It's no secret that free VPNs can't match the performance delivered by the best VPN services out there. However, for some users a reliable free iPhone VPN might be just the right tool to boost their online privacy with ease.
The App Store is filled with iPhone VPN applications promising to secure your data without paying a penny. However, you'd be wise to tread with caution, as many of these are poor imitations that haven't verified or audited, and may well leak or harvest your data for nefarious reasons.
It's also worth noting that a free iPhone VPN isn't going to provide you with the anywhere near the sort of power a paid plan would – streaming restrictions, data limits and limited features are all very common here.
However, there are a few free services for iPhone that are safe and offer good functionality for basic use. All you need to do is keep scrolling, or click the 'Jump To' tab above to go straight to our list of the best free iPhone VPNs right now.
Try #1-rated ExpressVPN risk-free for 30 days (opens in new tab)
ExpressVPN (opens in new tab) makes no compromises and is simply the top VPN on the market right now – for iPhone users and just about everyone else. It's super secure, can unblock virtually any streaming site, and offers a 30-day money-back guarantee to try it out risk-free. Even better for Tom's Guide readers, as they can get it for three months FREE.
What can you use a free iPhone VPN for?
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Short for virtual private network, a VPN is a security tool to help you secure your sensitive information every time you go online.
To do that, the software reroutes your internet traffic via its own encrypted servers to protect your online anonymity – whether this is a paid or free service.
As you can generally choose from several servers based in distinct countries, this means that VPNs can also spoof your real IP address making you appear in a totally different location within a click.
Perhaps the most important of all VPN uses is the extra layer of protection that such software will give you when connected to public Wi-Fi. That's because every time you access an open network, your iPhone is more vulnerable to be attacked by intruders looking to steal your data.
The downsides of a free iPhone VPN
The first thing you should keep in mind is the degree of safety of your free iPhone VPN. There have been many instances of malicious free VPN apps used to scrape users' data. Plus, many freebies use ads to make a revenue – and we all know how invasive these can be.
Even when an app's security is sound, a free iPhone VPN inevitably comes with some limitations compared to its premium counterparts.
For starters, the majority of providers impose a data limit on their freebies. That's going to be an issue if you're after all-day protection or you want to use it while carrying out activities like torrenting or watching videos.
You're likely to experience slower connections, too. That's mainly because the network coverage is generally way smaller here. Servers can get overcrowded, or they might be simply too far from your real location to deliver faster speeds.
People are increasingly using VPNs for streaming, and you'll have to be ready to make sacrifices here, too. We've already mentioned data caps, but many free VPNs aren't actually optimized for unlocking streaming libraries. And when they do, their abilities cannot match up with premium services.
Is a free iPhone VPN worth it, then?
This really depends on what you are looking for in your software.
If you are simply after a bit of extra security on your everyday activities like staying safe on public Wi-Fi or accessing your emails securely, then a free iPhone VPN is the right tool for you. You can also use it to easily switch browsing locations and access foreign versions of a website.
On the contrary, if you want a VPN for streaming or torrenting, you should opt for a premium version instead. Also if you need maximum online security all day long, a paid plan is likely to serve you best.
The good news is that there's no need to spend a fortune, though. Check our guide of the best cheap VPN providers right now to take your pick. You can even take advantage of VPN free trials instead. Plus, all our favorite services offer some form of money-back guarantee – you'll need to spend some money upfront but you'll have plenty of time to claim a refund.
Trial a top-rated iPhone VPN
ExpressVPN – try the best VPN risk free for 30 days (opens in new tab)
If you want the best way to get a free iPhone VPN, we’d suggest trying out ExpressVPN – its 30-day money-back guarantee is generous and, if you choose to, you’ll be refunded no questions asked. However, it’s also our highest-rated VPN, and you can claim three free months on 12-month plans.
Surfshark – the best-value iPhone VPN on the market (opens in new tab)
If Express is a little pricey but you're still considering a fully featured VPN, Surfshark (opens in new tab) is an excellent choice. For around $2 a month you'll get unlimited connections, intuitive iOS apps, really swift servers and world-class streaming support – plus a no-quibble 30-day money-back guarantee.
NordVPN – the biggest name is a safe bet (opens in new tab)
NordVPN (opens in new tab) is probably on your radar, and it's definitely a paid service that's worth considering. With over 5,000 servers, great streaming power, polished apps and incredible encryption, less than $3 a month doesn't sound too bad – and again, make a claim within 30 days and you'll get every penny back.
The best free iPhone VPNs(opens in new tab)
The Swiss-based provider Proton VPN is easily the best choice for anyone looking for a safe and reliable free iPhone VPN.
For starters, Proton VPN Free is the only provider to offer unlimited data to its non-paying users. In terms of connection speeds, it isn't too bad either. We reached peaks of 380Mbps last time we checked. That means you can execute all the major everyday activities you'll generally do online, including watching YouTube videos and sending large attachments in emails.
As you might expect, though, even Proton VPN free comes with some limitations. Even though its free network coverage just increased from 29 to over 100 servers, these are only located in three countries (US, Netherlands, Japan). These also exclude the extra safe Secure Core servers.
What's more, its free servers don't support P2P sharing, so this isn't a great torrenting VPN, and its streaming unblocking abilities are just for paid subscribers. So, if you fancy globetrotting on Netflix or any other platforms, you'll have to look elsewhere.
Overall, Proton VPN is a great choice if you want to boost your iPhone security all day long without putting hands in your wallet.
Sign up now on Proton VPN's website (opens in new tab)
A fairly new entry on the VPN game, PrivadoVPN has already made a name for itself with its safe freemium VPN packed with a few extra features compared to the competition.
Its iOS apps are quite basic - especially for advanced users seeking to play with it. For most people, though, it will be more than enough to get them started.
Even though not matching Proton's data allowance, we think that 10GB per month is fairly generous. Peak speeds can reach 350Mbps, so you will be able to carry on virtually any of your everyday activities with ease. What's more, you can still use the service when you run out. It is worth noting that your traffic will be rerouted via an 'emergency server' in the Netherlands, which is restricted to a sluggish 1Mbps.
What really sets PrivadoVPN above its competitors, though, is that it actually works as streaming VPN, unblocking some of the main streaming platforms out there. Netflix, Prime Video, BBC iPlayer and Disney+ are all on the table. That's a great achievement for a freebie – although this might not last forever.
Sign up now on the PrivadoVPN website (opens in new tab)
Recently acquired by Nord Security, Atlas VPN isn't just a decent cheap VPN. The provider offers a very capable freemium plan, too.
Atlas comes with a generous 10GB per month, although when used as a Mac VPN it allows 20GB. As you can use it on two devices at once, it can be useful to cover all your Apple gadgets. Bear in mind, though, that unlike Privado once your data is up you need to wait until the start of the following month to keep using the software.
The server coverage is pretty limited, too - only three locations across two countries. But this might be just enough for some users. It's quite nice to use on iPhone, though, offering a much better use of screen space than its Android counterpart.
Its iOS apps have already been independently audited, too. Even though we'd like to see these checks extended to its other applications, it shows the provider's commitment towards transparency.
Another happy surprise was seeing Atlas VPN free managing to unblock Disney+. This might not match up with Privado's capabilities, but it's better than Proton in this regard.
Sign up now on the Atlas VPN website (opens in new tab)
Free iPhone VPN FAQ
Can I stream with a free iPhone VPN?
Free iPhone VPNs might be useful for many things, but for streaming we'd strongly advise users to opt for a premium service like ExpressVPN (opens in new tab).
With no data limits and excellent regional unblocking on sites like Netflix and iPlayer, the best paid-for services don't have anything to worry about from the free contenders.
However, from time to time we do see some free iPhone VPNs perform well for streaming. So, if you trust the VPN to be secure, there should be no harm in downloading one to give it a go. At the time of writing, Privado VPN is a good bet (opens in new tab) as a free straming VPN.
Why do I need a free iPhone VPN?
Despite iPhones being generally more secure against malware and viruses, users put their online privacy at risk every time they access the web.
A free iPhone VPN will especially come in handy if you're often connecting to unsecured public Wi-Fi hotspots, or if you just want peace of mind with a sensitive search once in a while.
For those looking to torrent, stream, or simply after a VPN you can have on all day with no hassle, then a paid provider is your best bet.