Best VPN for iPhone and iPad 2021

Image: Daniel Romero via Unsplash

My iPhone offers fairly good connectivity, but tends to be crippled by the limitations imposed by my cellular carrier. Even though I have an unlimited data plan, using my phone as a hotspot is limited to a very short period of time before I start accumulating additional charges. When you travel and work a few hours each night in the lobby of a hotel or cafe, my so called unlimited hotspot service is not enough.

This meant that I had to rely on local Wi-Fi for my iPhone and iPad. Let me put it bluntly: using the Wi-Fi of a hotel, airport, school, or local cafe is terrifying. It’s unclear what’s monitoring traffic, and even though the hotel has encrypted Wi-Fi, you never know what’s working on that network. That’s why running a VPN is essential, and I’ve long recommended having a VPN service that works with both your iPhone and iPad – I tend to use both extensively when I am on the road.

In this article, we take a look at four VPN services we’ve come to know over the years that deliver strong iPhone and iPad clients and good performance. Let’s take a look at each.

4.6 App Store average, 219,000 ratings

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  • Simultaneous connections: 6
  • Immobilizer: Yes
  • Platforms: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, Android TV, Chrome, Firefox
  • Registration: None, except billing data
  • Countries: 59
  • Waiters: 5517
  • Trial / MBG: 30 days

Also: How does NordVPN work? More how to configure and use it

NordVPN is one of the most popular VPN deals on the iPhone App Store. Installation on the iPhone is painless and easy, and performance is predictable in all regions.

Also: My in-depth review of NordVPN

In our review, we liked that it offers capabilities beyond basic VPN, including support for P2P sharing, a service it calls Double VPN that does a second layer of encryption, Onion over VPN. which allows TOR capabilities over its VPN, and even a dedicated IP if you are trying to run a VPN that also serves as a server. It also supports all the usual platforms and a bunch of home network platforms. The company also offers NordVPN Teams, which provides centralized management and billing for a mobile workforce.

Also: My interview with NordVPN management on how they run their service

The performance tests were adequate, although the ping speeds were slow enough that I didn’t want to play a Twitch video game on the VPN. To be fair, most VPNs have pretty terrible ping speeds, so that’s not Nord’s own weakness. Overall a solid choice and with a 30 day money back guarantee, well worth a try.

4.6 App Store Average, 142.2K ratings

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  • Simultaneous connections: 5 or unlimited with the router application
  • Immobilizer: Yes
  • Platforms: Lots (see full list here)
  • Registration: No browsing logs, some connection logs
  • Countries: 94
  • Pitches: 160
  • Trial / MBG: 30 days

ExpressVPN supports iOS to iOS 12. Supported phones include iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max, iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max, iPhone SE (2nd generation), iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR, iPhone X, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone SE, iPhone 6, iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus. Supported iPads include iPad, iPad Pro, iPad Air, iPad Air 2, iPad Mini, iPad Mini 2, iPad Mini 3, iPad Mini 4

ExpressVPN is one of the most popular VPN providers, offering a wide range of platforms and protocols. In addition to iOS, the platforms include Windows, Mac, Linux, routers, Android, Chromebook, Kindle Fire, and even the Nook device. There are also browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox. Plus, ExpressVPN works with PlayStation, Apple TV, Xbox, Amazon Fire TV, and Nintendo Switch. There’s even a manual setup option for Chromecast, Roku, and Nvidia Switch.

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With 160 server locations in 94 countries, ExpressVPN has a massive VPN network across the internet. In CNET Reviewing the service, writer Rae Hodge reported that ExpressVPN lost less than 2% performance with the VPN enabled and using the OpenVPN protocol compared to a direct connection.

Although the company does not record browsing history or traffic destinations, it does record the dates of connection to the VPN service, the amount transferred, and the location of the VPN server. We would like to commend ExpressVPN for making this information very clear and easily accessible.

Exclusive offer: Get 3 additional months free.

4.5 App Store average, 77.2K ratings

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  • Simultaneous connections: Unlimited
  • Immobilizer: Yes
  • Platforms: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, Chrome, as well as routers, Fire Stick, and Kodi
  • Registration: None, except billing data
  • Waiters: 1,500
  • Pitches: 75
  • Trial / MBG: 30 days

IPVanish is a comprehensive, highly configurable product that promotes itself as a click-and-go solution. I think the company is selling short by doing this. A quick visit to its website shows a relatively generic VPN service, but that’s not the whole truth.

Also: My in-depth review of IPVanish

Its user interface offers a wide range of server selection options, including superb performance graphics. It also has a wide variety of protocols, so no matter what you connect to, you can know what to expect. The company also provides a great server list with good information on the current status. There are also a host of configuration options for the app itself.

IPVanish provides even more iOS support than ExpressVPN, supporting devices up to iOS 11. It supports iPhones up to the original iPhone 5s, iPad mini 2, and iPad Air.

In terms of performance, the connection speed was insanely fast. The overall transfer performance was good. However, from a security point of view, it was not able to hide that I was connecting through a VPN, although the data transferred was secure. All in all, a solid product with a good user experience that is fine for home connections as long as you don’t try to hide the fact that you are on a VPN.

The company also has a partnership with SugarSync and provides 250GB of encrypted cloud storage with each plan.

4.4 App Store average, only 4.3K ratings

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  • Simultaneous connections: Unlimited
  • Immobilizer: Yes
  • Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Fire TV, Firefox, Chrome
  • Registration: None, except billing data
  • Trial / MBG: 30 days

At two dollars a month for a two-year plan (billed as one chunk), Surfshark has a good price for a solid deal. In CNET test, no leaks were found (and given that much bigger names leaked login information, that’s a big win). The company appears to be focusing on security, offering AES-256-GCM, RSA-2048, and Perfect Forward Secrecy encryption. Surfshark also offers iOS support for phones as far back as the iPhone 5s.

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Surfshark’s performance was better than NordVPN and Norton Secure VPN, but lower than ExpressVPN and IPVanish. That said, Surfshark also offers a multi-hop option which allows you to route connections through two VPN servers over the Surfshark private network. We also like that the company offers some inexpensive add-on features, including ad blocking, anti-tracking, access to a log-free search engine, and a tool that tracks your email address against email addresses. lists of data breaches.

Isn’t iCloud + Private Relay a VPN? Why do i need another VPN?

So let’s be clear. iCloud + Private Relay is a feature of iCloud +, available at the end of 2021. If you purchase iCloud storage, you will get iCloud + functionality. But while Private Relay can hide your email address and location, it only does so when using Safari. If you’re using Chrome (or any app that uses the internet directly), you’re out of luck. It also shows up as a proxy server, so if you don’t want anyone to know you’re using a VPN, you’re out of luck. You also can’t change or hide your location, like you can with a full VPN. Private Relay is a feature of iCloud +. A VPN is a complete security solution.

Do I need a VPN if I only use my carrier’s data?

May be. It depends on how much trust you place in your carrier and wireless signals have been intercepted. It’s best to encrypt your data while it’s in motion, whether you’re using Wi-Fi or an operator connection.

Doesn’t iOS include VPN services in the operating system?

Yes, if you are connecting to a corporate VPN server, as detailed here. But if you’re connecting to other destinations on the internet, you’ll probably want to use a commercial VPN service.


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