ExpressVPN review - expert analysis in 2024

Our experts answer the all-important question in this ExpressVPN review: is it really the best VPN?

ExpressVPN on a range of devices
ExpressVPN works on almost any device you can think of.
(Image: © ExpressVPN)

TechRadar Verdict

ExpressVPN has a huge network, plus it's fast, secure, unblocks Netflix and just about everything else, supports torrents, has no serious logging (confirmed by an audit), offers apps for everything, and is easy to use. In short, this is a quality VPN which delivers in just about every area.

Pros

  • +

    Over 160 locations across 105 countries

  • +

    Good performance

  • +

    Easy to use top-quality apps for almost everything

  • +

    Excellent customer support

Cons

  • -

    Above average prices

  • -

    Browser extensions require ExpressVPN app

Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.

The virtual private network (VPN) market is a tough one, with a lot of competition around, but ExpressVPN knows exactly how to stand out from the crowd. It piles on the professional features, delivering way more than just about anybody else.

In TechRadar's 15 years online, we've reviewed hundreds of VPN services, and Mike Williams regularly picks apart VPN services to see how they really work. Going beyond what ExpressVPN's marketing teams tell us, he analyses the service inside and out, to tell you if you're really getting what you pay for, and whether the service truly lives up to its claims.

ExpressVPN offers remarkably easy-to-use apps with tons of features, and plenty of customization for more advanced users, too. Couple that with remarkable customer support and reliably fast speeds, and it all adds up to a service that we really couldn't recommend more. That's why ExpressVPN is still sitting among the top entries of our list of the world's best VPNs.

Try ExpressVPN with a 30-day money-back guarantee

Photograph of ExpressVPN's Aircove Router

ExpressVPN's Aircove is a Wi-Fi 6 router that comes with the firm's router app fully integrated (Image credit: ExpressVPN)

ExpressVPN - what's new?

Following ExpressVPN's revamp released in October 2023, the service now includes new ad and adult-site blockers, auto-update feature for desktops apps, bigger server network and a boosted multi-devices policy of up eight simultaneous connections with just one subscription. The provider is also now one of the few VPN services to include post-quantum protection on its Lightway encryption protocol.

There's another recent highlight in Keys, ExpressVPN's highly configurable secure password manager—that comes free with your subscription. Significant new features include support for saving credit card details and secure notes, and even importing credentials to Chrome. Even better as now, after a successful beta release, the provider officially launched Keys for all users

Elsewhere, ExpressVPN has released Aircove, a powerful Cure53-audited Wi-Fi 6 router with the company’s router app built-in. Set this up at home and all your internet-enabled devices can use ExpressVPN immediately, without having to install a single app or worrying about device connection limits.

Aircove pricing looks good, too, at $169.90 on launch (the regular price is $189.90). But if you’re on a budget, no problem: you can still install the ExpressVPN router app on your own hardware (assuming it's compatible) for free. The official Router setup page has more on this.

You can even easily use ExpressVPN on Apple TV now, thanks to its new dedicated app. This includes a QR code scanning for easier signed-in devices, dark mode, and a new optimized location picker. 

ExpressVPN features

A strong set of core features provide multiple layers of privacy protection. High-end encryption shields your traffic from snoopers; secure DNS prevents your ISP from seeing your traffic, too; and even if the VPN drops, a kill switch kicks in to block your internet connection and keep you safe.

Express boasts some advanced security tools, too. For starters, it's one of the few providers to offer its password manager tool, Keys, as a VPN feature rather than additional service to buy on top. Keys is integrated into ExpressVPN's Android and iOS apps, and separately available as a browser extension for Chrome and Firefox. 

It also offers a Threat Manager system—a web tracker and malware blocker that you can turn on and off directly from the settings menu, alongside a new ad and adult-site blocker. Even better as the tool is even supported on its Aircove Router, now. During our last round of testing, I then decided to put this tool to the test by trying to connect to 167 very new malicious websites. 

The results were positive, with the app blocking 86% of our sample sites. That couldn't quite match NordVPN's 96% effectiveness, and Windscribe scored a perfect 100%, but it's above average and a welcome second layer of protection for any system.  

It was a similar story with Threat Manager's ad blocking, where its 69% score outperformed many big names (even NordVPN, this time, which only scored 51%), but couldn't touch the excellent 91% block rate achieved by Hide.me and Mullvad. 

ExpressVPN Threat Manager on Windows

(Image credit: Future)

ExpressVPN doesn't just beat the competition on standard features, though. It has unique technologies of its own. Lightway is ExpressVPN's speedy and secure VPN protocol, for instance. And the MediaStreamer smart DNS system enables unblocking some websites even on devices that can't run the apps. 

The provider even runs parallel connections to keep connection speeds almost instant, enabling you to pick the fastest, most secure VPN implementation for your needs. Overall, we found Express to automate a lot of the stuff that would normally have to be manually configured by the user.

On top of that, the company offers a vast network of more than 3,000 servers spread across 146 locations in 106 countries. Europe and the US have the best coverage, with the network spreading across 47 out of 50 European countries. At the same time, ExpressVPN also has many locations in the Americas, Asia and Africa, including several countries that rarely appear elsewhere. There are 27 Asia Pacific countries alone, by comparison, Mozilla VPN only has around 30 countries in its entire network.

A screenshot of ExpressVPN's Server Locations landing page

ExpressVPN boasts some 3,000 servers in 160 cities across 94 countries (Image credit: ExpressVPN)

ExpressVPN pricing plans

As explained in our dedicated ExpressVPN pricing and deals guide, the provider has a very simple pricing structure with only three plans, and these start with a monthly-billed product for $12.95.

That's not cheap, but it's pretty standard pricing for a single month. Where you'll see savings throughout the industry is with the longer subscription plans. Sign up for ExpressVPN's 6-month plan and the price drops to $9.99 per month. That's a fairly reasonable discount, and it gives you more flexibility than you'll get with some competitors, who don't offer a 6-month plan at all.

The annual plan cuts the cost further to a monthly equivalent of $6.67 (a chunky 49% discount on the monthly subscription), but it's still substantially more than some of the competition. NordVPN asks for $4.99 per month on its annual plan, and Surfshark just $3.99 per month. 

If you're willing to sign up for long periods, you can make additional savings, but it's a shame that ExpressVPN doesn't offer longer subscription options to increase savings. 

Below we've included the latest deals for ExpressVPN today:

When you're comparing headline prices, though, be sure to check the small print, because ExpressVPN is closer to many competitors than you might realize. Many vendors offer significantly lower introductory prices which increase significantly when your subscription renews. For example, IPVanish looks good at face value for just $3.33 per month, but that price more than doubles on renewal.

If you decide to sign up you'll discover a wide range of payment methods, including cards, PayPal, Bitcoin, and a host of other players (Giropay, UnionPay, SOFORT, QIWI Wallet, and more). Be sure to check out the latest ExpressVPN promo codes to help you get additional savings, too.

If you're not quite convinced, installing the Android or iOS app gets you a 7-day trial. And even after handing over your cash, ExpressVPN's 30-day money-back guarantee allows you to safely check out the service for yourself.

A screenshot of ExpressVPN's payment options from its website.

ExpressVPN offers a wide array of payment methods. (Image credit: ExpressVPN)

Privacy and security

ExpressVPN's privacy protection begins with its choice of highly secure protocols (OpenVPN and its own open-source Lightway), with industrial-strength encryption to shield your data from even the most well-equipped attacker.

ExpressVPN also runs its own private, zero-knowledge, 256-bit encrypted DNS on every server. This prevents data about your online activities from leaking out of the VPN tunnel, keeping you safe from every angle.

We put the mobile and desktop apps through the wringer, using multiple leak-testing websites, and couldn't find any trace of DNS or traffic leaks.

Screenshot of ExpressVPN's DNS Leak Testing tool

We found no DNS leaks in our tests (Image credit: ExpressVPN)

Many VPNs now try to show they're trustworthy by going through independent audits, where a third-party company inspects their apps, servers and procedures to confirm they're properly handling your privacy. But while most providers stop with one or two audits, ExpressVPN released the results of 12 audits between 2022 and 2023 alone.

ExpressVPN regularly relies on independent cybersecurity groups, including Cure53 and KPMG, to carry out rigorous testing of its policies, practices, protocols, and technology. This means that it does exactly what it says on the tin, nothing more, nothing less.

Here's a breakdown of some of ExpressVPN's most recent security audits:

Cure53 checked the apps to make sure they were secure, and could not be exploited by an attacker to steal data or harm the user's system. The results were positive, with none of the apps having any major concerns, and ExpressVPN fixing any smaller issues right away. F-Secure further verified these claims with another audit.

If you're interested in the technical detail, check the ExpressVPN blog posts linked above for the full reports.

🔒Try ExpressVPN with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Screenshot of ExpressVPN's Private DNS landing page

ExpressVPN runs its own DNS to prevent leaks (Image credit: ExpressVPN)

Logging policy

Check out the typical VPN website and you'll usually find "no logging" claims prominently displayed in a very large font, but often behind that there is a privacy policy that either gives you very little details on any specifics or reveals that the company does, in fact, log some of your information, after all.

ExpressVPN does things a little differently. Out goes the usual fact-free "zero logs" boasting, in comes a clearly written "Policy towards logs" document which explains precisely what ExpressVPN collects, what it doesn't, why the service works this way, and what it means for you.

The page states that the service doesn't log your IP address when you connect to ExpressVPN, the time you've logged in, the VPN IP address you're assigned, or any information on the websites or pages you visit (including via DNS requests), or any of your traffic.

There is some minimal logging. ExpressVPN records the dates you connect to the service, your choice of server, and the total data used. But as it doesn't store the connection time or the IP address you're allocated, there's no way anyone can use this data to definitively link an internet action back to a specific ExpressVPN account.

Screenshot of ExpressVPN's Privacy landing page

Browse the web anonymously with ExpressVPN (Image credit: ExpressVPN)

Where is ExpressVPN based?

ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). Despite its small size, the country regulates its own affairs, and the UK and US don't have jurisdiction to automatically compel ExpressVPN to release any data.

The BVI isn't a part of "14 Eyes", the intelligence sharing agreement also known as SIGINT Seniors Europe (SSEUR), and is not known to be a party to any of its intelligence sharing arrangements.

In short, any would-be complainant would have to raise their issue in the BVI High Court, show that the records related to a serious crime (one punishable by a year or more in prison if it happened in the BVI), and explain how those records would provide relevant evidence to that case. It's hard to see how the minimal ExpressVPN records could provide useful evidence of anything.

There's a lot to like here. It's clear that ExpressVPN understands the issues to hand and is making considerable efforts to explain them, properly and in full, to its customers. That in itself is reassuring, and a huge improvement on the detail-free privacy policies of many VPNs.

You don't simply have to take what ExpressVPN says on trust, though. As we've discussed above, the company has had independent audits of its TrustedServer technology, Lightway protocol, apps, backend systems, and more to confirm that it's living up to its privacy promises.

Screenshot of ExpressVPN's Audit

Just like KPMG and Cure53, PwC has previously audited ExpressVPN's TrustedServer technology and backend systems (Image credit: ExpressVPN)

ExpressVPN performance

Speed is an important factor when choosing a VPN, and we run some intensive tests to see what a service is capable of. While ExpressVPN offers some reliable speeds, it's by no means the fastest VPN.

We checked speeds from a US residential location and a UK data center, both with 1 Gbps connections. We used the standard ExpressVPN Windows app to connect to our nearest location, then checked the download speeds reported by multiple speed test sites and services (SpeedTest's website and command line app, Measurement Lab, Cloudflare, and more). We took at least five results from each site, using two protocols (OpenVPN and ExpressVPN's own Lightway), and ran the entire test set in both morning and evening sessions to look for variations over time.

ExpressVPN's peak OpenVPN speeds were reasonable at 210 Mbps. That outperforms VyprVPN (145 Mbps), NordVPN (110 Mbps) and TunnelBear (180 Mbps), although some did better. Mullvad and Proton VPN all beat 300 Mbps, and Surfshark soared to an exceptional 640 Mbps.

Results were surely better with ExpressVPN's Lightway protocol, despite the average download speeds dropping from 750 to 410Mbps this time around. That shot still past a few competitors like Private Internet Access (330 Mbps), StrongVPN (395 Mbps), and UltraVPN (300 Mbps). For most people, that's more than enough for every device and network you use—but if you feel you need more, NordVPN, Surfshark, Mullvad, PrivadoVPN and Windscribe all reached over 950 Mbps and higher in our latest tests.

Try ExpressVPN with three free months of extra protection.

Screenshot of our Speedtest.net performance benchmarking, displaying a peak speed of 829mbps

ExpressVPN impressed us with its raw speed, particularly when using the Lightway protocol (Image credit: Speedtest.net)
Swipe to scroll horizontally
See how ExpressVPN compares with other VPN providers
Header Cell - Column 0 WireGuard (or proprietary)OpenVPN
ExpressVPN410 Mbps210 Mbps
NordVPN950 Mbps110 Mbps
Surfshark950 Mbps640 Mbps
Private Internet Access330 Mbps270 Mbps
Proton VPN395 Mbps210 Mbps
CyberGhost VPN760 Mbps360 Mbps
Hotspot Shield600 Mbps200 Mbps
Hide.me690 Mbps210 Mbps
IPVanish770 Mbps230 Mbps
Windscribe950 Mbps240 Mbps
Mullvad950 Mbps410 Mbps
TunnelBear480 Mbps180 Mbps
PureVPN880 Mbps210 Mbps

Netflix and global stream unblocking

Unlike most of the competition, ExpressVPN doesn't just make vague claims about its unblocking abilities. The company publicly specifies which platforms are supported: Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, Google, Wikipedia, YouTube, and others. It's good to see a provider being upfront about what it's claiming to do.

To get a feel for ExpressVPN's unblocking abilities, we tried accessing 12 popular streaming sites from a number of ExpressVPN locations.

Screenshot of ExpressVPN's guide on unblocking Netflix

In our tests ExpressVPN was able to unblock Netflix (Image credit: ExpressVPN)

The service delivered great Netflix results, getting us into US Netflix in each of the three test locations we tried, and then unblocking Netflix Australia, Canada, Japan, and the UK, too.

It was the same story with other top US platforms, as ExpressVPN got us access to Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus. The positive news continued in Australia, as we managed to stream content from 9Now and 10 Play. Plus, in our final UK tests, ExpressVPN successfully unblocked BBC iPlayer, ITVX, and Channel 4.

Screenshot of all the streaming services ExpressVPN can unblock

Getting around region blocks is one of the most useful features of a VPN (Image credit: ExpressVPN)

These are great results, but a quality VPN isn't just about getting you access right now, it's also what happens if a platform blocks a new range of IPs, and your favorite server doesn't work anymore.

Complain to many VPNs and they'll just reply that "we don't guarantee access to any streaming platforms", leaving you on your own. However, ExpressVPN proactively monitors its own unblocking performance, giving it a chance to detect and fix any problems before you've even noticed.

On the rare occasions we've had unblocking issues with ExpressVPN, we've opened a live chat session, been talking to an agent within a couple of minutes, and either had recommendations on locations to try, other troubleshooting advice, or been told it's a known issue that'll be fixed soon (which has always been true). Now that's what we call helpful.

Torrenting capability

ExpressVPN's website doesn't advertise its P2P support, but we dug into the details, ran a few tests, and found it's far more torrent-friendly than most of the competition.

P2P users aren't forced onto a small number of overloaded servers, for instance. You can access torrents from the full set of ExpressVPN locations. There are no bandwidth or transfer-related catches, either. The company says it will never throttle your connection.

Performance testing with torrents is a challenge as there are many factors that might affect speeds, but we tried downloading using three locations (US, UK, Netherlands), had no connection or other issues, and saw broadly the performance we'd expect in each case.

Factor in other key features of the service—no activity logs, lots of locations, apps for everything, Bitcoin support, and the 30-day money-back guarantee—and ExpressVPN looks like a great VPN for torrenting.

📨 Check out ExpressVPN's guides to help you set up port forwarding.

Screenshot of ExpressVPN's single article on torrenting, 'How to use uTorrent with ExpressVPN'

ExpressVPN does support torrenting, although the provider doesn't shout about it. (Image credit: ExpressVPN)

ExpressVPN installation and setup

Getting a VPN app installed and working properly can sometimes be a challenge, but the well-designed ExpressVPN website keeps hassles to an absolute minimum.

Log in to your account dashboard, for instance, and the website detects the type of device you're using, displays a Download button for that app, and enables grabbing a copy with one click.

If you need something for another platform, clicking 'Set up on all your devices' takes you to links for Windows, iOS, Amazon Fire, Mac, Android, Linux, and more. Selecting any of these displays more download links and instructions.

Even these are far more helpful than you would expect. Hit the Android link with most VPNs and you'll probably just be redirected to Google Play. ExpressVPN has a Play Store link, but it also gives you a QR code, a button to email yourself a setup link (ideal if you need to install it on another device), and even an option for experts to directly download the APK file.

In a neat setup touch, ExpressVPN doesn't force you to find and manually enter your username and password. Instead, all you have to do is copy the unique activation code displayed on your download page, and paste it into the app when you're asked. The software then automatically sets up your login credentials—you don't need to use the best password manager to get up and running quickly.

ExpressVPN even offers dedicated tutorials on its website to help you install and use ExpressVPN on all your devices. 

Screenshot of a list of platforms ExpressVPN offers clients for

ExpressVPN has clients available for most popular platforms  (Image credit: ExpressVPN)

Windows apps

The ExpressVPN Windows app has a comfortable and familiar interface which immediately makes you feel at home. A big On/Off button allows you to activate the service when required, a clear status display shows you the current server, a "choose location" button enables picking something else, and a menu button top-left gives speedy access to other features.

The client makes it exceptionally easy to choose the best server by always displaying the three most likely options: the closest, whatever's currently selected in the list, and the location you accessed last. No need to open a location list, search, sort, apply filters or anything else, just click the server you need and typically you'll be connected in a fraction of a second (ExpressVPN's Lightway has one of the fastest connection times around).

You can still view a full list of locations, of course, and it has all the conveniences you'd expect. Locations are grouped by continent and country, a search box allows you to find locations by keyword, or you can add individual locations to a Favorites list for speedy recall later.

You can even connect without opening the full app. Right-clicking its system tray icon (or taskbar button) displays a menu which includes your last three locations, and choosing one of those will get you connected right away.

Screenshot of ExpressVPN on Windows

This is the interface of ExpressVPN's Windows app (Image credit: ExpressVPN)

Once the connection is established, the app displays a small toolbar with app and website shortcuts (Chrome, Outlook, Wikipedia, and Google by default, although you can customize it with whatever you like). Tapping a shortcut launches that app or site, without having to open the menu, use search, or anything else.

Some VPNs do more to automate connections. CyberGhost can watch for specific app launches and automatically connect, for instance, without you having to open the VPN app at all. But this comes with some usability hassles (you might not want to connect to the VPN every single time you launch an app, for instance).

Although ExpressVPN's shortcuts bar is a small and simple idea, by comparison, it's another little detail that makes things simpler.

A capable Settings dialog allowed us to choose from four protocol variations: ExpressVPN's Lightway or OpenVPN, both in UDP or TCP flavors.

Elsewhere, a kill switch blocks all internet traffic if the VPN connection drops, reducing the chance of any data leaks. There's no setup involved with this, it's enabled by default, and always ready to protect your privacy.

It works, too. We simulated all kinds of extreme situations, but the app took everything we threw at it and kept our traffic protected at all times.

Screenshot of ExpressVPN's Windows App Protocols

ExpressVPN only uses the most secure VPN protocols (Image credit: ExpressVPN)

ExpressVPN's Windows app has also gained a welcome new feature in the shape of a capable command line tool, allowing users to connect or disconnect from ExpressVPN, and tweak some settings, from simple scripts.

The tool filename is ExpressVPN.CLI.exe, and we found it in the ExpressVPN services folder (C:\Program Files (x86)\ExpressVPN\services by default.) This is very easy to use, at least in a basic way. To connect you use a command like 'ExpressVPN.CLI connect "USA - New York"'; the disconnect command is 'ExpressVPN.CLI disconnect', unsurprisingly.

There are some complications. There's a 'protocol' command to set your default protocol, for instance, but the app doesn't tell you the current default or how to set it to something else. A Help document fills in some of the blanks here, but it doesn't cover every command, and we'd like to see the tool's own help explain this better.

We found some interesting extras, too, including the ability to activate ExpressVPN, configure key settings such as network lock and logout when you're done. That could be especially handy for businesses, as it allows smart scripts to automatically manage accounts, enforce settings, make connections and more. 

Put it all together and the command line tool is a welcome addition to ExpressVPN's Windows app. It's not as powerful in every area as some of the competition—Private Internet Access has a very configurable tool, for example—but it's new, we're sure there's more to come, and even now it's potentially very useful.

Screenshot of ExpressVPN's shortcuts

This nifty extra gives you shortcuts to launch your favorite apps right on the connection panel (Image credit: ExpressVPN)

Low-level technical touches include basic IPv6 leak protection, and the ability to access devices on the local network when you're connected to the VPN.

One highlight of the app is its support for split tunneling, a smart technology which enables defining which apps use the VPN, and which use your regular internet connection. If an application won't work when your VPN is up (an email client, say), you can make it use your normal internet connection instead. Plus, if you're gaming, redirecting game traffic out of the VPN tunnel should improve performance.

If we have a small gripe, it's the lack of connection status information. The app tells you when you're connected, but not your server IP, the protocol it's using, whether the kill switch is enabled, or anything else. That'll be good news for some, as it keeps the dashboard clean and uncluttered. But experts might wish the app gave just a little more technical feedback about its current status.

Overall, though, this is an exceptionally well-designed app, fast, easy to use, and with top-quality engineering underneath. An absolute must for your Windows VPN shortlist.

MacOS and Mac apps

ExpressVPN's Mac app looks much like the Windows app, at least initially: it shows the current location, a Settings icon, a big Connect button, and nothing else to get in the way. Even newbies will figure out what to do immediately.

There are some small interface differences, and they're mostly improvements. The Windows app only displays your last two locations in its Recent list, for instance, but the Mac app has a separate Recent tab where it lists many more.

The Mac Settings box is presented a little differently, but the options are organized in exactly the same way. If you're used to Mac VPN apps which leave out most of the more advanced Windows features, good news: this one has the kill switch, WireGuard and OpenVPN support, IPv6 leak protection, and more.

There is one omission: the Mac app doesn't support split tunneling. But it makes up for that with support for ExpressVPN's tracker and malware-blocking Threat Manager (not yet available on Windows). We didn't test this in-depth and can't give a definitive verdict on how effective it is, but any extra layer of protection is welcome. (And if it causes you any issues, you can always turn it off).

Put it all together and this is a likable Mac app, a well-designed mix of power and ease of use—well worth a try.

Screenshot of ExpressVPN's Mac App

ExpressVPN's Mac app looks much like the Windows version, but there are some minor differences (Image credit: ExpressVPN)

Android apps

The Android app looks good, with portrait and tablet-friendly landscape interfaces. As on the desktop, your closest, currently selected, and recently used locations are always visible, and in many cases, you'll simply connect or disconnect with a tap.

The full location list is on hand if you need it. This also looks and feels much like the desktop apps, with locations grouped by country and continent, and a Search box if there's something you can't find (just type a few characters of a country or city, and any matches pop up).

There's no visible way to mark locations as Favorites. You can build a favorites list very easily—just swipe right on your chosen location—but that may not be obvious to first-timers.

Screenshot of ExpressVPN's Android client

ExpressVPN's Android app is well designed and easy to use (Image credit: ExpressVPN)

A Protection Summary box displays your current IP address and gives details of how much you've used the service recently. We don't see any great need for a chart showing us that we use the VPN mostly on Wednesdays (for instance), but the IP information is handy, and if you don't like the Protection Summary then you can turn it off with a tap.

A security assistant reminds you of steps you should take to "protect your device" and "guard your privacy" (keep Android up-to-date, use Facebook's Privacy Checkup, and so on). They're reasonable suggestions and it makes sense to give them a look over, but they're not VPN-related, and we don't see much value in having them permanently displayed on the main app window.

Screenshot of ExpressVPN's Android App

The Android app boasts portrait and tablet-friendly landscape modes. (Image credit: ExpressVPN)

 The Settings section includes an integrated kill switch to protect you if the connection drops. Protocol support includes OpenVPN and ExpressVPN's own Lightway protocol, split tunneling enables defining which apps should or shouldn't use the VPN.

In my testing, the app had issues locating and excluding Android Auto from the VPN, and was causing issues with connecting my phone to the car, resulting in the following message:

Android Auto VPN error message showing on Andreas Theodorou's Samsung Galaxy Note Ultra.

If Android Auto detects VPN usage, you'll get the following error message, as seen here on Andreas Theodorou's Samsung Galaxy Note Ultra.  (Image credit: Andreas Theodorou)

You could get around this by setting the VPN to configure split tunnel as a default exclusion list, with select apps being encrypted, but this poses wider security concerns, and shouldn't be a consideration when you just want to mirror your phone on the car's infotainment system.

I contacted the team at ExpressVPN, and the engineers were able to correct the issue almost immediately, meaning you can now identify and exclude Android Auto from the VPN encryption and connect to your car with ease.

I'm glad to see this now in effect, and have tested it to confirm it works without issue. I'm impressed with how quickly ExpressVPN reacted to this issue because it shows how much the teams care about the product.

Android Auto showing in the ExpressVPN app's split tunneling menu on Andreas Theodorou's Samsung Galaxy Note Ultra

ExpressVPN can now split tunnel Android Auto, making it easier to connect your phone to your car and use Google Maps and Spotify without having to turn off your VPN elsewhere. (Image credit: Andreas Theodorou)

A bonus auto-connect feature is particularly welcome, optionally connecting you to the VPN whenever you join untrusted networks (like public Wi-Fi). There's the same "App and Website Shortcuts" bar we saw on the desktop, making it easier to launch your favorite apps or websites once you're connected.

A new "App Screenshots" feature prevents your IP address or other information in the app from being visible in screenshots. That's probably not necessary for most users, but it's another sign of ExpressVPN's attention to detail, blocking every possible way any data could leak about your web activities.

If you're having problems, there's in-app help that gives you speedy access to support documents without having to head off to the website, while an 'Email us' link gets you swift assistance if and when you need it. 

It doesn't have quite as many expert-level features as you'll get with some apps—you can't set your preferred DNS servers, for instance—but ExpressVPN's Android offering has more than enough functionality for most people while remaining easy to use. If you're at all interested in Android VPN apps, ExpressVPN needs to be on your shortlist.

Screenshot of ExpressVPN's Android Protocols

The Android app includes support for the Lightway protocol (Image credit: ExpressVPN)

iOS and iPhone apps

ExpressVPN's iOS VPN apps open with much the same clean and straightforward interface that you'll see on other platforms. It displays a recommended location, a big connect button to get online, and a menu button to explore further.

The well-designed Location Picker offers multiple ways to find specific cities or countries. You can add commonly used locations to your Favorites by swiping right, assuming you realize that’s an option, and a Recent Location list includes everything you've accessed lately.

The choice of protocol is limited to IKEv2, Lightway UDP, and Lightway TCP—there's no OpenVPN anymore. Losing secure protocols like OpenVPN is never good news, as it gives you fewer ways to bypass VPN blocking or get connected in tricky situations. Lightway and IKEv2 performed very well for us, though, and it's likely they'll provide all the connectivity you need.

A new Network Protection feature acts as a kill switch, blocking internet access if the VPN drops and can’t be restored. The iOS app now includes Threat Manager, too, optionally blocking trackers or communications with malicious sites.

Three Screenshots of ExpressVPN's iOS Client

ExpressVPN's iOS app is quite similar to its Android offering (Image credit: ExpressVPN)

We've seen more feature-packed VPN apps, but on balance, ExpressVPN's iOS offering is likable, easy to use, and delivers the functionality most folks are likely to need. If you'd like to check out the service for yourself, then good news. As with Android, there's a risk-free 7-day trial available.

Screenshot of ExpressVPN's extra security tools

All apps give you easy access to useful privacy tools (Image credit: ExpressVPN)

Browser extensions

The ExpressVPN apps are generally very polished and user-friendly, but they're not the only way to work with the VPN. The company also offers Chrome VPN and Firefox extensions which allow you to control its Windows, Mac, or Linux apps directly from your browser. 

Unsure as to why you might need the extension? Here's a quick example: suppose you're using Chrome on Windows 11, and realize you need to unblock the current website. So now you have to switch away from the browser, maybe launch the ExpressVPN app, choose whatever location you need, and go back to Chrome when you're done.

Installing the browser extension gets you an ExpressVPN icon on your address bar. Clicking this gets you an almost identical interface to the desktop app, with the same main screen and location list. The "Recent Location" is the one you need, so you click it, the extension passes your command to the regular app, which connects to the location for you. This way, you’ve unblocked your site in a couple of taps, with no need to find the actual ExpressVPN app, or even leave your browser.

This isn’t always as handy as it sounds. If you've marked some of the most useful locations as Favorites, for instance, you might be expecting to just click one of those, but there’s just one problem: Favorites aren’t supported by the browser extension. You can find servers using the regular location picker, but if you’re doing extra work, you might as well just switch to the app as usual.

There's also a little good news, though, in the shape of some bonus privacy tools. Both the Chrome and Firefox extension include settings to prevent HTML5 geolocation from revealing your real location while you're connected to the VPN, as well as blocking WebRTC leaks at the browser level, and using HTTPS Everywhere to automatically force connections to the HTTPS versions of websites whenever they're available.

The browser extension won't be for everyone, especially as you must have the ExpressVPN app installed to use it. But the ability to control the app from your browser is a genuinely useful feature that you won't find with the competition, and overall, it's a very worthwhile addition to the package.

Screenshot of ExpressVPN's Browser Extension

ExpressVPN offers browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox (Image credit: ExpressVPN)

ExpressVPN customer support

Much like any other networking technology, a VPN can misbehave in many ways, and figuring out exactly what's going on can be a real challenge. That's why even the most experienced user can benefit from quality VPN support.

ExpressVPN's support site gets off to a good start with its list of troubleshooting guides. Whether you're trying to diagnose slow speeds or dropped connections, understand error messages, change your password, or cancel your account, there's plenty of useful information to hand.

Most articles are well-written and deliver in all the key areas. They don't assume technical knowledge, instead taking the time to explain the background, offering multiple suggestions to resolve most problems, and linking to other relevant articles. For example, where other VPNs might have a single line suggesting you "try another server" to help diagnose speed problems, ExpressVPN also links to a detailed article explaining how to find the best location for you.

The setup articles are even more impressive. You don't just get one generic installation tutorial per platform, for instance. There are guides covering how to install the app, how to set up manual connections, or use third-party apps such as OpenVPN GUI. And this isn't just about Windows. You'll find tutorials for Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, Chromebooks, Smart TVs, routers, and just about anything else you can think of.

An accurate search engine scans more than 250 of these articles to find whatever fits your requirements. It's hugely refreshing to enter advanced keywords on a VPN support site and actually view a lot of useful content. OpenVPN has 39 hits, DNS has 60, there are 135 referring to Android, 13 for Ubuntu, 5 for DD-WRT, and the list goes on.

✨ If the website can't help, ExpressVPN's support team is available 24/7 via email and live chat.

ExpressVPN recommends live chat for the fastest results, but we sent a test email question anyway to check response times. Although the company suggests it can take up to 24 hours to reply, we got a friendly, detailed, and helpful message in 25 minutes. That's much faster than we see with most providers, and the reply contained everything we needed to diagnose and resolve our issue.