Whether you are an Apple fan or not, it’s tough to argue against the fact that the first iPhone changed the way people think about mobile phones. While Microsoft and others have made some attempts at smartphones prior to that, Apple’s iPhone knocked it out of the park in terms of design, accessibility, and innovation. Thus, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Apple is now the most valuable tech company in the world.
However, they did not stop there. Ever since then, Apple has continued to push the boundaries in many regards, although there have been some missteps along the way as well. Not only that, but their products have gotten a lot more expensive in recent years, which led many people to wonder about the company’s tactics.
In any case, one of the things that set Apple apart from most other phone manufacturers is that they also design their own operating system – the iOS. Because of this, app developers must keep up with Apple in terms of updates and compatibility problems, not to mention the fact that it’s notoriously difficult for an app to be accepted on the official App Store.
In terms of security and privacy, Apple has made considerable efforts to protect its users in the past, as it was the case when the company refused to break their own encryption in order to aid the authorities. Furthermore, the fact that you pay a lot of money for one of their devices should mean that they are not tempted to also sell your data behind your back, since they are already quite rich.
On the other hand, the only way to protect your privacy from snoopers nowadays is to use a VPN, and this includes your iPhone and iPad. In fact, it’s almost mandatory to do so when you think about the fact that these devices are almost constantly communicating over the Internet. In addition, you also need a VPN if you are dealing with censorship, because unfortunately, Apple is more than eager to comply with governments in order to protect their profits.
As such, it’s always a good idea to protect your phone and your tablet with a sturdy VPN, regardless of whether you want to browse the Internet without being tracked, access blocked websites, or prevent your ISP from peeking at your traffic. Thus, this is why we have decided to take a look at the market and see which VPNs offer the best experience on iPhones and iPads.
What makes a VPN good for iPhones and iPads
Although Apple devices are not that different under the hood when it comes to processing power, the differences start to accrue when it comes to the software and the operating system. Hence, it’s pretty well-known that Apple does not allow you to install third-party apps on your phone or tablet if they cannot be found on the App Store, so that’s the first hurdle you must overcome.
On the other hand, every major VPN makes its iOS app available on the App Store, so that’s not a problem you have to deal with. But even so, Apple has a habit of quickly dropping support for older iOS versions, which in turn means that app developers must keep up with them and update their own software regularly. Because of that, a good VPN will always provide its users with fresh updates, and you should definitely keep that in mind while making your choice as well.
After that, you have to remember that a mobile device like an iPhone or an iPad has a limited amount of battery power to work with. Hence, if your VPN app starts draining too much of your battery too quickly, then it may prove to be quite frustrating, especially since modern phones can barely last 24h even under normal conditions.
Lastly, a good iPhone and iPad VPN should also be able to do what a VPN usually does: keep your traffic private. It’s really no use to have fancy features and thousands of servers at your disposal if your IP address is leaked, or if the VPN provider itself keeps detailed logs about your sessions. Thus, even if you don’t plan on using the same VPN on other devices, it’s wise to do a bit of research into its history, as well as run some security tests beforehand. You can find out how to do that by reading our article.
How to choose a VPN for your iPhone or iPad
The first thing you should look for when choosing a VPN for your iPhone/iPad is whether or not it suits your needs. In essence, this depends on what you want to use the VPN for, since not all of them are good at everything. Some are better at unblocking streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, while others are better when it comes to accessing the Internet from heavily-censored countries.
Once that’s settled, you should also make sure that the chosen VPN comes bundled with the usual must-have features. This includes a kill switch, the possibility to automatically reconnect whenever a new Wi-Fi connection is detected, as well as support for multiple protocols, namely TCP and UDP. Granted, almost all VPNs should offer these features by default, but it’s a good idea to check if you decide to go with a lesser-known app.
iOS integration is also crucial because we all know how annoying certain apps can be when they do not play nicely with the operating system. In essence, this means that the app should have widgets for easy access, as well as a user interface that takes advantage of everything your iPhone or iPad has to offer, including things like pressure-sensitive touchscreens, etc.
Lastly, constant updates are also very important. If the VPN provider does not keep up with the regular iOS updates you can quickly find yourself unable to use the VPN properly, which is not great news if you have already paid for a subscription month in advance. However, this should not be a worry where big VPNs are concerned, because they usually push updates and fixes every week or so.
The best VPNs for iPhone & iPad in 2020
After all that, it’s finally time to make our picks, as well as go into detail about each VPN in order to provide you with a better idea of what they have to offer. Keep in mind the fact that the final decision is up to you since you know exactly what features you need the most, as well as how much you are willing to spend for a VPN subscription.
In order to quickly jump from one pick to the other, you can use the links below and navigate there with a simple click.
If you want to have an overview of all the VPNs on our list and compare their features, you can make use of the table below.
|Company part of the 14 Eyes alliance||No||No||No||No||No|
|iOS version requirement||11.0 or later||10.0 or later||9.3 or later||9.3 or later||12.0 or later|
|Live chat support||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
NordVPN did not pull any punches for the iOS version of the app either, which means that you don’t lose much functionality if you switch from the Mac or Windows version. In essence, almost every feature can be used on your iPhone/iPad as well, including things like specialty servers, a kill switch, and the handy CyberSec add-on that protects you from online threats and malware.
To begin with, the user interface is about as straightforward as it gets, and you only need one or two clicks in order to connect to the desired server. Not only that, but you even get to see the servers laid down on the world’s map, so you know exactly how far the chosen location is from you. Furthermore, it’s also worth remembering that NordVPN provides you with access to thousands of servers, as well as locations on every continent.
You don’t lose anything in terms of protocol support either, because the iOS app supports both IKEv2 and IPsec, along the usual UDP and TCP. It’s also possible to let the app automatically choose the best protocol for your connection, although you may want to tweak it manually sometimes if you are doing something specific, such as downloading large files or streaming movies.
As mentioned before, NordVPN features an in-app kill switch, which is designed to immediately turn off your Internet connection if something goes wrong with the VPN server you are connected to. This keeps your device from leaking info in the process, so it’s recommended that you keep this feature on at all times, even if it can be rather inconvenient every now and again.
Unfortunately, NordVPN does not support split-tunneling for the iOS version, although it must be mentioned that none of the other native NordVPN apps include it either, be it Windows or Mac. Hence, only the browser add-on is designed to support split-tunneling, so this is not a major loss if you do your research beforehand.
As a bonus, you also get access to lists of specialty servers designed for particular purposes, such as P2P traffic or TOR traffic. Hence, while the P2P servers are optimized for high download speeds, the “Onion over VPN” servers are designed to help you access the deep web, as well as keep your traffic hidden from your ISP by making use of the TOR network.
+ Includes a kill switch option
+ Comes with CyberSec, which protects your iPhone/iPad from malware
+ Huge selection of servers and locations
+ Support for IPsec and IKEv2
+ Includes specialty servers for P2P and TOR
– No split-tunneling abilities
Given the fact that ExpressVPN is one of the most important VPN providers in the world at the moment, it’s really no surprise that it’s also a good choice for your iOS devices. While it may lack certain features found in the Windows or macOS versions, the iOS app is more than capable to satisfy your privacy needs both on iPads and iPhones, especially if you are not put off by the rather high monthly subscription price.
To begin with, you get access to all the protocols you could wish for, including UDP, TCP, IPsec, and IKEv2, which means that you have great flexibility in this regard. Furthermore, the different protocols also allow you to make the most out of your connection. Thus, TCP and IKEv2 are great for security purposes, while UDP should be your go-to option if you want great download speeds and fast loading times while browsing.
Another great thing about the app is that you can let it automatically reconnect if something goes wrong with the VPN server while you are using it. This means that you are not forced to manually pick the desired server every time the client loses connectivity. Naturally, the servers are pretty stable and reliable most of the time, so this is not a big issue anyway.
What can be a bit of a bother however, is the fact that ExpressVPN does not provide you with a kill switch option on iOS. Hence, while you may be used to the Network Lock option on Windows, Mac, and Android, this is not something you get on your iPhone or iPad, which kind of annoying, given the fact that a kill switch is one of the most basic features out there.
On top of that, the split-tunneling feature is nowhere to be found on iOS either. If you are not familiar with the term, split-tunneling is a technology that allows the VPN app to ignore certain apps and allow them to bypass the traffic rerouting. In this case, however, once ExpressVPN is turned on it will affect every other app you use, and there is no way to change that. On the other hand, this is better in terms of security, since you never know what app may try to track you behind your back.
Lastly, in terms of pure VPN prowess, there’s very little to complain about when it comes to ExpressVPN. There are plenty of locations to choose from, thousands of servers all over the world, as well as some of the highest download and upload speeds money can buy. In addition, the app is also quite capable when it comes to unblocking streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and BBC iPlayer.
+ One of the biggest network of servers and locations
+ Impressive download speeds
+ Able to unblock streaming platforms with ease
+ Multiple protocols to choose from, including IKEv2 and IPsec
– No kill switch option
– No split-tunneling capabilities
– Higher price than most other services
CyberGhost is definitely king when it comes to server numbers, which means that there is never a situation where your connection suffers because the servers are overloaded. However, the service shines when it comes to the iOS app as well, even if it doesn’t come with all the features you would find in the Windows or macOS version. On the other hand, your phone and tablet are designed for lighter use as well.
Right off the bat, CyberGhost impresses when it comes to the user interface, especially since it’s very easy to find your way around the app, regardless of whether you are a beginner or a tech-savvy person. Hence, the app is designed to quickly let you know what features you might need depending on your interests.
The servers are also split into multiple categories, including dedicated lists for streaming and a separate list for your favorite servers. In fact, the streaming section is quite varied, given the fact that CyberGhost allows you to unblock a wide range of services, including things like Netflix, YouTube Red, or Amazon Prime. Not only that, but you also get access to country-specific servers for Netflix, which means that you can unblock Netflix content in the US, UK, France, and a few others.
Security-wise, CyberGhost uses the IPsec protocol by default, which helps protect your traffic from prying eyes. On top of that, you also get top-notch encryption as well, so even if someone manages to get a hold of your traffic data, they won’t be able to unravel it. Granted, that should never happen anyway, but it’s nice to know there are multiple fail-safes in place in case something goes terribly wrong.
Lastly, the app does come with an integrated kill switch, which is definitely good news, since many other apps do not seem to include this feature on iOS for some reason. Thankfully, CyberGhost did not forget about it, so you can rest assured knowing that your Internet connection will be immediately turned off in case the server you are connected to experiences issues.
+ Includes an in-app kill switch
+ A staggering number of servers and locations all over the world
+ Dedicated servers for streaming, with great location spoofing options
+ Intuitive and engaging user interface
– A bit more expensive than its competition
– No split-tunneling capabilities
Surfshark is definitely among the top VPN solutions on the market at the moment, which means that its iOS variant is a solid choice as well. Granted, you don’t get access to quite all the features you would get on a PC or a Mac, but you are certainly not losing anything in terms of security and speed, that’s for sure.
One of the nicest features that is also available for iPhones and iPads is the ability to use a double VPN, thanks to the MultiHop connections. In essence, this enables you to reroute your traffic through two different countries, making it next to impossible for any website or ISP to keep tabs on you or track your real location. Obviously, it goes without saying that by activating this feature you are going to take a serious hit in terms of speed and latency, but it may be worth it if your goal is to remain completely anonymous.
Another interesting thing about the iOS app is the fact that you also get access to dedicated servers for P2P traffic. As you might expect, these servers are designed to provide you with very high download speeds, so that you can take full advantage of your connection. While it’s not common practice for a lot of people to download torrents on their tablets or smartphones, it’s still a nice option to have at your disposal.
After that, there is also the CleanWeb feature, which is designed to eliminate any ads that might try to interfere with your web browsing experience. This works for any kind of browser you might want to use on your device, which means that there’s no longer any need for special browser add-ons in order to get rid of ads. Not a lot of services offer this kind of functionality, so Surfshark wins quite a few points for this.
Lastly, you can also expect an in-app kill switch, which is always a must-have for a VPN app. Unfortunately, the great White Lister feature is not available on iOS at the moment, which means that there’s no way to pick which apps can ignore the VPN. However, you do get unlimited simultaneous connections with any subscription, so that evens things out in terms of perks and advantages.
+ Unlimited simultaneous connections with a single subscription
+ Access to MultiHop connections for better anonymity
+ Dedicated servers for P2P traffic
+ An integrated kill switch
– The WhiteLister is not available on iOS yet
– Not as many servers and locations as other VPN providers
Although it provides a robust list of features and quite a bit of functionality, IVPN is definitely not as big as all the other services on this list, especially when it comes to the number of servers and locations. On the other hand, there are some interesting things happening in the app’s background that make it a good choice even on iOS, which is all that matters for the purposes of this article.
To begin with, IVPN includes a special kind of kill switch, one that is advertised as being far more secure than your average kill switch. In short, the app uses a firewall to route all Internet traffic through the VPN, and whenever something goes wrong with your phone or your tablet, IVPN simply blocks all traffic through this firewall and keeps you safe from being exposed. This also works in case you have a poor Wi-Fi signal, or if your network adapter suddenly resets for some reason.
Another great feature is the fact that IVPN operates its own DNS servers, which allows them to control all traffic and never keep any logs of what passes through. Naturally, this is exactly what you want from a VPN, especially if your goal is to remain as hidden as possible while browsing the web. On the other hand, this means that there are very few servers to choose from, at least at the moment.
In order to convince people of the reliability of their product, IVPN also makes the code for all of their apps open source, which is a great way to see how your data is being handled in the back-end.
Obviously, this is not that helpful if you are not a coder, but it’s good to know that the company has enough confidence in their code to show it to the public, especially since it can easily be audited this way.
+ Strong kill switch option that makes sure your traffic is never exposed
+ Private DNS servers with the zero-logs policy
+ All the apps are open source, which means you can check the code for yourself
– Very few servers when compared to other VPN providers on this list
– No split-tunneling
While it may be more expensive to own an iPhone or an iPad in general, that doesn’t mean your privacy and security should be a luxury as well. As you can see, our list includes VPNs for every budget, and there are also plenty of options for users who are looking for a specific set of features, such as unblocking streaming services or downloading files through P2P networks.
Whatever the case may be, there’s no shortage of good options when it comes to equipping your iOS device with a good VPN. As such, the only thing left for you to do is to pick the one that ticks all the right boxes in your case. However, don’t forget that you can also use the same VPN on a variety of other devices and operating systems with the same subscription, so it would be wise to take that into consideration as well.