If you’re one of the two billion-plus people with an Android smartphone, you need to be using a VPN.
Why is a VPN so important on Android?
Google’s Android mobile operating system is powerful and complex, but it doesn’t protect against certain major security and privacy risks. Using a VPN does.
Without a VPN, your ISP, carrier, government, and total strangers can all be monitoring you online.
Hackers can also take advantage of weak public WiFi hotspots to steal your personal information.
But don’t worry. The best Android VPNs will keep you safe and private while browsing, messaging, gaming, and more.
They will also get past geo-blocks so you can access all the content you want without restrictions.
Don’t forget, you can also use these VPNs on Microsoft Windows, Apple MacOS, and iOS devices.
But before we jump into our in-depth look of the best VPNs for Android, here’s a sneak peek of the top three:
The Most Important Factors We Look for in a VPN for Android
- Easy to use Android VPN apps
- Reliable & fast VPN speeds
- Privacy-focused logging policies & no IP/DNS leaks
- Advanced privacy & security features
- Works with Netflix & other popular streaming sites
- Wide range of VPN server locations
Wondering why you should trust our reviews? Take a look at How We Test VPNs
See More Information on the 5 Best VPN Apps for Android
What’s the Best VPN for Android?
The best VPN for Android is ExpressVPN, which is also our overall top-rated VPN.
ExpressVPN is a fantastic choice for Android users because of its simple but powerful custom VPN app for Android devices, which is sure to keep you safe online.
It’s also fast, private, and works with both Netflix and torrenting.
But ExpressVPN isn’t the only great VPN for Android users – all of our top picks are.
Even better, all of our VPN recommendations above will work with various versions of the Android OS: Pie, Oreo, Nougat, Marshmallow, and more.
Can You Get a Free VPN for Android?
All of the above VPNs come at a cost, so you might be asking: are there any free VPNs for Android?
There are! Loads, in fact.
But not all of them are good (or safe).
If you’re not ready to pay for a VPN and want to try one out, you can take a look at our top recommended free VPNs for Android here.
Windscribe is the best free VPN for Android – it’s safe, secure, and fast. Like many free VPNs it does come with a data cap, though.
Are Free VPNs Safe to Use on Android?
Many free VPNs for mobile devices, including Android, aren’t safe. Some of them are downright dangerous.
There are free VPNs that sell on your personal data to targeted advertisers, and some might even harm or damage your phone software due to being infested with malware.
However, there are a handful of secure free VPN apps that can protect your Android smartphone (as we talked about above).
Stick with our VPN recommendations and your personal data will remain private and secure.
What’s the Fastest VPN for Android?
The fastest VPN for Android is ExpressVPN – it’s been the speediest and most consistent VPN that we’ve tested to date.
Don’t believe us?
The test results speak for themselves.
Here’s our internet speeds with no VPN:
And here they are when we connect to the nearest ExpressVPN server:
That’s a speed drop of just 17% – more than fast enough to do all the things you do online without a VPN, and you’ll be far safer with it.
Some VPNs may be faster than ExpressVPN on some VPN servers but ExpressVPN provides more reliability – over both long and short distance connections – than any other VPN we’ve seen.
Do I Really Need a VPN on My Android?
Whether you’re just casually browsing or accessing sensitive information, it’s super important to use a quality VPN on your Android phone (and all other internet-connected devices).
In many countries the government snoops on its citizens’ online activities and some ISPs sell on information about users’ browsing habits to advertisers.
A VPN can protect you against this invasion of your privacy.
Even if you don’t care about that, we still recommend using a VPN.
VPNs can protect you against malicious hackers who take advantage of the weak security used by public WiFi hotspots in order to steal your valuable and private information.
And then there’s the less scary but equally important side of VPNs.
They let you unlock restricted content all over the world.
Whether you’re in a country that highly censors the internet – if you are then you should read our guide to the best VPNs for China – or looking to watch the latest shows on US Netflix, a VPN can help you to access that content.
In short, using a VPN on your Android smartphone is not only useful but essential.
How to Install, Set Up and Use a VPN On Your Android Phone
You’ve decided which VPN service you like the look of (thanks to our recommendations), so how exactly do you get this VPN onto your Android smartphone?
It’s super easy.
1. Purchase a VPN subscription.
2. Go onto the Google Play Store on your device, search for the VPN you’ve subscribed to, and download the app.
3. Log in with your VPN credentials.
If your VPN doesn’t have a custom app for Android you can set it up manually, but we’d recommend getting a VPN that includes a native Android app – all of our recommendations above do.
If you get stuck you can check out our guide to installing a VPN on Android or contact your VPN service’s customer support.
Once you’ve installed VPN on your Android phone there are a few settings you’ll need to play with to make your connection as safe as possible.
1. Be sure to enable the VPN kill switch and IP leak protection – if your VPN service offers it – as these features will keep your personal data secure and private.
2. Take a look at the VPN protocol. If your VPN provides a choice select OpenVPN as it provides the best balance of performance and privacy, however most providers have other options to choose from. Avoid PPTP.
3. Now you need to choose which VPN server location you want to connect to.
Make sure to choose the closest possible VPN server to your physical location in order to get the best speeds you can.
Many providers have an automatic setting that does this for you, but if not, simply select one in the nearest city or same country.
Alternatively, if you want to view location-specific content, select the appropriate country or city VPN server.
Your VPN is now set up and ready to go, so how do you actually turn it on on your Android device?
Well, more often than not it’s as simple as tapping the button that says ‘Connect’.
You may be asked to accept a VPN connection request like this:
Once connected, the VPN app will run in the background, leaving you to carry on using your Android device as normal.
Can I Use a VPN on Android TV?
VPNs aren’t just for your Android smartphone – you can install them on your Android TV, too!
Some VPNs come with a dedicated Android TV app – like ExpressVPN and NordVPN – and others work with Android TV by connecting the device to a configured router.
If your VPN comes with a custom VPN app for Android TV the installation process is much the same as the process for your phone.
Just download the app from the Google Play Store and set it up as you would on your phone.
If your VPN doesn’t come with a dedicated app for Android TV you can still protect your device by configuring a supported router.
Once you’ve set up your VPN on the router all internet-connected devices in your home – including your Android TV – will benefit from VPN encryption and your IP address will stay hidden.
How to Change Your Android’s IP Address
Changing your Android device’s IP address is really simple.
Just connect to a VPN server and voilà, your true IP address is hidden and a new one has taken its place.
If you want a geo-specific IP address just connect to a VPN server located in that country or city.
You can check that the VPN has successfully changed your IP address by running a leak test on browserleaks.com.
How to Set Up a VPN Kill Switch Manually on Android
Not many VPN services include a built-in kill switch for their Android apps, but there is a way to enable a similar security feature within the Android device settings.
You’ll need to be running Android Version 8 or higher.
First you’ll need to accept the VPN connection request for your chosen VPN service, whether that pops up during initial setup or after you tap ‘Connect’.
Now, go into your phone’s connection settings and look for VPN settings (this may be within advanced settings).
Tap on the cog symbol next to the VPN service name and logo, and toggle on ‘Always-on VPN’ and then ‘Block connections without VPN’.
Finally, tap ‘Turn On’ when the ‘Require VPN connection?’ message pops up.
This should block internet traffic when the VPN is not connected.
Beware, though, even if you choose to disconnect from the VPN you won’t be able to access the internet until you disable the ‘Block connections without VPN setting’.
You also won’t be able to take advantage of any split tunneling features that your VPN app may have when this setting is enabled.
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