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Best iPhone VPN for iOS in 2021

iOS-style app icon displaying the best iOS VPN for iPhone
(Image credit: OpturaDesign / Shutterstock.com)

If you've got an Apple device, you'll want to bag the best VPN for iPhone and iOS devices – but as the variety grows, it's getting harder and harder for regular users to figure out which is actually the best.

Apple's devices are well known for their resistance to malware, and with iOS 14.5's tracker blocking it's even clearer which ecosystem a privacy obsessive should invest in. However, there's nothing your iPhone can do once you've visited a dodgy website or connected to a risky Wi-Fi hotspot. That's where a VPN for iPhone comes in.

An iOS VPN isn't just for privacy, though. You'll be able to install it on your iPhone, iPad, even your iPod Touch (they still exist, apparently), and subsequently you'll be able to access more streaming content from all over the world. Plus, seeing as your iPhone is probably the thing you'll be traveling with the most, an iPhone VPN will keep you protected when connected to potentially unsecured public Wi-Fi networks in shops, cafes, or public transport.

What makes the best iPhone VPN?

There are three major things we want to see in the best iOS VPN: speed, security, and support – and it doesn't hurt if it looks great, either. While that might sound simple, many VPNs can't tick all these boxes. However, our top pick ExpressVPN does, and it has them in spades. 

There are also a number of other features we love to see in iPhone VPNs – all of which Express boasts, too. A wide network of servers in plenty of countries is great if you want to either sidestep national censorship or stream geo-blocked media from abroad, like Netflix US from Spain, BBC iPlayer outside the UK, or Gmail in China.

Another important factor is app design. Your iPhone's screen is nowhere near the size of a PC monitor, and that means every pixel counts. Whichever iPhone VPN you choose, it should be optimized for a mobile form-factor. It doesn't have to be bare and minimal, but it does have to work intuitively – and you'll want to get one which matches the quality and polish you're used to as an iOS user.

So, below is our rundown of the five very best iOS VPNs and what they can do for you – all you need to do is pick which one to go with.

The best five iPhone VPN for iOS today

ExpressVPN's iPhone VPN on an iPhone 11

(Image credit: ExpressVPN)

1. ExpressVPN

The best iPhone VPN bar none

Specifications
Number of servers: 3,000+ in 94 countries
Max simultaneous connections: 5
App Store score: 4.5
24/7 live chat support: Yes
Streaming sites unblocked: Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu
Reasons to buy
+iPhone app is near-perfect+Excellent 24/7 support service+Great streaming ability+Zero knowledge DNS
Reasons to avoid
-Maximum of five connections

ExpressVPN simply provides everything you need from an iPhone VPN. It's quick, private and simple to use, and seeing as the apps over all platforms are virtually identical, once you've used one you'll have mastered them all.

You'll get over 3,000 servers in 94 countries, meaning wherever you are you'll be able to get a quality connection. Plus, all your data's protected by AES-256 encryption as standard, with a selection of protocols, a kill switch and even split tunneling to tailor your usage.

Beyond technicalities, though, Express's interface is excellent and makes it super simple to access these in-depth features, meaning you can have as basic or as complex an experience as you want – perfect for novices and experts alike.

However, things can go wrong with even the best services, so having a stellar support system in place is essential. Thankfully, Express has you covered with its 24/7 live chat. You'll reliably get responses in minutes – often in seconds – and the operators are incredibly helpful and have never failed to resolve one of our queries.

If we had to split hairs, we wish Express VPN offered a few more simultaneous connections. Five is plenty in practice, though, and while you can only use five devices on the same account at the same time, you can have the app downloaded on as many as you like. That's plenty for the vast majority of users – and if it's not, you're covered by a no-quibble 30-day money-back guarantee.

Overall, Express offers the most fully-featured iPhone VPN app money can buy, so if you want the best, you need look no further.

NordVPN's iPhone VPN for iOS on an iPhone 11

(Image credit: NordVPN)

2. NordVPN

iPhone VPN for the privacy-obsessed

Specifications
Amount of servers: 5,100+ in 59 countries
Max simultaneous connections: 6
App Store score: 4.5
24/7 support: Yes
Streaming sites unblocked: Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu
Reasons to buy
+Excellent security+Great for streaming+Lots of other extensions & apps+Recently verified no-logging
Reasons to avoid
-iPhone app interface isn't ideal

If you've heard of any VPN before, it'll have been NordVPN. The security giant provides hugely popular and private services, and its iPhone VPN is no exception, impressing us in our full NordVPN review.

With great speeds across the majority of its 5,200 servers, Nord's sure to provide you with a good connection, and its top-tier encryption plus extra features like Onion over VPN and Double VPN should keep you nice and anonymous.

While it's effective, NordVPN's app design isn't quite as clean as Express's – it retains the map-based interface, and this doesn't work as well on mobile as it does on a monitor, making it slightly awkward to use. This is a very minor issue, though, as you won't really be spending more than a couple of minutes in the app itself.

Other features include two kill switches, DNS leak detection and auto-connect, and Nord has now even introduced Siri support which we're sure someone will find useful.

Other than that, Nord's great for streaming as well, so if you're on a trip and don't fancy hauling out your laptop when you're on the train, you'll be able to unblock pretty much everything straight from your phone. Plus, if you're deep in the Apple ecosystem, it works great as a Mac VPN too.

If you're after a security-focused iPhone VPN that will do everything you need it to and more, NordVPN could be the right choice for you – and a 30-day guarantee covers you in case it's not.

Surfshark's iPhone VPN on an iPhone 11

(Image credit: Surfshark)

3. Surfshark

Bargain iPhone VPN that doesn't scrimp on features

Specifications
Amount of servers: 3,200+ in 65 countries
Max simultaneous connections: Unlimited
App Store score: 4.5
24/7 support: Yes
Streaming sites unblocked: Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu
Reasons to buy
+Great value+Great connection speeds+Top-notch security +Unlimited connections
Reasons to avoid
-App may be too basic for some

If you're looking to get the cheapest iPhone VPN that's going to actually do its job well, Surfshark should be on your shopping list. At less than $2.50 a month you might think that it's cut corners and is no competition to costlier options, but in fact it's a well-rounded service that would be impressive at any price, and scored well in our Surfshark review.

The iPhone app is totally plug-and-play, but while many will be satisfied with just pressing auto-connect, you'll also be able to explore some other features. For example, you can switch protocol between OpenVPN UDP and TCP, and IKEv2, and use a kill switch to ensure your connection doesn't become compromised – plus it's an excellent Netflix VPN.

One of its biggest selling points, though, is Surfshark's unlimited simultaneous connections policy. That means you'll be able to cover every single device (whether that's 10 or 100) in your house on your bargain-basement plan. That's incredible value.

While it's not quite as powerful as ExpressVPN or Nord, Surfshark provides a deceptively simple iPhone VPN that punches well above its weight and genuinely competes with the very best, regardless of price.

Sign up now on the Surfshark website.

Hotspot Shield's iPhone VPN for iOS

(Image credit: Hotspot Shield)

4. Hotspot Shield

Swift, simple, and effective

Specifications
Amount of servers: 1,800+ in 80+ countries
Max simultaneous connections: 5
App Store score: 4.2
24/7 support: Yes
Streaming sites unblocked: Netflix, YouTube, iPlayer, Hulu
Reasons to buy
+Seriously quick+Simple and easy to use+Great for streaming
Reasons to avoid
-Might be a little too simple-Some minor logging

If you're not fussed about in-depth features, in our Hotspot Shield review we thought the provider's iPhone VPN was smart, simple, and good-looking – and it also features in our fast VPN guide.

The Catapult Hydra protocol delivers searing speeds, and combined with the fact that Hotspot Shield can unblock just about any streaming service it's a perfect option for those who like to stay glued to their screen on the move.

However, apart from P2P compatibility, great speeds and adequate protection is about all you'll get. There's no kill switch, auto-connect, split tunneling, or anything else – but for the vast majority of users that won't be an issue. The only thing that might is the fact it's lacking a 'best server' feature, which would help immensely in getting the best connection.

But, for those after something that looks nice and just works, Hotspot Shield is a great cheap VPN – and you'll certainly be impressed with the speeds.

Sign up now on the Hotspot Shield website

IPVanish's iPhone VPN on an iPhone

(Image credit: IPVanish)

5. IPVanish

Info-heavy iPhone VPN with great speeds

Specifications
Amount of servers: 1,500+ is 75+ locations
Max simultaneous connections: Unlimited
App Store score: 4.5
24/7 support: Yes
Streaming sites unblocked: Netflix,YouTube, Hulu
Reasons to buy
+Super speeds+Tons on info displayed in-app+Unlimited connections
Reasons to avoid
-Not as easy to use as some-Can't access BBC iPlayer

IPVanish is one of the old guard – well-known and loved by those who were using VPNs years ago, and now trusted by the new wave looking for iPhone VPNs, too. If you want great speeds – especially in the US – it's a good option, although in our IPVanish review we saw it slip behind some more innovative rivals

The app's design is divisive, and whether you like it will depend on what you want to see in your VPN. In-use, you're provided with a heck of a lot of info, including data up and down, IP address, server name and more. While the iPhone app has been toned down from the desktop version – reminiscent of The Matrix's black and neon green color scheme – it's not as clean as the rest on this list.

If you like that, though, IPVanish provides tons of in-depth features like auto-connect, a kill switch and a choice of protocols. A recent update also introduced the new unlimited connections policy, which we think has really added value to the service.

If you like to see a lot of techy data and aren't scared of a graph or two, IPVanish offers a seriously powerful iPhone app that can cover all sorts of VPN uses. However, for casual users, the options higher on this list deliver cleaner, easier user experiences.

Sign up now on the IPVanish website.

Best iPhone VPNs for iOS FAQ

Do I really need a VPN on my iPhone?

If you want to make sure your sensitive information is kept safe and out of the hands of ne'er-do-wells, an iPhone VPN is an essential bit of kit.

However, security isn't the only use for an iPhone VPN. If you're traveling abroad and have a subscription to a service like Netflix, you may find that your favorite shows aren't available where you are. If you've got access to a quality VPN, you can virtually relocate yourself back home and get access to what you're used to.

The opposite is true as well, though, and you can globe-trot around Netflix libraries to explore what other nations get with their subscription.

Finally, you might question if you need a VPN on your iPhone as well as your computer. There's a simple answer to that, and it's 'why not?'. All the VPNs above offer multiple simultaneous connections, so you may as well use as many as you can.

What does a VPN for iPhone do?

Once your iPhone is connected to the internet, be it through your network connection or Wi-Fi, it's at risk. In the case of unsecured public Wi-Fi, like at coffee shops, hotels and airports, this risk is even greater. Risk of what? Your data being exposed. That's is where a VPN works to keep you safe.

By routing your connection through its own servers, it can make you appear somewhere you're not. It will also assign you a new IP address, which makes you appear to be someone you're not. Essentially, all your traffic is encrypted, and that keeps you – and your iPhone's data – safe. 

Can I get a free iPhone VPN?

Free VPN services can be very tempting, but while there are some good options, they're all limited in some way or another.

While functionality is an issue (most have data caps or throttles speeds), when considering free iPhone VPNs there's a very real danger to the user. Free services on the App Store have been known to be 'fleeceware' – offering a free trial and secretly charging massive weekly fees afterwards – while other simply don't work and will give you a false sense of security.

Due to the fact that you simply haven't got the configuration of a desktop Mac or PC on a iPhone, there's a risk that you'll be caught out by a scammer, and any settings you're not happy with might not be available to change.

For both VPNs for iPhones and Android VPN, we wholeheartedly recommend going with a paid service, or at the very least one of our top-rated free providers. Don't just go searching the App Store and download the first free iPhone VPN you come across. 

Does my iOS device have a VPN built in?

Since iOS 2.0, iPhones and other portable Apple devices have supported VPN connections – but they've never come with a VPN built in.

However, VPN integration is now absolutely seamless, so if you pick any of the best iPhone VPN services from our list, you can be sure that you'll get – and stay – protected in seconds.

Mo is eCommerce Editor at Tom's Guide. Day-to-day he oversees privacy and security content, and his product guides help his readers find the best software and products for their needs. When he's not testing VPNs, you'll find him working on his classic car or plugged into a guitar amp.