Staying safe online doesn't stop when you shut your laptop. In fact, for many of us we spend more time on our Android devices than we do our PCs, so picking up the best Android VPN is a must-have for anyone who values their digital privacy.
The best VPN can help protect your identity when connecting to unsecured public Wi-Fi and avoid location- and activity-tracking ads. It can even open up a huge range of content streaming opportunities by changing your virtual location and unblocking regional sports streams, TV shows and movies.
When picking the top VPNs for Android, we draw upon hundreds of in-house reviews, alongside our personal experience of using the software on tons of devices. The providers you'll find here will be super simple to use and deliver excellent privacy features, both for Android and on just about any other platform. All you need to do is pick the Android VPN that feels right for you!
Today's top 3 best Android VPNs:
1. ExpressVPN - #1 best Android VPN app
ExpressVPN is out highest-rated VPN overall, and that partly due to its seamless performance on Android. With swift connections, rock-solid privacy features and a simple, well-built app, it's the full premium package. TechRadar readers can also claim 3 months FREE on a 12-month plan, and new users have a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try before you buy.
2. NordVPN - VPN's biggest name is ace on Android
Nord's popularity (counting over 10 million Android users) is not unfounded. It may be a tad clunkier to use than Express's in our view, but it really brings the goods when it comes to security and speed—and it's really well priced, too!
3. Surfshark - simple to use and affordable Android app
This could well be your VPN of choice if you're after something a bit more affordable. Go for its multi-year plan and get the price down to less than $2.50 USD per month. Don't be fooled by the price, though—it's slick, powerful, and outperforms many providers twice the price.
How to choose the best Android VPN app for you
Head to the Play Store on your smartphone and you'll see tons of VPN apps. Beware, though, as many of those are shady free VPNs likely to offer you a poor experience or, in the worse scenario, expose your data with a third-party tracking library - exactly what you are trying to avoid here.
We try and test a ton of services all the times to only select the ones combining tight security and watertight privacy policies. Some providers have now started verifying their apps with the ioXt Alliance, too, giving even more peace of mind.
In terms of functionality, an Android VPN app should be as user-friendly as possible. Ensure it supports your version of Android, with most going back at least to Pie and usually beyond.
It's also worth noting that while you'll find all the below VPN services featured in the Google Play Store, we'd definitely recommend looking into them more closely and signing up directly on their websites to ensure that you get the best possible price.
Also, if you really don't want to pay for a subscription, we highly recommend to check our free VPN guide (don't expect premium performances, though).
The best 5 Android VPN apps in 2023:
Best Android VPN 2023 - Get 3 months free with an annual plan
There are so many things to like about ExpressVPN and its Android offering. The dedicated app is extremely user-friendly and straightforward, but also offers lots of advanced options.
Interface and features: If you have already used ExpressVPN for desktop, you won't notice any differences. An obvious On/Off button to connect, and a simple-to-navigate list of servers to choose from characterized all its VPN apps. The provider boasts over 3,000 of those across 94 countries, with the app available in 16 languages.
There's also a neat location picker, insecure network detection, split tunnelling, specialist privacy tools menu and a kill switch to improve security. You'll also find its Protection Summary feature under the Privacy and Security Tools menu, telling you which IP address you're connected to, and allowing you to see the strength of your connection.
Security: ExpressVPN offers AES 256-bit encryption and secure protocols, including OpenVPN and its very own WireGuard-based Lightway. Better still, the Android app has been certified by the ioXt Alliance (further details on that at the bottom of this page). While middling in comparison to the competition with its peaks dropping from the last round of testing, its 355-560Mbps speed results should be still good enough for most people and situations..
Streaming: Well-known for its great unblocking power, the ExpressVPN Android VPN app flew through our tests with ease when we used it for watching Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, BBC iPlayer and more, as well as letting us watch our domestic sports coverage when abroad.
Support: If you run into any difficulties at all with this VPN - whether that be when you install the ExpressVPN Android app or during use - its website features a wide array of handy content and video guides, as well as 24/7 customer support by live chat.
ExpressVPN isn't the cheapest VPN out there, but TechRadar's readers can take advantage of an excellent value signing up for a 12-month plan: three months extra free and a whole year of unlimited cloud backup from Backblaze. So it may be worth the price for those who want the best Android experience, knowing that there's a 30-day money-back guarantee in place to let you try it 100% risk free.
Get the best Android VPN with 3 months FREE
TechRadar readers can get a little perk when you sign up to ExpressVPN, as it has agreed to give you three months extra together with free secure, cloud backup from the brilliant Backblaze. You could get started by grabbing it from the Play Store, but you'll miss out on this offer if you do.
NordVPN is certainly the most popular and well-known Android VPN app in our guide, amassing more than 50 million downloads to date and one of the strongest Google Play ratings.
Interface and features: The NordVPN Android app is easy to download and use. However, we have to admit that we are not fans of the servers map view but there is the option for switching to a more standard list format (this uses only flag icons, though). Plus, recent upgrades made the map more thumb-friendly now.
Its main features include split tunneling, enhanced CyberSec malware shield, auto-connect, Double VPN technology, and the speedy NordLynx protocol. However, it's the new Meshnet feature to stand out this time. Allowing you to create your own secure network and connect your and other devices via encrypted NordVPN connections, it is perhaps the most valuable built-in bonus VPN feature we’ve seen.
Security: If the top-notch features mentioned above will instantly boost your online privacy, its strict ‘zero logs’ policy (audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers no less) means it doesn’t track the user’s online activity. This has even been backed up on Android with ioXt Alliance certification.
Streaming: Nord's overall strength when it comes to unblocking websites and getting around streaming restrictions is almost unparalleled. It ticks off all the big streaming giants, including Netflix, Disney Plus, Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer, making it a great choice for all the Android streamers out there. Plus, its excellent speeds (its peaks even increased during this last round of testing, reaching 820Mbps with NordLynx) will deliver a fast and reliable experience.
Support: The app provides a live chat feature for 24/7 customer support. This is great, allowing you to iron out any niggles you might be having without even leaving the app itself.
Don't take our word for granted, try NordVPN risk free with its 30-day money-back guarantee before you commit. The multi-year offer is clearly the best choice in terms of overall value.
Surfshark is an obvious first choice for many thanks to its market-shattering pricing that makes it the best cheap VPN right now. A tiny price doesn't mean low quality, though. And that applies to its Android app, too.
Interface and features: Unlike a lot of other providers, Surfshark barely alters the user interface from desktop to mobile. It means you can easily get security features like the dedicated kill switch, split tunnelling and integrated malware blocker.
But what really sets Shurfshark apart from its competitors is that it includes a GPS spoofing feature, enabling it to return the coordinates of your chosen VPN server. It's actually the only Android VPN app we've seen doing that. Not something everybody will use, but a handy feature if you want to, for example, get a location for fake GPS for Pokémon Go playing (although, even then, it requires some workarounds).
Security: As well as offering the market-standard AES-256 encryption and the aforementioned features, Surfshark also boasts its own private DNS and a recently audited no-logs policy. Its most worrying downside is around its kill switch issues. However, these occur only in extreme situations and on Windows. So, you should be perfectly covered on Android.
Streaming: In our latest round of testing, Surfshark actually proved to be one of the strongest for unblocking, especially if you're after a Netflix VPN. The provider was able to access Netflix libraries in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and Japan. It'll also easily open the gates to Disney Plus, Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer. And, despite its speeds being below average when connected to the OpenVPN protocol, it was the fastest VPN with WireGuard with a peak of 950Mbps last time we checked.
Support: If you do need support or spot a bug, then it's easy to raise support tickets right from the app itself. But in our experience, you won't be using that function too much. Surfshark keeps things really straightforward on mobile.
And assuming you'll want to use this VPN on your laptop, TV streaming device, router and other gadgets as well, you would be happy to know that you can connect unlimited devices with just one subscription.
In the last year or so, Proton VPN has really stepped up as a contender for one of the top VPNs.
Interface and features: For those who enjoy a map interface but want an alternative option to NordVPN, Proton VPN's Android app isn't dissimilar from its desktop counterpart. You'll also find a useful location list and favorite server system.
In terms of features, Proton VPN's mobile apps boast more than usual, another tick against this provider. You'll find its Quick Connect option, as well as its Secure Core technology, which routes you through multiple servers for better defense against network attacks. On top of that, expect a kill switch, MultiHop VPN function, Netshield (aka, its ad-blocker), and split tunneling.
Security: One of the most secure VPNs around, Proton VPN already has excellent Swiss privacy laws on its side thanks to its headquarters within the country. It also boasts DNS and IPv6 leak protection. Along with AES-256-GCM encryption, Proton also offers HMAC-384 for authentication. What's more, we couldn't find any trackers on its website nor Android apps last time we checked.
Streaming: As mentioned, Proton VPN is a strong streaming VPN. It unblocks Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Prime Video, and plenty of the biggest streaming platforms you might want to watch straight from your smartphone. While not the fastest, its speeds are still well above average with 670Mbps recorded as its peak.
Support: A small downside is that live chat support is not 24/7 yet, probably an issue to those new to the world of VPNs.
The provider is indeed also a great option if you're after a secure free VPN. It has even recently improved its network coverage, passing from 29 free servers to more than 100. However, you need to upgrade to its paid plans to enjoy its great streaming service unblocking track-record, P2P customized servers and excellent speeds.
Another service that keeps improving, we've found Windscribe to have addressed some of the issues that were holding it back in the past. This makes it the new entry in our best Android VPN guide this time around.
Interface and features: If you are used to the Windscribe interface on a Windows browser, you won't find any differences: the distinct background flag, the big On/Off button, details on your new IP and preferred protocol.
In terms of features, all Windscibe apps are crammed with advanced functionality that, perhaps, most users will never make a use of. These include its R.O.B.E.R.T. system that block IP addresses and domains of your choice on all devices, static IPs option, port forwarding and split tunneling. A nice addition on Android apps only is its Decoy Mode to help dissidents avoiding detection in extreme situations. We've even tested its tracker and malware blocking system and found it really effective.
Security: The provider offers only the best in terms of VPN protocols (WireGuard, IKEv2 and OpenVPN) supporting strong AES-256 encryption and stealth technologies to avoid VPN blocks. It doesn't keep any identifying logs and, even though its security infrastructure hasn't been audited yet, it will be soon. What's more, we couldn't find any trackers on its website nor Android apps last time we checked.
Streaming: Windscribe unlocked almost all the main streaming platforms during our last test. However, it failed to do so with ITV, C4, 9Now and 10 play. It also unlocked only the US Netflix catalog. Its connection speeds seriously improved, though, reaching peaks of 700Mbps when connected to the WireGuard protocol.
Support: Even though it isn't active yet, 24/7 live chat support is on its way. This means that users struggling to work out the many features included in Windscribe Android apps will still need to rely on its website tutorials for a bit longer.
Overall, Windscribe is still a bit behind its competitors in accommodating any type of users, from experts to newcomers. However, it also comes with a powerful and feature-packed free VPN with 10GB of data allowance and unlimited connections included. But remember, you have to upgrade to a paid plan if you want to use its streaming VPN function.
Android VPN FAQ
What can I do with an Android VPN?
First thing's first, they act as an excellent first line of defence alongside Android antivirus in protecting yourself when online. As referenced above, the nature of their encrypted tunnelling and ability to keep your IP address secret makes them a wonderful way to keep cyber criminals at bay - no more worrying about online banking and shopping while using unfamiliar networks.
But it's their shapeshifting, geo-spoofing abilities that have made the popularity of Android VPNs explode. The fact you can log into a server in another country elsewhere in the world means that you don't have to miss out on the stuff you'd usually stream to your mobile/tablet when abroad on holiday or business.
And they've proved a great way of getting around blocked websites. Where mobiles are concerned, a fantastic example is using WhatsApp in China, as well as other sites and service. The state may have blocked some of the big hitters, but they can't do anything about it when you use your Android VPN app to make it look like you're in another country entirely!
What devices can I use an Android VPN on?
From your Samsung Galaxy S22 to your Lenovo Tab P11 Pro, Android VPNs are primed and ready to work with all the modern smartphones and tablets running on the OS.
If you're a few generations behind (still using that trusty old Samsung Galaxy Note 8?) then you should generally be covered, too, as the best Android VPN apps go back a fair few iterations. For example, the NordVPN app is compatible with devices still running Marshmallow, while ExpressVPN and Surfshark go even further back to Lollipop.
It's worth noting some Android VPN can even be used as a Smart TV VPN depending on what kind of TV you have, too.
How do I setup a VPN on my Android phone?
First thing's first...it's reeeeeally easy. And you even have two options to choose from.
The first involves you scrolling back up this page, choosing the app that you like the look of best (and don't forget, all these VPNs have free trials, so you really don't have to worry too much about committing) and click the link to go through to the website. From there, you'll be able to select your plan, sign up, download and install. Away you go!
Alternatively, get yourself over to the Play Store and search for your chosen VPN app. But it's worth noting that if you go down this road, you might end up missing out on some of the awesome exclusive pricing and VPN deals that only TechRadar readers can get by clicking through to the provider from our pages.
Should I get a free VPN app for Android?
Even a quick dip into the Play Store menu will show that there are ridiculous amounts of available free apps that you can download. Some will be fine, some will be far from fine, but none will really be excellent.
We'd suggest only going for a freebie if you really don't tend to use your VPN app very much at all. Otherwise, you'll soon bump in to annoying usage restrictions and realise pretty sharpish that free versions only tend to have a handful of servers each (unlike the 5,000+ odd like providers such as NordVPN offer). And when you consider that downloading Surfshark costs less than $2.50 USD per month, you may as well put your hand in your pocket for one of the very best Android VPNs around.
How can I fake my location on Android?
While all good Android VPN apps will let you change location of your IP address to a server elsewhere, they don't all include fake GPS technology.
In fact, of the big players out there, only Surfshark has an integrated GPS spoofing tool. That makes it the obvious choice if your main reason for getting a VPN is for use with Pokémon Go or similar mobile games.
What is the ioXt Alliance?
With their spelled out no-logging policies and growing number of independent audits, the challenge VPN companies face is it show that your private web usage is safe in their hands. A new way they have started to do this is by getting certification of their Android apps from the ioXt Alliance - an organisation that seeks to build confidence in the Internet of Things.
In order to get the certificate, providers need to show that their Android VPN apps meet eight strict criteria:
- No universal passwords
- Secured interfaces
- Proven cryptography
- Security by default
- Verified software
- Automatic security updates
- Vulnerability reporting program
- Security expiration date