The Best VPNs for iOS in 2019
With every new model introduced, the iPhone continues to be one of the most sought-after phones around the world. Apple, along with other popular brands like Samsung and Huawei, have shaped the way we browse the web, with more of us connecting with news sources and doing online shopping and banking via the handheld option every year. The problem here is that our devices offer little to no security to begin with and purchasing apps for security can wind up being pretty expensive.
iPhone users do have passable malware protection, but they’re not covered from things like random phishing attacks, nor are they safe in public Wi-Fi spots. When connecting to these vulnerable networks, passwords, banking information and even private images can be exposed and used against you. The best way of securing your iPhone is with a VPN.
How a VPN Works
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) will encrypt all traffic leaving your device, whether from your browser or apps, before passing it through one of its designated servers and decrypting it. This prevents the government, hackers and even your ISP from viewing your activity and knowing the location it originated from. Taking back this level of privacy on the internet is something that benefits everyone, but some more than others. Journalists and citizens of oppressive countries, in countries where VPNs are usually banned, can communicate their experiences online with the world, for example.
Connecting to a VPN server in another country encrypts traffic – but this isn’t the only advantage. It also allows you to view region-locked international content that can only be accessed by anyone within that region. For anyone using a VPN locally, they might want to select a nearby server for greater performance and to avoid ISP throttling, whereas someone travelling might want to use their iPhone as a way of keeping up with shows from back home.
The benefits of using a VPN don’t just apply to iPhones but rather all devices. Laptops, computers and tablets are also prone to hacking and without a VPN connected, you also won’t have the anonymity that it can offer. Here are some of the most important benefits of using a VPN.
The Benefits of Using a VPN With Your iPhone
Added Performance: When left to our ISPs, internet usage can often feel limited and at times very slow. That’s because ISPs are known for throttling users indiscriminately and restricting bandwidth. With a decent VPN, users can get around these issues. Connecting to a VPN means avoiding ISP throttling entirely, but choosing one of the best providers means you also get unlimited bandwidth, unlimited server-switching and zero throttling. These features are all essential to consistent performance, especially when it comes to live streaming or any other activity that needs no interruption.
Security: Zero protection is never a good thing and since iPhone security is pretty basic, using a VPN is necessary when out on the move. The cost of purchasing protective apps can be so high on iPhone compared to Android and Windows that it’s often not worth the purchase. With a VPN, users get to encrypt their bank information, passwords and everyday traffic when passing through Wi-Fi zones like at an airport or a local coffee shop. Without any security, people leave this information wide open to anyone that might be watching.
Geo-Spoofing: No one likes to be restricted in what they watch on the internet – especially since much of the best sport, news and movies come from abroad. When we’re travelling, keeping up with our favorite content can be tough too. With a VPN, users can get around region-locked content simply by connecting to a server in the location of the content you require. For example, being based in the UK and connecting to a server in the US would spoof any website into thinking that user is based in the US.
Accessing Shared Drives: Accessing shared drives while on the move is essential for some mobile workers. Businesses use VPNs in order to keep confidential information secure while being used on other networks and to prevent hackers from using a remote worker’s traffic to access the shared drives. The damage here could be in the millions depending on the company, should the hackers decide to hold their sensitive data for ransom. A VPN also allows companies to direct non-important traffic through the user’s ISP and the sensitive stuff through the VPN, a feature what’s known as split-tunneling.
Privacy on the Move: Privacy has become a luxury on the web and as one of the main reasons for choosing a VPN, it’s something we all want more of. A VPN offers users the chance to reclaim their privacy and avoid any snooping from governments, as well as further protection and anonymity against hackers. We often access several different public Wi-Fi zones a day while on our phones, like at work or on a train, and these networks come with zero protection without a VPN. For anyone based in a country that’s strict on internet privileges, privacy is essential.
The Features to Look out for
There are plenty of features to consider when buying a VPN, but the most important ones depend on what you need the service for. Many of the essential attributes can be found below.
Number of Servers and Location: All-round performance is essential for any VPN use. No one wants to experience downtime or throttling – it’s one of the reasons we choose to use VPNs in the first place. A provider that houses server networks around the world and in popular hotspots like North America and Europe offers greater flexibility for geo-spoofing, as well as consistent speeds and uptime. And with unlimited server switching, users can avoid any congested servers and maintain their activity. Some providers offer this as an automated feature.
Essential Security Features: If a VPN is lacking in security then it’s useless. Like nearly all the free services out there, any provider that doesn’t invest in privacy and encryption protocols leaves their users exposed to hackers and government surveillance. Alongside the industry-standard 256-bit AES encryption, high-quality VPNs come with a host of features, like the automatic kill-switch, that kills web connection in the event of a VPN connection interference. Look out for integrated tools like split-tunnel, zero-knowledge DNS, DDoS protection, Onion Over VPN and Double VPN. All these features can keep you protected while on the move and in unprotected public Wi-Fi spaces.
No-log Policy: A no-logging policy is something that a lot of VPN providers claim to offer when really, it’s not always the case. Storing user data is troubling for several reasons. It offers the provider the chance to sell that data to third-party advertisers, as well as cooperate with government requests and hand over data to be used for incrimination. If a VPN stores a user’s data, it’s fair to assume that they don’t prioritize privacy and would, therefore, hand the data over freely or fold under the pressure. Always be sure to check where the provider is headquartered and verify the claim of zero-logging.
Support: A responsive, round-the-clock support team is one way a VPN can stand out from its competitors. Despite how simple to use VPNs have become, everyone at some point needs to pose their problem, and it’s not always during regular business hours. Any high-quality provider will be reachable at all hours and on any day of the week. Whether it’s with tickets or through email, phone or live chat, users should be able to have their queries answered at any time, from anywhere in the world.
Multiple Devices: It pays off to keep all your devices protected and not just your iPhone, or the kit you use the most. Most VPNs offer the chance to protect multiple devices at once, making it much more affordable for all-round protection and performance. Not all VPNs offer this feature, however, and not all of them offer the same amount of coverage. While some might only offer a few devices protection, other top-quality providers offer as many as 10. Choose one that will give you enough coverage for the full duration of your subscription.
P2P-Friendly: Not everyone is interested in this feature but it’s important to note for those that are. A lot of VPNs aren’t equipped for P2P-sharing and some don’t openly welcome it on their service. If torrenting is one of your main reasons for buying a VPN then be sure to choose one that’s P2P-friendly. The providers that are open to torrenting will optimize their service around P2P and gear their servers to support and protect extensive P2P traffic.
When a VPN on iPhone Can’t Protect You
A VPN is mostly faultless in what it provides but there are a few ways they can leave you unprotected. For example, phishing sites can still trick users into handing over login details, and the fact that they come and go rather quickly makes it too hard and almost pointless to blacklist them. Using an old HTTP site instead of a HTTPS can also leave your traffic open to interception, as the VPN’s connection to the site, not the user’s connection to the VPN, isn’t secure. Connecting to a HTTPS site without a VPN, while encrypted, still reveals your IP address. A VPN alongside HTTPS is the best way to stay anonymous, other than Tor.
The Best VPNs for iOS:
The best VPN really depends on what you intend to use it for, whether it’s streaming or torrenting or just keeping your information secure, but these are the best all-round services available for iOS in 2019.
Pros: Over 5000 servers, 6 connections, No-logs
Cons: A bit pricey
NordVPN is one of the most respected on the list because of its firm commitment to both privacy and performance. With more than 5700 servers in 60 countries, combined with unlimited bandwidth and server switching, users work with an extensive infrastructure for uninterrupted streaming, torrenting and more. They also benefit from up to six simultaneous devices and a dedicated IP address.
NordVPN protects its customers with military-grade 256-bit AES encryption and with features like Double VPN, DNS-leak protection, Onion Over VPN and zero logs. For any issues with the service, they offer a highly responsive 24-7 support team for quick results.
Pros: 1000+ servers, P2P-friendly, 10 connections
Cons: Not ideal for novices
IPVanish VPN comes recommended by the likes of Mashable and for good reason – it’s a decent service. It has more than 1300 servers in almost 80 worldwide locations, making it flexible for anyone at home or on the move. Just like NordVPN, it also comes with unlimited server switching and bandwidth for maximum usage. And for anyone not satisfied with the service, there’s a seven-day money-back guarantee.
IPVanish uses 256-bit AES to encrypt traffic, and they also offer multiple protocols, like IKEv2, OpenVPN and L2TP/IPsec. Just like all other good providers, it doesn’t log any traffic, but IPVanish offers a staggering number of connections – up to 10 at once.
Pros: Simple to use, P2P-friendly
Cons: Security tools often unreliable
Covering more than 140 countries with over 2000 servers, PureVPN is a suitable option for pretty much anyone. Unlike a lot of other providers, PureVPN owns and operates its own servers without the involvement of third parties, so there’s no need to worry about your speed being reduced. While some might not offer all security protocols or provide support for all of them, PureVPN does. It uses Ozone technology, a server-level antivirus and ad-blocker, to block malicious sites and maintain a user’s ideal browsing experience.
PureVPN is open to P2P sharing and offers unlimited bandwidth on servers that are optimized for buffer-free streaming. It also comes with a 31-day money-back guarantee.
Pros: No logs, Worldwide server distribution
Cons: Pricey, Geo-spoofing doesn’t always work
For anyone looking to access geo-restricted content then CyberGhost is the right choice. It has over 4700 servers in 60 popular countries for entertainment and uses ad-blocking technology to ensure live matches and TV shows go undisturbed. Their VPNs are available on all devices and platforms, not just iOS, and come with up to seven simultaneous connections. They’re also growing their infrastructure and will soon be operating their own datacenters.
For keeping its users secure, CyberGhost doesn’t keep logs and has optimized servers with the highest level of encryption available. Using 256-bit AES, it ensures that its users and their sensitive data stay private in public Wi-Fi spaces.
Pros: P2P-friendly, Own infrastructure
Cons: Retains some data
Just like PureVPN, VyprVPN runs its own infrastructure too, and is constantly expanding it. More than two-million people worldwide trust it for its stance on censorship, high-speed streaming and worldwide server network. It has more than 700 servers in over 70 countries worldwide, making it a good choice for streaming and geo-spoofing. All Vypr’s servers are optimized to offer the best streaming experience, and users get unlimited bandwidth on up to five different devices at once.
Alongside 256-bit AES encryption, VyprVPN employs exclusive DNS and censorship technologies, public Wi-Fi protection features and an automatic kill switch. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available for anyone who changes their mind.
Pros: 1000+ servers, Simple-to-use
Cons: Retains some data, Pricey
With over 1000 servers and more than 290 worldwide locations, Hide My Ass! gives users plenty of opportunity to hide their own. Like some of the others mentioned, many of its servers are optimized for both streaming and torrenting. Their military-grade encryption, or ‘donkey-grade’ as explained on their website, means users can bank and use their passwords online without worry of hackers interfering.
Hide My Ass! comes with up to five simultaneous devices and access to their 24-7 support team should any questions or unlikely issues arise.
Pros: Based in British Virgin Islands, Privacy committed
Though one of the more expensive providers featured in the list, ExpressVPN is one of the best services available. It has more than 3000 servers in almost 100 different countries and its award-winning software keeps iOS users anonymous. As it’s based in the British Virgin Islands, a region with relaxed copyright and data-retention laws, users don’t need to worry about their data being passed on to any authorities.
ExpressVPN uses AES-256, the best encryption available, along with zero-knowledge DNS, a network-lock kill switch and split tunneling. It also offers 24-7 live-chat support and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Pros: Business VPN, Fast streaming
Cons: Some servers can be slow
Ivacy VPN offers their users total anonymity and security in public Wi-Fi zones with numerous features. It uses 256-bit encryption, a dedicated IP, automatic kill switch and Secure DNS, as well as plenty of others. The option of multiple protocols allows for even further security too.
Anyone that opts for Ivacy VPN has access to a network spread across 100 locations and 1000 servers, which is perfect for streaming and avoiding ISP throttling. It supports all devices and even games consoles, with up to five logins per subscription.
Pros: Good speeds
Cons: Some logs, Limited torrenting
Headquartered in Tel Aviv, SaferVPN comes with an easy-to-use interface and a server network over 34 different countries. It offers rapid connection speeds with approximately 700 servers, all of which are managed in-house with no third-party involvement.
As for security, SaferVPN uses the same 256-bit encryption as all other decent VPNs, but it also comes with automatic Wi-Fi security for anyone using public connections. It comes with multiple protocols and anonymous payment for enhanced encryption, and anyone confused with the service can use their 24-7 customer support or step-by-step guides for simple troubleshooting.
Pros: Unblocks various banned sites
Cons: Vague on privacy, small network
Russia-based RusVPN is a bit smaller than its competitors, with only 330+ servers in 30 countries, but it claims to unblock sites like Reddit and even Netflix. It uses solid encryption and features like the kill switch to make sure anyone on their network remains untraceable.
RusVPN has a well-designed interface that’s simple to use on any device, especially iOS. It can be used on all recent iPhones, starting from the 5s, and it also comes with a seven-day free trial.
How to Setup Your VPN on Your iOS Device?
iOS users are fortunate in that Apple makes it easy to set up a VPN. All the popular VPN apps offering PPTP, Cisco IPSec protocols, L2TP/IPSec are already integrated into Apple's software. More secure options like OpenVPN require third-party apps.
Downloading and installing these apps requires inputting personal information. You will be required to grant permission to the app for the VPN configuration on your smartphone or tablet. And Touch ID is needed to authorize changes to the VPN settings.
Getting started with VPN on your iPhone:
- Register and sign in to your VPN account. Give your iPhone permission to add a VPN by clicking Allow.
- Next, click Settings - General - VPN.
- Select your preferred VPN from the list and click ‘switch on’. You can also turn off the VPN in the same way.
If you wish to avoid third-party apps altogether, there is a more complex manual procedure you can perform. This requires all your setup information including your username/password, remote ID, and the server.
Once you have subscribed to VPN provider all of this information readily available to you. Next, follow these steps:
- Launch Settings - General - VPN - Add VPN Configuration.
- Click Type. Select the appropriate protocol: IKEv2, IPSec or L2TP.
- Choose your VPN type and click Add Configuration in the top left corner.
- Now Enter Your VPN Information. This includes Description (name of provider) Server Location, and Remote ID.
- Verify your Authentication Credentials.
- Click Done.
- To disable VPN, Navigate to Settings - VPN - Turn off
Before iOS 8 launched, VPNs on iPads and iPhones turned off when the device was put into sleep mode. Fortunately, now all devices with their screen turned off are still automatically connected to a VPN.
It doesn't really matter which method you use to set up your VPN, provided you are connected to a reliable VPN network. It is advisable not to use just any free VPN as their security features are sketchy at best. Most of them offer substandard service, poor privacy and they will leak your information.
If you are uncertain about which VPN to use, try a premium VPN service with a free trial. VPNs routinely offer money back guarantees which is a great way to test their services (connection speeds, reliability, functionality) at zero cost to yourself.
Summary of iOS VPNs
Apple devices are generally regarded as the creme de la creme of personal computers, smartphones, tablets, and wearable technology. Given their cost, it comes as no surprise that users want to protect the contents of their iOS devices with the best possible security.
The VPN providers listed above are highly rated by users and industry aficionados. Now, it's possible to use a VPN to protect your iPhone and iPad at the click of a button. VPNs for iOS devices guard against prying eyes, cybercriminals, government agencies, and other bad actors. VPNs truly offer an effective line of defense against threats for Apple users.
What are your thoughts on VPNs for iOS devices? What experiences have you had with malware, adware, tracking or privacy issues on Apple? Feel free to share your thoughts with our community.