We all know the reputation Apple has for ensuring its tech is safe and protected from online threats. But more and more iPhone users are turning to VPN apps to give them an extra layer of security - not to mention all the other handy uses that come with them.
Using one of the best iPhone VPN choices ensures you maintain anonymity whilst browsing. This allows you to retain your digital privacy, while also allowing for other neat features like accessing geo-restricted content and circumventing censorship. Handy if you're struggling to use WhatsApp in China or login to Facebook at your school.
Before you head straight to the App Store and download the first app you see, we'd heartily recommend that you cast an eye downwards on this page first? We've tested 100s of VPNs - both on desktop and via their iPhone apps - to narrow down a superb top five. And we have information on how to choose the best iPhone VPN apps, too
How to choose the best iPhone VPN app
There’s no shortage of iPhone VPNs with decent iOS support, with many providers offering dedicated iOS apps - obviously a main consideration here. The app should be just as easy-to-use as on desktop, and yet provide enough options for more advanced users to be able to tweak things.
Our top picks for best iPhone VPN apps
Best iPhone VPN 2020 - Get 3 months free with an annual plan
ExpressVPN is our top pick for all-round best VPN, and we're just as happy to recommend it for iOS devices. This British Virgin Islands-based provider has a large server network (with 160 server locations in over 90 countries) that managed to provide very good speeds throughout our testing.
Its iPhone VPN is very easy to set up and boasts a user-friendly interface that focuses on smart server selection via different filters. Users can connect with a single tap and use the VPN seamlessly, with an option to reconnect automatically should your mobile data or Wi-Fi connection unexpectedly drop. The main drawback is the lack of a kill-switch, so that might be an issue for some (especially, to be frank, those using their iPhone for slightly dubious means like torrenting) although it does include an auto-reconnect option which will try to re-establish the tunnel if your connection drops.
There are some unusual extras too, like the ability to switch protocols. Its Privacy and Security Tools menu adds some useful features to help you check your connection, with options to display your current IP address and location, check for DNS and WebRTC leaks and generate secure passwords - so lots of functionality common to ExpressVPN's awesome desktop clients.
ExpressVPN also has no trouble helping you access streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, making it ideal for streaming. Its custom traffic obfuscation will allow you to achieve better connectivity in censorship-heavy regions like China and the Middle East.
The prices aren’t the cheapest, but may be worth the added cost for those who want the best experience for iOS devices, including iPhones and iPads. In fact, it's brilliant on every platform and browser we tested it on - Android, Windows 10, Mac, Linux, Chrome, Firefox...the lot!
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Download the ExpressVPN iPhone app and we can't imagine you'll be disappointed. And if you're still making up your mind, there's a 30-day no quibbles money back guarantee to take advantage of, too. But for the ultimate value on our #1 app, opt for a one year plan - you'll get 49% off the normal monthly price with 3 months extra free.
NordVPN’s iPhone app is up there among the very best. It's a user-friendly application where everything is well organized, with at-a-glance information displayed by the ‘quick connect’ widget which details the closest server, availability, load percentage and so on. It's basically got everything you could ask for in an iPhone VPN.
On the security front, NordVPN supports 256-bit encryption, and offers an automatic kill switch (a real boon), along with double data encryption, which passes your data through two separate VPN servers. This provider also has a ‘no logs’ policy, which is good to see - indeed, it's audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers to esnure that it holds water.
The app includes an auto-connect feature to automatically connect the VPN when it detects you're using an untrusted network or Wi-Fi. There's added Siri capability, too (if you're in to that kind of thing). And all the in-depth features you'd demand from even the best desktop clients: a fully featured protocols menu, speciality server lists, the list goes on.
This provider’s network boasts a plentiful amount of servers (more than 5,000 in all) and offers way above average performance, too.
IPVanish delivers consistently great performance, and indeed actually improved our download speeds by around 15% over long distances, with even faster results when it came to some short hops. The native client supports iOS 11 or better, works equally well on iPads and connects automatically anytime internet traffic is detected. It also suggests the fastest server based on your location and ping time.
The app itself has some neat properties like the ability to auto-connect when visiting specific domains (especially those that are untrusted) or the option to see the server ping and load times. While the app is missing a kill-switch and the interface could probably be a bit better, it's still a great piece of software.
When it comes to security, IPVanish offers a broad range of protocols (for iOS, IKEv2 and IPSec are available), and on the privacy front, the provider doesn’t record any online activity or connection data while using the iOS app.
In short, the only niggle with IPVanish is its pricing. It's notably more expensive than others on this list. That said, the three available plans include a 30-day money-back guarantee and all come with a free 250GB cloud storage add-on.
Surfshark has made waves (geddit?) in the VPN market in recent times. That's largely thanks to its rock-bottom pricing while also promising unlimited VPN connections to as many devices as you wish. Yep, you can see why Surfshark's name is on the rise.
Its iPhone VPN app is more or less the same as what you get from Surfshark's desktop experience. There's the same location list, multihop connections, ad and malware prevention, and split tunneling for apps and websites that let you have your VPN connected only when using selected other apps. There's a dedicated kill switch, which may sway you this provider's way if that's a function you think will be useful on your iPhone.
Surfshark's relative simplicity will be either a pro or a con, depending on what you want to get from your VPN and how many features you want. But you still don't lack multiple protocols to choose from (OpenVPN/ IVEv2 and Shadowsocks) and 24/7 support with the company's live chat operatives in case you do run in to any trouble when using or installing.
In our performance tests, Private Internet Access yielded some great results, which is a great start for any VPN. And if you're after a basic but effective option for your Apple device, PIA offers a very affordable iPhone VPN app.
On the security front, the provider supports the PPTP, OpenVPN and L2TP/IPSec protocols with the 128-AES and 256-AES encryption. A kill-switch is also available which works admirably and the provider states that it doesn't have logging of any kind.
And although we say this is one of the more basic apps on our list, there are some attractive added extras that genuinely add value. The Favorites system, for example, enables connecting to commonly used servers. And there's bonus ad and malware blocking, too.
And then there's PIA's InBrowser, which is a private browser for iOS (and its Android VPN app) with tabs and video support.
The two-year plan is the best choice here if you don't mind committing that long.
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Do I really need an iPhone VPN?
Even Apple's App Store is not devoid of its own share of dodgy apps (although truth be said, Google Play is a far more dangerous place to be). In terms of harmful activities, the argument that iPhone users have less to worry than other (especially Android) users certainly has some merit. However, that doesn't mean that they shouldn't still be careful.
What is the purpose of VPN on iPhone?
There's a multitude of reasons why you might want to download a VPN app on to your iPhone. First and foremost is security - the encrypted tunnels through which all data will be exchanged when connected to Wi-Fi would be a garbled mess to any hackers that do somehow manage to get hold of it.
But it's a VPN's IP spoofing that's where things get really interesting. By jumping on to a server in another location, you can effectively kid your Apple iPhone in to thinking that it's in another country altogether. A country or location, for example, where you can use WhatsApp and Facebook, where you can stream a wider variety of Netflix shows, and where you can get cheaper prices on services and products.
How about free iPhone VPN apps?
Free VPNs have their place - there's no doubt about that. An extra layer of security while using public Wi-Fi is no bad thing at all - especially if you're shopping or having private interactions.
But for the most part, it's a total false economy. Many free VPN apps limit the amount of data you can use each day or month, so you can pretty much forget about using them for streaming and torrenting. But more than that, you're likely to get an ad-heavy app experience where the provider is probably making back cash by selling your details to third parties. Our advice...avoid, especially when the best iPhone VPN apps on this list are so affordable anyway.