Below, we’ve listed a detailed explanation of the attributes we analyze when rating the best VPNs for iPhone. You’ll also see the weighting of each attribute:
1. iOS App: 25%
Minimum Requirement: Native app for iPhone and an optimized app for iPad.
We Recommend: An easy-to-use app for iPhone and iPad with support for widgets and Siri Shortcuts.
For a VPN to be great on iOS, it needs to integrate well with Apple’s system-level features.
When evaluating the best iOS VPN apps, we looked for VPNs that had support for Siri Shortcuts, iOS widgets, and offered payment through the iOS App Store.
We also verified all the VPNs we recommend can be easily used by beginners and by experienced VPN users.
An iOS app must be easily downloadable through the App Store, have a large connect button, and settings easy to configure.
2. Apple System Integration: 20%
Minimum Requirement: Has native apps for macOS.
We Recommend: Mac app available on the App Store and a free Smart DNS tool for Apple TV.
We test every VPN on the full range of Apple devices. In total, we test the VPNs using an iPhone 14 Pro, an iPad Air, a 27-inch Mac, and an Apple TV 4K.
As well as iPhone and iPad, we analyze each VPN’s app on macOS and check whether it includes Smart DNS functionality for use on Apple TV.
We give preference to VPNs compatible with the wider Apple ecosystem. In particular, we look at whether the VPN service’s Mac app is available on the Mac App Store, whether it can run on Apple’s M1 chip, and how good its Smart DNS tool is.
3. Privacy & Logging Policy: 15%
Minimum Requirement: Collects only aggregated and anonymized data.
We Recommend: Collects no data.
Without a privacy-first logging policy, your web activity may be stored and passed onto third parties. In practice, this nullifies a primary reason for using a VPN.
This is especially true for free iOS VPNs, where many rely on selling user data to cover running costs. For example, we discovered popular VPNs like Hola, Larva, and SkyVPN, all logged user IP addresses.
Even for the free services on this page, we only recommend the ones that retain the absolute amount of logs. For example, this includes aggregated connection timestamp data. The best premium VPNs are true ‘no logs’, meaning they don’t collect any user data at all.
4. Speed: 15%
Minimum Requirement: Average download speeds above 70Mbps.
We Recommend: Download speeds of at least 80Mbps and server connections under 3 seconds.
Fast speeds are an essential feature of VPN services, especially when connecting to patchy and slow mobile data networks.
Without a fast VPN, your internet will often be unusable even for basic web activities.
We run weekly speed tests on our test iPhone and iPad to server locations across five continents. We then calculate the average speed loss on our 100Mbps internet connection. The smaller the speed loss, the higher we rate the VPN.
In addition to raw download speeds, we measure how long it takes for the app to connect to a VPN server.
On your iPhone, you’re likely to switch between multiple networks every day. It’s therefore crucial the VPN protocol connects instantly as you change networks, otherwise, you may compromise your browsing activity or security.
5. Streaming: 15%
Minimum Requirement: Works with US Netflix and BBC iPlayer.
We Recommend: Works with many Netflix libraries, BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video.
Using a VPN on your iPhone will let you mask your IP address and watch content on geo-blocked streaming apps.
We test every iPhone VPN with popular content platforms, including Netflix, BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video.
We track how each VPN performs over time, with results spanning multiple years. This means we know how consistently the VPN works with each streaming app, not just that it worked at a single point in time.
The best VPNs for iPhone unblock multiple Netflix regions, along with many more popular streaming apps. The worse-performing VPNs only work with US Netflix.
6. Security & Technical Features: 10%
Minimum Requirement: AES-256, OpenVPN, leak protection, and a VPN kill switch.
We Recommend: AES-256, WireGuard, leak protection, and a VPN kill switch using firewall rules.
Many VPN apps on iOS don’t have sufficient security and encryption features. For example, Hola VPN doesn’t have any encryption at all, and Touch VPN leaked our DNS and IP address.
Using a VPN with high encryption secures unsafe public WiFi networks, and safely hides your web activity from your ISP.
To secure and anonymize your web activity on your iPhone, the VPNs we selected use gold-standard AES-256 encryption, have built-in DNS and IP leak protection, and use private DNS servers.
To verify these security features are as robust as the VPN services claim, we perform tests using Wireshark, a packet-capturing software. If we spot any unencrypted traffic, we downgrade the VPN severely.
Data Cap Penalty: Up to 50% Reduction
Almost all free VPNs come with a data cap. Like with most limitations of free VPNs, this is imposed to encourage you to upgrade to a premium subscription.
If you choose an iPhone VPN we recommend that has a data cap then you’re going to be restricted in terms of just how often you can use it, and what for.
If you do a lot of streaming on the go, or if you want to leave your VPN connected while using the WiFi on a long train journey or flight, then a small data cap can be a serious inconvenience.
That’s why we apply a penalty to the VPN’s final overall rating for iPhone based on its data cap:
- 10GB per month: -20% to the overall rating
- 500MB per day: -25% to the overall rating
- 5GB per month: -30% to the overall rating
- 1GB per month: -35% to the overall rating
- 200MB per day: -40% to the overall rating
- 500MB per month: -50% to the overall rating