Paying for a VPN is always the best way to get a secure, fast service with all the bells and whistles. However, for iPhone users there are some free VPNs on the app store that are trustworthy. So, if you are short on cash, you don’t have to miss out on the privacy, freedom, and security that a free iOS VPN can provide.
What are the Best Free VPNs for iOS?
Given just how many iPhone VPNs are on the App Store and the potential problems that come with them, finding the right provider can be difficult. Thankfully, our experts have compared the market to find the five best free VPNs for iPhones.
Hotspot Shield is well known name in the VPN space. The free plan provides access to the US-based server (which is what most users are looking for, according to our data). Having just one server location can feel quite restrictive, but it is pretty darn useful being the most coveted location. Admittedly, this free VPN does serve some adverts, but Hotspot Shield says no user data is captured and the ads are generic. It is a service that has proven its worth in war-torn and totalitarian nations that are blocking vital websites and services. A free VPN that gets the job done on any iOS device.
AtlasVPN is a US-based VPN provider that I found to be surprisingly good considering it is such an unknown service. During my tests, I found it t provide good speeds for streaming, and it worked well even on the free version. Admittedly, the VPN doesn’t provide OpenVPN encryption, which did disappoint me slightly.
That said, it offers IKEv2 instead, which is still a secure encryption protocol. Plus, the VPN has a robust no logs policy that ensures what you do online remains completely private, which makes it a reliable service from where I am standing. I was also happy to see that it provides a kill switch, so you can use it for torrenting if you want to.
I enjoyed using its apps on all platforms, and the iOS app was excellent and easy to use – making it good for beginners. For free you get access to servers in three countries, and you can use the VPN on an unlimited basis. This is extremely generous considering this is a trustworthy no logs VPN. The only real downside is that the free servers are about 5 times slower than on the paid plans, and it won’t unblock Netflix US unless you pay. That said, this is an extremely good option for getting privacy and security when using the internet, and for gaining added freedom for free.
Hide.me is a trustworthy provider that has an outstanding free VPN for iPhones and iPads. For free, users are limited to just five server locations (US East, US West, Singapore, the Netherlands, and Canada). This means you will need to try a different service if you require a server in the UK – or elsewhere. However, for many people this choice of countries will be ideal.
What’s great about this free VPN is that it provides the same level of privacy and security for free as it does on its full premium subscription plans. Without paying a cent, you will get 10GB of usage per month – with lightning fast connection speeds up to 80Mbps. Plus, this VPN provides strong privacy and encryption, making it a superb free VPN for iOS.
ProtonVPN is an excellent free VPN for iOS that lets people use it on an unlimited basis. The only reason it didn’t get the number one spot was our speed testing. The VPN only caps speeds to avoid congestion, but you can connect to servers in Japan, the Netherlands, and the US – all for free. This makes it good for bypassing censorship and gaining privacy on your iPhone.
When it comes to privacy and security, this VPN is highly secure. It provides a kill-switch and OpenVPN encryption, and it has a no-logs policy to ensure what you do online stays completely private. Perhaps the only drawback is that you will need to pay to access Netflix US (but this is true of all services).
For free, you can only use ProtonVPN on one device. However, you could get multiple subscriptions using various email addresses to get around that restriction. A trusted and reliable free VPN from Switzerland brought to you by the developers of ProtonMail.
How we pick VPNs for iOS – VPN testing methodology
The internet is jam-packed with competing VPN services. These providers are all competing for your attention, and many are willing to use unscrupulous methods to get you to subscribe. This makes it hard for consumers to trust what VPNs claim on their websites or in adverts.
At ProPrivacy, we have a team of VPN experts who work tirelessly to compare and review market-leading VPN services. To achieve this, we use a review and testing methodology that we have perfected over the course of many years.
Our review process allows us to check how secure and reliable a VPN is. It also allows us to understand whether one VPN is better than another. As part of our testing, we check whether a VPN has a strong VPN tunnel and encryption you can rely on to keep your browsing habits safe.
We also check for DNS leaks to be sure the VPN is providing the privacy levels to claims. In addition, we check that the VPN is useful by testing its speeds, checking its server locations, and analyzing its software.
Below, you can see some of the features we looked for when picking the best free VPNs for iOS:
- Custom apps for iOS that are secure and offer a varied feature set.
- Strong AES encryption to protect your data inside the VPN tunnel.
- A large global server network that works to access content and bypass censorship.
- DNS leak protection to prevent you from ever leaking your web visits to your ISP.
- A free subscription plan or a money-back guarantee to let you use the VPN for free on iOS.
- Plenty of advanced privacy protection features, including a kill-switch.
- The ability to access popular services like Netflix US and BBC iPlayer.
Are free VPNs for iOS safe?
There are a number of considerations you need to make before picking a free VPN. There are, of course, good free VPNs available, but there are also hundreds of bad ones too. So it’s important to do your research first. Here are some things that you should look out for.
There are hundreds of free services on the market, and the vast majority of those are dubious services with poor privacy policies.
Many free VPNs have been found to lie about the level of encryption they provide – and studies have revealed that many of them have no encryption at all!
In addition, a CSIRO study carried out in 2017 revealed that out of 234 free VPN apps studied, more than a third contained malvertising and malware. For this reason, choosing a free VPN at random can be extremely dangerous.
To stay safe, we encourage you to stick to the providers featured on this page.
Running a VPN is an expensive enterprise with a large number of outgoings. This makes it almost impossible to provide a good free service. Many cowboy VPN providers pull it off by collecting their users’ web data and browsing habits, selling it onto third parties such as data brokers.
A VPN that collects your data and sells it for a profit is the exact opposite of what they are supposed to do. A VPN is supposed to protect your privacy by encrypting your data and making it inaccessible to anybody but you. We urge you not to settle for this kind of free VPN when there are perfectly good ones on the market.
Limitations of free services
Some premium VPNs provide a free plan designed to advertise what they are capable of. The VPNs we have recommended in this article are both 100% safe to use and 100% free. However, these free plans do come with certain limitations.
Reputable VPN companies only provide a free version of their service to advertise the full premium VPN. In the long run, these companies hope that users will enjoy the limited free version of the VPN enough to upgrade to the full unrestricted version. It is for this reason that free plans have some or all the following restrictions:
- Limited server locations
- Data limitations
- Bandwidth restrictions (speed cap)
- Inability to access certain services (such as Netflix)
Please bear in mind that download limitations and connection speed restrictions make free VPNs unsuitable for streaming. Streaming will cause you to use up your data allowance extremely quickly, and slower VPN speeds will result in buffering.
If you require a VPN for streaming, we recommend checking out our list of the best cheap VPNs.
Free VPNs iPhone users should avoid
There are many dodgy free VPNs on the market. Even some of the VPNs that appear high on the Apple app store – and have been given high star ratings by consumers – are actually very concerning when it comes to privacy and security.
Sticking to the advised free iPhone VPNs only will allow you to make use of cost-free VPNs without any concerns. However, to help we have included a list of iOS VPNs that have been found to have poor privacy policies, a lack of encryption, or apps that contain spyware to help you know what to avoid: