Avira is well-known for its anti-virus software, but it ventured into the world of VPNs in 2016 with the introduction of Avira Phantom VPN.
This self-proclaimed ‘ultra-secure’ VPN service has received mixed reviews in the past, but what we really want to know is:
- Is Avira Phantom VPN safe?
- Is it good for torrenting?
- Will Avira VPN work in China?
- Does it unlock Netflix?
- Is there a free version of Avira Phantom?
We answer these important questions, as well as many others, in our in-depth review of Avira’s VPN service.
Avira Phantom Pros & Cons
Avira Phantom Key Summary
|Data Cap||Speed||Logging Policy||Data Leaks||Jurisdiction||Servers||IP Addresses||Countries||US Netflix||Torrenting||Works in China||Support||Cheapest Price||Official Website|
|Anonymous Server Usage Data||Anonymous Server Usage Data|
|Germany (14-Eyes Member)||Germany (14-Eyes Member)|
|Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
|Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
|24/7 Live Chat||Online Resources Only|
|$6.50/mo over 12 Months||N/A|
Keep reading to find out what we really thought, starting with the results of our hands-on VPN speed tests.
Who is Avira Phantom?
About & Logging
Avira was founded in 2006, but its anti-virus software was developed back in 1986 by its predecessor, H+BEDV Datentechnik GmbH. Avira launched Avira Phantom VPN in 2016.
Avira’s headquarters are located in Tettnang, Germany, “by the shores of Lake Constance.” It also has offices in China, the Netherlands, Romania, and the US.
Usually, Germany wouldn’t be an ideal jurisdiction for a VPN service, as it falls under EU data retention laws and is also part of the 14 Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance. However, Avira Phantom’s very minimal logging policy means this isn’t too much of a concern.
We eventually found it after some digging. The only information Avira Phantom collects is:
- Total amount of bandwidth consumed
- Amount of time a user is online
- Whether the account is Free or Premium
Avira Phantom VPN does not log or monitor your browsing activity, IP address, or the VPN server you connect to, meaning there’s no way of it tracking your online activity back to you.
You can also choose to send Avira your diagnostic data to help with product improvements, however this is totally optional and can be switched off in the settings menu of the VPN app.
Pretty quick on same-country connections
Speed & Reliability
Avira Phantom’s speeds have really improved in recent months, especially if you’re planning on connecting to a server in the same country as your physical location.
Avira VPN is still struggling over longer distances though, unable to compete with our fastest VPN services on connections from the UK to the US and Asia.
It will still be more than quick enough for most everyday users, even if you’re planning on using the VPN on multiple devices at the same time.
Local Speed Test Results
Before using Avira Phantom:
When connected to Avira Phantom:
Avira VPN’s latency was surprisingly low, making it a solid choice for keen gamers – we recorded around 4ms latency connecting to its UK server (we test from London). Good same-country upload speeds mean it’s not too bad for torrenting either.
Avira isn’t the most reliable VPN service we’ve seen – we still experienced very few connection drops and speeds did vary more between tests.
Connecting out to various worldwide locations from the UK, these are the average speeds we experienced:
- USA: 19Mbps (download) & 32Mbps (upload)
- Germany: 64Mbps (download) & 33Mbps (upload)
- Singapore: 11Mbps (download) & 10Mbps (upload)
- Australia: 9Mbps (download) & 11Mbps (upload)
Check out our speed testing methodology to find out more about the ins-and-outs of our manual speed tests.
46 cities spread over 34 countries
Avira VPN has a limited server network covering only 34 countries.
We were also unable to find out exactly how many individual servers and IP addresses Avira maintains. We asked Avira for more information, but they refused to disclose any specific details. This likely means the overall number of servers and IP addresses is small, which can lead to slower speeds at busy times.
Avira VPN’s server coverage is best in Europe, which accounts for 24 of its total locations. There’s four server locations in Asia (Hong Kong, India, Japan, and Singapore), but only one in South America (Chile), and none at all in Africa.
The only two countries with city-level choice are Australia (Melbourne and Sydney) and the US. US-based users can choose from Avira Phantom servers in 12 different cities, including:
- Las Vegas
- Los Angeles
- New York City
- San Francisco
- Washington DC
It’s quite refreshing to see this much city-specific choice in a small server network, however we would have traded this to see Avira Phantom serve a wider range of countries.
Not good for streaming or torrenting
Streaming & Torrenting
If you’re looking for quick, one-click access to major streaming services, Avira Phantom isn’t the right VPN service for you.
It hasn’t been possible to stream Netflix through any of Avira’s US-based locations for a while now, and as there are no optimized streaming servers, it’s a case of waiting to see if any of these will begin working with the service again.
It’s the same story with BBC iPlayer, which Avira Phantom’s sole UK server has never been able to unblock ever since we first tested Avira VPN months and months ago.
But, there are still a handful of VPNs that work reliably with BBC iPlayer if this is a dealbreaker for you.
It’s difficult to know whether or not Avira Phantom is a good choice for torrenting as there’s no information about P2P activity on its website.
It seems to depend on the laws of the country in which the VPN server is located.
Avira’s minimal logging policy and VPN kill switch are plus points for P2P activity, though.
Until Avira provides a list of P2P-friendly servers, we suggest you use one of these VPNs for torrenting instead.
Won’t work for users in China
Judging by comments on its online forums, it looks like Avira Phantom VPN isn’t working in China and hasn’t been an effective solution in the country for quite some time now.
Not only does Avira not have any additional obfuscation tools to hide your VPN connection, the apps also use the OpenVPN protocol, which is very easy for censors to detect and block, especially given China’s unrelenting crackdown on VPN providers.
We also can’t recommend Avira Phantom for other high-censorship countries, such as Turkey or Iran, due to its lack of advanced privacy features. Its very limited VPN server network means you are likely to suffer from slow speeds, too.
Compatible with all major platforms - but not routers
Platforms & Devices
Avira Phantom provides the usual range of custom VPN apps for various devices, including:
- Microsoft Windows
Unlike many other VPN services, Avira isn’t compatible with any routers, meaning you have to download the VPN software onto each of your devices.
At least, Avira allows you to use the VPN on an unlimited number of devices at the same time.
Games Consoles & Streaming Devices
It isn’t possible to use Avira Phantom on games consoles or streaming devices as it isn’t compatible with any model of router. If your Smart TV runs on an Android operating system you could try downloading Avira’s Android app, but there’s no guarantee it will work.
Your only other option would be to piggyback off a VPN connection from another device running the Avira Phantom app, such as a laptop or smartphone.
Avira Phantom has recently introduced a browser extension for Google Chrome.
Unlike the proxy extensions many other VPN services provide, this is a true VPN extension that uses the same level of encryption (AES-256) as the desktop client.
If you’re Firefox user, why not see our recommended VPN addons instead.
It’s great for masking your IP address but unfortunately it’s not a complete substitute for the desktop VPN app, as it doesn’t have any of its advanced privacy features (like the VPN kill switch).
Secure VPN service lacking in advanced settings
Encryption & Security
DNS Leak Blocking
VPN Kill Switch
Please see our VPN Glossary if these terms confuse you and would like to learn more.
Even though Avira Phantom doesn’t provide the same amount of advanced privacy settings as some of our top-tier VPN services, it will still keep you safe online.
All of Avira Phantom’s custom VPN apps run on OpenVPN, the most secure connection protocol, apart from iOS devices, which use the (still very secure) IKEv2. Encryption on all of Avira’s apps is via ‘unhackable’ cipher AES-256.
Avira Phantom’s VPN kill switch is a useful feature, as it protects your IP address should the VPN connection drop for any reason. Avira also operates its own DNS servers rather than renting them from third parties, and protects you against DNS leaks, too.
Cluttered apps with some usability flaws
Ease of Use
How to Install & Set Up Avira Phantom
Avira Phantom is a very simple one-button VPN that’s almost identical on both desktop and mobile. Avira’s main screen only displays an on/off button and your current virtual location – we would like to see some more connection information here.
Avira really falls down when it comes to advanced features – or rather its lack of them.
Aside from a VPN kill switch and the option to automatically secure untrusted WiFi networks, there are no advanced settings at all, putting Avira well behind its rivals in terms of configurable options.
The Avira Phantom apps also lack any protocol options, and even fails to inform you what protocol you are using. If we didn’t know that Phantom was based on OpenVPN, which Avira confirmed to us, we wouldn’t feel very confident in its security.
If you’re looking for a VPN with uncluttered and accessible software, Avira is a great choice. However if you like having lots of advanced features to choose from, you’re better off looking elsewhere.
24/7 live chat makes up for limited resources
Unfortunately, Avira Phantom limits personalized customer support to paying users only, meaning free users or potential customers won’t be able to take advantage. Thankfully email responses were quick and professional, although clearly it’s company policy not to reveal too many details about Avira’s VPN server network.
The knowledge base on Avira’s website is pretty limited, with the main feature being a list of a few simple FAQs. However we have to admit that when a product is this simple, there’s a limit to the amount of resources that can be created.
Avira has recently introduced a handful of video tutorials to the site, which are very helpful and informative. The ‘chat bot’ is another recent addition by Avira, but all it ever seemed to do was redirect us to the FAQs or prompt us to leave a message for the customer support team.
Longest plan is excellent value for money
Avira Phantom Coupon
Avira Phantom Pricing Plan
Avira Phantom only offers two different standard pricing plans – they both offer the same features but the longer you sign up for, the less you pay each month.
A single month is the most expensive option at $10 and is reduced by 35% to a reasonable $6.50 if you commit to a 12-month plan.
It also offers a mobile only plan, charged at $5.99 per month.
All plans have 30-day money-back guarantee
Payment & Refund Options
Avira offers a 30-day money-back guarantee for those who aren’t satisfied with their purchase, or 14 days for monthly subscribers. This is a genuine ‘no questions asked’ guarantee with no restrictions or fair usage policies, simply contact cleverbridge (Avira’s billing partner) and it will process your refund.
If you don’t want to commit to a paid plan right away, Avira Phantom also offers a free trial that you can use for as long as you like. This does give you an idea of what Avira is like, but you are limited to a monthly data limit of 500MB and miss out on some key privacy features.
We love that you don’t have to provide any personal details to access the free service, however Avira offers to double your monthly data allowance if you provide your email address.
Avira Phantom doesn’t offer a very large range of payment options, particularly in comparison to top-tier VPN providers. It does accept most major credit and debit cards, as well as PayPal, but there is no option to pay using cryptocurrencies or international methods.
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I bought the Avira VPN along with the anti-virus and I'm disappointed, it's just too glitchy and has reverted to the free version many times. It's just been a real pain and I won't touch it once my year's subscription is up. There is even censorship, it blocks a controversial website at least from the Uk server.