The best mobile VPNs of 2024: Expert tested and reviewed

Estimated read time 16 min read

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are great for protecting your internet privacy, and while they’re not a perfect solution, they can seriously improve the security of your online browsing when you are using a mobile device. 

No service can guarantee absolute anonymity. While many VPNs are reputable, you need to avoid fake VPNs that eavesdrop on your traffic, as well as VPNs that log your activities or use your own domain name servers (DNS) so your ISP can still see where you’re going, which defeats the entire purpose of a VPN. You should always opt for a reputable VPN service that offers users dedicated Android and iOS apps when you need a mobile-friendly VPN for your smartphone or tablet.

Also: The best VPN services you can buy

What is the best mobile VPN right now?

Based on extensive testing, ZDNET author experiences, and an analysis of customer reviews, ZDNET’s top pick is NordVPN, a great VPN with a user-friendly mobile app and expansive server network that consistently performs well in relation to speed and stability. Keep reading to find ZDNET’s other top picks for the best mobile VPNs, and how they stack up to NordVPN. 

Best mobile VPNs of 2024

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Best overall mobile VPN

NordVPN features: Simultaneous connections: 6 | Kill switch: Yes | Mobile platforms Android, iOS, Chrome, and Firefox | Logging: None, except billing data | Countries: 60 | Servers: 5000+ | Trial/MBG: 30 days | Google Play rating: 4.5 | App Store rating: 4.7

NordVPN is a fast and reliable VPN that runs well on an extensive server network, regardless of what you run it on. Once you’ve learned how to use NordVPN, you have no additional learning curve for using it on other devices. When you first open it, you’ll see a landing screen map. From here, you can pick a country to VPN to or head to the fastest local server automatically. If your screen’s too small for that to be handy, you’re only a swipe away from a VPN server list. No fuss.

Also: How does NordVPN work? Plus, how to set it up and use it

It also offers a kill switch. This automatically disconnects your phone or tablet from the internet if your VPN connection is interrupted, a key element to maintaining your privacy when using cellular networks.

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.

With NordVPN’s current promotion, you can save up to 67% on annual plans. Two-year subscriptions begin at $3.99 per month, rising to $4.99 per month for one-year plans and $12.99 if you want to use the service every month. Two-year plans come with a free Uber Eats voucher.

If you need additional security benefits, opt for the Ultimate plan, which includes coverage for identity theft and cyber extortion. 

Nord VPN Mobile

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Best budget mobile VPN

Surfshark features: Simultaneous connections: Unlimited | Kill switch: Yes | Platforms: Android, iOS, Firefox, and Chrome | Logging: None, except billing data | Countries: 100 | Servers: 3,200 | Trial/MBG: 30 days | Google Play rating: 4.3 | App Store rating: 4.8

Surfshark is a solid VPN with interesting security features and a cheap price point, making it a very attractive option. 

Device connections are unlimited, its Bypasser function allows users to whitelist specific apps to bypass the VPN, and there is a strict no-logs policy. The server list is impressive, and while the app’s interface could use some optimization, it’s still a great choice — especially if you’re looking for something affordable. 

To help ensure no one can track you, SurfShark includes an interesting feature that enables you to spoof your GPS location. If someone tries to track down your location, it will report that you’re at your VPN servers’ coordinates.

I enjoy using Surfshark as a ‘one size fits all’ VPN solution. Sometimes, the speeds aren’t the best, 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’s cheapest plan is for a two-year subscription at $2.29 per month, with two months of free access added to the length of the term. There is also a 30-day money-back guarantee. 

Surfshark VPN Mobile

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Best mobile VPN for speed and affordability

IPVanish features: Simultaneous connections: Unlimited | Kill switch: Yes | Platforms: Android, iOS, Windows, Mac | Logging: No-logs policy | Countries: 75+ | Servers: 2000+ | Trial/MBG: 7 days/30 days | Google Play rating: 4.3 | App Store rating: 4.5

IPVanish is another of our favorite mobile VPNs. We are particularly impressed with the user interface on the Android and iOS apps, which is quick to install and extremely easy to use. It doesn’t hurt that the app’s interface is stylish and modern, either.

Speeds are generally impressive, and the app quickly connects to a server nine times out of ten. IPVanish now offers unlimited simultaneous connections, a useful feature if you have multiple mobile devices, such as tablets or smartphones, to protect.

Customers report they are happy with IPVanish’s customer service and the overall speed and reliability of the VPN. 

IPVanish offers a seven-day trial for mobile users. Alternatively, you can sign up for a two-year plan at $3.25 per month, a yearly plan for $4.33 per month, or you can opt for a monthly subscription for $12.99/month.

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Best mobile VPN for speed

Express VPN features: Simultaneous connections: 8 | Kill switch: Yes | Platforms: Amazon Fire, Android, and iOS | Logging: No browsing logs, some connection logs | Countries: 105 | Locations: 160+ | Trial/MBG: 30 days | Google Play rating: 4.3 | App Store rating: 4.7

VPN speeds vary wildly depending on where you are, the server you’re trying to connect to, and country distance. But when it comes to speed in terms of connections and streaming, ExpressVPN often takes first place. 

You just hit a button and connect to the fastest and closest ExpressVPN server. Of course, you can be selective with your servers if you like, but it’s hard to beat if you want to connect without any trouble or fuss.

ExpressVPN recently bumped up its simultaneous device support from five to eight devices on paid plans, and its server network from 94 countries to 105. 

I’ve used ExpressVPN for years and I’ve found it to be a speedy, reliable service with a great server network. On rare occasion, I’ve needed to switch servers, but aside from that, ExpressVPN is well worth the money. In relation to 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. 

Review: ExpressVPN

At the time of writing, ExpressVPN can be purchased for $12.95 on a month-on-month plan, $9.99 per month for six months of access, or $6.67 per month on a two-year plan, with three months of free access thrown in and a year of Backblaze cloud backup.

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Private Internet Access

Best open-source mobile VPN

Private Internet Access features: Simultaneous connections: Unlimited | Kill switch: Yes | Platforms: Android, iOS, and Chrome | Logging: None, except billing data | Countries: 91 | Trial/MBG: 7 days | Google Play rating: 4.5 | App Store rating: 4.7

Private Internet Access (PIA) offers impressive speed and security. 

PIA has adopted open-source software for almost all of its components, which gives it a standout level of transparency surrounding its technology, making it open to examination by third parties. This helps with software vulnerabilities, too, as they may be more likely to be detected early and patched. 

Review: Private Internet Access

While the VPN provider is based in the US — and this may turn some potential users away if they are concerned about privacy and data laws — when it comes to features, PIA offers you unlimited simultaneous connections, as well as ad and malware blocking and a strict no-logs policy. 

PIA is a solid and affordable VPN, but the user interface could do with some modernization. Customers say that they are fans of the VPN’s performance and encryption, and it is a good torrenting option.

PIA has a current promotion for new customers and will give you 82% off a two-year plan, coming in at only $2.03/month with four months of free access. If you would like to try out the VPN for six months, you can subscribe for $7.50/month, or opt for the $11.99/month plan.

Private Internet Access VPN Mobile

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The best mobile VPN is NordVPN. With its ability to integrate with iOS and Android phones, along with thousands of servers and very high speeds, NordVPN is at the top of our list. This table compares the best mobile VPNs based on connections, operating system capabilities, and servers available:

Best mobile VPNs


Simultaneous connections

Google Play rating

App Store rating


Start at $3.99/month





Start at $2.29/month





Start at $2.99/month





Start at $6.67/month




Private Internet Access

Start at $3.25/month




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

It depends on your requirements. While NordVPN is our top choice, it might not suit everyone, especially given the price point. This table compares the best mobile VPN options in 2024 depending use cases:

Choose this best mobile VPN

If you want…


The best overall VPN for mobile devices. This is a great mobile option that consistently performs well in relation to speed and stability and has an expansive server network.


A mix of value and speed combined with a stylish and user-friendly mobile app. The VPN also supports numerous streaming services with decent speeds.

Private Internet Access

The best open-source mobile VPN. As an open-source product, the VPN is open to public appraisal, so this is one of the most transparent solutions on the market.


Unlimited connections. Surfshark is a highly affordable VPN that also offers connections for as many devices as you like, with interesting security features thrown in, including GPS spoofing.


The fastest mobile VPN. ExpressVPN is an excellent option if speed is your top priority. The mobile app is also extremely easy to use.

When you are selecting your new mobile VPN, you need to consider the following factors:

  • Cost: You need to consider the overall cost of your new 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 or Android trial.
  • Simultaneous connections: If you’re paying for a mobile VPN, you might 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 a mobile VPN, you need to try it out first to ensure you like its accompanying iOS or Android 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. 

We tested and analyzed the best mobile VPNs for 2024 using the following criteria to help you make an informed decision:

  • Performance: We tested most of the VPNs on this list to ensure robust performance in terms of connection and speed. After all, there’s no point in using a VPN if your connection continually drops or lags, making it intolerable, which is especially important when you’re on mobile.
  • Simultaneous connections: Many VPNs limit how many devices you can connect to a service simultaneously. If you have a phone, tablet, and laptop you want to connect to a VPN, you need a service that allows simultaneous connections.
  • Security: There’s no point using a VPN unless their security protocols and encryption levels are up to scratch. We also ensured that the development team behind each recommended VPN cares about improving security over time and patching reported bugs.
  • Kill switch: A kill switch prevents you from having an unprotected connection and is an essential feature for a mobile VPN to have, as it protects you by preventing a return to a default Wi-Fi connection — in comparison, for example, with your cellular connectivity — should your internet connection unexpectedly drop.
  • Geoblocks and streaming: We know that VPNs can be vital in accessing local content and services while you’re away from home and relying on mobile devices. We ensured that our top recommendations perform well regarding these factors and are unlikely to slow down your connection while streaming.
  • 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. 

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

ZDNET tests VPN services from multiple locations, but we can’t try 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.

These VPNs also have solid money-back guarantees; we would not have recommended them otherwise.

Suppose you’re at your desk and want to access a website like this one. To do this, your computer initiates a request by sending some packets. If you’re in an office, those packets often travel through switches and routers on your LAN before transferring them to the public internet through a router.

Once on the public internet, those packets travel through many computers. A separate request is made to a series of name servers to translate the DNS name to an IP address. That information is sent back to your browser, which sends the request again through many computers on the public internet. Eventually, it reaches the ZDNET infrastructure, routes those packets, grabs a webpage (a bunch of separate elements), and sends all that back to you.

Each internet request usually involves a series of communication events between multiple points. A VPN encrypts those packets at the originating point, often hiding the data and the information about your originating IP address. The VPN software on your end then sends those packets to the VPN server at some destination point, decrypting that information. 

Also: What is a VPN, and why do you need one? 

There is rarely an exception to a simple answer: none. The free ones that sound good will take you, your data, and your security for a ride. Avoid them. 

A good VPN service requires hundreds of servers worldwide and many networking resources. If you’re not paying to support that infrastructure, who is? Probably advertisers or data miners. If you use a free service, your data or information will probably be sold, and that’s never good. After all, you’re using a VPN to keep your data secure. You wouldn’t want your data to go to some company to sift through — it completely defeats the purpose of a VPN.

However, there is one we do recommend, and that is offered by ProtonVPN, a security and privacy-focused company that is trustworthy. The trade-off is that the free option is extremely limited. 

If you’re traveling or using the internet in a public place like a coffee shop, that data encryption is critical, since most public Wi-Fi hotspots are open and unencrypted — which means anyone on the network can see what you send and may be able to eavesdrop on your activities and steal passwords. If you can, stick to cellular networks.

Sometimes. Of late though, the war between VPNs and streaming services has heated up. This is a gray area of the law, despite many VPNs marketing themselves as great options for streaming and accessing geolocked libraries.

AlsoBest VPN for streaming 

It’s the maximum number of VPN connections you can have at any one time. For example, if you’re using your smartphone, laptop, and tablet over a VPN at the same time (I’ve done it on business trips), and back home, your partner is using their smartphone, PC, and tablet over the VPN, and you have five simultaneous connections… Whoops! 

One of your connections won’t be private any longer. Having access to more simultaneous connections is a good thing.

A fully functional VPN should protect your privacy and mask your location and IP address. If you’re unsure if your VPN is working properly, some tools make checking your VPN’s performance easy.

You can find out your IP address and location using Compare the IP address and location when connected with a VPN vs. without one. If they are different, then your VPN is doing its job.

It’s also possible that your VPN is leaking your data and potentially exposing your online activity. To ensure your VPN has no issues with DNS leaks or IP leaks, you can run tests on a site like DNS Leak Test. There are plenty of tools that allow you to test for leaks, but many are owned by VPN providers, and it may not always be clear who developed the tool, which could be a conflict of interest. You may want to run tests with several different sites and compare the results.

Yes. Now, there are some circumstances when it doesn’t, but those tend to be rare. Generally speaking, you’ll get from 50% to 90% of your real-world speed through a VPN connection, depending on your original location and the country server you select. 

Faster is better. But you probably already knew that. 

There are many free VPNs available for mobile devices. 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. 

The mobile VPNs listed above are the benchmark in quality and performance and are our top recommendations. However, if these don’t meet your needs, here are worthy alternatives: 

View at CyberGhostView at ProtonVPNView at Hotspot Shield

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