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The best VPN services for iPhone and iPad in 2024: Expert tested and reviewed

The best VPN services for iPhone and iPad in 2024: Expert tested and reviewed
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ZDNET’s reviewers perform extensive testing on the VPNs on this list. We test out connections through different countries, and run speed tests using speedtest.net to measure and compare results. We also test whether the VPN has any DNS leaks while connecting, which would potentially provide information to your ISP or other services about what sites you visit or your originating location or IP address. We evaluate how easy each service is to navigate via website and app, how well it works for streaming content, and its customer service offerings. All of these factors give us a view into how well the VPN works, and how secure it is.

While iPhones tend to have excellent connectivity, using your mobile data as a hotspot while traveling can get expensive. You might turn to local hotels, airports, or coffee shops with Wi-Fi to get online — but this is a major security risk, especially if you’re traveling in a foreign country since there’s no telling who or what is monitoring your traffic. 

We recommend using a virtual private network (VPN) service that works with your iPhone and iPad to keep your data and browsing safe while on the go. And if you’re looking to stream content that isn’t available in your area, a VPN can potentially unlock access (in some cases, with dubious legality). We’ve analyzed and ranked the top VPN services we’ve tested and researched over the years that offer solid iPhone and iPad clients, good performance, strong security, and are suitable for the Apple ecosystem. 

Also: The best travel VPNs

What is the best VPN for iPhone and iPad right now?

Based on extensive testing, our pick for the best VPN for iPhone and iPad overall is NordVPN. Recent updates have increased the VPN’s server and country availability, and while it is not the cheapest service available, NordVPN is known for its rapid speeds and solid connectivity.

Check out our picks for the top VPNs for iPhones and iPads below. 

Best VPN services for iPhones and iPads in 2024

NordVPN

Best VPN overall

NordVPN is one of the more popular VPN offerings on the iPhone App Store. Installing NordVPN on the iPhone is a simple, painless way to secure predictable performance across regions, and the service is compatible with iOS 13.0 or later.

NordVPN’s interface is user-friendly, and during testing, we found the service offered consistent, reliable speeds that do not impact streaming services or make a noticeable difference to internet surfing. 

It has many tools in addition to a standard VPN service. NordVPN’s Onion over VPN is a special category of NordVPN servers that enables Tor capabilities, supports peer-to-peer file sharing, and allows you to connect through a second server for an added layer of protection. You can also set up a dedicated IP address for an additional fee. 

Due to recent updates, we now consider this VPN to be one of the best available — combining speed, server availability, reliability, and a high number of simultaneous connections. NordVPN has increased the number of simultaneous connections you can have from six to ten devices. New server locations have also increased from 60 to 111, which now includes Greenland, the Isle of Man, Trinidad and Tobago, and Bermuda. 

I’ve used NordVPN for years and have always been impressed with its stable connectivity and rapid speeds. Customers generally report fast speeds and minimal buffering with easy setup, although some caution that you should turn off auto-renewal.

Review: NordVPN

In addition to iOS, NordVPN runs on all the most popular platforms. Prices start from $3.69 per month on a two-year standard plan, with a bonus of three months of free access. Yearly plans begin at $4.59/month. If you only want to try out NordVPN for a month, prices begin at $12.99/month. 

NordVPN has also recently begun offering additional cybersecurity options, such as identity theft and cyber extortion coverage, under Ultimate plans, which begin at $6.69/month. 

NordVPN features: Apple App Store rating: 4.7 | Simultaneous connections: 10 | Kill switch: Yes | Platforms: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Android TV | Logging: None, except billing data | Countries: 111 | Servers: 6,000+ | Money-back guarantee: 30 days

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Surfshark VPN

Best budget VPN

Surfshark VPN is an affordable and reliable service. When we reviewed Surfshark, we found no information leaks, and it had fast connection times. Luckily, the company doesn’t skimp on security. It offers AES-256-GCM, RSA-2048, and Perfect Forward Secrecy encryption. Surfshark supports devices running iOS 10.3 or higher. If you want protection for a macOS machine, you will need macOS 10.15 or later and an active subscription.

Surfshark has many features, including ad and tracker blocking, a data breach scanner, and multi-hop connections (connecting through two servers). This VPN is excellent for iPhone and iPad users because of its user-friendliness, uncomplicated and quick connection process, and reasonable price point.

That said, specific tools aren’t available for iOS devices, which is the case across the board. If you want to use the Bypasser tool (Surfshark’s split tunneling feature), you must use the Windows or Android app. 

I enjoy using Surfshark as a ‘one size fits all’ VPN solution. Sometimes, the speeds aren’t the best while streaming, but it is extremely quick to connect. I also enjoy the ‘pause’ function available, which allows you to resume your normal connection for five minutes, 30 minutes, or a few hours. Customers say that speeds are relatively fast and streaming works the majority of the time, although some have experienced issues with Netflix and other popular content services.

Review: Surfshark VPN

Surfshark often offers promotions to lure new consumers to its plans. Promotions of around 80 – 85% off appear frequently, so consider the discount the VPN provider’s typical price range. 

Currently, you can pay $15.45 for a month of access, $2.79 per month on a one-year plan, or only $2.19 if you are happy to remain a subscriber for at least two years. The VPN provider has also thrown in three months of free access on 24-month plans.

Surfshark VPN features: Apple App Store rating: 4.8 | Simultaneous Connections: Unlimited | Kill switch: Yes | Platforms: Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android, FireTV | Logging: None, except billing data | Countries: 100+, 3,200 servers | Money-back guarantee: 30 days

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ExpressVPN

Best VPN for server range and usability

The ExpressVPN app supports iOS back to iOS 12. So, as long as your iPhone or iPad runs on iOS 12 or higher, you can use ExpressVPN. In addition to iOS, it supports all major platforms, including macOS X 10.11 and above. There are browser extensions for Edge, Chrome, and Firefox, and a VPN service for gaming is also available.

If you want the most options for countries to connect to, ExpressVPN has servers located in 94 countries. ExpressVPN ranks among the fastest VPNs, so it shouldn’t reduce your connection speeds as much as the average VPN. 

Review: ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN doesn’t maintain browsing history logs, but it does keep track of some information, such as the dates you connect and the location of the VPN server you connect to. The details of what is and isn’t logged are stated in ExpressVPN’s privacy policy.

I’ve used ExpressVPN for years and I’ve found it to be a speedy, reliable service with a great server network. Concerning customer reviews, many are positive overall, but some note that servers can often be blocked when users attempt to use streaming services or access specific websites. Price hikes on renewal aren’t popular, either. 

Overall, if you’re looking for a set-and-forget VPN with decent speeds and user-friendliness, ExpressVPN is a top pick. The monthly plan is limited to eight simultaneous devices, whereas six-month or annual plans offer up to eight connected devices.

Other subscription offers are $9.99 monthly for six months or $12.95 for one month of access. Alternatively, signing up for a 12-month plan is only $6.67/month, with three months of access for free and a year of Backblaze cloud backup. The iPhone app comes with a 7-day free trial.

ExpressVPN features: Apple App Store rating: 4.7 | Simultaneous connections: 8 | Kill switch: Yes | Platforms: Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, Chromebook, and more | Logging: No browsing logs, some connection logs | Countries: 105 | Money-back guarantee: 30 days

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IPVanish VPN

Best configurable VPN for iPhone and iPad

IPVanish has depth and plenty of configuration settings for those who want to control almost every aspect of their VPN connection.

While it’s not the most stylish VPN with the best interface, IPVanish VPN has many protocols, so you’ll always know what to expect regardless of what you’re connecting to. The app has an abundance of configuration options, and there’s an extensive range of server selection options. The service is also independently security-audited. 

Review: IPVanish VPN

IPVanish supports devices back to iOS 14, and clients for macOS are available from 10.11/10.12 and later. 

We found IPVanish to be impressively fast and quick to connect. However, it couldn’t hide that we connected through a VPN, which could be an issue in countries where internet connectivity and activities are monitored at the state or ISP level. That said, IPVanish’s data transfers were secure and provided a good user experience. Customers report they are happy with IPVanish’s customer service and the overall speed and reliability of the VPN. 

IPVanish is an excellent option for iOS and Mac devices. You can sign up for a two-year plan for $2.19 per month or a yearly subscription for $2.79/month. Alternatively, if you don’t want to sign up for the long haul, you can pay $10.99 for a month of access.

IPVanish VPN features: Apple App Store rating: 4.5 | Simultaneous connections: Unlimited | Kill switch: Yes | Platforms: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Android TV, FireTV, and Kodi | Logging: None, except billing data | Servers: 2,200+ | Locations: 75 | Money-back guarantee: 30 days

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Proton VPN

Best free VPN for iPhone and iPad

Proton VPN has an excellent paid service that ranks as one of the fastest VPNs and best VPNs overall. In general, we recommend you avoid free VPNs. A free VPN service could even make money selling your data, which defeats the purpose of using a VPN to protect your identity, activities, and other information.

Review: Proton VPN

The only situation where using a free VPN wouldn’t necessarily come with security concerns is when it’s a free version of a reputable paid service, as with Proton VPN. While limited to servers in five countries, you know that the plan is supported by paid subscribers and your data is safe. You won’t be bombarded with adverts, either.

Despite poor Trustpilot reviews, many users report a positive experience with this VPN provider, noting its ease of use, low CAPTCHA block rates on websites, and stable connectivity. 

If, however, you are interested in adopting the paid version of Proton VPN, you can sign up for a 24-month VPN plan at $4.49/month, a 12-month subscription at $4.99, or a one-month agreement at $9.99. Note that Proton VPN requires iOS 14.0 or later.

Though ProtonVPN is a Swiss company, you can make payments in US dollars.

Proton VPN iOS features: Apple App Store rating: 4.6 | Simultaneous connections: 1 (free) Up to 10 (paid) | Kill switch: Yes | Logging: No-logs policy | Customer service: FAQ, email | Data limit: None | Free countries: 5 | Free servers: 100+ | Paid plans: 4,000+ servers in 91 countries

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We consider NordVPN the best VPN for the iPhone and iPad. It’s one of the most popular VPNs for Apple devices overall, with good customer ratings. Due to recent updates, we consider this VPN to be the best available — combining speed, server availability, reliability, and a high number of simultaneous connections. However, if you don’t think this VPN is right for you, we have included the price point and key features of our top recommended VPNs below.

Best VPN for iPhone and iPad

Starting price

Kill switch

Apple App Store rating

Simultaneous connections

NordVPN

$3.69+ per month

Yes

4.7

Up to 10

Surfshark VPN

$2.19+ per month

Yes

4.8

Unlimited

ExpressVPN

$6.67+ per month

Yes

4.7

Up to 8

IPVanish VPN

$2.19+ per month

Yes

4.5

Unlimited

Proton VPN

Free with limited services or $4.99 per month

Yes

4.6

1 or up to 10

*Lowest price at the time of writing. Please note that prices may vary based on retailer and available promotions, sales, or discounts.

Although we have our own opinions on the best VPN for iPhone and iPad, and ZDNET considers NordVPN as the best choice currently, your personal preferences will also factor into the decision. If you need a VPN for more than five or six devices, you’ll want to prioritize VPN services with unlimited connections, such as IPVanish or Surfshark. But if speed is most important, you’ll want to look at NordVPN or ExpressVPN.

A great thing about the selections for the best VPN for iPhone and iPad list is they all have a 30-day — or more — money-back guarantee. A month should give you enough time to test any of these VPNs, see which features you love, and decide.

Choose this VPN for iPhone and iPad…

If you want…

NordVPN

The best iPhone and iPad VPN overall. NordVPN is a solid, feature-rich VPN. NordVPN’s speeds are impressive, but the price point for this reliable, secure VPN on shorter plans might be offputting for some.

Surfshark VPN

A top VPN that can just about do it all, and for an affordable price. Surfshark performs well in speed tests, earned solid customer reviews, and has an easy-to-use mobile interface.

ExpressVPN

A stable choice for iOS. We’ve found that ExpressVPN connections are usually reliable and speedy. The mobile VPN is simple, user-friendly, and comes packed with different server options. You can also take advantage of a 7-day free trial.

IPVanish VPN

A highly flexible VPN. IPVanish offers a range of security and connectivity settings for you to choose from, although if you want to take full advantage of different protocols, you will want some technical knowledge.

Proton VPN

A free VPN. This Swiss VPN provider takes security seriously, and while the free version is restricted, it is still an excellent choice — but the paid option removes all limits.

When you are selecting your new iPhone or iPad VPN, you need to consider the following factors:

  • Cost: You need to consider the overall cost of your new Apple-ready VPN. Try to take advantage of promotions, but ignore countdown timers — they typically are just marketing tools. While top-notch VPNs can cost upwards of $10/month, many are available for only a few dollars. Many VPN providers will also give users a free seven-day iOS trial.
  • Simultaneous connections: If you’re paying for a VPN suitable for your iPhone or iPad, you might still want to use it across multiple devices, such as a desktop PC or laptop. We recommend you sign up for a plan with support for at least four to six devices. 
  • Contract length: You also need to decide how long you want a VPN for. If you opt for a two-year term you tend to secure the best prices, but there are monthly, six-month, and one-year options available. After you’ve made a selection, you typically have a 30-day money-back guarantee. 
  • Apps: When selecting an iPhone or iPad VPN, you need to try it out first to ensure you like its accompanying iOS app. Some VPNs, for example, have great desktop software but lack in the mobile app department, which may not be as intuitive or easy to use. 

Many providers recommended in this list have been subject to in-depth testing and reviews by members of our ZDNET team. We’ve been talking about other VPNs for years, spoken with their management and their users, and developed a generally favorable impression.

ZDNET does test VPN services from multiple locations, but we can’t test from all locations. Every home, every community, every local ISP, and every nation has a different infrastructure. It’s essential that once you choose, you test for all your likely usage profiles and only then make the decision to keep the service or request a money-back guaranteed refund, which all these VPNs have. 

If you experience traffic slowdowns, check your VPN and the Wi-Fi connection between your device and your router or access point. Sometimes, connectivity issues begin at the source, and in other cases, switching your selected VPN server may be enough to resolve speed problems or connectivity drops.

We analyzed the best VPNs for iPhone and iPad below using the following criteria that were most important in helping you make an informed decision:

  • Performance: Our top VPNs must have a minimum level of performance. After all, there’s no point in using a VPN while streaming if your connection continually drops or lags, making it intolerable.
  • Simultaneous connections: Many VPNs limit how many devices you can connect to a service at the same time. If you have a phone, tablet, laptop, desktop, and possibly even a smart TV you want to connect to a VPN, you’d need a service that allows at least five simultaneous connections.
  • Security: There’s no point using a VPN unless their security protocols and encryption levels are up to scratch. We also ensured the development team behind each recommended VPN cared about making security improvements over time and patching reported bugs.
  • Kill switch: A kill switch prevents you from having an unprotected connection. It is an important feature for a VPN to have, as it protects by preventing a return to a default Wi-Fi connection should your internet connection unexpectedly drop.
  • Geoblocks and streaming: We know VPNs can be key to accessing local content and services while you’re away from home. We ensured that our top recommendations performed well in these factors and are unlikely to slow down your connection while you are streaming. 
  • Platforms: What systems and devices can you run the VPN on? Our iPhone and iPad VPN recommendations, naturally, have to run easy-to-use and intuitive mobile apps. 
  • Countries & servers: In how many different countries does the VPN have servers? This can include physical and virtual servers and whether or not there are enough — at least 50 or so — to provide variety.
  • Trial length & price: Each VPN we recommend has a solid money-back guarantee. 

Setting up a VPN on your iPhone is fairly simple. It requires you to download one of the apps mentioned on our list in the Apple App Store. Once you’ve created a login and started your subscription, you are ready to securely connect.

Ensure you do not download any apps from untrusted sources.

Mobile device management (MDM) solutions utilizing VPNs can be configured in iOS settings. 

Perhaps. That depends on how much you trust your carrier. You’re better off encrypting your data when it’s in motion, whether you use Wi-Fi or a carrier connection. Overall, it’s still recommended to use a VPN no matter the type of internet access you have in use.

Apple iCloud+ Private Relay is a feature of iCloud+. If you buy any iCloud storage, you’ll get the iCloud+ features. But while Private Relay can hide your email address and location, it only does it when you’re using Safari. If you’re using Chrome (or any applications that use the Internet directly), you’re out of luck. The service is also not available in all countries.

It also shows up as a proxy server. You also can’t change or hide your location, as you can with a full VPN. Private Relay is a feature of iCloud+. A VPN is a full security solution.

There are many free VPNs available for mobile devices including those in Apple’s ecosystem. However, nothing in life is truly free, and you will likely be handing over your data in return for the service. They may also not be trustworthy, may be ad-supported, and may track your online activities. 

Those that are free but from trustworthy companies are few and far between. ProtonVPN’s free VPN is an option we support, although it is extremely limited. 

VPNs are important for establishing secure connections when abroad. Whether you’re working from another country or simply want to stream your favorite TV show, we compiled a list of the best VPNs for travel.

You might want a VPN that works best with the iOS ecosystem or another operating system. If you’re on the hunt for other trustworthy options, we’ve also created a guide to the best VPN services of 2024 with an explainer on free VPNs, and whether or not they’re worth it. 

Other than our recommendations for the best VPNs for iPhone and iPad, other services can get the job done. Here are a few alternative options that are secure and reputable:

View at Private Internet AccessView at CyberGhostView at Mullvad

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