Best VPN for Android
In recent times, people have turned towards mobile devices, such as smart phones and tablets, for a large amount of their internet usage. At the same time, people have also become increasingly concerned about government surveillance and the fact that various other third parties track peoples online activity.
This shift has meant that users need to take similar precautions with their mobile devices as they would with their desktop computer or laptop. Virtual Private Networks offer a number of key privacy benefits, including protection against snooping, and VPN providers have made huge strides in catering for customers using phones or tablets.
Android is one of the most widely-used mobile operating systems, and its open-source nature ensures excellent compatibility with VPN services. Indeed, Android includes its own built-in VPN client, offering PPTP and L2TP/IPsec protocol support, and allows for the installation of dedicated client software apps, providing OpenVPN support.
So which is the best VPN for Android users seeking greater protection online?
The VyprVPN service is operated by Golden Frog and places a strong emphasis on mobile use, with a dedicated Android 4.0+ app available to download from Google Play. By installing the app, customers can make use of one-tap connection and add quick connect widgets, allowing super-fast connection from the home or lock screen.
VyprVPNs Android app provides support for PPTP, L2TP/IPsec and OpenVPN protocols, with up to 256-bit encryption available. The app can also be configured to automatically connect when users start Android, when they use an unknown Wi-Fi network or if the connection drops for any reason, giving customers protection at home or on the go.
The software includes VyprVPNs own Chameleon proprietary technology, which acts as a way to get around websites which block VPN traffic. It also allows the list of servers to be easily sorted and filtered. In addition, the app can be used alongside up to two simultaneous connections on other devices.
HideMyAss offers three different levels of Android support, including a dedicated app for Android 4.0+ and manual setup tutorials for those wishing to use the less secure encryption protocols. This is supplemented by support for the FeatVPN app, which allows OpenVPN encryption to be used on older versions of the operating system.
The main HideMyAss Android app is still in its early stages and, for that reason, remains fairly basic. It allows users to change the server they are connected to easily, but does not allow changes to the encryption protocol. That said, it is easy to use and does offer the most secure OpenVPN protocol at all times.
One useful feature included in the app is a Favourites function, which allows customers to create a list of their favourite servers, so that they can be easily found again in future. It also allows customers to purchase or extend subscriptions from within the app itself, rather than needing to go to the main website.
The IPVanish package provides its own Android 4.0+ app, offering OpenVPN encryption, as well as tutorials for those who wish to utilise a manual PPTP or L2TP setup. The app itself is fairly basic when compared to some others on the market, but provides excellent speeds, which are comparable to those achieved on other platforms.
One of the apps main plus points is the ability to switch on an auto-connect function, ensuring users stay connected when their device comes out of sleep mode, if they move between Wi-Fi connections or if the connection to a server drops for any other reason.
Android users have access to all of the companys servers and the app allows for easy switching between them. Moreover, it allows for simultaneous connections on other devices and the app can be used to show customers which server would be the best for them to connect to, based on their current location.
PureVPN is recognised for having excellent Android compatibility, thanks to its dedicated Android app, available from Google Play. The app is compatible with Android 4.0+ and has a slick design and a number of useful features, including a purpose selection tool, which automatically chooses the most suitable server and encryption.
Although existing PureVPN members can sign in using their current username and password, one interesting aspect of the PureVPN is the ability to sign up from within the app itself. Not only does this make the sign up process easier for mobile users, but the pricing plans shown are also exclusive to mobile setups, offering a small discount.
The app allows customers to switch between servers an unlimited number of times, provides 256-bit OpenVPN encryption and has a great selection of sever locations to choose from. Furthermore, support for the built-in Android VPN client is also available, including detailed setup guides.
Private Internet Access
Private Internet Access provides an app for Android version 4.0+, offering OpenVPN encryption, as well as detailed manual setup guides for Android 2.0 and 3.0, allowing PPTP and L2TP/IPsec protocols to be used. This is a plus, as it ensures that the VPN service is compatible with as many different Android devices as possible.
The app is solid, providing all of the main features a user would expect, such as the option to automatically connect to the VPN on device start up, and the ability to check latency information, in order to connect to the server which provides the best possible speeds.
The only downsides, in terms of Android support, are a lack of a free trial option, which would allow customers to make sure it works with their device before committing to purchase, and the absence of support for 256-bit encryption. Instead, only 128-bit encryption is provided, although this is a fairly minor issue, as it is still a sufficient level of protection for the vast majority of people.
The increased level of demand for mobile and tablet support has seen most VPN providers take significant steps to cater for Android users. All five of the VPN services listed offer the ability to use their service with Androids built-in VPN client and all five also provide their own dedicated apps, making the setup process quick and simple.
IPVanish and HideMyAss provide a good level of Android support, although both are let down slightly by their apps being more basic than the others. Meanwhile, Private Internet Access suffers from its lack of a free trial, meaning users are unable to test the app before committing to a subscription, as well as its limited 128-bit encryption.
PureVPN stands out from the aforementioned services, primarily on the basis that its Android app is polished, user-friendly and provides discounted prices for mobile users. Yet, in the end, it is VyprVPN which is able to offer the best all-round service for Android customers. This is because its software has a huge range of features, can produce fast speeds, utilises excellent encryption methods and boasts exclusive Chameleon proprietary technology.