5 Things to Consider When Choosing an Android VPN

Last Updated by Gray Williams on March 13, 2019

Choosing the right VPN is an important step in making your web browsing experience safe and secure. It’s essential to find the right network for you, whether you’re browsing at home or on the go. In fact, especially on the go.

A VPN (or Virtual Private Network) helps keep your web activity private and ensures that no one can access your private information as you’re browsing. With phones able to connect to public wifi spots, being cautious with your mobile devices is more important than ever.

But how do you know how to choose an Android VPN? Here are five essential things to think about when picking a VPN for Android phones.

1. Speed

Accessing the internet through a VPN means encountering the possibility that your web browsing experience will be slower than you’re used to. Due to the need to go through a private network and encryption, it will likely take a little longer to load web pages or videos. How long? That varies from service to service.

When picking out a VPN for Android, consider how you use your phone on the web. Are you mostly visiting text-centric web pages? Then a slower VPN may not be a problem. Are you trying to watch lots of videos or play online games? Then you’re probably going to want to seek out a VPN that has a smaller number of users, a server located closer to you, or merely a more powerful server.

You may also want to make sure that your home internet service provider (ISP) is VPN friendly.

2. Cost

Generally, any VPN that’s actually safe and trustworthy is going to cost you. However, there is a wide range of prices for different services, so you can be sure to shop around and find one that doesn’t completely drain your wallet.

Broadly, for the most well-regarded and high-quality VPNs, you’ll be asked to pay around $10 to $15 a month. Sometimes the cost can go up or down based on how many devices you’ll be connecting. Many VPNs will also run significant discounts if you buy in bulk; for example, a service might charge $10 a month regularly but will cost only $3 a month if you pay for two years of service upfront.

Not ready for that kind of commitment? Many VPNs also offer free trials. Some even allow you to pay via Bitcoin or gift card.

3. Usability

When dealing with a technical process like connecting to a VPN, there are all sorts of headaches you can encounter — from firewall issues to connection problems. That’s why you’ll want to search for a VPN that’s cleanly designed and easy to understand.

Even if you consider yourself more tech-savvy, this is a good idea for the sake of anyone else who may be connecting to the same VPN on your devices. The better designed an Android VPN’s app is, the easier it will be to get connected at any time, or at least to understand what went wrong when the connection fails.

4. Server Locations

This ties into the speed entry above, but it goes beyond that as well. The more servers a VPN has, and the closer some of those servers are to you, the smoother an experience you’re likely to have when connecting via your Android phone.

Many top VPN services have servers spread across the world. While there’s a benefit to picking a server in a different country if you don’t want anyone to be able to find out where you are by your IP address, generally the closer servers are going to be better for you. Nearer servers will mean faster load times. With some research, you should be able to find out where any individual VPN has servers located.

5. Trust Issues

If you’re seeking out a VPN, chances are that you’re trying to get away from any potentially prying eyes. What’s important to keep in mind, however, is that just because a VPN prevent people outside the network from accessing your data, that doesn’t mean your data is completely safe.

VPNs themselves can track what you do on the internet, and some services have been caught turning around and selling that data for a profit.

It’s worth exploring whether any VPN you’re looking at has had any issues like this, or whether it has a public policy regarding data collection on its users. Many VPNs boast that they don’t keep logs or implement other features to help ensure user anonymity.

The Best Choices for an Android VPN

You know what to look for now, but it can still be difficult to sift through the dozens of options out there and find the one that works best for you. Here are two of the most highly recommended and commonly used Android VPNs currently on the market, and how they check out when it comes to these criteria.

ExpressVPN

Speed: ExpressVPN, as its name implies, is one of the fastest VPN services around. It’s built from the ground up to prioritize and optimize speed.

Cost: ExpressVPN is on the spendier side of VPNs, with a regular cost of $12.95 per month. You’ll get discounts if you’re willing to make a long-term commitment, though, with the best pricing at $6.67 a month for a 15-month payment. ExpressVPN also offers a full 30-day money-back guarantee, so if you decide you don’t like it, you’re not out all that money.

Usability: Arguably one of the easiest-to-use VPNs available, ExpressVPN for Android can connect to your VPN with the press of a single button. Just tap the big “on” button, wait for it to connect, and you’re good to go.

Server Locations: ExpressVPN for Android can connect to over 148 servers located in nearly 100 different countries. From Argentina to Thailand to Portugal, you should be able to find a relatively close server from almost anywhere in the world.

Reliability: ExpressVPN uses the OpenVPN protocol, which is widely considered to have reliably strong security. It also boasts a zero log policy, ensuring privacy for your web browsing.

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NordVPN

Speed: While not as renowned for speed as ExpressVPN, NordVPN has a focus on playing nice with media streaming services, such as Netflix and YouTube. You shouldn’t encounter major problems.

Cost: NordVPN’s plans start at a pricey $11.95 per month. However, if you’re willing to pay for a three-year plan upfront, you’ll only shell out $2.75 per month (in the form of a $99 payment every three years). It also has a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Usability: While NordVPN’s Android app isn’t as visually clean and simple as other offerings, it’s still not too difficult to figure out. It’s easy to set up multiple favorite servers, and there’s even a quick connect option for getting online as quickly as possible.

Server Locations: NordVPN uses a whopping 3,555 servers spread across the world, possibly the most of any VPN service. While it doesn’t have as many countries covered – a mere 61 – more servers within each of those countries means more options closer to you if you’re within those borders. The United States alone houses over 1,000 NordVPN servers.

Reliability: Beyond a strict no logs policy, NordVPN has developed and implemented many high-security features, such as the “double VPN” which offers multiple layers of encryption by connecting to two different VPNs. Another recent addition, CyberSec, will block ads and malicious sites.

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The Road Ahead

Finding the right VPN for Android can seem like an overwhelming task at the outset. Don’t fret, though. It’s worth the trouble of keeping these issues in mind, and if you balance each of the things listed here, you should be able to find the VPN service that’s right for you and your web browsing needs.

Gray Williams
Gray Williams is an experienced data and communications engineer and cross-platform copy and content writer and editor with a keen interest in cybersecurity. He has been working with and researching, VPNs and other online privacy tools for many years.