best vpn for android

Android is the world’s number one smartphone operating system. It has an enormous market share in comparison to its main competitor – iOS. With countless VPNs available for it, finding the right one can be rather tricky.

(In case you're in a hurry, our top recommendation for the Android OS is ExpressVPN.)

What Is The Best VPN For Android In 2021?

Our team tested every VPN service we could get our hands on. After that, we compared them with one another. Following a long period of research, our team was able to narrow down our picks to five great VPNs.

  1. ExpressVPN
  2. Surfshark
  3. NordVPN
  4. Private Internet Access
  5. IPVanish

These services are, without a doubt, the best for Android. To understand why, it’s essential to go into the details and talk about each one.

1. ExpressVPN

logo expressvpn

Credit: ExpressVPN.com

ExpressVPN is the undisputed #1 VPN on the market for good reason. It excels at providing the highest levels of security to its users. Furthermore, the service is blazingly fast, making it excellent for torrenting and gaming. It can also unblock most streaming websites.

Part of the reason why ExpressVPN is safe is because it’s based in the British Virgin Islands. It lies distant from the jurisdictions of the Five, Nine, and Fourteen Eyes Alliances. Therefore, it is not hindered by restrictive copyright and privacy laws.

One of the best things about ExpressVPN is that its entire network is RAM-based. As such, the service can’t keep your logs. Because of that, even when it’s forced by authorities to disclose your information, it’ll have nothing to give.

ExpressVPN utilizes AES 256-bit encryption, which is the same encryption used by the world’s militaries. It also supports every mainstream protocol available. Due to that, you shall get to tailor the service’s settings to what’s best for your Android device.

Apart from Android, ExpressVPN is available on every other major platform. It also has browser extensions for Google Chrome and Firefox. The service even works on some outdated and unconventional operating systems like Windows Phone and Raspberry PI.

All of its apps are user friendly and suitable even for those who aren’t versed with technology. Sad to say, the VPN only allows for 5 simultaneous connections. This means that you might not get to protect your whole family or business with a single account.

Another downside of ExpressVPN is that it’s quite pricey. In fact, it costs double the amount of some VPNs. This makes it unideal for people who are on a budget. Still, I think that you won’t regret getting the service. It’s an excellent investment that makes up for its price with sheer quality.

2. Surfshark

logo surfshark

Credit: Surfshark.com

Surfshark is a newcomer in the world of VPNs. Established in 2018, it has taken the industry by storm. The service has impressive specifications and is adept at protecting its users. You can utilize it in China with consistent success. If anything, this is quite surprising due to the small size of its server network.

Like all the other services on this list, Surfshark makes use of AES 256-bit encryption. It also supports every standard VPN protocol. Furthermore, the service has many neat security features. Examples include a kill switch, double VPN (MultiHop), and HackLock.

Speed is something where Surfshark shines brightest. It’s incredibly fast, only being matched by ExpressVPN and NordVPN. Hence, it’s a great VPN solution for gamers, torrenters, and avid streamers. With it, you’re guaranteed to have quick download speeds and zero lag issues.

If you’re a movie buff, Surfshark is an excellent choice. With it, you’ll be able to bypass even the best geoblocks of streaming websites. I’ve tested it out on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Firestick without ever experiencing failure. Moreover, my teammates say the same when it comes to other streaming platforms like BBC iPlayer.

You won’t have any trouble with compatibility. Surfshark has native apps for Android, along with every other mobile and stationary platform. It even has browser extensions that you can use as an alternative. What is even better is that the service allows for unlimited simultaneous device connections. Thus, keeping everyone you know protected is possible with just one account.

Troubleshooting won’t be a problem with Surfshark. It has great customer service. You can send them a question via chat or email and get a detailed answer within minutes. However, if you’re ever unsatisfied, there’s a 30-day money-back policy. This makes getting a refund a breeze.

3. NordVPN

logo nordvpn

Credit: NordVPN.com

No list of top VPNs for anything would be complete without NordVPN. For years, the service has dominated the industry. It has managed to achieve this thanks to great performance, excellent customer service, and easy-to-use applications.

The thing making NordVPN stand out the most is speed. Not even Surfshark and ExpressVPN can surpass it. And yes, this fact holds true regardless of the server you choose. When using the service, you’re guaranteed to have a seamless gaming or downloading experience.

Another thing that makes NordVPN awesome is its ability to work in China. Many of our testers in the country claim that it’s their favorite VPN. They say that never has there been an instance where they weren’t able to the websites they wanted to.

Recently, the security capabilities of NordVPN have been subject to scrutiny. Why? Because it was hacked by a lone hacker that stole information to create a fake server. Thankfully, nothing came of the untoward incident. The only thing that was compromised was the VPN’s reputation.

NordVPN has been striving to regain the trust of its users. Since it got infiltrated, it has adopted many great security measures like a bug bounty program. It even created a protocol based on WireGuard. Moreover, the service announced plans to upgrade to a RAM-based network.

You can simultaneously connect 6 devices with a single NordVPN account. The service has a native app and browser extension for every major platform. Each of which is user-friendly and light on memory. This makes it excellent for people who aren’t tech-savvy.

As mentioned, NordVPN has excellent customer service. Our team has had nothing but good experiences with the VPN. Each time we sent them a chat or email, a representative came to our aid within minutes. All of their responses were detailed and cordial.

4. Private Internet Access (PIA)

logo pia vpn

Credit: PrivateInternetAccess.com

Private Internet Access (PIA) is an easy-to-use VPN with a nice Android app. Despite it being headquartered in the United States, it has never fallen into controversy. The service has even been praised for upholding the privacy of its users despite its disadvantage.

On two occasions, the US government requested PIA to disclose log information to aid in a then-ongoing criminal investigation. During both instances, the service refused to comply. In doing so, it proved that it’s trustworthy.

With all that said, PIA has a great set of security features. It employs military-grade encryption and has WireGuard support. The VPN also boasts an ad and malware blocker along with a kill switch. Furthermore, it has a no logs policy that’s proven through a trial of fire and ice.

PIA’s network isn’t the largest. Nevertheless, it’s still decent, with more than 3000 servers. Sadly, it can’t jump over the Great Firewall of China. Moreover, the VPN isn’t capable of working around the geoblocks of most streaming platforms. Hence, it isn’t a good option for daily Netflix users.

You should also know that PIA isn’t the fastest VPN. Its speed capabilities vary greatly from server to server. Because of that, I would not recommend it to anyone that prioritizes speed above anything else. It’s guaranteed that the service’s unreliability shall only disappoint.

PIA has great compatibility. It has applications on all mainstream operating systems except for Chromebook OS. Apart from that, it has extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. Last but not least, the service allows for 10 simultaneous connections, giving it an excellent value.

Those looking to save are certain to love PIA. It’s one of the cheapest VPNs available. You can avail of a subscription for less than half the amount of money competing services cost. Due to that, I highly recommend it to people who want absolute digital security at a reasonable price.

5. IPVanish

logo ipvanish

Credit: IPVanish.com

Taking the last place on this list is IPVanish. It’s an American VPN that’s long been a leader in the VPN industry. The service is best known for letting its users connect an unlimited number of devices simultaneously. Only Surfshark matches it in this regard, making the two stand out.

IPVanish provides top-notch digital security at a reasonable price. Our tests have proven that it doesn’t leak data. This is mainly due to its utilization of AES-256 encryption and support for all major VPN protocols. Sad to say, it has yet to announce plans to adopt WireGuard.

An important thing to know about IPVanish is that it once got embroiled in a scandal. The VPN willingly gave up private user data to US authorities. It was forced to do so to aid in a criminal investigation. Due to the incident, its reputation became severely tarnished. Many experts now claim that it’s not a service to be trusted.

IPVanish’s speed capabilities are subpar. Our tests have shown that it’s consistently sluggish no matter what server is in use. Besides that, the service is also incapable of working around the geoblocks of streaming websites.

Redeeming IPVanish is the fact that all of 1400+ servers are P2P enabled. For that reason, it’s a good option for people who frequently download torrents. There’ll be no need for you to trouble yourself with what server to use for the job. All of them are optimized for your convenience.

The apps of IPVanish can be hectic for some people. Upon opening them, you’ll immediately get bombarded with information. Everything from IP addresses to internet speeds is displayed on the home screen. Simplicity is the clear opposite of what the VPN’s apps have.

Excellent customer service is a clear priority for those who developed IPVanish. It has wonderful email and chat support. Moreover, the service can be contacted via phone. It’s rather unique due to this. Almost no other VPN has this avenue to contact their representatives.

Why Use A VPN On Android?

why use a vpn on android

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The internet isn’t a safe place. It’s full of individuals and third parties that want to monitor and collect your private information. What they gather can be used against you. Everything from blackmail to identity theft is on the table. Hence, you must strive to remain safe whenever you browse the internet.

VPNs are the best digital security measure you can get. With a good service, every morsel of your data shall be protected from prying eyes. 

It will be next to impossible to monitor what you do online. Since others won’t be able to spy on you, they’ll also be incapable of collecting what you have. Thus, you may surf the net without any worries.

Your Android phone is probably the main device you use to access the internet. As such, it’s a must to have a VPN installed on it. 

Having one, you can rest assured that you are protected every time you play games or access social media. Nobody will ever have the chance to compromise your security.

To learn more about the importance of online privacy and security, I suggest that you check out our guides. We have several write-ups about the subject. By reading them, you’ll learn all there is to stay safe online.

What Does A VPN On Android Do?

what does a vpn on android do

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VPNs on your Android do much more than keep you safe. For starters, they can let you access websites that are banned in your country. Moreover, they can also make your web connection speeds faster. How? By getting you off bandwidth throttling caused by your ISP.

Movie buffs may utilize their VPN to bypass streaming site geoblocks. With a good service, it’ll be possible to browse through foreign libraries. Such libraries would otherwise be inaccessible when you’re using the vanilla version of your internet.

Another thing VPNs do on Android is to allow you to download exclusive content. Using the correct server, you’ll get to tap into anything that is geo-restricted. This includes things like mobile updates, software, and games.

Finally, a VPN on your Android device can enable you to watch live sporting events. Never miss out on a game regardless of where you are. Simply connect to the right location and watch all the matches that you’d normally miss out on. Do so with your friends and impress them too!

Please note that VPNs on Android can do a lot more than what’s stated above. I only scratched the surface of the possibilities a capable service can achieve. Hence, you should conduct more research to obtain a fuller understanding.

How To Choose A VPN For Android

how to choose a vpn for android

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The VPN industry is an incredibly competitive one. New services regularly emerge, making the task of selecting one very difficult. Fortunately, we’ve got your back. By choosing one of the five services listed above, you’re guaranteed to have a wonderful VPN for your Android device.

Suppose you decide to select a VPN service other than what we recommend. In that case, it’s necessary to take a few things into consideration. Among the most important are:

  • Tight Security – The VPN you use on your Android device must have tight security. Pick a service that uses AES 256-bit encryption and has support for all the latest protocols. Besides that, a strict no-logs policy and a clean record are two other essential things the VPN you get must-have.
  • Fast Speeds – VPNs always hamper internet connection speeds. However, some do this more than others. As such, you must buy a VPN with decent speed capabilities. This is especially true if you frequently play online games or download all kinds of content.
  • Large Server Network – Services with larger networks are more capable of maintaining the anonymity of their users. Moreover, they give you better options when it comes to picking out locations.
  • Functions In China – The Great Firewall of China is a censorship system a few VPNs can overcome. Only the best can get the job done with absolute consistency. Because of that, you must strive to get a service that works in the country.
  • User-Friendly Apps – Your VPN on Android must have a user-friendly app with a pleasing interface. Without it, you’ll have a far worse user experience. Furthermore, it’ll be harder to get around the settings menu and choose servers.
  • Decent Plans & Prices – For many, pricing is the most important thing to consider when choosing a VPN. This isn’t surprising as everyone has a limited budget to spend on their VPNs. That said, always pick out service with flexible plans and great value. It is also advisable to get one that’s got a 30-day money-back policy.

How To Setup A VPN On Android

how to setup a vpn on android

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Setting up a VPN on your Android smartphone is easy. Just download the service you’ve bought on Google Play Store, and it’ll install automatically. Open the application and log in. After that, choose the server you wish to pair with, then tap on the connect button.

For added security, I suggest that you tinker with your VPNs settings. Make sure to utilize AES 256-bit encryption and the best protocols. If WireGuard isn’t available, pick OpenVPN UDP or LT2P/IPSec, both common and very secure.

Never forget to take advantage of the unique extra features that your VPN might have. These features are sure to come in handy. For example, NordVPN’s DoubleVPN routes your connection through two servers to drastically increase your security.

One last thing to do when setting up your VPN on Android is to adjust its app’s personalization options. Some services have different themes available. Select the one that best matches your personality. I’m sure that you’ll have no regrets after doing this.

Summary

Before ending this article, let’s look back at the five services that we at VPN Thrive believe are best for your Android smartphone. While all of them are great choices, you can only pick one. As such, it’s best if we get a quick recap of their main selling points and downsides.

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is hands down our top VPN for Android. It offers a no-frills user experience thanks to its wonderful app on the platform. Unlike competing services, it doesn’t have gimmicky extra features. Instead, the VPN chooses to prioritize having fast speeds and top-notch security above everything else.

Sad to say, the quality of ExpressVPN doesn’t come cheap. It’s a tad bit more expensive than almost every other service on the market. However, I’m sure that you won’t have any regrets after making the investment as it's well worth it.

2. Surfshark

Despite its relatively small server network, Surfshark is an excellent choice for Android users. It boasts an excellent app on the platform that’s incredibly easy to use. On top of that, it has great speed capabilities, making it great for gaming and torrenting. Finally, the service is loaded with wonderful security features that make it safe to use.

3. NordVPN

NordVPN is probably the most famous VPN on our list. It has lots of servers and excellent security features that allow it to work in China. The service is also faster than anything else available in today’s market. Lastly, its application for Android is highly optimized for the platform, making it a joy to utilize.

The hacking incident that affected NordVPN severely tainted its reputation. Because of it, many say that the VPN isn’t trustworthy. Our team disagrees and thinks that NordVPN has redeemed itself. All that is thanks to its implementation of awesome new security features.

4. Private Internet Access (PIA)

Private Internet Access doesn’t have the largest server network. It also isn’t fast and capable of bypassing many streaming website geoblocks. Despite that, we believe that it’s great for Android users. 

The reason why is because it has a great app on the platform. It’s also more secure than most other VPNs on the market. Finally, the service is incredibly cheap, making it perfect for anyone who’s on a tight budget.

5. IPVAnish

Our final pick is IPVanish because it has the best customer service one could ask for. The VPN is also decent when it comes to security. Furthermore, it has a fully enabled P2P server network that makes it a prime choice for torrenters.

Unfortunately, IPVanish has many downsides. First of all, it’s quite sluggish and isn’t capable of bypassing most geoblocks. The service also doesn’t work in China. Lastly, it was revealed to have disclosed private user information to the authorities on one occasion.

VPNWhy Is It Good for Android?PricesLink
logo expressvpnTopnotch security,
Amazing speeds,
Great unblocking capabilities
$12.95/Month,
$9.99/Month (6 Months),
$6.67/Month (15 Months)
Click for BEST Price
logo surfsharkEasy-to-use app,
Fast speeds,
Excellent security features
$12.95/Month,
$6.49/month (6 Months),
$2.49/Month (2 Years)
Click for BEST Price
logo nordvpnGreat unlocking capabilities,
A decent app,
Blazingly fast speeds
$11.99/Month,
$6.99/month (1 Year),
$4.99/Month (2 Years),
$3.49/Month (3 Years)
Click for BEST Price
logo pia vpnWonderful security,
Decent prices,
Simple Android app
$9.95 (1 Month),
$3.33/Month (1 Year),
$2.69/Month (2 Years)
Click for BEST Price
logo ipvanishExcellent customer service,
Fully enabled P2P network
$8.99/Month,
$6.75/Month (Quarterly),
$4.87/Month (Annual)
Click for BEST Price

About the author 

Erwin Caniba

Erwin, our Chief Editor, has an established career in digital marketing. Since 2012, he’s always used a VPN. As such, it came to his mind to share his experience with every VPN that he’s used. And so, VPN Thrive was born.

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