Best Android VPN for 2024

Protect your privacy on your mobile device with one of the best VPNs for Android.

Updated Feb. 8, 2024 5:00 a.m. PT

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Written by  Attila Tomaschek Rae Hodge
Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement
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Attila Tomaschek
Attila is a Staff Writer for CNET, covering software, apps and services with a focus on virtual private networks. He is an advocate for digital privacy and has been quoted in online publications like Computer Weekly, The Guardian, BBC News, HuffPost, Wired and TechRepublic. When not tapping away on his laptop, Attila enjoys spending time with his family, reading and collecting guitars.
Expertise Attila has nearly a decade's worth of experience with VPNs and has been covering them for CNET since 2021. As CNET's VPN expert, Attila rigorously tests VPNs and offers readers advice on how they can use the technology to protect their privacy online and
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Rae Hodge Former senior editor
Rae Hodge was a senior editor at CNET. She led CNET's coverage of privacy and cybersecurity tools from July 2019 to January 2023. As a data-driven investigative journalist on the software and services team, she reviewed VPNs, password managers, antivirus software, anti-surveillance methods and ethics in tech. Prior to joining CNET in 2019, Rae spent nearly a decade covering politics and protests for the AP, NPR, the BBC and other local and international outlets.
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VPNs Tested

We intensively test each VPN, making sure it meets our standards for privacy, speed and usability. How we test VPNs

Editors' choice 2024
See Price at ExpressVPN

Best Overall VPN

ExpressVPN

Privacy protection and transparency

Savings 49% off with 12-mo plan (+3 free months)
Pros
  • Strong commitment to privacy and transparency
  • Forward-thinking security enhancements
  • Excellent for streaming
  • Streamlined, easy-to-use app across platforms
  • Privacy-friendly jurisdiction (British Virgin Islands)
Cons
  • DNS leaks detected (but immediately addressed)
  • Expensive
  • Only eight simultaneous connections
  • Apple TV app needs work
Price $13 a month, $60 for six months or $100 for a year
Latest tests DNS leaks detected, 25% speed loss in 2024 tests
Network 3,000 plus servers in 105 countries
Jurisdiction British Virgin Islands

ExpressVPN remains our Editors' Choice for best overall VPN in 2024. One of the largest VPN providers globally, the industry titan has been in business since 2009 and is consistently raising the bar for service transparency year after year. In 2022, the company underwent a total of 12 independent security audits.

ExpressVPN is one of the fastest VPNs we've tested. While most VPNs will cause you to lose half or more of your normal internet speeds, ExpressVPN caused our speeds to dip just 18% in our March and April 2023 speed tests. It also unblocks Netflix and other streaming services more reliably than most other VPNs, and seamlessly surpasses geo-blocking for access to international gaming servers and torrenting sites. ExpressVPN's proprietary Lightway protocol's flexible nature allows it to take on both TCP and UDP connections, seamlessly balancing speed and stability. It's a brilliant choice for a default protocol on Android devices, since it's so responsive to varying connection types and strengths. 

While you can get a better month-to-dollar bargain with ExpressVPN's two-year subscription, we don't recommend anyone purchase any two-year VPN subscriptions at this time due to overall market volatility. ExpressVPN's best plan offers eight simultaneous connections for $100 a year. You can also opt for a $13 per-month plan, or pay $60 for six months.

Pros:

  • Unmatched transparency
  • Top-notch security with no leaks detected
  • Excellent for streaming

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Android app not as feature-rich as others
  • Owned by Kape Technologies
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See Price at Surfshark

Best Cheap VPN

Surfshark

Extensive features at a great price

Savings $2.69/mo with 24-mo plan (+4 free months)
Pros
  • Lots of unique security features
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • RAM-only server network
Cons
  • Inconsistent speed performance
  • 14 Eyes jurisdiction (Netherlands)
  • No transparency reports
Price $11 per month, $48 for the first year (or $59.54 for 2yrs)
Latest Tests No leaks detected, 17% speed loss in 2023 tests
Network 3,200-plus servers in 100 countries
Jurisdiction Netherlands

Surfshark is an excellent Android VPN, and CNET's current Editors' Choice for the best value VPN. It packs a ton of features, is great for streaming and is the perfect choice if you're on a budget but still want the premium VPN experience. 

Surfshark's Android app is clean and simple to use, but it sometimes struggles to connect immediately, which can be frustrating. Otherwise, it's a slick app with a lot of cool features. Once connected, you'll see your connection time and VPN IP address and location. You also have the option to either disconnect from the VPN server or pause your VPN connection for 5 minutes, 30 minutes or 2 hours. The Pause feature is useful for instances where you want to temporarily step off the VPN but not risk forgetting to turn the VPN back on. It's also easy to create custom multi-hop connections with any two server combinations from Surfshark's network of over 3,000 servers in 100 countries. Additional features include a kill switch, auto-connect, protocol selection and ad- and tracker-blocking technology. And if you're into streaming content online while on the go, Surfshark is an excellent choice. It's great for streaming Netflix content from multiple Netflix libraries around the world. We were able to easily stream content from Max, Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus as well.

Surfshark is a budget-friendly choice that's priced at $48 for the first year of service, then $60 per year for any subsequent years of service. That's significantly cheaper than ExpressVPN, though the monthly price without any discounts or introductory offers is the same at $13 a month. And, like other top VPNs, Sufrshark offers a 30-day money-back guarantee trial period.

Pros:

  • Lots of unique privacy features
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • RAM-only server network

Cons:

  • Inconsistent speed performance
  • 14 Eyes jurisdiction (Netherlands)
  • Takes a while to connect
Show expert take Show less
See Price at NordVPN

Best VPN for Speed

NordVPN

Perfect for power users

Pros
  • The fastest VPN we tested
  • Tons of features
  • Diskless RAM-only server infrastructure
Cons
  • Not as transparent as VPN rivals
  • Complicated pricing structure
  • Only six simultaneous connections allowed
Price $13 monthly, $60 for the first year or $96 for the first two years (then $100 per year afterwards for the one- and two-year plans)
Latest tests No leaks detected, 11% speed loss in 2024 tests
Network 6,000-plus servers in over 60 countries
Jurisdiction Panama

NordVPN is one of the most recognized brands in the VPN field. Part of that brand recognition is based on its distinct, straightforward design. Nord's app for Android is just as easy to interact with as its desktop VPN client, with a similar design. It poses no learning difficulties for a first-time user looking to move from desktop to mobile.

Just as the desktop client does, Nord's app opens to a familiar blue-scale landing-screen map where users can opt to either select a country, connect to the fastest server automatically or browse specialty servers like Onion over VPN, Double VPN or those optimized for P2P. Nord gets bonus points for its split-tunneling feature, which allows you to select other apps that you don't want to run through your encrypted VPN connection.

NordVPN's pricing structure is similar to that of its sister company Surfshark, but its longer-term plans are more expensive. A two-year plan carries an introductory price of about $79, but that price increases to a little under $100 annually for each subsequent year of service. However, we don't recommend committing to a single provider for more than a year at a time, given how fickle the VPN industry tends to be. If you opt for the yearly plan, you'll pay $60 for the first year of service, then just shy of $100 a year for any additional years. NordVPN's monthly plan is a dollar cheaper than Surfshark's, though, at $12 a month. And like most other VPN services, NordVPN offers a full 30-day money-back guarantee in case you're not satisfied with the service. 

Pros:

  • Current fastest VPN
  • Tons of features
  • Diskless RAM-only server infrastructure

Cons:

  • No transparency reports
  • Ambiguous corporate structure
  • Only six simultaneous connections allowed
Show expert take Show less
See Price at IPVanish

Best Beginner VPN

IPVanish

Simple, newbie-friendly interface

Savings 66% off with 12-mo plan
Pros
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Simple, user-friendly interface
  • 24/7 customer support with live chat and phone support
Cons
  • IPVanish identified during DNS leak tests
  • US jurisdiction
  • Buggy features with platform limitations
Price $12 a month or $54 for the first year (then $90 annually)
Latest tests No leaks detected, 26% speed loss in 2023 tests
Network 2,000-plus servers in 75-plus locations across 52 countries
Jurisdiction United States

A big win for IPVanish is its fun, configurable interface, which makes it an ideal client for those who are interested in learning how to understand what a VPN does under the hood. In its Android app, IPVanish manages to pack the same extensive suite of digital knobs and dials into a refreshingly clean mobile interface to impressive effect. If you want to do some precision tuning to your VPN connection, IPVanish is a solid bet. With a bevy of switches controlling things like the kill switch, split tunneling, VPN protocol and LAN connection allowance, IPVanish is an app for the methodical tech tweaker who enjoys having exact control over their mobile internet traffic.

One frustrating issue is that IPVanish's Quick Connect feature doesn't always connect you to the best available server, so you may need to optimize your speeds by connecting manually to a server showing a lighter load. In IPVanish's Android app, you can check the current load of each server by tapping on Locations, selecting Cities and tapping the number next to each city.

IPVanish's yearly plan costs $48 for the first year. However, the plan increases sharply in price to the regular $90 annual rate for any subsequent years of service. You can also choose a quarterly plan that starts at $13 for the first three-month period and increases to $30 for each three-month billing period afterward. IPVanish's monthly rate is priced at $11 a month, which is about on par with other providers' month-to-month rates. The provider offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, but only if you get the yearly plan -- which could be a disappointment to anyone who bought a monthly subscription and decided they didn't like the service.

Pros: 

  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Simple, user-friendly interface
  • 24/7 customer support with live chat and phone support

Cons:

  • US jurisdiction
  • Buggy features with platform limitations
  • Inconsistent speeds
Show expert take Show less

About Android VPNs

As the user of an Android smartphone or tablet (or both), keeping your internet behavior and mobile app use secure is important. Having a VPN on your Android devices may be the right choice for you. Without the protection of a virtual private network, your mobile carrier, internet service provider and even Google may discover your physical location. Your private information will be vulnerable to a variety of threats, and you don't want that.

Using the best Android VPNs on your phone or tablet will keep your sensitive information, internet habits and app usage hidden from prying eyes -- which can include app owners and developers interested in tracking your activity. Having an Android VPN installed will beef up your security and protect you against things like surveillance, scammers and data breaches.

To assist in your VPN hunt, CNET put together a list of the best VPN services. We evaluated and graded each of these providers based on their overall performance on Android mobile devices. Our guide of the best Android VPNs focuses solely on the mobile services each VPN service offers. CNET regularly tests and ranks new VPN apps, so visit this page regularly to stay up to speed on new contenders when they emerge.  

Read more: You Need to Be Using a VPN on Your Phone. Here's How to Set It Up in Under 10 Minutes

What's the best Android VPN right now?

ExpressVPN is currently CNET's top pick for the best Android VPN, thanks to the outstanding performance of its Android app, along with its commitment to privacy and transparency. The Android app is uncluttered, easy to use and connects immediately. It's the best option for boosting your privacy and streaming content on the go, but it's more expensive than others on this list. That said, the other VPNs listed here are also excellent Android VPNs if ExpressVPN isn't the best fit for you.  

How we test Android VPNs

In evaluating the best VPNs for Android, we run through the features offered on each VPN's Android app and we test them to see how they stack up to similar features offered by other VPN providers. We evaluate the look and feel of the app and the overall usability of the software and we test to see how easy it is to connect to a server and how easy it is to search for and find a specific server to connect to. We test the performance and reliability of the VPN connection on each of the protocols available in the provider's Android app. We test for leaks and each service's kill switch functionality to ensure it's working as it should. We test each VPN's ability to circumvent geographical restrictions, and we evaluate each provider's pricing to determine the service's overall value. 

Other VPNs we tested

Proton VPN

Proton VPN is a Swiss-based open-source VPN provider that is staunchly committed to user privacy. Proton VPN's Android app is easy to use and includes a kill switch that is always on by default and a VPN Accelerator feature that can  boost your VPN speeds. And if you're looking for a free VPN, Proton is the only one that CNET recommends. While Proton VPN's free tier doesn't include access to all of its servers, its ad-blocker tool or advanced privacy features like its Secure Core servers or Tor Over VPN function, there are no usage limits and the encryption, obfuscation and leak protection is all the same for free users as they are for paid users. Premium plans are priced at $10 per month or $72 per year, with a 30-day money-back guarantee included.

Factors to consider in an Android VPN

With so many Android VPN apps available, it can be difficult to choose the right solution. Based on our extensive research and hands-on testing of VPNs over the years, these are the most important factors to consider when choosing a VPN: 

Privacy

The primary consideration for any VPN should be privacy. If your Android VPN is unable to sufficiently protect your online privacy, then your VPN is useless. At a minimum, your VPN should employ industry standard AES 256-bit encryption along with offering basic privacy protections like a kill switch, DNS leak protection and a no-logs policy. For critical privacy needs, you'll also want a VPN provider that is based in a privacy-friendly jurisdiction, offers obfuscation and has a RAM-only server architecture. Additional privacy features to look out for include Tor over VPN capabilities, ad and tracker blockers and multihop connections. Also, look for a VPN that undergoes regular third-party security audits, as audits can help bolster trust in the VPN's ability to protect its users' privacy. 

Speed

The speed of your VPN can have a major effect on activities like streaming, downloading, video conferencing, gaming and general web browsing. To keep things running as smoothly as possible, you'll want to look for a VPN that will have as minimal an impact on your regular internet speeds as possible.  

Usability

A good Android VPN should run smoothly and be easy to use regardless of your technical expertise. It should have all of the features you need easily accessible with a tap of your finger. Many Android VPN apps also include an easy way to get in touch with support directly from the device, which can be helpful if you need assistance on the go. Your Android VPN should have a large network of servers around the world so you can connect easily and reliably from wherever you are, and it should be able to help you access geo-restricted content from various regions.     

Cost

VPN pricing varies greatly from provider to provider, so if you're on a budget, you may want to consider the cost and overall value of your Android VPN. Typically, you can expect to spend about $5 to $13 per month for a VPN subscription plan. If you want to save money, you can opt for an annual subscription, where prices can range from roughly $30 to $100 per year. Be careful with free VPNs, though, because you may end up putting your privacy at risk instead of protecting it. Proton VPN is currently the only free VPN that CNET recommends. However, most VPNs offer a money-back guarantee that can be anywhere from a week to 45 days. You can also get a seven-day free trial with many VPNs when you sign up through the Play Store. So you'll most likely have options to try various Android VPNs risk-free before you decide whether to fully invest in one. 

Android VPN FAQs

What's the best Android VPN right now?

Thanks to its impressive performance, speed and usability, ExpressVPN is CNET's current top pick for the best Android VPN. It isn't the cheapest, but it's the fastest of all the VPN options right now. Surfshark is a close second among the Android VPN picks and offers a simple and effective app. NordVPN, the third-best option, is a die-hard heavy hitter that costs more than Surfshark but less than Express. While it doesn't offer quite as many server locations as the others, NordVPN's network is constantly getting faster and more secure and is easily the most reliable service we've tested. Rounding out the group, IPVanish is a solid choice for beginners.

What is a mobile VPN?

A mobile VPN is a VPN that's optimized for use on mobile devices. The best VPN providers we've tested all offer excellent mobile apps that work well on Android as well as iOS devices. Using a mobile VPN can also yield faster speeds than desktop VPNs since they generally require less processing power and have a smaller memory footprint. Check out CNET's other mobile-specific VPN guides below for more information on mobile VPNs. They're updated regularly with new information as we continue to test VPNs, so check back often.

What's the best free VPN?

We don't recommend using a free VPN because they're risky. Free VPNs typically make money by selling user data, and some have even been found to be riddled with malware. What's more, free VPNs are often slow, enact usage and data limits, offer a minimal selection of servers, and are generally less secure than paid VPNs. Check out CNET's list of the best cheap VPNs if you want to find a budget-friendly, premium VPN.

Can you get in trouble for using a VPN?

Unless you're in a country like China or Iran where VPN use is banned or illegal, you don't have to worry about getting into any legal trouble just for using a VPN. In most countries, using a VPN is perfectly legal. But if you're in a country where VPN use is restricted, you'll need to connect to an obfuscated server. Doing so will disguise your VPN traffic as regular HTTPS internet traffic, so authorities won't know you're using a VPN in the first place. 

What are the downsides to using a mobile VPN?

There are a handful of disadvantages to using a mobile VPN, but they depend on a few key factors: your usual geographic location, your choice of VPN provider, the quality of your phone's mobile service and the relative processing speed of your phone. 

  • Slower speeds: VPNs can slow down your typical browsing speeds by as much as half of their typical pace. We've speed-tested the VPNs we recommend, however, and routinely update them so you can find the fastest speeds if you're concerned about a slowdown. Check out our list of the fastest VPNs we can find
  • Dropped connections: If you live in an area with poor mobile data speeds or internet service connection quality, you're going to notice that a VPN may cause you to drop your internet connection more often. You can prevent that by switching from a UDP-based protocol (like Wireguard, used by Surfshark or NordLynx from NordVPN) to a TCP-based protocol. The trade-off is that UDP is generally faster, while TCP is generally more stable. If you're an ExpressVPN user, we recommend switching to Lightway in the settings menu. It's a custom encryption protocol, which blends UDP speed with TCP stability for a much more seamless experience. 
  • Some sites will be inaccessible: Some sites rely on your IP address to verify your identity and let you use their services. A VPN hides your IP address. If those sites can't identify you, they may not let you in. Other sites like Netflix, frequently fight VPN user access and will block you from accessing their services if they detect your VPN. Few VPNs are able to circumvent Netflix's blockade, but we test each VPN for streaming ability and report the results in our full reviews. So if streaming on mobile is important to you, be sure to check the full review before you commit to a subscription.

What does my ISP see when I'm connected to my VPN?

Your ISP will see that you're connected to a VPN, but it will not be able to see any of your internet activity like the websites you visit or browsing history since your traffic is encrypted. It will also see things like the IP address of the VPN server you're connecting through, the timestamps when you're connected and the amount of data transmitted. You can connect to an obfuscated server, if offered by your VPN, to hide your VPN use from your ISP. 

Can a mobile VPN make me totally anonymous online?

No VPN can make you totally anonymous online. There seems to be a common misconception that VPNs can make you anonymous, but don't let that lull you into a false sense of security when using a VPN. Online anonymity is virtually impossible to achieve, given the size of the average person's digital footprint. VPNs are great for protecting your privacy and keeping your data safe from snoopers online, but you can't count on your VPN to give you absolute online anonymity -- even if it claims it can.