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Best mobile VPN services for 2019

by Homer Heinrich (2020-05-15)


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Welcome to the CNET directory of mobile VPN services for 2020. In this directory, we're taking a look at 10 of the best mobile-oriented commercial virtual private network (VPN) service providers on the internet. All of these vendors are a paid VPN and charge for their services, but that way you know who's paying the bills. We're always a bit wary of the free services, because we don't know where their loyalties lie or who's paying the bills.

Most folks think about VPN services on their laptops, and that's the focus of our main list of best VPNs. To be clear, there's plenty of overlap between that list and this one, and that's intentional -- most services are cross-platform. But when looking at mobile VPN providers, we particularly examined the best VPN for iPhone, the best VPN for Android , and app support for phones, tablets and other devices.

For example, we almost always recommend avoiding a free Wi-Fi network when you're out and about. Since those public Wi-Fi services have no encryption, online activity such as what you are doing when you use an app for iPhone and other activities can be monitored by anyone. That's risky. Instead, we've often suggested you use your mobile data plan because while mobile data can be intercepted, it's far less common than Wi-Fi sniffers.

Read more: The best password managers for 2020 and how to use them

But if you're using a VPN service on your phone, tablet or other mobile devices, you are much, much safer. Once you turn on your phone-based VPN service, you can be reasonably free to surf open Wi-Fi access and save your mobile data plan's allocated bandwidth. That said, we never, ever recommend you surf sensitive sites on open Wi-Fi, regardless of encryption or how secure your VPN service may be.

While every provider in this list of the best VPN for iPhone ($899 at Amazon) and the best VPN for Android obviously has support for iOS for iPhone users and for Android users, a few support outlying phones like Blackberry, the secure Blackphone and Windows phones. We also spotlight additional platforms and devices supported, including gaming consoles and TV set top boxes that you might use on hotel Wi-Fi for instance.

Read more: Best portable chargers and power banks for Android devices     

Keep in mind that this is an evolving list: We're actively working on more testing and research, and expect this list to change throughout the fall of 2019. This list is effectively a subset of our main Best VPN list, duplicated here for those specifically seeking mobile browsing protection.

Editors' note, Oct. 21: This story has been updated to reflect a report on TechCrunch that a NordVPN server was breached in 2018. You can read Nord's full response here.

Read more: The best VPN services for 2020


Affiliate disclosure: CNET earns commissions from the products and services featured on this page.






Private Internet Access 


Screenshot by David Gewirtz/CNET

·iOS, Android

·Linux, Mac, Windows

·$6.95 a month or $39.95 per year 

·7-day trial

Private Internet Access is notable because it's the service with the absolute lowest per-year price of all the services we've examined. It's a US-based company, with 3,069 servers located in 28 countries across the globe. Among our favorite things about this VPN is that the company doesn't log any data, and it actively supports many privacy and open source projects. VPN users can even pay for their service anonymously.

The company accepts payments from a vast array of gift cards, so whether you need to caffeine up your surfing using a balance from a Starbucks card or you'd prefer to avoid the inevitable calories from your See's Candies gift card by transferring the balance into your VPN account, Private Internet Access is a tasty solution.



See it at Private Internet Access VPN



CyberGhost VPN 



Screenshot by David Gewirtz/CNET

·iOS, Android

·Linux, Windows, Mac

·Support for routers

·$11.99 per month or $59.88 for a year

·30-day money back guarantee

·CyberGhost in-depth review and hands-on testing    

If you really want to get the best bang for your buck, get CyberGhost's $99 plan for three years. That's $2.75 a month, and also gets you a free McAfee subscription. The company supports OpenVPN, L2TP, IPSec, a connection kill switch feature and P2P along with BitTorrent in most locations.

If you're on the road, you'll be pleased to know that the VPN CyberGhost has 365 servers located in 115 locations across the planet. As you surf, you can use any of 1,400 (and growing) individual IP addresses, so your surfing will always be anonymous.

While we're on the topic of security, the company does not log connection data, and has custom app protection, plus IPV6 support, along with DNS leak, IP and WebRTC leak prevention. All this means that whether you're in a coffee shop, airport or restaurant, if you are using CyberGhost VPN apps on your devices you'll be as stealthy as a ghost.



See it at CyberGhost VPN



ExpressVPN 


Screenshot by David Gewirtz/CNET

·iOS, Android, BlackBerry

·Linux, Mac, Windows, support for routers

·PlayStation, Xbox, Apple TV ($179 at Apple), Fire TV

·$12.95 per month or $99 for 1 year (3 free months with first year)

·30-day money back guarantee

Have you ever wanted to take a vacation in a tropical oasis? Well, now your data can be protected by warm weather, balmy winds and no data retention laws. Based out of the British Virgin Islands, ExpressVPN keeps no connection logs.

In fact, no matter where you go, you'll be able to be protected by ExpressVPN when you use its VPN app for iPhone and your other devices. With more than 1,700 servers in 148 cities and 94 countries, you can route your data through whatever jurisdiction and nationality you choose. It's your data, after all.

We liked that ExpressVPN offers a wide range of protocol options including OpenVPN, SSTP, L2TP/IPSec and PPTP. The company also has a connection kill switch. If you really want to protect your privacy, consider paying them with bitcoin, which is fully supported.

Best plan is $6.67 per month for an annual package with three months free.



See it at ExpressVPN




Buffered VPN





Buffered VPN 


Number of IP addresses: 11,000


Number of servers: 800

Number of server locations: 46

Country/Jurisdiction: Gibraltar

Buffered VPN doesn't disclose much about the size of its private network, but the 30-day money back guarantee means that you can take their service for a test drive and really get a feel for how well it performs for you. The company lost a few points from us because they do keep some connection information. They gained points for their client support, unlimited bandwidth, and generous number of simultaneous sessions allowed.

The company is relatively new, founded in 2013. It's based in Europe, so those who prefer an EU-based company might prefer Buffered. We like how Buffered has made a strong commitment to Internet freedom, and an equally strong commitment to providing quality customer support.

At $12.99 per month and $99 for a year of service, they don't offer the least expensive pricing plans, but we do recommend giving them a try. 



See it at Buffered VPN



Goose VPN 


Screenshot by David Gewirtz/CNET

·iOS, Android

·Linux, Mac, Windows

·Android TV, Kodi, support for routers

·Starting rate at $2.99 per month

·30-day trial

The standout feature of Goose VPN is its unlimited device policy. No matter how many mobile devices you travel with, Goose VPN will support them all.

Based in the Netherlands, the company has 86 servers in 39 locations across the world, so you've got some pretty good flexibility in how you connect. One feature we like is that Goose VPN indicates which servers are best for media streaming and which servers allow you to use P2P connections.

As always, your use of VPNs to alter streaming locations is something that may or may not be legal (or supported in your terms of service) in your home country, the country you're currently in or the country that's providing the media you're trying to reach.

Goose VPN does have the lowest per-month price we've seen at $2.99 for a month without a multi-year commitment, but it is bandwidth-constrained to 50GB or less per month. If you want unlimited bandwidth, you can step up to the $12.99 per month plan or spend $59.88 for a year's worth of service, one of the best full-year deals we've seen for VPN service.

When we first looked at Goose, it did not support a kill switch feature. Now, as of version 3.2.2, the company does support a kill switch - but sadly, it's limited to Windows users only. We're hoping to see kill switch support implemented for other platforms.



See it at GooseVPN



IPVanish VPN 


Screenshot by David Gewirtz/CNET

·Mobile platforms: iOS, Android Windows Phone

·Computer platforms: Linux, Windows, Mac, Chromebook

·Other platforms: Fire TV ($35 at Amazon), support for routers

·Price: $7.50/month and $58.49 for a year for the first year, $10/month and $77.99 a year thereafter

·7-day trial

No matter where you decide to travel, IPVanish has you covered. They have more than 1,000 servers in 60 locations throughout the world and offer a whopping 40,000+ IP addresses. If you often work across multiple devices (for example, using your laptop for writing along with an iPad ($419 at eBay) as a second lookup screen), you'll be happy to know you have five mobile devices connected at any time.

We were very happy to see that the company says it keeps no traffic logs, so you can rest assured that no matter where you are in the world, you won't leave a trace in IPVanish's records.

Add to that unlimited bandwidth, unlimited P2P traffic, anonymous VPN for torrenting, OpenVPN as well as L2TP/IPSec VPN protocols and a connection kill switch if you ever drop service. That said, if you ever do need help, the company, based out of the US, does offer 24/7 customer support, including live chat, and the IPVanish app.



See it at IPVanish VPN



PureVPN 



Screenshot by David Gewirtz/CNET


·iOS, Android

·Linux, Mac, Windows

·Kodi, Android TV, Fire TV, support for routers 

·$10.95 per month or $69 for 3 years

·7-day money back guarantee

PureVPN has a really excellent support site, with sections containing problem solvers specifically aimed at users in China and those attempting to access Netflix. While the company does log some technical information, they have a strict no-browsing-log policy. That's not as footprint-free as we'd like, but it's good enough for all but the most careful users.

The company has a huge bank of more than 95,000 IP addresses, more than 750 servers (a fifty percent growth in servers since we last looked at them) and local access support in more than 140 countries across the planet.

We're very intrigued with PureVPN's advanced protection (which is available with every service tier). This beta program offers antivirus and malware protection in real-time, a feature that makes total sense in a VPN, to the point that we're wondering why we haven't seen it more often. The company offers all the usual protocols, a solid Internet connection kill switch, web filtering, app filtering and a firewall-style function that allows you to specify which apps are and are not allowed to access the internet. 



See it at PureVPN



StrongVPN


Screenshot by David Gewirtz/CNET



iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Windows Mobile

Kindle, Chromium, ChromeBook

Kodi, Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV

Linux, Windows, and Mac

Routers and Synology NAS

$10 per month or 69.99 for a year

30-day money back guarantee

StrongVPN in-depth review and hands-on testing


One quick glance at the list of supported devices will show you why StrongVPN is so strong. No matter how you want to connect to the Internet, and what device you use, StrongVPN has you covered. What makes StrongVPN interesting, and scored it points in our evaluation, is how simple the app is to use on your mobile device. All you need to do is click one button. Boom! You're connected. And protected.

Continuing on the simplicity theme is StrongVPN's pricing plan. Unlike many providers who try to confuse you with different tiers, a whole set of subscription periods, and bandwidth limitations, StrongVPN just gives you two simple, clear choices: $10 paid per month, or $69.99 if you pay for torrent a full year.

The company offers OpenVPN, SSTP, L2TP/IPSec, and PPTP. Since PPTP is an older and weaker form of protection, the company wisely recommends you avoid if you possibly can. So why do they offer it? It's part of the company's DNA: meet customer needs and some customers are limited to only that protocol.

World travelers will be happy to know that the company has 683 servers in 70 locations, with 59,500 IP addresses. We awarded a 5/5 in large part because the company doesn't log any data, has a kill switch, advanced IPv6 and DNS leak protection, and industry-leading security throughout their entire architecture. Oh, and they own their own network infrastructure, so their policies are their policies. And that's good for you.



See it at StrongVPN



Hide My Ass 


Screenshot by David Gewirtz/CNET

·iOS, Android

·Linux, Mac, Windows, support for routers

·$11.99 per month, $83.88 for a full year

·30-day money back guarantee

Hide My Ass is definitely giving Goose VPN a run for its money in terms of most amusing VPN service name. If all HMA offered was a silly name, we couldn't recommend them. Fortunately, the company has a robust suite of VPN services.

Hide My Ass has 830 servers in 280 locations across the planet, and a home jurisdiction in the UK. You can also protect your anonymity by using any of 3,106 IP addresses the company has available. We had to deduct points because the company does log some connection data.

That said, we like the clear documentation provided, the wide selection of protocols and the fact that HMA specifically allows the use of P2P and torrents, rather than the wink-wink, nudge-nudge approach to P2P permissions we've seen from some other vendors. The company also offers a connection kill switch, so even if your connection drops, your privacy and security don't.



See it at HideMyAss VPN



VyprVPN Services


Screenshot by David Gewirtz/CNET

·iOS, Android, Silent Circle Blackphone

·Linux, Mac, Windows

·Android TV, Kodi, Boxee, Apple TV, QNAP, Synology, Anonabox, support for routers

·$12.95 per month or $60 for two years

VyprVPN used to only offer a 3-day trial, but now offers a quite-acceptable 30-day money back guarantee. We are particularly impressed by their incredibly large bank of more than 200,000 IP addresses, more than 700 servers and 70+ locations throughout the world.

If you're traveling to China, you might be interested in how VyperVPN scrambles OpenVPN packets to keep traffic flowing, despite China's practice of deep-packet VPN inspection. Beyond their own high-performance Chameleon protocol, the company supports all the standard protocols, along with a range of privacy and security protections. The zero-knowledge DNS and NAT firewall services that are included as part of the basic service are of particular note.



See it at VyprVPN Services



What about Nord?

Nord VPN has lived on this list for a long time, but we've moved it to the penalty box for now. The change comes in light of a report from TechCrunch in which Nord confirmed that one of its rented servers "was accessed with no authorization." in 2018. 

You can read Nord's full response here.

We're looking at reports about similar issues with TorGuard and VikingVPN, too.



Rating methodology

The above vendors have been carefully selected for our best VPN directory. We've looked carefully at their offerings, and have assigned a rating scale based on some important criteria. All these vendors are excellent, but you may find you prefer one over another because of features, privacy and security capabilities or price.



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In preparing this article, we cataloged capabilities from each vendor, and awarded extra points based on features they provide (with points for each feature). We awarded extra points based on the number of simultaneous sessions allowed, and the number of protocols (beyond OpenVPN) supported.

We also awarded points for price. Some vendors' services are more than twice the price of the services of other vendors. Less expensive vendors were rated higher than more costly vendors.

Finally, we awarded extra points for customer service such as money-back guarantees and 24/7 live chat. Those that offered short trial periods (or no refunds at all) got fewer points than those with generous 30-day money-back guarantees.

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