Intrusive logging policy and worrying links to China
Logging & Jurisdiction
SuperVPN has a very basic, poorly written logging policy which we don't trust. Even taken at its word the service logs IP addresses and stores them in the privacy unfreindly US.
On the Google Play Store it has fairly positive reviews, and a legitimate-looking publisher: at first glance it looks like a free VPN you could trust.
But if you dig a little further, things start to get worrying.
There is no SuperSoftTech, the app’s ‘developer’ on the Google Play Store, registered in Singapore, where the developer claimed to be located. It didn’t have a website, either.
Despite a huge number of reviews on the Google Play Store, there is also almost no talk of the app elsewhere online.
The most important section of the policy is the following:
While the VPN doesn’t monitor traffic, it does monitor IP addresses against an IP blacklist. This isn’t standard practice, or a standard part of VPN logging policies. It feels like an excuse for recording IP addresses, rather than a necessary procedure.
Also, and perhaps in an attempt to appear legitimate, the policy refers to the Data Protection Act 1998, an outdated UK law which was replaced in 2018.
Another concerning detail is a reference to where SuperVPN stores user data:
This is the kind of thing which sets off alarm bells. What data does SuperVPN collect? And why is it storing such data in the privacy-unfriendly US and UK?
You don’t need an email address or an account to use SuperVPN, so it is hard to imagine any amount of information about users being necessary to run the service.
Even more worrying, when you first install SuperVPN it asks for permission to access your phone and your stored files and media.
Even with the best encryption, when you use a VPN you entrust your service with your personal information and data. It is really important that you can trust your VPN, and SuperVPN has done absolutely nothing to earn our trust.
SuperVPN could excel in all our other criteria (it doesn’t) and we would still not recommend it.
Strong links to China
SuperVPN FreeVPN Client is one of many free VPNs which look too good to be true. It isn’t even the only SuperVPN on the Google Play Store.
There is also “Super VPN – Best Free Proxy”, “SuperVPN 2018 – Secure, Unlimited VPN Proxy” and “SuperVPN Free VPN for Countries – Secure Proxy” among countless others.
From this point on we’re going to refer to SuperVPN FreeVPN Client as just SuperVPN to keep things simple – but be sure not to confuse it for any of those alternatives.
For an app that has over 50 million downloads, there is a concerning lack of information available about SuperSoftTech – the supposed developer of SuperVPN.
A Google search for the support email, email@example.com, reveals the actual developer to be a man named Jinrong Zheng, who is also responsible for (the now removed) LinkVPN on iOS.
Some more exploring reveals multiple addresses for Zheng, including one in Beijing, China.
This is a very opaque setup. It means we have no concrete idea which jurisdiction SuperVPN is operating out of, and which governments or companies could be trawling through your data.
Surprisingly very fast Android VPN app
Speed & Reliability
Surprisingly, SuperVPN Free is pretty fast in our tests. That doesn't mean you should use it, though.
There’s no denying it – SuperVPN performs very well in our speed tests, especially for a free VPN.
Because SuperVPN is only available on Android, these tests have been carried out on mobile and are not directly comparable to the bulk of our standard 100Mbps tests. The app still performs very well, though.
Local Speed Test results before using SuperVPN Free VPN Client:
- Download Speed: 45.7Mbps
- Upload Speed: 44.3Mbps
- Ping: 4ms
Local Speed Test results with SuperVPN Free VPN Client:
Download speed loss when SuperVPN Free VPN Client is running: 16%
We’ve also tested SuperVPN’s global connection speeds (from our office in the UK), here’s an idea of what you can expect:
- USA: 38.1Mbps (download) & 45.4Mbps (upload)
- Germany: 33.2Mbps (download) & 40.4Mbps (upload)
- Singapore: 6.2Mbps (download) & 9.5Mbps (upload)
Over long distance connections download speeds drop significantly. The two Asian server locations – Japan and Singapore – achieved 5.8Mbps and 6.2Mbps respectively.
Upload speeds remained strong, though, up in the high 30Mbps range for both server locations.
Basic server coverage, no transparency
SuperVPN has a basic spread of servers across the US, Europe and Asia. This is fairly standard for a free VPN, and doesn't compete with paid providers.
The number of locations on offer in the free version of the app has recently expanded. You now have the choice of France, the USA, Canada, the Netherlands, the UK, Germany, Singapore, and Japan (Hong Kong is reserved for the ‘VIP’ version of the app).
There is no disclosed number of IP addresses or servers, so you may experience server congestion at peak times. With so many users SuperVPN should have a large global infrastructure but, like many aspects of this app, there is no information available about it.
If you’re keen to get a US IP address, we advise you to use one of these US-optimized free VPNs. They’re safer, faster and have specific US city-level servers.
Only streams BBC iPlayer, not US Netflix
SuperVPN works with BBC iPlayer, but not with any premium streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime or Disney+.
We were surprised to find that SuperVPN does work to unlock BBC iPlayer on its UK server.
However, Netflix doesn’t work on any server. Try using one of the VPNs in our list of the top free Netflix VPNs, which all stream well.
Speeds are fast enough for HD streaming, too, which is rare for a free app. We don’t think you should download SuperVPN, but if you were to do so it would make a half-decent VPN for streaming.
Fast but untrustworthy
As elsewhere, SuperVPN was pretty fast in our streaming speed tests. It's bad logging practices and untrustworthy management make it a poor choice for torrenting, though.
The iOS VPN app from SuperVPN’s developer, LinkVPN, has a strict no P2P rule, so we would have expected torrenters to find themselves blocked from SuperVPN, too. When we tested it for torrenting, though, we found that it worked quickly, with around a 4% speed drop.
This doesn’t mean it’s safe to use, though.
No obfuscation tools to work in highly-censored locations
Don't expect SuperVPN to work in censored countries, especially not in China.
We’ve seen some reviews on the Google Play Store which claim SuperVPN works in China, but these are highly doubtful as there is no obfuscation technology in place.
We’ve seen lots of complaints that the app doesn’t work in Iran, too.
If you’re travelling to or living in a high-censorship country, we recommend you use PrivateVPN instead.
Only works on Android smartphones
This is an Android only app. If you want a VPN for any other platform look elsewhere.
SuperVPN is Android only. If you want a VPN for any other system you will need to look elsewhere.
Because SuperVPN is Android only, you won’t be able to find it on any games consoles or as a browser extension. You also won’t be able to install it on a router.
Untrustworthy practices are a red flag
Security & Features
SuperVPN is an unsafe app which totally lacks transparency. We havn't seen it leaking IP or DNS information, though.
Neither the SuperVPN app nor its Google Play Store listing ever mention what form of encryption or VPN protocol are being used – which is a big concern.
With some back-end investigation we have identified that the app uses a version of the open-source strongSwan VPN client and the IKEv2 protocol.
Running strongSwan has clearly served SuperVPN well. It passed our IP and DNS leak tests with flying colours, and we can confirm it is properly encrypted – although we can’t be certain which kind of encryption is in use – so we can confirm that SuperVPN is not just a proxy masquerading as a VPN.
But even with a secure tunnel, your VPN potentially has access to all your data – so you are only secure if you can trust your VPN provider. The flipside to the open-source power of strongSwan is that it has been easy for SuperVPN to add in some additional APKs, essentially turning the app into adware.
They aren’t just annoying – the integrated Google ads represent a privacy vulnerability and undermine one of the key purposes of a VPN, by giving the tech giant an insight into your activity.
There is another, even more worrying area of vulnerability: the unnecessary permissions which SuperVPN has permission to access.
As we have previously mentioned, it is possible to refuse some of the worst of these permissions and still use the app, but being asked for them exposes the possibility that SuperVPN is gathering data from users which goes far beyond what is necessary.
The full list of permissions the app has access to is particularly disturbing. They include:
- Precise location (GPS and network-based)
- The ability to read, modify or delete files on USB storage
- Permission to view WiFi connections
- Permission to read phone status and identity
- Permission to change network connectivity
- The ability to prevent your device from sleeping
Whether or not you accept the requests for access to your phone and media, when you use the app you are giving SuperVPN access to pretty much everything on your phone, including personal information, your location, and your interests.
If you can stomach all this, a nice bonus is the ‘Smart Proxy’ feature – a fully functional split tunnel so you can keep some apps inside and others outside the VPN.
Intuitive app but adverts are frustrating
Ease of Use
Frustrating adverts wreck what is a relatively simple user interface.
How to Install & Set Up SuperVPN Free VPN Client
It may not be much of an achievement to make a VPN with almost no features and just eight locations easy to use, but SuperVPN has an intuitive app.
That said, the ads definitely hurt the experience and pop up at frustrating moments, increasing (most likely deliberately) the chance of accidental taps.
There are also lots of odd and misleading design choices scattered across the app.
The “VPN is ready: Continue” screen shows upon launch even when the VPN is active, which can be frustrating. You can’t select a new location until you’ve navigated past this page and disconnected, either.
There is also a confusing pop-up which appears on start up, asking you to disable battery optimization so that the app can run in the background.
This pop-up flashes regardless of the settings on your phone, and gives you directions which are not universal to all Android devices.
There is also a ‘VIP’ upgrade available, which gives access to an additional Hong Kong server. In order to upgrade, the app requires you to associate your Google Play Store account with your VPN account: yet another privacy red flag.
There is no customer support here
SuperVPN has an unmonitored support email it doesn't answer and nothing else. This is near to the worst customer support we've seen.
|No support available||Yes|
Don’t expect any customer support from SuperVPN.
There is a Gmail account on its Google Play Store listing, but we received no response when we emailed it.
Within the app itself there is an FAQ, which gives some basic troubleshooting guidance, but it’s nowhere near comprehensive enough to make up for the lack of actual customer service.
Avoid using SuperVPN at all costs
The Bottom Line
Emphatically: no. You must avoid using SuperVPN Free VPN Client.
Although it’s free to use, it’s not worth paying the real cost: your privacy and security.
You are potentially paying for this VPN twice. Firstly, by being bombarded with intrusive adverts, and secondly, with your valuable data.
If you use SuperVPN your data is in more danger than if you don’t use a VPN at all. It’s fast, but so are other VPNs – free and paid alike – which don’t jeopardize your data.
Additional research by Liam Mullally
Alternatives to SuperVPN Free VPN Client
The free VPNs which are worth your time are few and far between. Windscribe Free is an exception, offering a great service without dubious logging practices - albeit limited to 10GB a month and lacking some of the features of its premium version. Read Windscribe review
If you are willing to spend just a little each month you can get a lot from a value provider like Surfshark. This trustworthy provider offers fast speeds on all your devices (not just your Android handset) and works consistently with streaming services like Netflix and iPlayer. Read Surfshark review