In most tech circles, iOS is widely regarded as the safest mobile operating system on the market today and for a good reason. Unlike it’s Android counterpart, iOS is a “closed” operating system. That is to say that Apple does not release their source codes to the public and that users are unable to modify the code on their devices in any way. Such restrictions make it very difficult to find and exploit security vulnerabilities on iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad.
Of course, it is not to say users do not have to worry about their device getting hacked or sensitive information being stolen. After all, no device is completely immune to hacking and malware. Hence people need to learn how to protect themselves from all manner of cybersecurity threats and it doesn’t matter whether you use an iOS device or not.
Why You Should Use a VPN on iPhone
Indeed, it may be very difficult for unscrupulous individuals and organizations to hack and steal sensitive information from an iOS device, but it’s not impossible. For one thing, there have been cases of users getting tricked into downloading and installing third-party apps that bypass security restrictions on iPhones. Cybersecurity attacks can also be socially-engineered wherein cybercriminals use email, messaging apps, and social media to trick their victims into giving them sensitive information (phishing) such as passwords, bank accounts, and personal information.
As you may have already realized, the native security features of iOS are not enough to protect you against the security threats mentioned above. This is where the use of a VPN (Virtual Private Network) service comes in.
Characteristics of a Good iPhone VPN
The use of a VPN encrypts all data coming in and out of your iOS device and routes them to an external server. This means that no other party (including the government and your ISP) can intercept or monitor the information that you’re sending online. These services also come with malware protection and a kill switch that automatically takes your device offline whenever the VPN detects a security breach in your connection.
Of course, VPN services are not all the same and you would want to opt for one that offers the following:
- Fast and reliable servers
- Unlimited bandwidth
- No data logging policy and no selling of user data
- Strong encryption protocols
- Reliable customer support via phone, email, or live chat
- User-friendly interface; easy to operate even for non-tech savvy users
Not sure which VPN service to choose for your iOS device? Read on for information on some of the best VPN services available on the market today as well as their respective pros and cons. Only then can you decide which one is best for you.
NordVPN is one of the most trusted names in the VPN industry and has been around since 2012. Over the years, it has grown a massive following of more than 12 million active users around the world. They also have one of the largest VPN networks today with more than 5000 servers and over 60 server locations.
In terms of usability, NordVPN’s iOS app features a map-based interface that marks the location of the nearest VPN servers in your area. You can just tap on one of the servers for an option to connect to the said server. Users also have the option to zoom out and choose a specific country to access different server regions. That said, a map UI (User Interface) isn’t exactly the best way to reach out to new users who’ve probably never used a VPN in their lives. Still, NordVPN makes up for it by putting a big “Quick Connect” button that you can use to instantly establish a secure VPN connection that offers the best performance based on your location.
- Fast servers and unlimited bandwidth with plenty of location options. Perfect for streaming videos and accessing geo-blocked content.
- Industry-leading VPN security protocols (AES 256-bit encryption) with an Internet kill switch and DNS protection.
- Supports TOR (The Onion Router) over VPN for added security.
- Supports torrenting and P2P file sharing.
- Supports simultaneous VPN connection for up to 5 iOS devices
- No customer data logs.
- Prices start at $11.95 per month which is significantly more expensive than most other premium VPN services on the market. That said, NordVPN offers massive savings for long-term subscriptions (as low as $2.99 per month for a 3-year plan). All plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Customer support is limited to email and live chat. No phone support.
- Awkward map-based UI which isn’t great for beginners
A Canadian-based VPN service with a growing network of 1800 servers across 22 server locations worldwide, TunnelBear has been in business since 2011 and has made a name for themselves by offering fast and affordable VPN service to the masses. They offer a trial version of their VPN, although it’s limited to just 500Mb of data per month. TunnelBear made waves in 2017 by publishing the first annual independent security audit for a consumer VPN service.
TunnelBear’s iOS app also features a map-based UI that highlights the different VPN server locations available, similar to that of NordVPN. However, the striking difference is that aesthetics are much nicer and tend to resonate better with non-tech users. In keeping with their branding, they even included fluffy clouds and bear sounds which you can disable if you wish. There’s also a quick connect switch on the upper-middle portion of the UI for casual users who do not want to deal with server locations and just want the best server performance possible.
- No data logging. TunnelBear does not gather or record any information on the activities of users.
- Strong security encryption (AES 256-bit) and an Internet kill switch.
- Unlimited bandwidth for premium users.
- Fast download speeds.
- Simultaneous VPN protection for up to 5 iOS devices.
- Ad-blocker and anti-tracking software.
- Affordable pricing (starts at $9.99 per month).
- Nice looking, fun, and user-friendly; appealing to non-tech users.
- Does not support torrenting and P2P.
- VPN servers are unable to access geo-blocked content on Netflix and other video streaming services like Hulu and Amazon Prime.
- Limited server locations and no option to choose a different VPN protocol.
CyberGhost is a Romanian-based VPN company and one of the oldest names in the industry. They have been around since 2004 and continue to operate beyond the reach of the EU's data retention laws and the “Five Eyes” alliance — an intelligence-sharing agreement between a number of English-speaking countries including the US, UK, New Zealand, Canada, and Australia.
Upon installing and opening the CyberGhost iOS app, users will find that the UI looks fairly basic and simple to use. It’s basically a large slide switch that you can turn on to initiate a quick connection to the fastest VPN server available from your location. As you might imagine, this appeals well to users that have never used a VPN on their iOS device before. Of course, advanced users also have the option to select a server from a specific location which is helpful for accessing geo-blocked content from a certain region. Users also have the option to add servers to a Favorite list and set the app to automatically protect and apply settings to a specified network whether at home, in the office, or while you are on a public WiFi network. This makes it ideal for users that want a “fire and forget” VPN service to keep their iOS device protected.
- No data logging policy and free from international intelligence jurisdictions.
- Strong 256-bit AES encryption protocols.
- Unlimited bandwidth.
- Simultaneous protection for up to 7 devices.
- Kill switch and DNS leak protection.
- Longer money-back guarantee (45 days).
- There is a free VPN version (with ads).
- Slower speeds than most other premium VPNs (not recommended for Netflix and other video streaming services).
- No servers from Latin America and Asia.
A fairly new name in the VPN business (established in 2018), but one that has risen quickly to prominence. Surfshark is based on the British Virgin Islands which places it beyond the reach of government interference. Today, the latter has grown to a decent network of 500+ servers from all over the world and one of the few VPNs that offers a Chinese VPN server. Granted, they have a smaller user-base than other premium VPNs but that is bound to change in the next few years.
As for usability, Surfshark followed CyberGhost’s lead by implementing a simple iOS app that prominently features the Surfshark logo and a connect/disconnect button. There’s also a “Change Location” button that users can use to select a server from a specific region. A gear button on the top provides additional options for advanced users such as a kill switch, protocol selection, and the more recent “small packets” option to help optimize VPN performance while on a mobile network.
- Users can expect better performance as there are currently fewer users (up to 80 Mbps).
- Supports simultaneous protection for unlimited devices (recommended for users with a lot of iOS devices).
- Unlimited bandwidth and P2P connection.
- Military-grade encryption protocols with a kill switch.
- Data Leak Protection (DNS, WebRTC and IPv6).
- No data logging policy.
- Little to no customer support; there are many reports of emails not getting answered by support staff.
- Little to no information on parent company which can be a concern for users that want to know who they are entrusting their information to.
IPVanish is an American VPN company and is widely regarded as one of the best VPN services on the market today. While they have fewer servers (about 1300+), they do have more server locations (75) than most other VPN companies. This makes them a popular choice for accessing geo-blocked content on the Internet. At one point, they even had VPN servers in Russia but were eventually shut down by the government. IPVanish is notable in that it caters to more advanced users that need additional features such as shared IPs, IP Cycling, and automatic server switching. Of course, casual users may not necessarily need nor care much about such features.
As for their iOS app, IPVanish implements the same simple “Quick Connect” approach as that of the most other VPNs mentioned above with an added twist — an internet activity graph that updates in real-time. Similarly, users also have the option to choose VPN servers from a specific region through a list that also shows the current ping times and server load. This makes it easy for advanced users to choose a custom server that provides the best performance based on location and network activity.
- Decent speeds (enough for torrenting and video streaming).
- Unlimited bandwidth.
- Standard 256-bit AES security encryption.
- Supports torrenting and P2P connections.
- Simultaneous protection for up to 10 devices.
- More shared IPs than other VPN companies (over 40,000).
- Phone support (most other premium VPNs only offer chat or email support) which makes it ideal for users that want to be able to talk to live support staff in the event of technical problems.
- Shorter 7-day money-back guarantee; most other VPN companies offer at least a 30-day money-back guarantee for new users to try out their service.
- No ad-blocking functions.
- History of logging controversy.
- Slightly more expensive than most other VPNs (starts at $10 per month).
So there you have it — an overview of some of the best VPN for iOS devices and why you would want to consider getting one. As you may have already realized, the VPN services mentioned above have their similarities (unlimited bandwidth, no data logging, AES 256-bit encryption, support for multiple devices and the like) but they also have their differences in terms of pricing and additional features (some don’t support Netflix and torrenting).
In any case, the recommendations mentioned above ought to help make the selection process easier. All of them have rightfully earned their place as one of the top VPN companies of today. Choosing the best one for your iOS device ultimately boils down to carefully matching your needs and preferences with the most suitable VPN service provider.