Written by: Bogdan Patru
Whenever you want to increase your privacy and make sure that your data stays safe, use a VPN.
Especially when it comes to mobile phones which have very low-security overall, the dangers are even more evident.
This is exactly why we have compiled a list of the best VPNs for iPhone, as well as the exact reasons for our top picks.
Let’s get going, then.
After testing NordVPN’s PC and iPhone apps, we can safely say that this online security provider is the absolute best when it comes to online security. It’ll neatly function in the background, protecting your device from any outside threats, while you do you.
I liked – Zero-logging policy, fast and functional iPhone client, military-grade encryption and security, manual configuration, blocks all ads, plenty of features that you can play around with
I disliked – Nothing
Based in – Panama, outside the 14-Eyes Surveillance Alliance
DNS/IP/WebRTC leaks – None whatsoever
Netflix USA – running on full power
Netflix UK – waiting for you to access it
P2P file-sharing – present and accounted for; you can download anything at premium speeds
Encryption level – AES-256-bit + OpenVPN + Obfuscated servers + Tor over VPN
Server coverage – 5076 servers in 60 countries
As you can see, for only $107.55, you can purchase a 3-year subscription to NordVPN, and after analyzing all the other plans, this seems to be the most advantageous one.
If for any reason, you are not content with their services, they have a 30-day money-back guarantee. Yeah, even on the 3-year plan.
Just by looking at the prices, you might believe this is a bit too expensive. However, keep in mind that NordVPN is miles ahead of the run-of-the-mill online security providers clogging the market, let alone some of the cheapest ones.
The 1-month plan will cost you $11.95 per month, while the 1-year plan is $6.99 per month for a total of $83.88.
In the end, the decision is up to you, and you’re even given a chance to take a step back from the deal with the 30-day money-back guarantee. However, when it comes to online security for iPhones, NordVPN is king.
After downloading it from the Play Store, install it and give it its first run for its money. After entering the main window, you need to enter your credentials and log in. In the servers interface, you only need to select one of them, either from the map or the list itself, and the app will connect you to one.
Going into the settings menu will grant you access to the underlying options and security technicalities that you can work with. We suggest turning on the kill-switch option if it is not already on.
Just scroll down to see all the speed tests of all four VPNs, and you will notice that NordVPN is immediately under ExpressVPN in terms of speed. However, upon testing it, everything worked like a charm, and there were no noticeable drops in speed or any freezing.
The pages loaded just fine and quick enough, while media content was easily accessed. In any case, if there are any problems with one of the servers, there are plenty of others that you can switch to.
Speaking of servers, NordVPN has a few specialty ones that have specific abilities, each of them:
P2P servers – these servers are specifically created with file sharing in mind. They will make the most of the performance and resources of the server to amplify and quicken your download speeds. After giving one of them a shot, the results were more than satisfactory – 61.83 Mbps download speed, and 20 Mbps in upload speed.
Onion over VPN – if you want true online security protection, and to really overdo it, you should try out the Onion over VPN servers. They combine the encryption powers of a VPN with the anonymizing features of the Onion Router.
The Tor Network adds certain layers of security that combine with those of the VPN itself, and so the traffic is being sent from one server through another until it reaches its destination. Each time it passes through a node, another layer of encryption is being added.
Most importantly, your IP address will remain hidden for the duration of the whole experience. We have had no leaks while trying the feature on the iOS. If you want anonymity, Onion over VPN is your best bet.
DoubleVPN – slightly lesser in terms of security but still above the standard VPN procedures, this feature sends your traffic through two VPN servers, doubling the encryption each time. This will also help with protecting and securing any confidential data.
Dedicated IP – that’s right, you’re being given a unique IP address that you alone are privy to. No one else has access to it, and only you can use it. No other users will be able to share it with you. This means more anonymity, which is always welcome.
Obfuscated servers – for people who live in countries with oppressive regimes or restrictive regulations on the use of the Internet, NordVPN’s Obfuscated servers is your best bet out of that situation. It hides away the encryption of the VPN so that it appears you are not using one at all, thus averting all suspicion away from you.
Privacy and logging – You need only look at NordVPN’s jurisdiction to figure out how serious they are about their privacy and logging policies. Panama is outside the 14-Eyes Surveillance Alliance, and there are no data logging laws in effect there.
As such, NordVPN’s standard logging policy is that it does not collect any logs, ever. They do not even store bandwidth, IP addresses or timestamps.
Security – NordVPN uses the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) with 256-bit keys, a level of encryption that even the NSA recommends when there is confidential data to be secured.
You do not have to worries about updating the app because it does so automatically. When being asked, agree to download and install the update. That’s pretty much it. In exchange, you get premium online security for your iPhone.
When trying it out, we managed to seamlessly connect to a few servers and see how it goes. There were no leaks to speak about, and the cloaking mechanisms worked flawlessly. There were no ads, and Netflix functioned perfectly.
The IKEv2/IPsec make use of the latest cryptographic algorithms and security protocols while the OpenVPN security protocol is the world’s best. Either UDP or TCP ports, they are all functioning perfectly regardless of what you plan on doing.
These keys are encrypted using the SHA-384, while the exchange takes place through the 3072-bit Diffie-Hellman alongside PFS.
On the iOS, NordVPN employs the highest-grade in terms of security, especially when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks. This is arguably the best encryption and security set-up among all other VPN services.
I liked – plenty of locations (about 160), the seven-day trial, top-tier encryption and security, live chat support, extreme server speeds
I disliked – only 3 simultaneous connections available, pretty high costs for the monthly subscription
Based in – The British Virgin Islands
DNS/IP/WebRTC leak tests – no leaks
Netflix USA – working perfectly
Netflix UK – good to go
P2P file-sharing – available and up to the task
24/7 live chat – up and running
No logging policy – check
As you can see, the 1-month plan goes for $12.95 per month, a tad more expensive than NordVPN’s 1-month subscription.
The 6-month plan costs $9.99 per month for a total of $59.95 every six months.
The best and most reasonable subscription is the 12-month plan that costs $8.32 per month for a total of $99.95. This will save you 35%. It is easy to see how this will save you the most money in the long run, and it’s the most efficient subscription.
Of course, there is a 30-day money-back guarantee in full effect just in case you are not satisfied with their services.
The prices remain the same whether you are using a PC, a Mac or an iOS device.
It’s very easy to get your own iOS set-up. Just subscribe on the official website, order a plan, and then download the app.
The interface itself is very cleaned-out and simplistic, worthy of representing a premium VPN. You can easily turn the VPN on or off by using the on-screen button, just as you can change the servers using the list.
One thing that you might not like about ExpressVPN’s iOS app is that there are not many security or settings options you can choose from. Turn on the kill-switch, and meddle around with the UDP-TCP protocols. That’s pretty much it.
Arguably the fastest online security provider in the industry, ExpressVPN has constantly ranked in the top 3 most performant VPNs in terms of speed. You can watch BBC, ITV, the US and UK Netflix, and you will almost never encounter any problems.
The most you will have to deal with is the fact that Netflix will sometimes block you from accessing it. Switch servers and the problem is dealt with. As simple as that. Evidently, no geo-blocking mechanisms work against ExpressVPN’s SmartDNS features.
Plenty of VPN locations – more than 160 servers in 94 countries
Live chat support – for any questions or issues about your iOS app, contact the customer support that works 24/7
Connect with one click – just press the On button, and the VPN will automatically connect to the best-recommended server
Smart Location – with this feature, the VPN algorithms will search for the best servers fitting your current situation and geographical location
World-class encryption – AES-256-bit encryption protocol
Optimized for speed – the servers are constantly checked out to eliminate any clutter and increase the speeds as much as possible
ExpressVPN makes it mandatory for the company to never collect any data or usage logs, for as long as they are in business. However, they do collect some information in the form of server location, the days when you are using the VPN as well as the apps you are using.
However, none of these bits of data can be used to track you down, and they can never reveal your confidential or private information.
The zero-logging policy stays strong in ExpressVPN’s case.
ExpressVPN utilizes the AES-256-bit encryption protocol with the SHA-256 authentication. It also uses an RSA certificate alongside a hashing algorithm of the SHA-2 family.
HMAC authentication present and accounted for – it prevents your data from being meddled with by outside parties.
Perfect Forward Secrecy protocol ensures that, even if a hacker manages to infiltrate your iPhone, he will only be able to steal data that’s been on the traffic for the last 60 minutes. This is because ExpressVPN negotiates for new keys every 60 minutes.
I liked – CleanWeb feature (no ads, trackers, malware or phishing attempts permitted), unlimited devices can be used simultaneously, Whitelister (you can allow any app or website to bypass the VPN), Camouflage Mode (akin to Obfuscated servers where the VPN cloaks itself), strong encryption
I disliked – nothing
Based in – the British Virgin Isles
DNS/IP/WebRTC leak tests – no leaks found
Netflix USA – accessible
Netflix UK – works like a charm
P2P file-sharing – good to go
Customer support – 24/7
By far one of the cheapest premium VPNs on the market, SurfShark seems to take the crown in this department by offering extremely advantageous offers.
The 24-month subscription goes for a total of $47.76. Keep in mind that ExpressVPN’s 12-month package was $99.95, so the difference is painfully evident.
The 1-month package’s pricing is identical to that of NordVPN, while the 12-month package costs a total of $71.88 every 12 months.
In the end, with only $1.99 you can get the 24-month subscription. We can bet that you will not be able to find a better offer coming from a premium VPN. Even if you have something that you do not like about their services, the 30-day money-back guarantee has your back. No questions asked, you will get your money’s worth or your money back.
The 7-day free trial exclusive for the iOS should get you started better than ever with their services. Just download the app from their website, turn it on, and connect to one of their servers. It is incredibly easy to use the interface.
Go to the options to check out the in-depth settings and meddle around with the other cool features like Whitelisting, turn on the kill-switch, activate the CleanWeb feature to have a neat and seamless online experience.
Micromanaging can now be done with just a few clicks because of how simplistic and easy-to-use the app is.
Take a look at the speeds below to see a comparison between NordVPN, ExpressVPN, SurfShark, and CyberGhost’s performances.
Overall, SurfShark is surprisingly fast for a new VPN, and it keeps on going the extra mile even on some of the most difficult locations like the Asian ones. Unfortunately, there are too many fluctuations to call it a day.
Some of the servers are incredibly fast, so much that you can easily watch Netflix and download HD movies at the same time. While others, not so much. They are only average.
With more than 800 servers in 50 countries around the world, SurfShark has a very good network, with quite promising prospects for the future.
What they do collect is:
Therefore, we can safely say that their logging policy is crystal-clear. Add the Warrant Canary that they keep around to offer information about things like gag orders, National Security Letters or warrants from any governments organizations sent to Surfshark users (none so far), and the conclusion is clear.
In terms of encryption, SurfShark uses the cutting-edge AES-256-GCM encryption protocol to safeguard all personal data, while the security protocols are IKEv2/IPsec.
Even on the iOS app, these same protocols will be the default ones but you can still switch to OpenVPN protocol usage. What’s more, SurfShark’s servers are compatible with Tor, while the proprietary cloaking mechanisms will help you unblock all restricted websites, no matter how powerful the censorship.
On the OpenVPN protocols, you can switch between TCP and UDP to change between speed and security, focusing the each as you see fit.
In terms of security, perhaps the most important aspect of Surfshark that many other VPNs lack is an expert independent security audit. They had one done by Cure53, and this was the result.
I liked – very good encryption protocols, Wi-Fi protection, true no-logging policy, blocks ads, malicious content, and online tracking, 7 simultaneous connections, 45-day money-back guarantee
I disliked – suspiciously bad reviews on the internet, despite our experience being a reasonably good one
Based in – Romania (outside the 14-Eyes Surveillance Alliance), no data-logging policies
DNS/IP/WebRTC leak tests – none at all
Netflix US – Works
Netflix UK – Works just as well
24/7 live chat – Check
P2P allowed – Yes
There are 4 plans to speak about, as you can see. The best one is clearly the longest one, the 3-year subscription that costs $98 (converted from Euros at the time of writing), which means $2.72 per month
The 1-month plan is $13.35 per month, while the $1-year plan is $70.72, only $5.89 per month. Finally, the 2-year subscription is $3.66 for a total of $87.96.
Sadly, you cannot pay with cryptocurrencies but you do have a 45-day money-back guarantee. This is a nice thing to see, since most other VPNs only give you 30 days to change your mind at the most.
You can purchase a dedicated IP for only $5.57 per month.
Subscribe to CyberGhost, download their app, turn it on, and you will have access to this:
The interface itself looks very good, sleek and modern while keeping in touch with the simplistic overtones of a premium VPN. It takes you through all the security features relatively fast (remember to always have your kill-switch turned on), and the server list just keeps on going.
In terms of speed, CyberGhost ranks in the middle of premium VPNs, and it is clearly the last on our list. Though this isn’t to say that it underperforms that bad. Indeed, ExpressVPN is nearly two times faster but CyberGhost still manages to maintain a normal performance rate.
99% of the time, you will still be able to stream Netflix and download movies on your iPhone. If any server is clogged or the speed is bad, then just switch to another one.
No geo-blocking mechanism will be able to put a stop to any of your online endeavors though. That much is true with CyberGhost.
CyberGhost hits this nail right in the head because the logging policy is crystal-clear. They do not log any user-identifiable information, ever. Not traffic data, browsing history, traffic destination, data content or any search preferences, no connection logs, timestamps or session duration.
The only things they log is information pertaining to the account, anonymous “non-personal” data, and that’s it.
Other than this, CyberGhost does not keep track of any of your activities on the web, it does not hold back any recordings or logs, and you are left all alone.
The yearly tradition of submitting Transparency reports detailing the legal requests, and the key statistics of their infrastructure is still upheld by CyberGhost. In fact, they were the ones who initiated this tradition.
CyberGhost’s iOS apps are natively using the IKEv2 encryption protocol. Furthermore, this online security provider uses the 256-bit encryption technology to protect your iPhone from any outside threats.
It defends and supervises all ongoing traffic on all public Wi-Fi networks, keeping your confidential data and private information safe.
You can also use OpenVPN with its two ports, TCP and UDP. L2TP and IPSec are also available, all of them being protected by the AES-256-bit encryption protocol.
There were some past security concerns about CyberGhost’s root certificates and the fact that they might not respect their own privacy and logging policies, even though the staff addressed those concerns at the moment.
Upon conducting tests on all four VPN providers, on the Ookla app on a few servers, we ended up with these results.
This was the benchmark line from where we started:
First off, we went with NordVPN, testing the German server. This is what we got:
Then came ExpressVPN with the US server:
After that, we looked at SurfShark’s server in Germany:
Last but not least, CyberGhost with its US server in New York:
Just by looking at these results, we see that ExpressVPN is at the head of the pack, followed by NordVPN on second place, SurfShark taking the third spot, and finally CyberGhost.
It has to be said that ExpressVPN had a constant speed regardless of how many tests we made, across many servers, with NordVPN having slight fluctuations, SurfShark being a wild card but still within reasonable terms. At the same time, CyberGhost didn’t do so well at all, and this is evident from the US results.
Simply looking at a VPN’s performance across a couple of servers does not suffice when searching for a good iPhone VPN. You have to pay attention to a variety of things:
First and foremost, you want to know exactly how many servers a certain VPN has, and how to spread apart they are on the world map. You need to have as many servers as possible in various countries so that you are not left without coverage when going abroad.
The second aspect that you need to keep a lookout for is the overall performance, the server speeds. You need excellent speeds in order to conduct your business and to have a bit of fun in the meantime (watching Netflix)
One other thing is whether the performance is reliable and constant. Are you getting similar results on the same server multiple times in a row? Does the speed fluctuate wildly based on the servers?
These questions are extremely important.
With regard to the locations, you might want a VPN with plenty of servers in the most popular locations and countries, and if you are not content with the services of your current VPN, the money-back guarantee will get your back in the choosing game.
When talking about logging, what we mean is – the exact data that the VPN provider collects from its users. Things like device usage, visited websites, IP address, and so on.
The recommended standard is a strong and no-suspicion zero-logging policy, like the ones upheld by ExpressVPN, NordVPN, SurfShark, and CyberGhost.
Even on iPhones, there are plenty of things a VPN might collect, and you need to make sure their reputation does not leave anything to be wanted. Ideally, you should also be protected from the threats posed by public Wi-Fi networks.
Don’t even look at a VPN who doesn’t have its security based on the OpenVPN protocol and the AES-256-bit encryption protocol. These are the all-time standards in the industry, and anything less is not worth it.
It might not seem like much but trust us – the easiness with which you use your VPN app is immensely important at the end of the day. Ideally, it should be as simplistic and intuitive as possible while also keeping some aesthetic qualities.
Take a look at the most important things related to the quality of the VPN client:
In the end, whether you’re using an iPhone, an Android or a computer, you will still need a VPN to protect you when going online.
The four premium VPNs we presented in the chapters above are the best of the best at this time, and as to which you choose to use, that rests on your shoulders. We have provided the information and guidelines, you decide.