How to use software to get the most out of your new iPhone

iPhone 15 Pro shown in hand
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

There’s plenty to do when setting up your new iPhone for the first time. While logging into your iCloud and picking a cool wallpaper might be the first things that come to mind, there are many more ways to get the most out of your new iPhone. One vital move you can make to improve your experience with your iPhone is getting a VPN. 

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a cybersecurity tool which can mask your IP address and associated internet activity. While the primary purpose of a VPN is protecting you from hackers and data harvesters, it can also directly improve your online experience. This is because a VPN also grants you access to global streaming services, blocks ads, and can bypass regional censors on content. 

Thankfully, many trusted VPN providers provide excellent iPhone VPN coverage, so you have a great range of services to choose from. We’re here to lead you to some of the best. 

Accessing streaming content from other countries

Have you ever been recommended a great TV show or went to re-watch your favorite film, only to find it unavailable on your streaming service of choice? The good news is it may be available in another country. You’ve probably noticed that streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney Plus all have slight changes in their catalogs when you’re abroad. This is due to regional differences in media distribution rights. Luckily, you can expand your mobile streaming options with a VPN for iPhone. 

For example, let’s say you’re in the United States and hoping to watch The Office on the Netflix iOS app. It’s a shame then, that it hasn’t been on the service since 2021. However, all you have to do to solve this problem is to connect to one of your VPN’s servers in Canada. This will spoof your location and send you to Canadian Netflix, meaning you can enjoy all nine seasons of The Office without a problem. 

By using a VPN, you can even check out geo-restricted streaming services like HBO Max or BBC iPlayer. Essentially, you’ll never run out of things to watch on your iPhone again. 

Ad blocking

You might’ve sprung for the larger screen of an iPhone 15 Pro Max but that doesn’t mean you want to give up a single inch of it to obtrusive ads. For a cleaner user experience and to avoid threats like malvertising, you can install an ad blocker.

To hit two birds with one stone, both NordVPN and ExpressVPN come with ad blocking as standard. However, even in the absence of this, all VPN services can reduce the number of ads you come across while browsing. Any ads that would usually appear based on your location won’t be shown to you while your IP is masked. 

Bypassing internet censorship

You may live or be traveling to an area with restrictions on certain media, websites, or services. Despite this, you can enhance your digital freedom with an iPhone VPN. Once you connect to a server outside of the region, you’ll have no issue accessing blocked content. Some countries have varying restrictions against VPN use. With this in mind, it’s important to do your research to evaluate the legal risks of using a VPN in your country. 

The best VPN in 2024

Here are our top three choices for the best VPN in 2024.

2. NordVPN - the best high speed VPN for iPhone 30-day money-back guarantee

2. <a href="https://go.nordvpn.net/aff_c?offer_id=564&url_id=10992&aff_id=3013&aff_click_id=hawk-custom-tracking&aff_sub2=hawk-article-url" data-link-merchant="go.nordvpn.net"" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">NordVPN - the best high speed VPN for iPhone
Peaking at over 950 Mbps, NordVPN blew us away with its lightning-fast speed test results. Alongside an impressive VPN service, Nord also offers a wider suite of cybersecurity tools like an antivirus and an ad blocker. What’s even better you can try NordVPN with risk thanks to their 30-day money-back guarantee

2.The best VPN for iPhone overall: ExpressVPN

2. <a href="https://go.expressvpn.com/c/4550836/1330033/16063?subId1=hawk-custom-tracking&sharedId=hawk&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.expressvpn.com%2Foffer%2Frecommended-deal%3Foffer%3D3monthsfree" data-link-merchant="expressvpn.com"" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">The best VPN for iPhone overall: ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN turned out to be the best VPN service for iOS users. As being well-optimized for iPhone, ExpressVPN boasts a wealth of servers, expansive content unlocking capabilities, and an undefeated level of security and privacy.

 If you’re still unconvinced, why not take advantage of ExpressVPN’s 30-day money-back guarantee?

3.Surfshark - the best iPhone VPN on a budget

3. <a href="http://get.surfshark.net/aff_c?offer_id=61&aff_id=1691&aff_click_id=hawk-custom-tracking&aff_sub2=hawk-article-url" data-link-merchant="get.surfshark.net"" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Surfshark - the best iPhone VPN on a budget

Surfshark is an incredibly budget-friendly iPhone VPN provider, which will set you back as little as $2.29 a month. Don’t let its tiny price tag fool you, though. While this service is great for those watching their wallet, it won’t make you compromise on reliability, speed, or functionality.

How to pick a VPN to enhance your iPhone

While we’ve outlined our favourite iPhone VPNs, it’s entirely up to you to choose which service suits you best. To assist you in your decision, here are some crucial factors to take into account when comparing VPNs: 

Servers: A provider that has lots of servers that are well-distributed around the world will give you more location-spoofing options and is likely to produce better speeds. 

Content unblocking: If you’re big into binge-watching, you’ll want to ensure that the VPN you choose provides content unblocking for all your favourite streaming services. 

Features: To ensure you’re getting best coverage possible, make sure to choose a VPN with a wide variety of features like a killswitch, leak protection, and split tunneling. You’ll also make to make that these features perform reliably. This is important to take into acoount because if you become disconnected to your VPN server, you won’t want to continue browsing unprotected without realising it. 

Customer service: If you hit any bumps in the road while setting up or using your VPN, it’s valuable to know that a helpful customer service team can get you back on track. Additionally, if you plan to work — or play — late in the night, it’s important to choose a provider that offers 24/7 customer support. 

How we test VPNs

Here at Tom’s Guide, we take our testing procedure seriously. We believe that the most realistic results come when providers don’t know they’re being tested. So, we make sure to register anonymously to best reproduce the experience of an average customer. Once we access the service, these are the main features we put to the test: 

App: A finicky, awkward-to-use app can undermine even the best of services. So, we install and use each provider’s apps on iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, and Linux. That way we can thoroughly assess each version’s reliability, ease of use, and availability of features. 

Security: The last thing you want from your iPhone VPN is patchy protection. To combat this, a good VPN provider will include features like kill-switches and leak protection. We make sure to see these in action and rigorously stress-test each service’s line of defense. 

Speed: You shouldn’t have to sacrifice speed for security. To confirm you’re getting the best balance of both, we measure the performance of each VPN across a 24-hour period. 

Unblocking capabilities: To verify each VPN’s content unblocking abilities, we attempt to browse the libraries of pretty much every popular streaming service we can think of. Each time we do, we connect to a server in a different region. This way, we can see the full extent of the service’s content-unblocking abilities. 

Privacy: We read the fine print on each provider’s private policy so we feel confident that your data is safe. As well as this, we like to look into any third-party audits each company has received.

Using a VPN FAQs

What is the best VPN for iPhone?

As informed by our extensive testing, the best iPhone VPN provider is NordVPN. This is due its combination of high speeds, impressive server availability, and an excellent in-app iOS experience. 

What can I use an iPhone VPN for?

As well as giving you greater peace of mind regarding your online safety, having a VPN for iPhone can expand your global streaming library, reduce the number of ads you’re subjected to, and help you bypass online censorship.  What features should an iPhone VPN have? 

What features should an iPhone VPN have?

The ideal iPhone VPN will have a reliable integrated kill-switch, DNS leak protection, and support for highly secure tunneling protocols like OpenVPN. It’s also helpful to have a VPN router support so don’t have to worry about device limitations, as well as an app that is functional and easy to use. Any trustworthy VPN provider will also demonstrably commit to a no-logs policy. 

Should I use a free VPN for iPhone?

While several VPN services are available free of charge, choosing to use a free VPN means accepting some major compromises. Not only will you be saddled with in-app ads and reduced functionality, but you’ll also have to contend with a greater risk of having your data breached. If you need a low-cost option for an iPhone VPN, it’s definitely worth checking out SurfShark or even trying a free trial of one of the more premium VPN services.

Disclaimer

We test and review VPN services in the context of legal recreational uses. For example:  1. Accessing a service from another country (subject to the terms and conditions of that service).  2. Protecting your online security and strengthening your online privacy when abroad. We do not support or condone the illegal or malicious use of VPN services. Consuming pirated content that is paid-for is neither endorsed nor approved by Future Publishing.

Olivia Powell
Tech Software Commissioning Editor

Olivia joined Tom's Guide in October 2023 as part of the core Future Tech Software team, and is the Commissioning Editor for Tech Software. With a background in cybersecurity, Olivia stays up-to-date with all things cyber and creates content across TechRadar Pro, TechRadar and Tom’s Guide. She is particularly interested in threat intelligence, detection and response, data security, fraud prevention and the ever-evolving threat landscape.

With contributions from