Why Apple is well-known for it’s secure products and privacy practices, that doesn’t mean you can’t still bump up your security with an iPhone VPN — regardless of whether you have an older model or the latest hardware.
Why add a VPN to an already secure device? You’ll get an additional layer of security and protect yourself and your online escapades. Apple does a mostly fantastic job already, but you can get even more protection from threats like trackers, cybercriminals and targeted ads.
In addition, you can also easily unblock apps and content that you may otherwise not have access to. Your workplace, school or government or local network may not allow certain content. You can easily get around most restrictions by using a VPN -— including streaming content you wouldn’t typically have access to.
Before you jump in and frantically search through the App Store for a VPN app, we’ll explain here the many (many) uses and, ultimately, our top five picks for an iPhone VPN according to our latest in-depth testing.
Today’s top 3 best iPhone VPNs:
How to choose the best iPhone VPN app
There’s no shortage of iPhone VPN options with excellent iOS support, with most providers offering dedicated apps for iPhone and iPad — which should obviously be a main consideration here. The app should be just as easy to use as on desktop (both Windows and Mac) yet provide enough options for more advanced users to be able to tweak things as needed.
The best 5 iPhone VPN apps in 2022:
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ExpressVPN is our top pick for all-round best VPN, and we’re just as happy to recommend it for iOS devices. The top-rated provider has a large server network (with 160 server locations in over 90 countries) that managed to provide superb speeds throughout our testing. In fact, it’s brilliant on every platform and browser we tested it on – Android, Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome, Firefox…the lot!
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Interface and features: ExpressVPN’s iPhone VPN boasts a user-friendly interface that focuses on smart server selection via different filters. Users can connect with a single tap and use and switch between servers seamlessly. There are some unusual extras too, like the ability to switch protocols. Its Privacy and Security Tools menu allows you to easily check your connection, including your current IP address and location.
Its iOS VPN client also comes fully packed with ExpressVPN’s new Parallel Connections feature, as well as its Threat Manager, which protects your device from apps and websites tracking and malware. And, while ExpressVPN won’t want to lose you, the iOS app now allows you to easily delete your account within the app.
The main drawback is the lack of a kill-switch, so that might be an issue for some (especially, to be frank, those using their iPhone for slightly dubious means like torrenting) although it does include an auto-reconnect option which will try to re-establish the tunnel if your connection drops
Streaming: ExpressVPN also has no trouble helping you access streaming services like Netflix, BBC iPlayer and Hulu, making it ideal for streaming. As well as unblocking streaming services, its custom traffic obfuscation will allow you to achieve better connectivity in censorship-heavy regions like China and the Middle East, too.
Support: The service offers 24/7 customer support through live chat or email, to help users with any questions or issues they may encounter.
The prices aren’t the cheapest, but may be worth the added cost for those who want the best experience for iOS devices, including iPhones and iPads – especially with the extra value-adds you get with an annual plan…
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Interface and features: NordVPN’s iPhone app is up there among the very best. It’s a well-organized application, with at-a-glance information displayed by the ‘quick connect’ widget that details the closest server, availability, load percentage and so on. It’s basically got everything you could ask for in an iPhone VPN.
The app includes an auto-connect feature to, you guessed it, automatically connect the VPN when it detects you’re using an untrusted network or Wi-Fi. There’s added Siri capability, too (if you’re in to that kind of thing). And all the in-depth features you’d demand from even the best desktop clients: a fully featured protocols menu, specialty server lists, the list goes on.
Perhaps our only real niggle would be that the default map view when you open the app is a bit fiddly to use. But you can see that we’re really struggling to pick holes here.
Security: It supports the industry standard 256-bit encryption, and offers an automatic kill switch (a real boon), along with double data encryption, which passes your data through two separate VPN servers. This provider also has a ‘no logs’ policy, which is good to see – indeed, it’s audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers to ensure that it holds water.
Streaming: In NordVPN we trust. Able to bypass any geo-restrictions, NordVPN is one of our go-to Netflix VPNs to recommend, able to watch libraries in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, and Japan with little issue. It’ll also open the gates to Prime Video, Disney Plus, and BBC iPlayer.
NordVPN offers way above average performance, too – especially now that speeds are cranked up via its WireGuard-based NordLynx protocol – and the network boasts a plentiful number of servers of more than 5,400+ in across 60 countries.
Support: With plenty of handy and detailed online guides available on its support site, NordVPN also offers both a chatbot for quick, easy requests, with a more competent 24/7 live chat if you wish to raise your query with an actual human being.
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Surfshark is known as one of the best, cheapest VPN providers around, offering great features and unlimited connections for a ridiculously low price.
Interface and features: Its iPhone VPN app is more or less the same as what you get from Surfshark’s desktop experience. There’s the same location list, multihop connections, ad and malware prevention, and split tunneling for apps and websites that let you have your VPN connected only when using selected other apps. There’s a dedicated kill switch as well, which may sway you towards this provider if that’s a function you think will be useful on your iPhone.
On the iOS app, you can change your preferred language within the app, and the ability to reset your VPN profile to resolve any connectivity issues. The option of the iOS 14 widgets is a nice touch, too.
Security: Equipped with the usual AES-256 encryption, Surfshark also has private DNS on each server for better protection against spying while you’re online. You’ll also find a double VPN hop, and can be rest assured of its ‘no logs’ policy, though we would love to see an audit to confirm this.
Surfshark’s relative simplicity will be either a pro or a con, depending on what you want to get from your VPN and how many features you want. But you still don’t lack multiple protocols to choose from (WireGuard, OpenVPN/ IKEv2 and Shadowsocks).
Streaming: Surfshark ticks off all the major streaming services without issue. You’ll be able to watch Netflix around the world, as well as utilizing your subscriptions to Prime Video and Disney Plus. Want to tune into your native broadcaster? Surfshark can also unblock BBC iPlayer and other national channels across the globe.
Support: Benefit from Surfshark’s 24/7 support with the company’s live chat operatives in case you do run in to any trouble when using or installing. It also has a great range of set-up and troubleshooting guides on its support site.
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If you’re after a really usable option for your Apple device, Private Internet Access offers a very affordable iPhone VPN app. What’s more, it’s loved by Apple users, awarded a 4.6 rating on the App Store, with Surfshark the only other iPhone VPN on this list awarded higher.
There are some attractive extras that genuinely add value. The Favorites system, for example, enables connecting to commonly used servers, while a new Automation Rules system allows for auto-connect when on certain networks. And there’s bonus ad and malware blocking, too.
For those that are fully integrated into Apple’s ecosystem, you’ll appreciate the ability to add Siri shortcuts. And then there’s PIA’s InBrowser, which is a private browser for iOS (and its Android VPN app) with tabs and video support.
PIA supports OpenVPN, IKEv2 and the speedy WireGuard protocol, with the 256-AES encryption, with improvements to authentication handshakes now using SHA-4096, and data authentication on OpenVPN CBC making use of SHA-256. A kill-switch is also available which works admirably, and the provider states that it doesn’t have logging of any kind.
If your main reason for getting one of these apps is as a streaming VPN, then we think you’re better off with one of the other providers on this list. OK, so it did manage to unblock Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus. Unblocking Netflix has proved difficult for PIA, however, and it appears to have lost its unblocking abilities for BBC iPlayer, too.
It’s worth noting while its unblocking abilities have weakened, and we’ve seen below-average speeds this time around, for many its performance will be more than enough. What’s more, it’s become even better value for money with some of its multi-year plans.
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Hide.me’s high performing iPhone VPN client just keeps getting more and more appealing, with updates and results that make it a more self-assured contender among the big VPN players.
When it comes to its iPhone VPN app specifically, we like Hide.me’s straightforward interface. Hit ‘Enable’ and your traffic will immediately be encrypted via your nearest server location. Changing server is easy, too, and we always appreciate a favorite’s system that helps you quickly access your most used servers.
The Hide.me iPhone app has a kill switch, which we applaud. It’s worth knowing that when we really rolled up our sleeves and stress tested it fully, it did falter slightly and didn’t play too nicely with WireGuard. You could argue that’s symptomatic of some weak coding, but in real life it’s far from a huge issue. And, considering how much Hide.me has improved in recent tests, we wouldn’t be surprised if the provider’s devs soon solved the issues.
Hide.me continues to impress us with its ability to unblock region restricted streaming services (international libraries for US Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus, BBC iPlayer, etc.). It also sees itself second only to TorGuard in our speed tests, with peaks of 900Mbps thanks to its adoption of WireGuard protocol.
On the subject of protocols, there are plenty to choose from: OpenVPN, IKEv2, SoftEther and SSTP are all available alongside WireGuard.
If you want to give Hide.me a try, it has a free VPN version. That’s in addition to its 30-day money-back guarantee, if you’d sooner just sign up to the fully functioned premium version in the safety of knowing that you can get a full refund if you don’t like it.
iPhone VPN FAQ
What is the best iPhone VPN?
With so many iPhone VPNs out there, this is no easy answer. Luckily, ExpressVPN stands out above the rest (opens in new tab). It combines mostly everything that we like to see in a virtual private network app: stacks of servers all over the world, excellent encryption, a knack for unblocking restricted apps, friendly interface, and it’s remarkably easy to set up and use.
Do I really need an iPhone VPN?
Even Apple’s App Store is not devoid of its own share of dodgy apps (although truth be told, Google Play is a far more dangerous place to be). In terms of harmful activities, the argument that iPhone users have less to worry than other (especially Android) users certainly has some merit. However, that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t still be careful.
What does a VPN do on iPhone?
There’s a multitude of reasons why you might want to download a mobile VPN app on to your iPhone. Foremost is security – the encrypted tunnels through which all data will be exchanged when connected to Wi-Fi would be a garbled mess to any hackers who do somehow manage to get hold of it.
But it’s a VPN’s IP spoofing that’s where things get fascinating. By jumping onto a server in another location, you can effectively change location and kid your Apple iPhone into thinking that it’s in another country altogether. A country or location, for example, where you can stream a wider variety of Netflix shows, and where you can get cheaper prices on services and products. And super handy if you’re struggling to use WhatsApp in China or login to Facebook at your school.
Are free iPhone VPN apps worth it?
Free VPNs have their place – there’s no doubt about that. An extra layer of security while using public Wi-Fi is no bad thing at all – especially if you’re shopping or having private interactions.
But for the most part, it’s a total false economy. Many free apps limit the amount of data you can use each day or month, so you can mostly forget about using them for streaming and torrenting. But more than that, you’re likely to get an ad-heavy app experience where the provider is probably making back cash by selling your details to third parties. Our advice…avoid, especially when the best iPhone VPN apps on this list are so affordable anyway.
Do iPhones have a built in VPN?
While iPhone doesn’t currently have a built-in VPN, it does offer excellent VPN support for both manual and automatic configuration when downloading any number of VPN apps. All you’ll need to do, then, to install a VPN on your Apple smartphone, is select which iPhone VPN you want to sign up to, install the client, and you’re away.
Don’t be fooled by the announcement of Private Relay at the WWDC 2021 conference, either. While the new privacy feature – which will launch as a part of iCloud+ accounts – does allow users to withhold their IP address, it only does this when browsing on Safari or through apps with insecure connections.
By forgoing a VPN and replacing one solely with Private Relay, you also miss out on location duping, and subsequently being able to unblock geo-restricted content. While it’s an interesting feature, then, it certainly doesn’t constitute as an iPhone VPN.
How do I manually configure a VPN in my iPhone settings?
To add a VPN manually, go to Settings > General > VPN > Add VPN Configuration > Type.
You will then choose between a number of protocols: IKEv2, IPSec, or L2TP.
You’ll then need to enter a server address, as well as your username and password, and a remote ID. All this should be found in your account of your chosen VPN provider.
Once set-up, you’ll find VPN under Mobile Data and/or Personal Hotspot immediately when you go into settings, or under Settings > General > VPN & Device Management.