Although you might think a VPN service is only required for a home connection, this is very far from the truth.
Smartphones are responsible for over 60% of online transactions, so it is all the more important to secure your connection while you are online on your mobile Android device.
We are also using our phones for much more, and now users are streaming directly to their Android devices rather than using another even when at home.
Here we will take a look at the best VPN for Android, and what you lose when compared to a paid VPN service.
Why the Need for a Free VPN?
It is a fact that online privacy is our right, however, the way things are, that isn’t possible. The question is, why should we pay for our privacy, and what is preventing us from having privacy in the first place?
Nowadays, we are more than faced with by hackers, we have ISP’s logging data and retaining this for extended periods.
Because they see all that we do when online, they can build up quite an extended profile of what we do.
If hackers can gain access to this, it gives them an easy route to do as they please. As an aside to this, there is also the wealth of streaming content which is accessible, but with the limitations of it being geo-blocked to certain countries.
One of the best examples for UK users is the BBC iPlayer, once you are on holiday, you have no chance of catching up with your favourite soap.
With all this in mind, here is a quick overview of what you should be looking for in the best free VPN app for Android.
- Ability to stream Netflix, iPlayer, iTV, Channel 4 and Hulu as well as other geo-blocked content.
- Fast download speeds to prevent buffering, or for torrenting
- Peace of mind knowing your data isn’t being logged
Is there a Catch With Free VPN’s?
There are limitations which free VPN’s, and this depends on if they are cut down versions of paid for packages, or companies offering free VPN’s and their revenue stream comes from other areas.
As a rule, you will find most VPN’s that are free will come with limited VPN servers you can connect to, streaming or torrenting can be restricted, and connections are throttled.
It might appear you are getting a free option, but in reality, you might be the sole reason these VPN’s exist in the first place.
Data collection is more accessible when all a user’s data goes through a companies servers. This is one means of revenue, and many companies sell user data to third parties with a mechanism of targeting adverts.
As you can see, a VPN is supposed to help you stay anonymous when online, but many free VPN companies pose serious risks to your security.
A free version often has no logging policy, and these services are notorious for bombarding users with malware, ads, and spam.
Before looking at the best Android VPN, it should be noted, that the best free VPN isn’t always the one which costs nothing.
A lot offer a free trial in the hope of getting users to sign up for one of their plans. These often turn out to be more expensive than rivals, and more often than not, with fewer features.
Best Free VPN’s for Android
TunnelBear VPN offers a free version in the hope you will sign up for their premium services. It is a crowd favourite, and comes with a user-friendly interface. Animated bears and all.
- No targeted ads
- Strong encryption
- Decent speeds
- Operates in 20 countries
- No streaming & no torrenting
- Only 500 MB per month – can increase to 1GB via Twitter
- Small server network
- Poor customer support
- Based in 5-eyes jurisdiction
Once you get past the cute design, TunnelBear is a robust VPN. It is now owned by McAfee the well-known Antivirus software company. This might be a bad thing in the long-term, but for now, it might be suitable.
On the security side, it does high levels of security like their full package and has their VigilantBear which is their implementation of a Kill Switch.
This company is open about what they offer. On Android, they clearly state you can sign up for the paid version through Google play to prevent any advertisements being shown. This means they do collect some data.
The company behind Psiphon also promote themselves not as a VPN service, but as a means of avoiding censorship.
- Defeats censorship
- Easy to use
- The company will email the app if you are unable to download from Play Store
- Unlimited data
- Unable to select VPN server location
- Not a full virtual private network
- Hit and miss affair for streaming access, torrenting can be done but not advised
This free app doesn’t try to offer the same as other services, so with this in mind, it is hard to class it in the same context as other VPN services but if you frequent public Wi-Fi zones, it can be a great Android VPN app substitute for light usage.
Although it isn’t a full VPN, during testing, there were no leaks, so it does go some way to enhance your security.
Windscribe is one of the top VPN’s for Android due to its generous data allowance. With 10GB available, this is way above any other VPN, and you can also gain an extra 1GB free of data when you refer friends. On top of this is an additional 5GB per month via Tweeting about the company.
This VPN allows one connection which makes sense because you can add an account to any device rather than sharing. Signing up only requires a username and a password.
With this service, you can connect to eleven VPN servers, and the company doesn’t log any data, IP addresses (IP stamps) or sites visited.
- Firewall and Ad-block built in
- Streams Netflix with their Windflix
- A vastly reduced server network
- Some data logging while connected although deleted inside three minutes after disconnection
- Limited data although generous at 10 GB
- Based in 5-eyes jurisdiction – Canada
- Can deliver slow speeds
The Android app is as easy to use as the desktop client and can be started from a single click. As it comes with a generous 10 Gb per month, this makes it as close to the best free unlimited VPN for Android as you could wish for because there is no other that offers more. NOT RECOMMENDED
5. Hotspot Shield
The Hotspot Shield VPN is another crowd favourite that is very easy to use. It can suffer from performance issues every now and again, but not everything will be perfect on a free VPN. Security is well catered for with military-grade encryption
- Can access 25 countries
- Good speeds
- No logging (see Cons for traffic redirecting)
- 500 MB limited daily allowance
- Concerns of traffic redirecting to partner websites for advertising purposes (although denied).
- Lots of ads
- Limited configuration options
- No access to Netflix etc
The company does do a lot which is right, and if it weren’t for their misdirection of traffic for advertising, then they would be recommended as one of the best mobile VPN services you could opt for.
As it stands, they can suffice as long as you can handle the ads, and don’t use the app for anything which requires sensitive information such as online banking.
Although this VPN isn’t technically free, you can get one month free with no limitations. It delivers the highest levels of 256-bit encryption, a kill switch, and it can access all geo-blocked content from around the world.
Across the board, all of their client apps are easy to use and need very little user intervention to work.
Trying this VPN is painless, and there are no worries of you paying for something you don’t want with their 30-day money back guarantee.
It delivers world-class customer support which is around the clock, and the list of features is way above any of the free versions listed above.
- Unlimited data
- Class-leading security
- Strict zero-logging policy
- Located outside any governing jurisdiction
- Large server network
- Fast speeds
- Quite expensive (technically not free)
When you look at all of the information above, free VPN’s aren’t without any risk, and they can’t match the feature list of any paid for option.
There is never something for nothing, and even when a free VPN service looks good on paper, there is a reason behind them being free.
As you can see, one of the main reasons is that they are harvesting their own user data to use for marketing purposes, and although they are protecting you from prying eyes, these VPN’s have the sole access to whatever you are doing online.
If you need a free VPN for an extended period, you can make your choice from above, but always be careful when doing anything which is deemed illegal, or you are making any financial transactions.
To get the full security of your connection, it is unfortunate that free VPN services are not the best option.