Turbo VPN review

A free unlimited bandwidth VPN proxy for Android and iOS

TODO alt text

Our Verdict

Turbo VPN is great as a free service to quickly unblock a site, but doesn't have the features, performance or power for more demanding users.

For

  • Free plan
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • 9 locations minimum
  • Unblocks Netflix

Against

  • Below average speeds
  • Works with mobile apps only
  • Very expensive monthly plan
  • Not very configurable

Turbo VPN is a popular free VPN proxy client for Android and iOS. Google Play reports the app has had more than 50 million installs, and it's easy to see why. The free service gives you access to nine servers across North America, Europe and Asia, and there are no bandwidth limits or restrictions to hold you back.

The company got off to a bad start with us, when we noticed its website didn't support or redirect secure HTTPS connections. Entering 'https://www.turbovpn.co' into our browser got us a 'err_connection_refused' alert, over a period of days (and one of its menus, Services, displayed nothing but an empty black box).

We would hope that a VPN provider would have the technical expertise and attention to detail to properly manage the security of its own website, but, well, apparently not.

Download and install the app, anyway, and you'll find it includes ads, but that's no surprise – if the service is going to be any use, then money has to change hands at some point.

There's no P2P support with the free or paid plans, but that's not really a surprise, either. Bandwidth will be in short supply for any provider with an unlimited free plan.

Upgrading to a VIP Account drops the ads, gets your faster speeds, more servers, and allows connecting up to five devices simultaneously. The 1-month plan is expensive at $14.29 (£10.99), though. Sign up for a year and the price plummets to $3.58 (£2.75) a month, but there may still be better deals elsewhere. An annual plan at Private Internet Access costs around the same amount, but gets you a fast and full-strength VPN that you can use on mobile and desktop devices.

Website

Privacy

Turbo VPN's privacy policy has a small amount of information on the data it does and doesn't collect, most of which is exactly what you'd expect.

The policy explains that Turbo VPN is a ‘no-log network’, stating: "We do not collect any information regarding the websites you visit or the IP addresses assigned to you when you access the Turbo VPN Private Network, and with respect to our VPN service, we do not collect any data stored on or transmitted from your device, including any data that applications on your device may transmit through our network."

Some data is recorded during sessions, although the policy explains that "any browsing information or other similar information relating to your online activities transmitted by you to our servers when using Turbo VPN is cleared after your VPN ‘session’ is closed."

We have some issues with this statement: "When you become a user of the Service, we will collect the statistic about users’ behavior and location." Collect data on behavior? That could be a justification for logging almost anything. We can imagine how location data could be useful to the developer, for example, to see which countries had the most connection failures – but it's still data we would normally prefer to keep to ourselves.

Apps

Apps

Turbo VPN's Android app installed in seconds, and immediately offered us a '7-day free trial.' This was nothing special - just the usual 'create a Google Play subscription and you'll be billed after a week' - but it does at least give you a chance to try the full service.

Turbo VPN installed without difficulty, and was ready to go within a few seconds.

The interface is designed for simplicity, and even total novices will figure out the basics right away. Click the Connect icon and the app aims to connect you to the fastest server. Click a red Close button when you're done, and the connection is closed.

Tapping a globe icon displays the location list. This has a few more features than some: all servers have icons which claim to indicate their speed, for instance, and some servers have captions to tell you the services they support (US Netflix, UK Sky Go and BBC iPlayer.) There's no Favorites system or Recent list, though, so you must scroll to commonly-used servers each time.

Turbo VPN similarly deserves some credit for allowing users to choose between OpenVPN and IPsec connections, but there are no other useful settings beyond a basic 'Connect when Turbo VPN starts.'

Netflix

Netflix

While the Turbo VPN app claimed it could give us access to BBC iPlayer, this didn't work for us. We're unsure exactly why, though, as it just complained that 'the content doesn't seem to be working', rather than identifying a location issue, so it's possible it'll work in other situations.

We had more success with the less-protected YouTube, where Turbo VPN's US servers gave us speedy access to US-only YouTube content.

Turbo VPN also scored where it really matters, with its Netflix US server allowing us to stream content without difficulty. That's good news, especially as having a specific Netflix server means you don't have to try other US locations until you find something which works.

Performance

Performance

Our performance tests showed generally below average results. Our local UK connections managed 15-25Mbps downloads. Switching to other European servers – France, Netherlands, Germany – saw speeds fall to 10-15Mbps. US connections struggled to 3-5Mbps, and the India server averaged 7Mbps. That's a fraction the speed we would expect from a full-strength VPN.

Still, if you're just after unblocking a few websites, these figures really aren't bad. They're certainly adequate for basic browsing and video streaming. Whether they're worth the price you pay for the commercial service is another matter.

Final verdict

Turbo VPN works well as a simple free service for basic site unblocking, browsing and video streaming needs. It doesn't have the speed, features or platform support to compete with the big-name VPNs, though, and demanding users will be much better off elsewhere.