- Premium VPNs offer enhanced security, privacy, and better server infrastructure compared to free versions, with features like ad-free experience, improved speed, and dedicated customer support.
- ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and Surfshark are among the top choices for premium VPNs on Android, each offering unique benefits like extensive server networks, advanced security protocols, and specialized features for privacy and performance.
- Selecting the right VPN depends on individual needs and budget, with consideration for factors like server availability, privacy policies, performance, and user interface, making informed choices crucial for effective and secure internet usage.
The internet is not a safe place; you need to take preemptive measures and steps to stay protected, and with VPNs, you do—to some degree. While most people simply prefer using whatever free VPNs they find on the internet, reports have revealed that most of these are as effective as nothing. In this guide, we’ll be looking at some of the best premium VPNs on Android and how they’re unique from one another.
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Why Use Premium VPNs?
Internet is a complex place, and so are the dangers to your data with all sorts of cybersecurity threats. While VPNs, in general can greatly reduce the risk of being infiltrated by cybercriminals, there is a reason that premium VPNs cost money.
See, with the way a VPN works, it isn’t possible that nothing is logged at all. However, the end users are blind to the amount of data being collected at their end. While the primary purpose of using a VPN can be anything from bypassing a geofilter to maintaining privacy on the internet, a free VPN can only help you in achieving the first part, but at the expense of the latter.
- Everything that is free doesn’t come without its caveats. Most free VPNs collect your data and sell it to data brokerage companies. This can include your browsing habits, search history, ISP and even unencrypted messages. This is partly how they make money, unlike paid VPNs where you’re essentially paying to use the service.
- Free VPN services are often loaded with ads, most of which serve the purpose to lure you into buying their premium service. These can be incredibly frustrating to deal with, especially when you’re using a VPN frequently. Paid VPNs come with no adverts and have a much cleaner user-experience overall.
- Multiple scandals, pertaining to free VPN services selling user data have emerged over the years, and so, it is important that you don’t risk your privacy at all.
- A VPN can only function if its servers are online, and most free VPNs don’t have a decent server infrastructure, often leading to poor speeds and frequent disconnections. Premium VPNs can support up to 99% of server uptime most of the time.
- Most free VPNs don’t offer dedicated customer support, however paid VPN services have the resources and capital available to facilitate a professional support service, which can be incredibly helpful if you ever run into a frustrating problem.
- Premium VPNs can offer a better level of data encryption, primarily because they are being updated frequently to cater to the most recent security threats and cybercriminals.
ExpressVPN makes it to the top of our list with a wide and diverse array of servers around the globe; 160 server locations in 105 countries, with fast and stable connection speeds. The company is clear on its internal practices, with multiple third-party independent security audits confirming the unmatched transparency in an otherwise opaque industry.
Although priced relatively higher than most competitors with a similar feature set, ExpressVPN offers subscription models of $12.95 per month, $59.95 for six months, and $99.95 per year. Unlike other services like TunnelBear, ExpressVPN doesn’t allow for a free version for you to test out its service.
ExpressVPN is evidently one of the more faster services available, with minimal speed loss, and more importantly, consistent connections across its servers. It uses the AES 256-bit encryption, with Perfect Forward Secrecy but doesn’t have the kill-switch functionality on Android.
NordVPN is inarguably one of the most popular players in the VPN industry, going beyond what traditional VPNs tend to offer. It is fast, secure and reliable, however comes at a hefty price tag. Its Standard plan, which only includes the VPN and the malware protection starts at $12.99/month with $59.88 for the first year, followed by $99.48 for each year after.
The Plus plan comes with the NordPass password manager and data breach scanning, starting at $13.78/month, with $69.48 for the first year and then $126.96 for each year after. The highest, Complete tier comes with the NordLocker encryption tool and 1TB of encrypted cloud storage. It starts at $14.99/month, $83.88 for the first year and then $198.84 for each year after that.
With servers in over 60+ countries, Nord offers generous connection options, connecting to them using their proprietary WireGuard-based NordLynx protocol. The service’s multi-hop Double VPN routes your data through two VPN servers, encrypting your data twice.
Not only that, but Nord allows you to access The Onion Router (TOR) securely when your web traffic is redirected via a series of volunteer operated servers, going through a layer of encryption every time hops from a server. This allows the user to enter the Onion network (without using the Tor Browser), making it incredibly hard to identify where the traffic came from in the first place.
Other than that, it has a threat-protection feature baked in which promises to keep your browsing experience clean of ads and trackers, and as part of this monitors the dark-web for any data breaches. All in all, it’s a great choice, which an extensive feature-set and reliable connection and services.
Surfshark is one of the more budget-friendly, but versatile options for long-term VPN subscribers, with minimal speed losses, and ideal for tasks like streaming. While it costs $12.95 per month, the long-terms plans are affordable, with the yearly package starting at $47.88, and moves up to $59.76 for each year after.
A two-year plan is also available for $59.76, but it then renews at the same price for each year after that. The service has over 3,200 servers in over 100 countries and is one of the better-performing VPNs of the lot and is proficient in unlocking geo-restrictions for services like Netflix and Amazon Prime.
Surfshark has privacy features like Camouflage and No-Borders mode that can help you bypass geofilters in restrictive countries. The Camouflage mode works by disguising your VPN traffic like normal traffic, which makes it harder to identify that you’re using a VPN. The No-Borders mode on the other hand automatically detects when you are in a restrictive country, and so it reduces your selection of servers to those designed to bypass those restrictions.
Other than that, it has a Kill-Switch, Split Tunnelling, MultiHop and Dynamic MultiHop in addition to a paid add-on for requesting a static IP. All in all, it’s a great, affordable option, though speeds and network stability lacks a bit behind the competition.
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ProtonVPN makes it to our list, simply because it is inarguably the best free VPN, with a strong emphasis on security and reliability. Its paid plan comes in at $11.49 per month and $71.88 per year, which for the monthly plan is slightly cheaper than the likes of Express, Nord and Surfshark.
The Free plan however, doesn’t have any data restrictions and if you’re moving to the Paid version, the service offers MultiHop functionality in the form of SecureCore that routes your traffic through multiple servers, making it harder to track the original source.
Proton has a wide server channel, covering over 60 countries and a strict no-logs policy, which is confirmed by multiple security audits. As for performance, the speeds and stability is decent, with minor tradeoffs for latency if you plan on frequently using SecureCore.
The Android app for the service is relatively straightforward and easy to use with multiple features such as DNS Leak Protection, but Always-On VPN and Kill-Switch has to be manually enabled. Proton’s revamped black and purple interface makes it one of the more aesthetically pleasing services to use on Android.
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TunnelBear VPN doesn’t stand out among the competition when it comes to the most advanced features on a VPN service. For one, it lacks multi-hop connection functionality and has a data limit on the Free version. The Ultimate version costs $9.99 per month and a decent $59.88 per year.
TunnelBear allows you to have unlimited simultaneous connections and has plenty of location spoofing features like GhostBear, that disguises your VPN browsing as normal traffic, or VigilantBear that is essentially the service’s Kill-Switch.
The app is designed as a nice, little geo-centric wonderland with available servers marked as tunnels with the bear emerging down on the connected location. Alternatively, the app has a drop-down menu to conveniently choose the server you want to connect to.
All in all, the app can serve as a great starting point for you if you’re looking to invest in a VPN service for the first time. It delivers most of the basic functionality, keeping it easy on your wallet.
Which VPN Should You Actually Choose?
Deciding on the right VPN is a personal journey, reflecting your unique online habits and concerns. If speed and extensive server options are your priority, ExpressVPN is a robust choice. For those valuing cutting-edge security features, NordVPN offers advanced options like Double VPN and Onion Over VPN. Surfshark might catch the eye of the budget-conscious user seeking a balance between cost and functionality.
ProtonVPN stands out for those who lean towards stringent security measures, offering a strong emphasis on user privacy. Meanwhile, TunnelBear‘s user-friendly approach and commitment to transparency make it an excellent option for VPN beginners or those favoring simplicity.
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While it is not advisable to regularly rely on a free VPN service, most premium options vary based on the consumer market they aim to target. Regardless, all of them are committed to maintaining privacy while being transparent about their working practices, and it is up to the users to decide which service suits them based on their use-case scenarios and budget.
All VPN services range from being Free to charging you ~$13 per month. However, most services target the longer models, and it is there that the differences arise in subscription plans for each VPN service.
While it was difficult to choose a single winner in this category, NordVPN and ExpressVPN are both decent options to consider if you want the best VPN.
It is recommended to stick to the monthly plan for any VPN service you wish to try, and then later base your decision accordingly. However, both ProtonVPN and TunnelBear have free plans that you can try out without paying a dime.