Whether you go free or paid, an Android VPN is an important piece of your online protection kit. It can provide a secure Internet connection, mask your data transmissions over a Wi-Fi connection, avoid Internet filtering and censorship, and allow you access to content in a geographical region other than your own.
Most VPN providers let you subscribe to their service for period of time -- from 3 days up to a year -- and offer a variety of exit servers and security settings to suit your needs. While nearly every Android VPN bundles a dedicated app with its VPN service, a few uncouple the app from the service, allowing you to choose a client to connect with.
If you use a VPN infrequently -- say, while waiting for a flight in an airport terminal -- a free service might be all you need. But if you want a VPN with no data cap, support for multiple devices, or access to servers in multiple regions, a subscription plan would be a better choice.
Apps in this guide
Best all-in-one paid Android VPN: VPN by Private Internet Access
VPN by Private Internet Access is a simple-to-use service that provides a useful collection of security settings, letting you strike a balance between connection speed and privacy. The service offers exit nodes in 25 countries, with subscriptions available for $6.95 for 30 days, $35.99 for six months, and $39.95 for a year.
Solid runner-up: Private Tunnel
Private Tunnel takes a pay-as-you-go approach, ranging from 20GB of data for $9.99 to $29.99 per year for an unlimited plan. Easy to setup and use, the VPN is a trustworthy choice for creating a secure point-to-point connection and avoiding Internet censorship. It offers just a handful of exit nodes for skirting georestrictions, however, and all are in the northern hemisphere. If you are looking for a broad range of regional servers, this might not be the service for you.
Best roll-your-own service: AirVPN
AirVPN is a no-nonsense service founded by "activists and hacktivists in defence of net neutrality, privacy and against censorship." Setting up AirVPN requires a few steps, but if you want to work with a company that takes privacy seriously, AirVPN walks the walk. The service offers exit nodes in 18 regions and more than 150 cities. Subscriptions range from $1.13 for 3 days to $61.28 for one year.
What we looked for in Android VPNs
VPNs offer a wide variety of capabilities, but we've narrowed those options to a short list of essentials.
First, we looked at how easy the VPN is to set up and use, and how many useful exit nodes the VPN connects to.
Second, we ran informal speed tests, checking throughput before and with the VPN running, on a Wi-Fi network and over cell data.
We looked at which security and privacy tools the services say they use -- and if they aren't using OpenVPN and AES, we asked them why. We checked how easily we could tune the app's security and privacy settings.
Finally, we checked whether the VPN was leaking any data, and what user activity the company says it is or isn't logging. See our guide on how to choose a VPN for more tips.
More Android VPNs
Avast SecureLine VPN for Android. An affordable VPN with exit nodes in 19 regions.
Avira Phantom VPN. A solid VPN that caps free data at 1GB per month.
Betternet Unlimited Free VPN. This ad-supported VPN is a good choice for those looking for a basic service.
HideMyAss Pro VPN for Android. Choose from exit servers in more than 190 countries.
HotSpot Shield Free VPN Proxy. Uses its own proprietary VPN technology to create secure connections, which may give pause to open-source proponents.
IPVanish VPN for Android. An easy-to-use VPN with worldwide exit nodes and customizable settings.
Norton WiFi Privacy Secure VPN. Designed for one-tap protection of your Internet traffic.
TunnelBear VPN for Android. TunnelBear puts a friendly face on security and is our choice for best free Android VPN.