Avira Phantom VPN will be the star of this review, being the second VPN developed by an antivirus-expert company that we decided to test, review and tell you how it went.
Nothing more about the reason why we chose this one, although we could mention the fact that its name (i.e. Phantom) implies that there’s serious stealth involved for users who decide to give it a shot.
However, if you’re worried that going through this whole review is going to take your whole day, don’t fret; we’ve thought of everything in advance, and, to show you just how thoughtful we are, we’ve included a table of content just below. That way you can still enjoy your favorite bits of our review without having to go through the whole thing if you don’t feel like it.
- No introduction really needed
- Company information
- Terms of Service
- What kind of data they collect
- What data is not collected; opting out of certain data gathering
- 14 Eyes Alliance
- A quick introduction to Avira Phantom VPN
- Creating an account
- Downloading Avira Phantom VPN on your device
- Malware scan results
- Installing the app on Windows
- The Avira launcher app
- Traffic counter for a premium app
- Our first impressions
- Using Avira Phantom VPN on Windows
- Accessing the Settings section
- Device Health
- The list of servers you can connect to
- Services they can unlock
- Torrenting and TOR support
- Preparing our operating table
- Security results are back
- Speed test results
- Customer support
- Free vs. PRO; understanding the differences
- Subscription plans
No introduction really needed
It goes without saying (it’s in the name, too) that Avira Phantom VPN is developed and supported by no other than Avira Operations GmbH & Co. KG. They don’t need any other kind of introduction since their reputation precedes them. However, creating and maintaining VPN services isn’t what they’re popular for, so we’re going to give them and their VPN our undivided attention in the following paragraphs.
The company behind this project is a German multinational company, specialized in security software and mainly known for its popular product, the Avira Internet Security antivirus solution.
Although Avira Operations GmbH & Co. KG has been founded in the year of 2006 by Tjark Auerbach, their antivirus software solution has been and still is under development since 1986 when the company was called H+BEDV Datentechnik GmbH.
The company’s headquarters are located nearby Lake Constance, Tettnang, Germany. However, they also have offices in Romania, China, the Netherlands, and the USA. They actively support a foundation called Auerbach Stiftung that was created by the company’s founder. This foundation helps to promote social projects and charitable ones, but are also involved in arts, science, and culture.
Terms of Service
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to find a VPN-specific Terms of Service document on their website, since they actively develop other products as well. The one we did find, however, has two sections, one for Germany, Austria, and Switzerland residents, and another for customers who reside outside of these areas. Among the clauses that piqued our interest (since they were somehow related to VPN usage) are as follows:
- You must comply with applicable laws when using their product (both domestic and international laws apply);
- You may not use their product (in this case Avira Phantom VPN) to transfer (upload, download, post, distribute) materials that infringe rights such as intellectual rights, rights to privacy or confidential information or ones that violate export laws or third-party rights;
- In case you fail to comply, the actions that might be taken against you can include interrupting your usage of their service, collecting damages and bringing you to court and, for some unlawful activities, criminal prosecution might be applicable;
- Using a product doesn’t give you any kind of intellectual property ownership over it, or to the contents, you access while using their services;
- Some data can and will be collected from you while using their services, including but not limited to your name, address, phone number, email address, facial image, various biometric records, your voice, credit card information. This data might include sensitive data from your devices.
The data they collect can be used to inform you about various upgrades, products (new and existing alike), offers and other types of information. Although you can opt-out of data collection in some cases, for the reasons mentioned above, opting out of collecting some of the data above might not be possible.
Although the Terms of Service documentation is lengthy, the clauses are explained in a very straight-forward and user-friendly manner. To put the agreement terms briefly, you may not break any laws while using their service, and you understand that some data collection is necessary for their products to function well.
What kind of data they collect
However, they do have some usage information regarding Avira Phantom VPN, so that’s something we can cling to. According to their claim, most of the data they process is collected in an anonymized or pseudonymized format. The data they might collect can be sorted in various categories, as follows:
Data gathered when you visit their websites:
- The region you’re visiting the website from;
- Data regarding the device you’re accessing their website from;
- Your operating system and the browser you’re using to access their website;
- Data regarding your behavior on their website during your current visit;
- Whether you’ve visited their website before or not;
- Your name;
- Your email address;
- Your IP address;
- Your telephone number;
- Your address details;
- Inquiry-specific data;
- Contact details;
- Hardware and software information;
- Log data;
- Analysis-tools-generated data for better inquiry handling;
- Billing system data;
- Timestamps for when you were online (connected to their service);
- The amount of data you utilized (since in some cases there’s a bandwidth cap);
Your data is stored for an indefinite period, until its purpose has been fulfilled, depending on the contract duration and various legal requirements. When it is no longer needed, the data will be anonymized and/or deleted. If you want your data to be deleted, you can make a request, but for ‘technical and legal reasons’ it may take up to 180 days for it to be permanently erased. More so, you should understand that after your deletion request will be confirmed, your data will become unrecoverable.
What data is not collected; opting out of certain data gathering
Since we’re only interested in Avira Phantom VPN, we will only mention the types of data that they don’t log while using this service. The list is actually pretty narrow since it only holds these two entries:
- Information regarding the websites you visit while connected to their VPN;
- Information regarding the services you use on the Internet while connected to their VPN;
You should also understand that Avira relies on third-parties and cookies to monitor some information. Whenever you use their products or services, cookies are uploaded to your browser. In turn, they can help the website to be displayed correctly and can aid the development team with optimizing their website and/or services, based on the information they collected.
14 Eyes Alliance
As you might probably know by now, Germany is a member of the 14 Eyes Alliance, which is an international surveillance alliance that various countries around the world are members of. These countries collaborate in terms of collecting and sharing mass surveillance data from their residents.
While it’s not a given fact that merely being a part of such an alliance means that every company on your territory spies on their customers and gives data to whoever asks nicer, you should still be aware of the implications it brings. If for one reason or another, one of the countries within the Alliance requests your personal data, they might receive it without a second thought.
A quick introduction to Avira Phantom VPN
As its name clearly states, Avira Phantom VPN is a VPN service, which means it can help you anonymize your connection and keep it that way, by preventing others, such as hackers or your ISP, from snooping on your online whereabouts.
It comes in two flavors, a free version and a premium one, the former being subjected to various limitations, while the latter is offering you the full experience. There is no device limit imposed on you, but if you choose the free edition, you’ll be limited to 500 Mbs/month.
Creating an account
It goes without saying that in order to make use of Avira Phantom VPN, you need to create an Avira account. Fortunately, doing so can be accomplished without too much effort. The steps you’re going to take for creating an account are described below:
- Navigate to Avira;
- Select a plan from the list;
- Click the “Buy now” button;
- Check the content of your shopping cart;
- Click the “Checkout” button;
- Fill in your payment details;
- Fill in your personal details;
- Hit the “Buy now” button;
That’s it! Not only have you created an Avira account, but you’ve also purchased a subscription for Avira Phantom VPN.
Downloading Avira Phantom VPN on your device
Retrieving the VPN applications on your device can be achieved in a fairly quick and effortless manner, since the only things you’re supposed to do are navigating to Avira, logging into your account, locating the product list and actually downloading Avira Phantom VPN.
You should be aware that certain devices, such as the Android or iPhone/iPad devices, come with Google Play Store, respectively Apple App Store links instead of installers.
Malware scan results
Even though this file came from a provider that’s also an antivirus expert, we can’t risk not subjecting it to at least a basic checkup against VirusTotal. The reason why we perform this check every time is that nowadays there’s a wide variety of attacks that can make you end up with a fake file (in our case an installer), or even the official file but with a piggybacking payload attached to it.
While VirusTotal might not be 100% accurate since identifying and getting to detect new malware (0-day) can sometimes take a while, it is still one of the best alternatives out there since it provides you with several antivirus engines to check your documents against.
You can see our malware scan results here.
Installing the app on Windows
Although different than your standard VPN service provider, the Avira Phantom VPN installer isn’t necessarily more complicated. The steps that need to be taken in order to deploy this app on your Windows computer are as follows:
- Double-click the installer that you’ve downloaded on your computer;
- Wait for the setup process to be completed;
- After the installation has reached an end, hit the “Open Avira” button in the installer window;
Notice that the installer didn’t just deploy the Avira Phantom VPN app on your computer, but also an Avira application that can be used as a control center for all the Avira products that are installed on your system and for those that are not.
The Avira launcher app
As mentioned above, the only way you can launch the Avira Phantom VPN client on your computer is through the Avira application, which acts as a launcher, or an app manager of some sort, that also holds details about the devices you’re using their services on and the licenses you own.
You’ll notice that even though you can’t see it, the Avira app will run from your system tray, hidden from your sight, but that can still be a nuisance, especially if you just wanted the VPN and are not interested in Avira’s other apps at all.
If you have an account and would like to link it to your device, you can do so by simply clicking the “Register” button in the upper part of the Avira app. If you’re logged in on the website, the app will pick this information up immediately and sync with the website. If not, you can either register for a new account or log into your existing one.
Traffic counter for a premium app
If you don’t own a paid subscription plan, you’ll be limited at 500 Mbs worth of traffic each month. However, if you’ve logged into your ‘premium’ account, you’ll notice that the Avira Phantom VPN application’s appearance has shifted to a dark theme and the 500 Mb/month limit has been removed from the main screen and has been replaced by a counter that measures how much traffic you’ve used so far.
We initially thought that this counter resets every time you disconnect from their VPN servers, but we were wrong. The counter seems to record the total amount of data you’ve transferred to and from your device, regardless of the number of sessions. While monitoring this parameter is justified in the free version’s case, having such a monitor for the premium version is unnecessary and can feel somehow invasive. Our guess is that in some cases, a bandwidth limit might be imposed, even for premium users.
Our first impressions
The main window of the app consists of a traffic counter, as specified above, a connection status field, a server selection button and a Connect/Disconnect button. The upper part of the window lets you access your account quickly and the settings menu.
The interface is a plain, minimalistic one, with intuitive features, making it possible even for inexperienced users to operate its controls without significant efforts. No complicated features, hidden menus, sections, panes or buttons whatsoever.
Although there’s no minimize button available on the toolbar, clicking the “x” button doesn’t automatically shut down the application, but it minimizes it in the system tray, next to the pesky Avira launcher mentioned above.
Using Avira Phantom VPN on Windows
Actually making use of this VPN app on your Windows computer can be accomplished very easily. You just have to select a server from the list (or let it use “Nearest location” if you don’t care that much about where you will be assigned) and hit the “Connect” button. After a brief waiting period, you’ll be connected to the chosen server and also notified about the status of your connection.
If you choose to explore the server list, you’ll notice that each entry also comes with what appears to be a real-time ping test, in order to help you make your choice quicker. Naturally, you’d want to pick a server with a lower ping.
Accessing the Settings section
If you click the gear-shaped button in the upper portion of the screen, you’ll be able to see the configuration section of the application. However, if you’re the tinkerer type, you’ll be somewhat disappointed, since the amount of features available in this section is far from being large.
In this section you can choose the virtual location (VPN server), which you can also do from the main window (pretty pointless option and a waste of space, in our opinion), set the app to connect to a VPN server automatically for certain wireless networks and toggle a bunch of options on or off.
These options are sending diagnostic data (not clear exactly what data will be sent), launching the app at system start, blocking the Internet traffic if the connection drops (also known as a kill switch) and blocking malicious sites and content (more of an antivirus/anti-malware component, but we appreciate it nonetheless).
We’ve noticed that after installation, in our website dashboard, the Digital Health section came to life and started displaying some details about our devices. To put it in their words, it “checks your PC to give you a protection status report about the security, privacy, and performance of your device.”
While we appreciate their concern regarding the well-being of our devices, implementing such a function that collects this kind of data about a device and urges you to populate your system with various Avira products isn’t exactly a desirable trait and it feels invasive, to say at least.
The list of servers you can connect to
On their website, you can see that Avira Phantom VPN provides you with 38 server locations around the world, which is not at all an impressive number. The exact number of servers isn’t disclosed.
Isle of Man
USA – Atlanta
USA – Chicago
USA – Dallas
USA – Las Vegas
USA – Los Angeles
USA – New York City
USA – Miami
USA – Newark
USA – Phoenix
USA – San Francisco
USA – Seattle
USA – Washington, D.C.
As you can see, there’s not much to talk about, since the network seems pretty narrow. Unfortunately, there are some issues that might arise as a consequence of a restricted VPN server network. For instance, if you need to connect to a certain location that only comes with one or two servers, you can’t do much if there are connection issues (speed- and/or stability-wise). More so, certain locations that are generally covered by other VPN providers can’t be found on this list altogether.
Services they can unlock
It’s a well-known fact that many users are looking for the perfect VPN service, the one that can anonymize their protection (and keep it that way) without logging a lot of data about them (or none, if possible), while also giving them insane connection speeds, unlocking everything there is to unlock (bypassing geo-restriction and not only) and being a cheap service, to begin with.
However, some don’t care about security that much and only want to have fun with contents that are otherwise not available to them. We put Avira Phantom VPN to a test to see what exactly can it unlock. We’ve successfully unlocked Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and BBC iPlayer with this VPN, so we are nothing short of satisfied about the outcome of this test.
However, you should take into consideration the fact that numerous entertainment service providers such as the ones mentioned above have waged war on VPN users since they believe that certain content shouldn’t be available for everyone (despite the fact that they are subscription-based services). To put it briefly, this situation can change overnight, so enjoy it while it lasts.
Torrenting and TOR support
Another criterion that customers use to decide whether a VPN service is good for them is whether it features torrenting support. Some of them also look for VPNs services that can work in conjunction with TOR. Well, we’ve tested them both.
We’ve connected to an Avira Phantom VPN server, fired up our torrent client and attempted to download a file from the Internet (legally, of course). Without being connected to the VPN server, we’ve been able to reach a top speed of 6.3 Mbps. While Avira Phantom VPN was active, the top speed even exceeded the non-VPN value, so torrenting is fully supported and unthrottled.
TOR is also compatible with this VPN service since it worked without a hiccup. However, you should take into consideration that, while it does add an extra layer of security, TOR can render your connection to become really slow. More so, malicious TOR exit nodes usually pass unencrypted traffic and are more often than not monitored, so your privacy might be compromised if you’re not cautious enough. Our advice would be sticking to either TOR or a VPN instead of combining the two.
Preparing our operating table
Every single VPN service that’s reached our devices is subjected to the same series of tests. We perform these checks in order to decide whether the service that’s been provided to you is as safe as advertised, and after we get security out of the way, we can start focusing on the speed aspect as well.
For our tests, we’re going to use 3 public services, called IPX, ipleak and BrowserLeaks, as we’ve described in this article. This way, not only you can replicate our tests on your own devices, but you can also share your results with us (or others, for that matter). Speed tests will be carried out on Netflix’s fast.com website.
Security results are back
For all of these tests, we chose a server in Germany instead of letting the app suggesting a location for us to use. During these tests, we will check for IP, DNS and WebRTC requests leaks and include them in our report, if we are able to identify any.
That concludes our security tests, which say that Avira Phantom VPN can provide you with an airtight connection, despite the lack of features the application provides you with (no way of changing the protocol, no split tunneling, no IPv6 blocking).
Speed test results
After getting the security tests out of the way, we can focus on what matters most for users who are not concerned with their privacy so much: speed! As opposed to the security tests, where we chose a single server and ran our tests on it, in this case, we’ll pick multiple ones to see how much they differ from one server to another. We’re aiming for a widespread, meaning that we’re going to choose servers from multiple areas, one for each major region.
The test results are back:
|Location||Internet Speed||Latency||Upload Speed||Downloaded||Uploaded|
|U.S.A.||39 Mbps||122 ms||123 ms||42 Mbps||30 MB||200 MB|
|Germany||94 Mbps||31 ms||32 ms||72 Mbps||140 MB||170 MB|
|Brazil||35 Mbps||222 ms||222 ms||62 Mbps||110 MB||230 MB|
|Hong Kong||27 Mbps||248 ms||249 ms||22 Mbps||90 MB||90 MB|
|Australia||25 Mbps||290 ms||291 ms||59 Mbps||60 MB||170 MB|
As you can see, the speed values our tests have yielded are far from being impressive and at some points our connection dropped (during the Hong Kong test), so speed-wise, Avira Phantom VPN is not exactly lightning-fast, but not a slowpoke, either.
First thing’s first, we feel like it’s important that you should know this: if you want to use the free version of their product (Avira Phantom VPN), you will benefit from absolutely no customer support. The only thing you can do in case you encounter any issue with the product/service is to shuffle around Avira’s knowledge base, hoping that you can find an answer there.
Another thing worth mentioning is that, despite the fact that they’re a fairly large company, they have no live chat support, so the only way you can reach them is by sending them an email or calling them on the phone. Really? Phone call support, but no live chat?
Another thing you could do is write them a DM on Twitter since apparently, they have an account dedicated to aiding their customers.
We’ve tried contacting them by using their internal email submission system and, while they responded fairly quickly (less than a day), the reply was a generic one that didn’t exactly answer our question. So there’s a chance you might not solve your issue on your first try, not even with the aid of their customer support crew.
Free vs. PRO; understanding the differences
You know by now that Avira Phantom VPN comes in two flavors: a free version and a subscription-based one. Although you could give their free version a try, 500 Mbs per month is an extremely low limit. More so, the free version also comes with some other limitations that you’ll understand immediately.
|Feature||Phantom VPN||Phantom VPN Pro|
|Price||Free||3,95 € to 5,95 € per month|
|Bandwidth limit||500 MB/month||Unlimited|
|Access to geo-restricted sites||Yes||Yes|
|DNS leak prevention||Yes||Yes|
|Multi-device (PC, Mac, Android & iOS)||Yes||Yes|
|Auto-connect VPN for Wi-Fi networks||Yes||Yes|
|Fail-safe (kill switch)||No||Yes|
As you can see, not only that the free version comes with a bandwidth limit, but only lacks a kill switch and provides you with no customer support.
Avira Phantom VPN comes with several subscription plans that you can choose to, in case you’ve decided that the free version just doesn’t cut it for you and want to make the commitment of purchasing a subscription plan.
As you can see, the prices aren’t exactly high and their plans are flexible enough to be bent to your preferences, whether you’re looking for a long-term commitment (yearly plan) you want a quick mobile security solution or would prefer a regular, monthly plan.
Bottom line, Avira Phantom VPN is, as its name suggests, a VPN service that can help you anonymize your connection and keep it away from the prying eyes of hackers or your ISP.
The company behind this project has its headquarters in Germany, which is a 14 Eyes Alliance country. That doesn’t mean that your data will be automatically shared with other countries’ governments because of that, but the risk that this could happen is a higher one than for non-14-Eyes countries.
Although their Terms of Service isn’t tailored to fit their VPN service exclusively, they have some mentions that can apply to Avira Phantom VPN, which were explained above. Mainly, you shouldn’t break the law or use their service in any unlawful manner.
Installing the application on Windows comes with an additional app, called simply “Avira,” which is used to manage various Avira products on your computer or install them from there if you haven’t already, see information about your devices and manage your subscriptions.
The “Avira” app can’t be closed, as it runs at all times silently, in your system tray. There’s no way to detach Avira Phantom VPN from it. More so, the premium VPN app comes with a traffic data counter, which seems unnecessary and somehow invasive, given that the premium service grants you unlimited bandwidth.
During our tests, we’ve noticed that within the website dashboard, the Digital Health section monitored multiple details about our device, giving us real-time details about our device’s well-being and persuading us to install additional Avira products, for added performance, security, and privacy.
Their network of servers is far from being large, and some of their servers can be sometimes unstable. However, during our tests, most of them behaved flawlessly.
Security-wise, we’ve noticed that IPv6 data wasn’t blocked, but didn’t leak either. Apart from that, our tests came out negative for leaks, which makes us believe Avira Phantom VPN is a secure VPN service after all.
Speed-wise, we weren’t impressed with the results we’ve reached when using Avira Phantom VPN. During the speed test, trying to connect to the Hong Kong server was troublesome at first, but it got back on track shortly after. The traffic data counter seemed to have broken too, during a test, since it started reporting a lower amount of data than it did moments before.
The service can unlock various entertainment services including Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer and Amazon Video Prime, features torrenting support and also works in conjunction with TOR.
A free version of the product is available, however, it’s limited at 500 Mbs per month, doesn’t include a kill switch and features no customer support.
Do we recommend Avira Phantom VPN? Yes. If you don’t care much about those little slip-ups and get past the fact that it pushes other Avira products into your direction, it can be a reliable service that gets the job done.
+ Good security; (5)
+ Lets you use it on unlimited devices; (5)
+ Comes with a free version; (4)
+ No-logging policy; (4)
– 14 Eyes Alliance country; (1)
– Admit to logging some private data; (1)
– Unnecessary device monitoring (Device Health); (1)
– Windows app is dependent to an app manager/launcher; (0)
– Narrow server network; (1)
– Low speed results; (1)
Avira Phantom VPN has received a 2.3/5 rating.