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Free Android VPNs: safe, functional options in 2022

Hand holding a phone displaying the best free Android VPN services
(Image credit: Chikena/Shutterstock)

You won't be surprised to hear that no free VPN can match up to the very best VPN services on the market, but that's not to say that some free Android VPNs aren't a useful bit of kit. However, sifting through the trash in the Play Store in search of a quality product can be a pain – and you might still end up using a poor product if you don't test everything on offer.

That's why we run a rigorous testing program of both Android VPN services and free services in general. We then rate the safest and more user-friendly, and recommend them to you.

Here, we'll run down exactly what you should be looking for in a free Android VPN, and we'll explore whether a free or cheap paid VPN will server you best.

If you want to skip all that and just go to our recommended free Android VPNs, simply click the 'Jump To' tab above. Otherwise, just keep on scrolling to find out what to look for in a free VPN for Android, and how to pick the best.

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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 if you're an Android user (and just about any other device, too). It's secure, can unblock tons of streaming sites, and offers a 30-day money-back guarantee to trial it risk-free – plus, Tom's Guide readers get three months FREE.

What is a free Android VPN good for?

At its most basic, all a VPN does is reroutes your internet traffic through its own encrypted servers to make sure no one can see what you're doing online. They can also change your virtual location by connecting you to a server in a country of your choice.

One of our favorite VPN uses is to give extra protection when connected to public Wi-Fi hotspots – and this is something you'll want to keep in mind when using your Android device. You can also keep you data safe from snoops, and avoid work or school network content blocks.

With a trusted free Android VPN, simple security features like those should be available, but for other uses, you'll find yourself limited – in more way than one.

The downsides of a free Android VPN

If you want to get a VPN for Android free, you're going to have to live with the fact that there are sacrifices to be made. Almost all providers impose a strict data limit, and if you're looking for constant, all-day protection, that's going to run out in a matter of hours – if not minutes - if you're watching videos.

Speeds are also often limited, and you'll also be restricted to just a handful of locations – which may not be where you'd prefer. 

Access to streaming content is one of the biggest drawbacks, however. Many people enjoy using a Netflix VPN to access more content, and while we've found limited success with some free services, none have the content-unblocking performance of the best paid VPN.

Most important to note, though, is whether or not your free Android VPN is safe. There have been numerous (opens in new tab) reports (opens in new tab) on the dangers (opens in new tab) of using free services (opens in new tab), with many seemingly well-known providers actually putting users at risk. We're confident that our recommendations are safe, but true peace of mind lays with a provider that's supported directly by your payments, rather than in some other way.

Free Android VPN

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Is a free Android VPN worth it?

This depends on your usage. If you plan on quickly connecting once in a while to stay safe on public Wi-Fi, check your emails securely, or to change your location to access a different version of a website, a free Android VPN may well be a good choice. But, if you plan on streaming, leaving it on all day, or truly securing your privacy, a paid VPN is by far the best choice.

To test the waters, it may be worth checking out which what VPN free trials are available on a VPN service are currently available, and every paid-for service we recommend offers some form of money-back guarantee, so you'll have plenty of time to claim a refund if you don't think your money is well-spent.

FREE ANDROID VPNS

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ExpressVPN – try the best VPN risk free for 30 days (opens in new tab)
If you want the best way to get a free Android 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.

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Surfshark – the best-value Android 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 less than $2.30 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.

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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 $4 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 Android VPNs

ProtonVPN free android VPN

(Image credit: ProtonVPN)
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1. Proton VPN Free

The only free Android VPN to offer unlimited data

Specifications

Number of servers: 3
Server locations: 3
Maximum devices supported: 1
Data limit: Unlimited
Support: Website, email

Reasons to buy

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Our top-rated free provider on any device
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Unlimited data for free users
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Excellent security as standard

Reasons to avoid

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Limited server locations
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No P2P and Secure Core

For those not wanting to spend a penny, Proton VPN is the best free Android VPN available today.

Unlike every other free provider, Proton VPN Free offers unlimited data, and while you'll certainly see slow-down at peak times, in our hands-on testing it delivered great speeds of 380Mbps. That means you can watch YouTube, send large attachments in emails and just get on with your everyday life when the app is running.

Proton VPN Free carries all the same privacy clout as its paid-for stablemate, so you'll have excellent encryption, a range of protocols, a kill switch, split tunneling and a zero-logging privacy policy backing you up. And, as a freemium service, you know that the app is supported by Proton's paying customers, not by selling your data.

Of course, there are downsides. You'll only have access to three locations (US, Netherlands, Japan), and none of these support P2P, so this isn't a great torrenting VPN. You also won't get access to Proton's fabled Secure Core servers, which route you through ultra-secure servers in Iceland, Sweden and Switzerland.

You also won't be able to get access to any streaming sites, so if you fancy globetrotting on Netflix, you'll have to look elsewhere.

In all, though, while it's still no match for the best premium plans, Proton VPN is beyond compare when it comes to free Android VPNs.

Sign up now on Proton VPN's website (opens in new tab)

Privado VPN devices

(Image credit: Privado VPN)

2. PrivadoVPN Free

An excellent free service with some streaming power (for now)

Specifications

Countries: 9
Server locations: 12
Maximum devices supported: 1
Data limit: 10GB per month (+ very slow unlimited data)
24/7 live chat: No

Reasons to buy

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10GB of data per month (+ very slow unlimited data)
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12 servers in 9 locations
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Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video and iPlayer unblocking

Reasons to avoid

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Android app is pretty basic
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Not independently audited

As a relative fresh face in the VPN game, PrivadoVPN has risen above most other newcomers by offering an excellent range of products. Best of all, we think, is its freemium VPN, which tested very well compared to the competition.

We'll start off with the caveat that Privado's Android app isn't the most comprehensive, and power users will likely want a little more to play with. For most, though, there's enough to get by day-to-day.

The data allowance is fairly generous at 10GB, and unlike other providers, when you run out you'll still be able to use the service – albeit from an 'emergency server' in The Netherlands, which is restricted to a sluggish 1Mbps. Regular speeds are much better, though, at roughly 350Mbps.

The star of PrivadoVPN's show, though, is the unexpected revelation that it can unblock a whole host of streaming sites for free. Netflix, Prime Video, BBC iPlayer and Disney+ are all on the table. This is something almost always restricted to paid plans, and while there's no guarantee this will last, it may be worth using it as a streaming VPN until it stops working. 

Privacy buffs will note that the provider hasn't undergone an independent audit of its servers or privacy policy, but in our testing, we didn't find anything suspect.

Sign up now on the PrivadoVPN website (opens in new tab)

Atlas VPN working as a free Android VPN

(Image credit: Atlas VPN)

3. Atlas VPN Free

A worthy contender owned by Nord

Specifications

Server locations: 3
Countries: 2
Maximum devices supported: 2
Data limit: 10GB per month (2GB a day on Mac)
Support: Website, email

Reasons to buy

+
10GB of data per month
+
Can unblock Disney+
+
Apps are well-designed

Reasons to avoid

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Only 3 servers
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Only essential features on free plan

Recently acquired by Nord Security, Atlas VPN is a decent cheap VPN that also offers a very capable freemium plan. With a fairly hefty data limit of 10GB you'll be able to get plenty of browsing done – although unlike Privado, when that's done, it's done.

You'll get access to three servers which will be enough for many, but is still on the measly side. However, in-use Atlas VPN is really quite nice – the Android app is simple and doesn't have many features, but it's stable and intuitive to use.

Another bonus is that in our testing, Atlas was able to unblock Disney+. This isn't quite the clean sweep Privado delivered, but it's better than Proton in this regard.

Sign up now on the Atlas VPN website (opens in new tab)

Free Android VPN FAQ

Can I stream with a free Android VPN?

Free Android 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 Android 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.

Why do I need a free Android VPN?

A free Android VPN will 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.

Mo is VPN Editor at Tom's Guide. Day-to-day he oversees VPN, privacy, and cybersecurity content, and also undertakes independent testing of VPN services to ensure his recommendations are accurate and up to date. When he's not getting stuck into the nitty-gritty settings of a VPN you've never heard of, you'll find him working on his Peugeot 205 GTi or watching Peep Show instead of finally putting up those shelves.