Apple talks a lot about privacy, but ever since Pegasus hit the headlines last year, people have started to realize that promises aren’t as ironclad as they thought.
A VPN won’t prevent such malware from attacking your iPhone, but it will protect your privacy when you’re online. For example, your movements may be tracked by the websites you visit in Safari (or any other browser), and your Internet service provider may also see what you do. Whether you are connected to Wi-Fi or using 3G, 4G. , or 5G. Using a VPN can keep all of this information private, preventing companies from knowing what you buy, where you shop, what you watch, when you sleep and where you’re going on vacation.
A VPN also hides your location, which has the secondary benefit of allowing you to access blocked content and sites: like US Netflix when you’re in the UK or BBC iPlayer when you’re in the US. (It’s important to note that using a VPN to get around geo-restrictions is usually against the terms and conditions of streaming companies like Netflix, Amazon and the BBC.)
Although VPNs are a new concept to many, they are very easy apps to use and do not require any prior knowledge or technical skills. It’s as easy as launching the app, pressing the ‘Connect’ button and then launching Safari or any other app you want to use.
No split tunnelling
NordVPN, one of the most popular names in the VPN market, is a great all-around service. It offers super fast speeds thanks to its ‘NordLynx’ protocol (based on WireGuard) and many servers around the world. And while there are cheaper options out there, Nord has a reasonable price tag, including a hefty discount if you subscribe for two years.
It is adept at unblocking popular video streaming services and will surely unblock websites that you cannot access otherwise.
Nord’s iPhone app looks great and is easy to use. You can keep a list of your favorite servers for an even faster connection, as well as configure the app to connect to the VPN when your phone joins an unknown Wi-Fi network.
The only missing feature is split tunneling so you can’t configure it so only specific apps use the VPN. (Nord offers this in its Windows and Android apps, but not on iOS.) But most people don’t need to do that anyway.
Extensive feature set
ConsNo IPv6 support
Privacy claims have not been audited
Sometimes you get what you pay for, but that adage cannot be applied to VPN services… especially Surfshark. You might think it’s not that good because it’s so cheap, but you’d be wrong.
There’s a lot to like. The iOS app has a smart, simple interface that makes it easy to choose one of the more than 3,200 servers on offer. That’s nearly double the company’s 1,700 a few years ago: it’s steadily improving.
In fact, Surfshark releases new features on a regular basis, and is still one of the few VPN services that offers two-factor authentication. It puts no limit on the number of devices you can use simultaneously.
It will unblock streaming services like NordVPN, and has a few other handy features like multihop that lets you route the connection through two VPN servers in different countries for another layer of privacy. However, keep in mind that it does not support IPv6. This means it will block all IPv6 traffic and force your devices to use IPv4.
Another black mark: at the time of writing Surfshark had not had an independent audit of its no-logs policy. (The company has had a “security audit,” but it only verified that the apps didn’t contain malware, rather than checking the company’s policy of not collecting logs of browsing activity.) Plan Privacy Audit is for It will be completed sometime in 2022.
ProsEasy to use
Strong privacy and security
ExpressVPN is another great choice for your iPhone. Along with offering excellent security and privacy, it also unblocks more streaming services than its competitors, and friendly tech support is available around the clock.
Like other services, there are apps for other popular devices, and you can use it on up to five of them simultaneously, so it should cover the whole family. (Actually, since you can connect your router directly to the VPN, and all devices connected to that router count as just one device, it’s easy to get close to the limit.)
It’s worth noting, for those who plan to use this VPN on their non-iPhone devices as well, that the login process can sometimes be confusingly inconsistent between different apps. Once you’re logged in, however, all apps look and feel the same, and work the same.
ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands for privacy reasons and, like Nord and others here, does not store any data about your use of its service.
ProsEasy to use
ConsNo split tunnelling
Privacy claims have not been audited
As one of the longest running and most popular VPN services, CyberGhost is another great choice for iPhone as well as other devices. It offers great ease of use and great connection speed.
The service is especially good for unblocking video streaming services. We occasionally had problems connecting to BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub, but problems with both disappeared when we used a server specially optimized for ITV. (You get extraordinary choice here. There are 7,100 servers available to connect to in 91 different countries as of May 2022.)
The service is headquartered in Romania, which is outside the 14-Eyes group of intelligence-sharing countries, and has a policy of not keeping logs of the company’s online activity. Like Surfshark, however, this policy has not been independently audited.