While iPhones are often associated with excellent security, configuring your device with the best VPN for iPhone both bumps up that security and enhances your privacy. VPNs encrypt your traffic to leave your ISP, hackers, and other snoops in the dark, which is especially useful if you access the internet from public WiFi. VPNs also hide your IP address, a feature that’s useful for accessing geo-blocked content, preventing tracking, and getting around certain firewall restrictions on office or school internet connections. Here are the top-rated VPNs for iPhones.
— Best Overall: Surfshark
— Best Value: AtlasVPN
— Best App: ExpressVPN
— Best for iPhone and Mac: NordVPN
— Best with No Subscription: ProtonVPN
How We Picked the Best VPNs for iPhones
A VPN for the iPhone generally serves three purposes: increased security and privacy, access to global content, and getting around institutional firewall blocks. For privacy and security, we only recommended VPN services running top-level encryption algorithms that have no-logs policies spelled out in their terms of service.
For streaming availability, we went with VPNs that are able to access geo-blocked content from most, if not all, of the major streaming services. We also picked VPN services with a wide range of global services. While we usually go for those offering at least 1,000 servers, AtlasVPN made the cut with just 750 servers by impressing us with the low price, extra features, and super-simple operation.
Finally, only VPN services with a clean and streamlined app experience on the iPhone made our list. Since Apple hangs its hat on its intuitiveness, we wanted to see a similar experience with our VPN service choices.
We also reviewed the best VPNs on the market, and many of our picks here echo our thoughts there, but for this round, we focused specifically on the top-rated VPNs for iPhones.
Best Overall: Surfshark
Why It Made The Cut: Massive server coverage, a constantly updated iOS app, and stellar customer service make Surfshark the strongest fish in the VPN sea — and their price is among the lowest.
— Jurisdiction: Netherlands
— Number of Servers: 3200+
— Number of Locations: 95 countries
— iPhone-Focused Feature: Built-in iOS widget support
— iOS Compatibility: 10.3.3 and later
— Mobile-optimized WireGuard and IKEv2 VPN protocols
— Blocks ads and malware with CleanWeb feature
— Unlimited devices covered on one account
— Seven-day free trial for iOS app
— Low price with the two-year plan
— No free version
Surfshark doesn’t make you pick between a huge server count or a low price — you get both. Then they bake in a buffet of privacy and security features, topped off with unlimited device coverage. For iPhone, they offer a clean and sleek app that’s constantly being updated with improvements and bug fixes.
Inside the app, the quick connect button automatically plugs you in to either your nearest or the fastest server (your choice), and there’s tons of easy customization from there. You can manually pick your location, with indicators showing how busy a server is at the moment. Enable MultiHop for extra private dual-server routing, or turn on the kill switch to ensure nothing is exposed if your private connection goes down. You can also toggle on the Clean Web feature to enable an ad- and malware-blocker in one switch.
For an extra $1.50 per month (on a two-year plan) you can add their search function (accessible directly from the iOS app), which allows for ad-free and trace-free web searches that are neither stored nor tied to your search history. If you like the ease and speeds widgets bring to the iPhone experience, Surfshark lets you add three different-sized widgets to your home screen so you can connect to your VPN even faster (of course there’s also an auto-connect option if you want your VPN running continuously).
While the app is dead simple to use, if you ever run into an issue, Surfshark has instant chat support available around the clock directly from the app, staffed by pros who know their way around those common VPN snags. If you decide it’s not the service for you, take advantage of their 30-day no-hassle, money-back guarantee.
Best Value: Atlas VPN
Why It Made The Cut: For those looking for a no-frills service offering the staples of privacy and security at a crazy low price, Atlas VPN is a strong pick for iPhones.
— Jurisdiction: USA
— Number of Servers: 750
— Number of Locations: 42
— iPhone-Focused Feature: N/A
— iOS Compatibility: 13.0 and later
— Unlimited devices covered on one account
— Extra cheap price with the three-year plan
— Free version lets you test out the service
— Comparatively small number of servers and locations
— Not the most private
A smaller player in the VPN game, Atlas VPN makes up for not being as huge as say NordVPN, by offering a rock-bottom price, a free option, and a super-simple interface for iPhones. Going for the three-year plan brings the average monthly cost down to less than two bucks — something you don’t typically see with quality VPNs.
Despite the bargain price, AtlasVPN uses top-level AES-256 encryption for tunneling your data and comes with a number of extra features like a kill switch, a tracker blocker, and SafeSwap, which offers the option of having rotating IP addresses as you browse (available on three of their servers).
Best App: ExpressVPN
Why It Made The Cut: Delivering a streamlined app with a good amount of customization, ExpressVPN protects your iPhone with a fast and secure in-house VPN protocol.
— Jurisdiction: British Virgin Islands
— Number of Servers: 3,000+
— Number of Locations: 94 countries
— iPhone-Focused Feature: Auto-reconnect
— iOS Compatibility: 12.0 and later
— Wide server coverage
— Fast and secure proprietary VPN protocol
— Seven-day free trial through the App Store
— Extensive help guides within the app
— More expensive
— No kill switch for iPhone
ExpressVPN has topped a number of our recommended VPN lists, and for good reason. They have a far-reaching network of servers, and they built their own fast and secure VPN protocol, Lightway, from the ground-up (as opposed to building it off of an existing protocol).
Like everything ExpressVPN does, the app for iPhone is user-friendly and attractive. There are a good amount of options for customization such as the usual location selection (with a favorites option), protocol switching, and turning on Threat Manager (their own DNS-based traffic blocker to prevent tracking). A new feature for iOS, parallel connections, makes connecting to ExpressVPN’s service faster when you’re using restrictive WiFi networks (like those at offices, schools, and other public places).
Like its server count suggests, ExpressVPN is great at location spoofing, an important feature for streamers looking to access home content when abroad. On top of the sheer number of servers, the company also has a great track record of compatibility with the major streaming services. ExpressVPN is known for being reliable and fast, but it is a little more expensive. And while they have helpful support articles in the app, you’ll need to send an email to reach a person (their response times are fast and round-the-clock, though). Take advantage of their 30-day money-back guarantee and see whether you like the way their VPN service works with your iPhone.
Best for iPhone and Mac: NordVPN
Why It Made The Cut: A heavy-hitter in the VPN marketplace, NordVPN offers a secure app with lots of customization for iOS, and also works confidently with a Mac.
— Jurisdiction: Panama
— Number of Servers: 5,500+
— Number of Locations: 58 countries
— iPhone-Focused Feature: Siri shortcuts
— iOS Compatibility: 11.0 or later
— Proprietary VPN protocol that’s fast and secure
— Auto-connect option
— Access to specialty servers via the iOS app
— Built-in (but optional) Threat Protection adds another layer of security
— More expensive
NordVPN beat out all other recommendations in our gaming VPN roundup. For iOS, it does an admirable job of including a lot of customization for a mobile app. You also get NordVPN’s renowned privacy and security capabilities along with quick connections and fast overall speeds. The home screen is their familiar map interface, which can be a little fiddly on the smaller display of your mobile device, but you can easily switch to list mode. Extra features and customizations include access to specialty servers, like those optimized for peer-to-peer sharing, Onion Over VPN, and obfuscated servers.
Unlike some providers, NordVPN stocks their iPhone app with a kill switch and an auto-connect option, giving you two less things to think about. You can switch VPN protocols, opting for their own NordLynx (based on WireGuard), OpenVPN, or IKEv2. And the availability of their Threat Protection Lite keeps things extra secure with ad- and malware-blocking.
While their service is consistently great, you’ll need to access the chat function from their website, as there’s not much in the way of help through the iOS app itself. One NordVPN subscription covers up to six devices, so including your Mac in the mix is easy and trouble-free, with a smooth interface. Protective features like automatic connection, a kill switch, full Threat Protection, and even Dark Web monitoring will ensure your bigger Apple product is VPN-protected too.
Try out NordVPN for up to 30 days and if it’s not the VPN for you, they’ll send your money back.
Best with No Subscription: ProtonVPN
Why It Made The Cut: As a privacy-first VPN provider, ProtonVPN keeps no logs and routinely undergoes audits and publishes the results. Plus, they have one of the lowest month-to-month prices you’ll find.
— Jurisdiction: Switzerland
— Number of Servers: 1,800+
— Number of Locations: 63 countries
— iPhone-Focused Feature: iOS widget support
— iOS Compatibility: 12.1 or later
— Privacy-focused VPN provider
— Proprietary VPN Accelerator for improved speeds
— Open source app code
— Low month-to-month price
— Free version to try before you buy
— Not always the fastest
While you’ll always get the most bang for your buck with a multi-year plan, if you want to go month-to-month, ProtonVPN is your best bet. After all, if the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that a year can last an unfathomably long time. At just under $10 a month for the monthly plan, Proton is one of the cheapest VPN providers out there. The fact that they also have a free version makes them a practically zero-risk option.
Considering the company’s deep commitment to privacy, with an audited no-log policy, audited open-source code, and Swiss jurisdiction protection, it’s almost surprising they offer a free version. Most free VPNs make their money by selling data — but Proton has nothing to sell.
That said, you only get access to three servers in free mode, but upgrade to the paid version and you’ll gain access to nearly 2,000 servers. All traffic is AES-256-encrypted and has the option of routing through their SecureCore servers for the highest level of privacy. Proton also developed a set of refinements, a feature called VPN Accelerator, that increases overall network speeds. NetShield is the included ad-blocker for iOS that also stops malware and tracking.
Grab the free version to see how the service works with your iPhone, then upgrade to the paid version for better server access. Their refund policy is prorated, so if you decide you don’t like it after signup, you’ll get most, but not all of your money back.
Things to Consider Before Buying an iPhone VPN
Apple works hard on their safety and security features, but there are some things that are out of their control, such when you use a public WiFi connection. Sharing files over BitTorrent can expose you to risks as well. Also, if you’re using internet connections at the office, at school, or on other semi-private institutional networks, firewall blocks can stand in the way of you and your favorite sites or apps. If you want to access content from other regions, you’ll need access to a remote server. Using a VPN for your iPhone offers solutions to every one of these issues.
Apple Safety: There was a time when Apple devices were considered immune to most of the hacks and threats that plagued PC and Android devices, part of which had to do with Apple’s smaller market share. The logic being, hackers would want more bang for their buck and focus on the bigger non-Apple hardware out there. But now that Apple’s smartphone market share hovers around 50 percent in the US, the attacks are out there. A VPN adds a layer of security by encrypting your traffic and many also come with malware blockers.
Public WiFi: Connecting over public WiFi networks (which are often unsecured) can expose your traffic and activities to hackers, potentially giving access to passwords and other private info. A VPN service encrypts your traffic as it travels to its destination to prevent spying eyes from capturing any usable data.
Workplace Firewalls: Because a VPN hides your activity and IP address, it’s often used to get around blocks put in place by administrators of office and school WiFi networks. Sites like Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, and others can land on the list of blocked websites, but if you connect to the internet using a VPN service on your iPhone, those sites are usually made available.
Location Switching: If you travel or live abroad but still want access to your favorite content from back home, a VPN on your iPhone can help. VPN providers offer a global network of servers. Just pick one in the region where you want to see content, and the VPN service will make it appear as though you have a local IP address. Keep in mind that many streaming services try to combat VPN access, but all of the providers on our list actively work on making their services streaming-compatible.
Q: What VPN does Apple recommend for the iPhone?
Apple does not specifically recommend any particular VPN service. Many VPN service providers offer a dedicated VPN app built for iOS. Each of our recommended VPN services work great on the iPhone and make sure you’re protected when you travel and help get around frustrating content blocks.
Q: Do I need a VPN for my iPhone?
You need a VPN for your iPhone if you often use public WiFi and want to secure the data in your traffic. If you want to share files over peer-to-peer networks, a VPN is a good idea. A VPN will also allow you to get around geo-restricted content blocks or external-access firewalls.
Q: Is iCloud a VPN?
No, iCloud is not a VPN. Apple recently released iCloud Private Relay, an optional service for iCloud+ subscribers that functions in some ways like a VPN service. When turned on, Private Relay works to make your web access (via Safari only) more anonymous and private. Using a double relay system, Private Relay will encrypt your DNS request (i.e. the websites you want to visit), separate that from your IP address, and substitute your IP address with a temporary (non-identifying) one.
While it will make your Safari searches more private, Private Relay doesn’t offer all of the features of a VPN. For example, it won’t let you choose an IP address from another country, and only Safari is covered.
Q: Do iPhones have a built-in VPN?
iPhones do not have a built-in VPN. In the Settings app there is an option to configure a VPN, but this is generally used to connect with your company’s internal VPN, such as for remote workers. If you want a personal VPN to encrypt your traffic and hide your IP address, you’ll want to subscribe to a VPN service. All five of our recommendations above work well with iPhones. Recently Apple released iCloud Private Relay (see the FAQ above) which has some VPN-style features.
Final Thoughts on iPhone VPNs
For price, speed, and server coverage, Surfshark is a tough VPN service to beat. When it comes to iPhone compatibility, they deliver a clean experience on the app with built-in extra features like a kill switch and optional multi-hop. And all of that is supported with excellent customer service if you ever hit a problem.
This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.