Regardless of which model you prefer, an iPhone VPN is an essential privacy tool. Apple is well-known for its extra-secure products and attentive privacy practices. But this doesn't prevent the fact that users put their digital privacy and security at risk simply by accessing the internet.
You might be wondering, why add a top VPN service to an already secure device? Despite the fantastic job that Apple does out of the box, you can get even more protection from threats like trackers, cybercriminals, and even targeted ads. That's especially important when you connect to public Wi-Fi, for example.
An iPhone VPN isn't just for better privacy, though. It also allows you to easily unblock apps and content that you may otherwise not have access to. Your workplace, school, or government's local network may not allow certain content. You can easily get around most restrictions by using a VPN – including streaming content you wouldn't typically have access to.
Before you jump in and frantically search through the App Store for a VPN app, we'll explain here the many (many) uses and, ultimately, our top five picks for an iPhone VPN according to our latest in-depth testing.
Today's top three iPhone VPNs:
1. ExpressVPN: our #1 pick for the best iPhone VPN
The quality of ExpressVPN's iPhone VPN app is precisely what you'd expect from the world's overall best provider. It's easy to download, simple to use, and boasts almost all the ace features you get on desktop. It's not the cheapest, but sign up via TechRadar and you'll get 3 months extra with a 30-day money-back guarantee in case you change your mind.
2. NordVPN: the best value iPhone VPN
It's one of the biggest names in VPN, so it's no surprise that NordVPN has such a well-honed iPhone app. We love an app that has obvious 'quick connect' widgets and Nord really delivers on the security side, too, with a Double VPN option and a no-logging policy audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
3. Surfshark: the best cheap iPhone VPN
One of the cheapest iPhone VPNs (get it for as little as $2.30 per month) is also one of the best-rated. And as an added bonus, one sub covers you for as many devices as you can handle—including Windows PCs, Macs, Androids, tablets, TV streaming devices, and more.
How to choose the best iPhone VPN app
There's no shortage of iPhone VPN options with excellent iOS support, with most providers offering dedicated apps for iPhone and iPad – which should obviously be a main consideration here. The app should be just as easy to use as on desktop (both Windows and Mac) yet provide enough options for more advanced users to be able to tweak things as needed.
Then, it comes down to what you're planning to use your iPhone VPN for. Looking to unlock streaming platforms? You want software with a great unlocking record. Are you looking for the most secure experience? Look out for advanced security features, too.
The 5 best iPhone VPN apps in 2023:
Best iPhone VPN – Get 3 months free with an annual plan
ExpressVPN is our top pick for the all-around best VPN, and we're just as happy to recommend it for iOS devices. The top-rated provider has a large server network (with 160 server locations in over 90 countries) that managed to provide superb speeds throughout our testing. In fact, it's brilliant on every platform and browser we tested it on - Android, Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome, Firefox...the lot!
Interface and features: ExpressVPN's iPhone VPN boasts a user-friendly interface that focuses on smart server selection via different filters. Users can connect with a single tap and use and switch between servers seamlessly. There are some unusual extras too, like the ability to switch protocols. Its Privacy and Security Tools menu allows you to easily check your connection, including your current IP address and location.
Its iOS VPN client also comes fully packed with ExpressVPN's new Parallel Connections feature, as well as its Threat Manager, which protects your device from apps and website tracking and malware. And, while ExpressVPN won't want to lose you, the iOS app now allows you to easily delete your account within the app.
The main drawback is the lack of a kill-switch, so that might be an issue for some (especially those using their iPhone for torrenting) although it does include an auto-reconnect option that will try to re-establish the tunnel if your connection drops
Streaming: ExpressVPN also has no trouble helping you access streaming services like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Hulu, making it ideal for streaming. As well as unblocking streaming services, its custom traffic obfuscation will allow you to achieve better connectivity in censorship-heavy regions like China and the Middle East, too.
Support: The service offers 24/7 customer support through live chat or email, to help users with any questions or issues they may encounter.
ExpressVPN is certainly one of the most expensive services out there, but it's well worth the cost for anyone wanting the best experience for iOS devices, including iPhones and iPads. With the additional savings from its longer subscription plans, coupled with a 30-day money-back guarantee, you can the best iPhone VPN to the test and see how it compares with the competition—and it doesn't have to cost you a penny.
Get the best iPhone VPN in 2023 with two freebies
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 3 months extra for free and one whole year of completely unlimited secure cloud backup from Backblaze.
Remember, you won't get this added extra if you go and download it straight from the App Store. You need to click on the links on this page to benefit.
Interface and features: NordVPN's iPhone app is up there among the very best. It's a well-organized application, with at-a-glance information displayed by the ‘quick connect’ widget that details the closest server, availability, load percentage, and so on. It's basically got everything you could ask for in an iPhone VPN.
The app includes an auto-connect feature to, you guessed it, 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 into that kind of thing). And all the in-depth features you'd demand from even the best desktop clients: a fully featured protocols menu, specialty server lists, the list goes on.
Perhaps our only real niggle would be that the default map view when you open the app is a bit fiddly to use. But you can see that we're really struggling to pick holes here.
Security: It supports the industry-standard 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 ensure that it holds water.
Streaming: In NordVPN we trust. Able to bypass any geo-restrictions, NordVPN is one of our go-to Netflix VPNs to recommend, able to watch libraries in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, and Japan with little issue. It'll also open the gates to Prime Video, Disney Plus, and BBC iPlayer.
NordVPN offers way above average performance, too - especially now that speeds are cranked up via its WireGuard-based NordLynx protocol - and the network boasts a plentiful number of servers of more than 5,400+ across 60 countries.
Support: With plenty of handy and detailed online guides available on its support site, NordVPN also offers a chatbot for quick, easy requests, with a more competent 24/7 live chat if you wish to raise your query with an actual human being.
Surfshark is known as one of the best, cheapest VPN providers around, offering great features and unlimited connections for a ridiculously low price.
Interface and features: 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 & 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 as well, which may sway you towards this provider if that's a function you think will be useful on your iPhone.
On the iOS app, you can change your preferred language within the app, and the ability to reset your VPN profile to resolve any connectivity issues. The option of the iOS 14 widgets is a nice touch, too.
Security: Equipped with the usual AES-256 encryption, Surfshark also has private DNS on each server for better protection against spying while you're online. You'll also find a double VPN hop and can rest assured of its 'no logs' policy, though we would love to see an audit to confirm this.
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 (WireGuard, OpenVPN/ IKEv2, and Shadowsocks).
Streaming: Surfshark ticks off all the major streaming services without issue. You'll be able to watch Netflix around the world, as well as utilize your subscriptions to Prime Video and Disney Plus. Want to tune into your native broadcaster? Surfshark can also unblock BBC iPlayer and other national channels across the globe.
Support: Benefit from Surfshark's 24/7 support with the company's live chat operatives in case you do run into any trouble when using or installing. It also has a great range of set-up and troubleshooting guides on its support site.
If you're after a really useful option for your Apple device, Private Internet Access offers a very affordable iPhone VPN app. What's more, it's loved by Apple users, awarded a 4.6 rating on the App Store, with Surfshark the only other iPhone VPN on this list awarded higher.
There are some attractive extras that genuinely add value. The Favorites system, for example, enables connecting to commonly used servers, while a new Automation Rules system allows for auto-connect when on certain networks. And there's bonus ad and malware blocking, too.
For those that are fully integrated into Apple's ecosystem, you'll appreciate the ability to add Siri shortcuts. And then there's PIA's InBrowser, which is a private browser for iOS (and its Android VPN app) with tabs and video support.
PIA supports OpenVPN, IKEv2, and the speedy WireGuard protocol, with 256-AES encryption, with improvements to authentication handshakes now using SHA-4096, and data authentication on OpenVPN CBC making use of SHA-256. A kill switch is also available which works admirably, and the provider states that it doesn't have logging of any kind.
If your main reason for getting one of these apps is as a streaming VPN, then we think you're better off with one of the other providers on this list. OK, so it did manage to unblock Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus. Unblocking Netflix has proved difficult for PIA, however, and it appears to have lost its unblocking abilities for BBC iPlayer, too.
It's worth noting while its unblocking abilities have weakened, and we've seen below-average speeds this time around, for many its performance will be more than enough. What's more, it's become even better value for money with some of its multi-year plans.
PrivadoVPN is hands-down the best free iPhone VPN thanks to its super-fast and feature-rich service. It's one of the only free VPNs that reliably unblock Netflix, and offers plenty of free locations to choose from.
Servers, connections, and apps: while the free version isn't as feature-rich as the paid-for version, PrivadoVPN's free iPhone VPN still comes with 13 locations to choose from around the world, and reliably fast connections.
With a premium subscription, you get 10 simultaneous connections, a SOCKS5 Proxy to help access geo-restricted content, a zero-Log policy, an ad blocker, parental controls, and even threat protection to help keep your devices safe from malware.
Security and privacy: PrivadoVPN has yet to complete an independent audit. However, a spokesperson explained to us that an audit would require months of standstill for development, and that would prevent them from delivering on the needs of their users. They reassured us that PrivadoVPN intends to pursue an audit as soon as possible, but it needs to make sure it's offering the best service it can at all times.
In terms of encryption and customization, PrivadoVPN offers the latest and greatest, regardless of what app you're using. With its WireGuard implementation, you get a faster, more secure VPN experience on your iPhone.
Performance: 350Mbps is plenty for streaming in 4K, gaming online, and seamless torrenting. It even handles its own bandwidth and transit routes, so you get fantastic speeds and almost no server congestion—even on free servers.
Usability: its easy-to-use and reliable iPhone app allows for plenty of customization. You can utilize one-click connections and a kill switch to make sure your phone is always protected.
Streaming: Privado has a dedicated content-unblocking team, making it one of the only free services that reliably unblock Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Disney+. If you're after a free service to unblock your favorite shows, no other free VPN can hold its own against PrivadoVPN.
Customer support: if ever you need help, Privado has 24/7 email and live chat support for iPhone customers.
Price: nothing beats free, but if you want to see what PrivadoVPN is really capable of, then you can upgrade for as little as $3.99 per month—giving you access to Privado's premium network for 2 years. However, if you'd rather opt for a shorter 12-month subscription, that'll be $4.99 per month. Alternatively, a single-month of premium protection costs $10.99.
Verdict: PrivadoVPN offers a solid premium service with an even more remarkable freemium option. Its stream-unblocking capabilities put it up among some of the best paid-for services, and it doesn't have to cost a penny if you don't want it to. Put the free version to the test and see if Privado is the right iPhone VPN for you.
- Download the best free iPhone VPN from Privado's website
iPhone VPN FAQ
What is the best iPhone VPN?
With so many iPhone VPNs out there, this is no easy answer. Luckily, ExpressVPN stands out above the rest. It combines mostly everything that we like to see in a virtual private network app: stacks of servers all over the world, excellent encryption, a knack for unblocking restricted apps, a friendly interface, and it's remarkably easy to set up and use.
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 told, Google Play is a far more dangerous place to be). In terms of harmful activities, the argument that iPhone users have less to worry about than other (especially Android) users certainly has some merit. However, that doesn't mean that they shouldn't still be careful.
What does a VPN do on iPhone?
There's a multitude of reasons why you might want to download a mobile VPN app onto your iPhone. 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 who do somehow manage to get hold of it.
But it's a VPN's IP spoofing that's where things get fascinating. By jumping onto a server in another location, you can effectively change location and kid your Apple iPhone into thinking that it's in another country altogether. A country or location, for example, where you can stream a wider variety of Netflix shows, and where you can get cheaper prices on services and products. And super handy if you're struggling to use WhatsApp in China or login to Facebook at your school.
Are free iPhone VPN apps worth it?
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 totally false economy. Many free apps limit the amount of data you can use each day or month, so you can mostly 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 it, especially when the best iPhone VPN apps on this list are so affordable anyway.
Do iPhones have a built in VPN?
While iPhone doesn't currently have a built-in VPN, it does offer excellent VPN support for both manual and automatic configuration when downloading any number of VPN apps. All you'll need to do, then, to install a VPN on your Apple smartphone, is select which iPhone VPN you want to sign up to, install the client, and you're away.
How do I manually configure a VPN in my iPhone settings?
To add a VPN manually, go to Settings > General > VPN > Add VPN Configuration > Type.
You will then choose between a number of protocols: IKEv2, IPSec, or L2TP.
You'll then need to enter a server address, as well as your username and password, and a remote ID. All this should be found in your account of your chosen VPN provider.
Once set up, you'll find VPN under Mobile Data and/or Personal Hotspot immediately when you go into settings, or under Settings > General > VPN & Device Management.