems. HideMyAss! is based in the UK, which is part of the Fourteen Eyes.
  • 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.

  HideMyAss! VPN: 2-Yr Subscription

Measurements

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).

Summary table

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 Provider Pros Cons
VPN Unlimited Accepts Bitcoin

Supports TCP 443

Supports OpenVPN

Fingerprint authentication on Android

Logs bandwidth

Based in the US

No per-app control options on Android

VPNSecure No logging

Accepts Bitcoin

Supports TCP 443, Obfsproxy, SSH tunneling

Supports OpenVPN

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 OpenVPN

Supports TCP 443, “Stealth” protocol (Windows)

Android app has per-app control

Excellent latency

Logs bandwidth
Private Internet Access No logging

Accepts Bitcoin

Supports TCP 443

Supports OpenVPN

Android app has per-app control & Nougat tile

Excellent latency

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

Supports OpenVPN

Excellent download speed and latency

Based in UK

Very basic Android app

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