You’ve no doubt heard of virtual private networks (VPNs), but may not know what they actually are and how handy they can be - especially where your iPhone is concerned.
Whether it’s curbing location blocks to watch the latest Netflix shows not available in your part of the world, getting access to better deals or simply improving your smartphone's security, here are just a sample of the useful things you can do with iPhone VPN apps.
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1. Get around geo-blocks
One of the best things about VPNs is that they allow you to work around geo-restrictions. So if you want to watch a Netflix show or access a website and find out it’s not available in your region, VPNs can help give you full access. They work by 'spoofing' your IP address so that the content provider effectively thinks you're somewhere else in the world altogether.
So if you know there's a show on US Netflix you want to binge on, but you're north of the border or in another country altogether that doesn't have it in their catalogue, turning on your Netflix VPN will convince your iPhone that it's back in the US - letting you watch as if you were back on your sofa. The same goes for Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer and pretty much every other streaming service you can think of.
What’s more, having a VPN on your iPhone will also enable you to curb geo-blocks if you visit a country like China or Russia that has strict censorship laws. In many parts of the world, popular websites and apps (such as Facebook and YouTube) are blocked and can’t be accessed unless you’re able to conceal your IP address. ExpressVPN, in particular, boasts custom traffic obfuscation to improve connectivity in these countries - so no surprise that it tops our charts for the best China VPN.
2. Secure public Wi-Fi
Many of us use public Wi-Fi networks, although what you may not realise is that they’re often insecure and can potentially allow hackers to compromise your device.
But VPNs will encrypt your internet data, mitigating threats from cyber criminals. Lots of mobile VPN apps, including those from NordVPN and IPVanish, actually come with auto-connect features that automatically kick in when they find an untrusted connection.
While Apple’s iPhones have typically been praised for being secure, that doesn’t mean they’re safe from all threats and the App Store isn't immune from being struck with apps riddled with malware. Downloading a VPN app on your iPhone will give you another layer of protection.
3. Improve your download speeds
While some VPNs have been criticized for slowing down your connection, those with fast servers can actually improve the performance of your device - we've seen it with our own eyes during our testing. In fact, when we tested the IPVanish app for iPhone, we saw improved download speeds of 15% over long distances! For shorter distances, results were faster again.
A lot of VPNs also offer the ability to stop bandwidth throttling (when your ISP purposely slows down your connection), giving you a smooth browsing experience.
4. Get an improved gaming experience
If you use your iPhone for playing games, then downloading a VPN app is a good shout.
The best gaming VPNs can ensure a smooth gaming experience by automatically connecting to faster servers, provide access to games wherever you are in the world, ensure that DDoS attacks don’t knock you offline when you’re in the middle of a game, get around geo-restrictions that may affect multiplayer games and encrypt your data.
And remember, if you're a big gamer on desktop as well, most VPN providers allow you to use your subscription on five devices or more. While Surfshark goes even further by letting you use one account for unlimited gadgets.
5. Get things cheaper
Ever been frustrated to find out that a really attractive deal isn’t available in your country - maybe it's cheaper to purchase software, a game or even holidays in other regions.
As VPN apps enable you to alter your location, you can often save money when shopping for online goods, flight tickets and hotels and get the best deals possible. These apps effectively give you more choice.
It’s easy to think of VPNs as something only relevant to tech geeks. However, the reality is that they’re incredibly useful for anyone using connected devices. If you’re an iPhone user who wants to ensure maximum security and be in control of what you can assess online, then an iPhone VPN is the way to go.
- Read more: Make the best purchase with our VPN deals list