Free Wi-Fi has become a standard amenity in bars, restaurants, and, especially, coffee shops. You can use their connection to shop, communicate, and catch the latest news. Primarily, customers on a limited data plan benefit from public networks.
But there's also a dark side to free Wi-Fi. These public or shared networks are vulnerable to hacker attacks due to being unsecured, and the result could be a scammer accessing your bank information or service passwords.
Checking your bank account over public Wi-Fi or pulling up a payment service to split the check puts you at risk. Even with the respected security of today's mobile devices, your phone is susceptible. Packet sniffers, used by hackers to access your critical data, have shown themselves quite effective on unsecured networks regardless of the internet service provider.
Virtual private networks (VPNs) are apps that send your data through multiple servers to mimic locations other than where you are, confusing packet sniffers. In reality, you might be in Chicago, but the VPN servers show Seattle as your current location.
There are many VPN apps to choose from nowadays. So we're here to present our top 15 indispensable VPN apps that ensure safe browsing. From top-rated providers to budget-friendly options, these VPNs have been selected based on their features, security, and user experience.
Hotspot Shield is among the most popular iPhone apps. It has top rankings in the productivity category, as it is easily among the best VPNs. It took off during the Arab Spring when protesters in Egypt needed access to the internet while it was blocked in the country. The number of users in Egypt jumped from 100,000 to 1 million overnight.
Hotspot Shield is highly rated for its speed, measured number one for speed by Ookla's VPN Speetest, explaining its 4.5-star rating in the App Store. When you add in military-grade encryption and the fact that it is free for a single device, it's an awesome app.
Price: Free on one device, $7.99/month for five devices
You're hidden like a ghost while on public Wi-Fi when using CyberGhost. Established in 2011 and serving 38 million users, this is one of the most reliable and robust choices available. It's a quality app for iOS devices, reflected by its 4.1-star rating in the App Store. When you sign on to a public network, your phone will automatically connect to a VPN server, resulting in security without thinking about it. The look and design are great, and the company boasts about its cute ghost logo (yep, it’s adorable). Most importantly, the company has more servers than any other VPN company.
Price: $12.99/month or as little as $2.19/month with a 26-month subscription
ExpressVPN is a well-established VPN company that offers a top iPhone VPN app with a 4.7-star rating in the App Store. Your data is protected by the highest level of encryption, 256-bit, to ensure it isn't compromised. Sitting on 3,000 10Gb/sec servers in 94 countries, you're assured a fast connection and a wide variety of locations from ExpressVPN.
Price: $12.95/month to as low as $8.32/month on a 12-month plan
Want to watch Netflix wherever you go? Windscribe is an excellent choice, giving you access to streaming services worldwide.
Their Windflix app offers 256-bit encryption to ensure your protection. It even has a free service that offers 10Gb of browsing or downloading. Paid plans are relatively inexpensive at $9/month or $5.75 with a yearly subscription.
Windscribe offers 480 servers in over 60 countries, and the app has good reviews with 4.5 stars in the App Store.
Pricing: Free to $9/month
NordVPN offers some fantastic features that others do not. On your iOS device, you can establish Siri shortcuts, connect to any remote device, and have the dark web monitored for personal data leaks. It's speedy, has plenty of servers, and offers the ability to change your IP address to create an extra level of protection. A free password manager and complimentary ad blocker make this a full-feature VPN.
This robust app chooses the appropriate level of protection for you based on the wireless network. An automatic kill switch also shuts down your connection should the network become unsecured. With a 4.7 stars App Store ranking, you know it's a great app.
Pricing: $11.99-$14.49/month based on plan or contracts as low as $3.49/month
FREEDOME VPN from F-Secure is based in Finland and adheres to the strict EU data protection and commerce laws. The company has a 30-year history in the cyber protection industry. You can customize your subscription based on the number of devices you use and the plan length. Rest assured that your IP address is always hidden, and you'll be able to mask your location to access geo-blocked streaming services. A 4.5-star rating in the App Store means it's a quality app, but the company is very limited with servers, with just 27 in 21 countries.
Pricing: No monthly-plan offer. Customize a one or two-year plan based on the number of devices.
Fast is the name of the game when it comes to VPN apps, and VyprVPN fits the bill. Some of the highest speeds available come from secure and stable VyprVPN, which also offers split tunneling for locked-down security. However, a free plan has some trade-offs as they log location data. They have 700+ servers in 78 countries, so there is a decent selection of servers. The app works on every device and has 4.7 stars in the App Store.
Price: $10/month or $5/month with a 12-month subscription
TunnelBear is the little company that takes on the big guys, and you must admit that the bear is super cute. TunnelBear reflects its bear in the ease of use of the app and its friendly design. The company does offer a free plan, but it is just 500Mb or 1Gb if you tweet about the company. With a subscription, TunnelBear lets you use it on unlimited devices and has a 4.7-star rating in the App Store.
The app offers strong encryption, high speeds, and 47+ countries to browse.
Price: $9.99/month to $3.33/month with a three-year plan
TorGuard is good, but it can be challenging for beginners. It does have a large number of servers, with over 3,000 servers in 55+ countries. TorGuard is the VPN for the hardcore data nerd that needs a serious VPN and knows why. Just look at the website, and you'll get it. This VPN is hardcore and for pros. It has 4.7 stars in the App Store, boasts fast speeds, and offers unlimited access.
Price: Starts at $9.99/month and goes down with longer subscriptions
FreeVPN is fantastic in triple encrypting all data and finding the fastest server out of thousands worldwide. It boasts streaming services, bypasses VPN filters so Netflix won’t lock you out, and offers global ad blocking. The free option is more robust than every other free VPN by a long shot. In the App Store, it has 4.4 stars.
Price: All you need is the free plan, or you can pay for weekly and monthly subscriptions if you have more significant needs.
Unlimited devices, a pop-up blocker, 24/7 support, and an ad and malware blocker are the benefits of Surfshark. That it comes at a meager price makes it even better. It’s fast and reliable and has a large number of servers. If you don’t like it, there is a 30-day money-back guarantee. It has 4.8 stars in the App Store.
Price: $12.95/month but as low as $2.49/month with a two-year subscription.
Atlas is even less expensive than Surfshark and works on unlimited devices. It brings 4k fast streaming, 24/7 support, and an ad blocker to the table. It doesn’t have as many servers or countries as other VPNs but has 4.7 stars in the App Store. If you don’t like it, notify them within 30 days for a full refund.
Price: $10.99/month or as low as $1.99/month with a three-year subscription.
Like Surfshark and Atlas, IPVanish offers unlimited simultaneous connections as an outstanding feature. The yearly plan has a refund policy if you're unsatisfied. The company has 2,000+ servers in 75+ locations and has a 4.5-star rating in the App Store. Encryption is world-class at 256 bits, but there is no ad-blocking service.
Price: $11.99/monthly and $3.99/monthly with a one-year subscription
PureVPN has a lot going for it and offers a free password manager, which is unique to a VPN. It, too, is 256-bit encrypted and has a 31-day money-back guarantee. Support is 24/7, and it offers multi-login for 10 devices. There are many pro add-ons for an extra fee, including a dedicated IP address, port forwarding, and DDoS protection. 6,500+ servers in 78+ countries are excellent, but its App Store score is a tad lower at 4.3 stars due to some users reporting bugs and slower speeds. The price is the lowest we’ve seen at $1.95/month for 24 months, with another three months for free.
Price: $10.95/month or as low as $2.29/month on a two-year plan
Norton Secure VPN is an excellent choice if you want to use one of the most pedigreed companies in cybersecurity. The pricing options are fabulous for a big-name brand. You can price your VPN service by using one, five, or ten devices monthly or yearly. Norton offers 2,000+ servers, but only 29 countries. In the App Store, it has a 4.3-star rating. Besides the extra security of split tunneling, Norton is less feature-rich than other VPNs.
Price: As low as $4.99/month or $29.99/year for one device. Pricing for up to 10 devices is an excellent $9.99/month or $59.99/year
In conclusion, investing in a VPN app is a necessary step in protecting your online privacy and security in today's digital landscape. With a wide range of options available, from free VPNs to paid apps, it's important to carefully consider your needs and choose the right VPN for you. Whether you're browsing over public Wi-Fi or using your smartphone for online transactions, a reliable VPN app will help ensure that your personal information remains secure. Don't wait until it's too late but fortify your data today and enjoy a safer and more secure online experience.