8 Best FREE VPNs for iPhone & iPad (Tested February 2023)
There are hundreds of free iOS VPNs, but finding a good one is surprisingly hard. I’ve tested many free VPNs that slow my iPhone down, drain its battery life, and even collect my private data. Worse still, some of these free VPNs have high ratings on the App Store.
So you don’t have to rely on trial and error like I did, I ranked the best free VPNs for iOS 14 and older. Each VPN has a custom iOS app and protects your internet connection whether you’re using your home network, public WiFi, or mobile data. However, free VPNs do come with minor cons, like data limits, small server numbers, and slow speeds.
If you’d rather use a VPN without any restrictions, ExpressVPN is the #1 VPN for iPhone and iPad. It has unlimited data, thousands of global servers, streaming and torrenting support, and a 30-day money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied. When I tested the money-back guarantee, my refund was approved in minutes and the money returned within 1 week.
Quick Guide: Best iOS VPN Apps for Free in 2023
- ExpressVPN — #1 VPN for iPhone and iPad with high-speed global servers, unlimited data, a strict no-logs policy, and 30-day money-back guarantee. Try ExpressVPN on iOS!
- CyberGhost — Optimized servers for high-quality iOS streaming, but only free for 45 days.
- Hotspot Shield — Free 500MB of daily data, but only 1 US server.
- TunnelBear — Connect to servers in 47 countries, but limited to 500MB free data each month.
- Hide.me — 10GB free monthly data with powerful privacy features for iOS, but only 5 server locations available.
- Proton VPN — Unlimited free data for browsing iPhone or iPad, but doesn’t allow streaming or torrenting.
- NordVPN — Reliable and fast server network, but has a complicated user interface on some apps.
- Surfshark — Offers unlimited simultaneous connections, but isn’t reliable for accessing streaming services.
The Best Free VPNs for iPhones and iPads (Tested February 2023)
- Unlimited data for endless browsing, streaming and torrenting
- 3000 servers in 94 countries for global internet access
- Based in the British Virgin Islands with audited no-logs policy, advanced encryption, and leak protection
- Native app for iOS 10 and later (plus Mac, Apple TV, Apple Watch, Windows, Android, smart TVs, routers, and more)
- Supports 5 device connections at the same time
While it’s not a free service, ExpressVPN provides the best, most comprehensive VPN service for your iPhone and iPad, as well as other devices. It does come with a money-back guarantee that gives you 30 days to try it. This makes ExpressVPN a great choice if you want to test the service before committing.
Although ExpressVPN is compatible with many different operating systems and devices, I found it to be especially intuitive on iOS. ExpressVPN works with all Apple devices and includes a Smart DNS service called MediaStreamer. This allowed me to access streaming sites on my Apple TV, which doesn’t offer a native ExpressVPN app. You can even encrypt your Apple Watch data with ExpressVPN if you tether it to your iPhone.
I was impressed by the fast speeds, especially when using far away servers on its global network. The speed on my iPhone XS never fell below 89Mbps, even while testing servers in Australia — it only dropped 25% of my usual internet connection, which isn’t much considering the distance. I suggest using its proprietary Lightway protocol (ExpressVPN’s version of the new WireGuard), which is the best combination of speed and security.
After testing multiple servers, I can confidently say that ExpressVPN is consistently fast enough for streaming and downloading without any lags or interruptions. I tested ExpressVPN with top services like Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and Popcorn Time by connecting to multiple servers. ExpressVPN worked with every streaming service I tested.
Access to streaming services is just one perk of ExpressVPN’s military-grade encryption, which effectively masks your IP address with zero data leaks. With ExpressVPN’s high-level protection you can safely use your iPhone or iPad on any network, including public WiFi and 3G, 4G, and 5G data, without risking your data security. You’re also protected by ExpressVPN’s TrustedServer technology, which guarantees your online activity is never logged or stored — every time the server reboots, all traces of your data are instantly erased. This zero-logs policy is backed up by several independent audits so you can rest assured you’re completely anonymous every time you use ExpressVPN on your iOS devices.
Although I never experienced connectivity issues, I was disappointed to find that ExpressVPN doesn’t offer kill switch functionality on its iOS apps. This means your IP address and activity could potentially be exposed if the VPN connection is interrupted.
I thought there might be a hidden catch when it came to its money-back guarantee — so I was impressed to find none. I tested ExpressVPN’s refund policy and it really is a “no questions asked” policy. It took just a couple of minutes to make the request using ExpressVPN’s 24/7 live chat. Best of all, I had my refund in less than a week. I recommend that you sign up for ExpressVPN through its website as that means you’ll deal directly with the company when contacting support. If you sign up through the App Store, you have to contact Apple and it can be a tedious process to get help that way.
February 2023 Update! ExpressVPN has dropped prices for a limited time to a crazy $6.67 per month for the 1-year plan (you can save up to 49%) + 3 months free! This is a limited offer so be sure to grab it now before it's gone. See more information on this offer here.
- No data caps for unlimited streaming, browsing, and more
- 9736 servers in 91 countries for easy global connections
- Zero-logs policy keeps your data secure and anonymous
- Dedicated app for iOS 13 and later (plus Mac, Windows, Android, Linux, and more)
- Supports 7 device connections at the same time
CyberGhost’s iOS app features optimized streaming servers that are ideal for reliably connecting to your favorite services. During tests, my team and I found CyberGhost’s optimized servers easily accessed services like Netflix US, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video. I was especially impressed that CyberGhost worked with my streaming apps, as many VPNs can only access streaming services on mobile through a browser like Safari.
With CyberGhost’s optimized servers also come solid download speeds, so I didn’t experience any lag or buffering while streaming. I could also browse online and even play mobile games without experiencing interruptions.
I did notice a drop in speed when I connected to distant servers. This is to be expected as increased distance means it takes longer for data to reach the server and return to your device. I didn’t notice much of a difference to my connection, but if your regular internet speeds are slower this could impact your speed more significantly. For the fastest connection, choose a server close to your physical location.
CyberGhost’s overall security is impressive, with military-grade encryption securing your iOS device connection. Unlike ExpressVPN, CyberGhost has kill switch functionality on its iOS apps so your data is protected even if the connection becomes unstable. I felt reassured my data was safe even when I connected to public WiFi or my mobile network. I was also pleased to see CyberGhost uses RAM-based servers that don’t log or store any user data. This is particularly important as CyberGhost hasn’t undergone an independent audit to verify its no-logs policy — I’m confident that CyberGhost’s servers are literally unable to store any user data.
I found CyberGhost’s iOS apps to be intuitive and easy to navigate, making it a good choice for a user new to VPNs. I was a little disappointed to see the apps aren’t more Apple-integrated, with no haptic menus or widgets. However, it only took 2 taps on my iPhone to open the app and connect to a server, taking less than 30 seconds overall.
You can try CyberGhost for free for 45 days with the money-back guarantee. This makes CyberGhost a good choice if you only need an iOS VPN for a short time, as you can get a full refund once you’re finished using the service. I tested the process by contacting the 24/7 live chat and requesting my money back. The chat took less than 2 minutes and I had my refund in a week.
February 2023 Update! You can subscribe to CyberGhost for as low as $2.19 per month + get extra 2 months free with the 2-year plan (save up to 83%)! This is a limited offer so grab it now before it's gone. See more information on this offer here.
- 500MB daily data allowance for free
- Only 1 US server location for free users
- Military-grade encryption and US headquarters
- Custom app for iOS 12 and later (plus Windows, Mac, and Android)
- Allows just 1 device connection per account
Hotspot Shield’s free iOS app is a solid choice if you want to browse online with a secure connection. It doesn’t offer unrestricted speeds or data like some other free providers, but it still prioritizes your data security so you can use the web anonymously.
The app features the same military-grade encryption available to premium users, as well as Hotspot Shield’s “perfect forward secrecy.” This extra layer of security gives you a new session key every time you connect to the service — even if a hacker managed to access your connection, they could only see what you’ve done in that single session. Unfortunately, Hotspot Shield’s free iOS app doesn’t have kill switch functionality.
I was disappointed to find that Hotspot Shield capped my connection speed at around 5Mbps, especially as it’s usually such a fast VPN. I tested the service multiple times throughout the day and always had the same result.
The website openly states that it caps speeds for free users to prioritize premium customers. However, even with slow speeds, I could easily browse on Safari without any noticeable lag. Unfortunately, this is pretty slow for streaming — which is unfortunate because Hotspot Shield’s US server successfully accessed Netflix in tests.
You don’t need to sign up to use the free iOS app. Simply download Hotspot Shield to your iPhone or iPad and connect straight away.
- 500MB free monthly data
- Fast connections to servers in 47 countries
- Based in Canada with audited no-logs policy and advanced encryption
- Native app for iOS 11 or later (and Windows, Mac, Android, and Linux)
- Supports unlimited device connections at once
TunnelBear is a fast, free VPN with a huge server network. Users have access to every server, which is rare as free VPNs normally limit server numbers. From your iPhone or iPad, you can access servers in Japan, the US, Brazil, New Zealand, and Norway.
During testing, TunnelBear could easily access Netflix libraries around the world without being detected.
I was also able to access Amazon Prime Video and Hulu using TunnelBear but due to limited data caps, I couldn’t actually stream anything. TunnelBear offers just 500MB data per month, which is enough to check your emails or online bank account securely but not much else. TunnelBear’s data allowance would let you stream about 30 minutes of SD-quality video — but that’s it until the allowance renews the following month.
It’s a shame that the cap is so low as TunnelBear’s speeds are excellent. I ran speed tests using Ookla on more than 10 servers, including the UK, the US, Japan, and New Zealand. On average, my speeds were around 90Mbps with the lowest speed in Japan at 67Mbps. This made it easy to check emails, browse the internet, and shop online from my iPhone without any lag.
If you only need to check the internet a few times while you’re on vacation, TunnelBear is a perfect choice — even despite its strict data cap. You will need to sign up for an account to use TunnelBear’s free iOS app. All you need is a valid email address and password, which TunnelBear stores for operational (login) purposes.
- 10GB free monthly data allowance
- 5 server locations in Canada, Germany, Netherlands, US East, and US West
- Located in Malaysia with kill switch, no-logs policy, leak protection and AES 256-bit encryption
- Supports iOS 9 or later (plus Windows, Mac, Android, and more)
- Only allows 1 device connection
Hide.me’s top-tier security is one of the best I’ve seen from a free iOS VPN. It includes advanced features that other services don’t offer, like an automatic kill switch to protect your data if your connection is interrupted.
I was also pleased to find that Hide.me offers DNS and IP address leak protection for free users. I confirmed this by connecting to all available servers and running tests — hide.me successfully hid my data every time, guaranteeing I remained anonymous.
While it’s not possible to stream on Netflix (streaming services are limited for free users), I could use Hide.me to watch YouTube US videos in HD quality. This is due to Hide.me’s uncapped speeds! I ran speed tests for all available servers and they never dropped below 88Mbps (fast enough to browse, shop online, and even watch a few videos without any buffering). With a 10GB monthly limit, Hide.me gives you enough data for around 10 hours of HD streaming.
You don’t even need to create an account to use the service — just download the app to your iPhone or iPad and connect to a server.
- Free data with no monthly or daily caps
- 3 server locations in the Japan, Netherlands, and US
- Based in Switzerland with military-grade encryption and no-logs policy
- Supports iOS 11.0 or later (and Mac, Windows, Android, and Linux)
- Allows 1 device connection only
Proton VPN is a fast free VPN for iOS with no data or bandwidth caps. Better still, the free plan has the same military-grade encryption as its premium software. As Proton VPN is based in Switzerland, it isn’t required to store user data — and independent audits have confirmed the iOS app is secure.
While you can only choose from 3 server locations, I was impressed by the connection speeds. During tests, the Netherlands had an average of 40Mbps, but Japan barely hit 10Mbps download speeds. The US servers had an average speed of 100Mbps, which is fast enough to browse, bank, and shop online. Unfortunately, Proton VPN’s free service doesn’t allow streaming or torrenting.
I was also disappointed to find that the free account is missing NetShield (ad ad and malware blocker), and the Proton VPN’s iOS app lacks a kill switch. However, there’s an “Always On” feature that automatically reconnects to a VPN server. As Proton VPN can take several seconds to connect, this does pose the risk of some data leaking.
You can download Proton VPN’s iOS app totally free, though you do have to sign up for an account with a valid email address (although you can use a throwaway email for better anonymity.
- Short and long-term subscriptions available
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- 5456+ global servers in 60 countries
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Protect up to 6 devices at once
NordVPN is one of the best VPNs on the market — and you can get super cheap prices when you sign up for a long-term subscription. One thing to note, however, is that when it’s time to renew your subscription, prices do increase quite significantly.
I was particularly impressed with the high performance of every server I tested. Just because a VPN has thousands of servers doesn’t mean they all work. Servers can still struggle to unblock local sites — and some can even fail to connect completely. However, I easily unblocked Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and HBO Max on multiple servers in the US and UK.
I did, however, have issues with using NordVPN’s native Fire TV app. Although it worked and unblocked some streaming services, it sometimes had issues unblocking Netflix US and kept crashing. I also found that NordVPN’s user interface for desktop devices was less user-friendly than ExpressVPN and CyberGhost.
NordVPN has the following security and privacy features:
- AES 256-bit encryption
- A kill switch that cuts your internet access if your connection to a VPN server drops suddenly
- Built-in ad and malware blocker, so you don’t need a third-party ad blocker
- Fully audited no-logs policy (audited by PwC) – NordVPN doesn’t store any personal or identifying data while you’re connected to the VPN
In addition, NordVPN includes Threat Protection that protects you from viruses, infected websites, and trackers – and it works whenever you have the NordVPN app open, even if you’re not connected to a VPN server.
While NordVPN is not entirely free, you can stream, torrent, and browse for free for up to 30 days with its money-back guarantee. NordVPN has plans that cost as little as $3.49 per month. To ensure that you’ll really get your money back, I tested NordVPN’s money-back guarantee. At first, the support team tried to give me an extended trial period — but they initiated my refund right away after I told them I wasn’t interested in the extension. I got my money back in 6 business days.
NordVPN unblocks: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Disney+, Vudu, SkyTV, HBO Max, Sky, SHOWTIME, DAZN, ESPN, YouTube TV, and more
NordVPN works on: Windows, Mac OS, Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Chromebook, Linux, Chrome, Firefox, Fire Stick, and Android TV
- Short and long-term plans available
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- 3200+ global servers in 99 countries
- No bandwidth restrictions
- Connect unlimited devices at once
Surfshark offers the best value for money out of every premium VPN on the market. You can connect an unlimited number of devices with a single subscription, which means you can use Surfshark on all your devices without getting logged out.
I tested Surfshark’s simultaneous connections on 2 PCs, 2 phones, a Fire Stick 4K, and an iPad. My connection remained reliable on all 6 devices. Even while I was actively streaming on all my devices, my average speed was 112 Mbps — fast enough for UHD quality.
When I saw the price of this service, I thought it couldn’t possibly have top-grade security features for such a low price, but I was pleasantly surprised.
Surfshark has the following security and privacy features:
- AES 256-bit encryption on all devices, with ChaCha encryption available for Android users
- Wireguard VPN protocol enabled by default
- Diskless, RAM-only servers to protect your privacy (no data can be physically extracted from any servers)
- Kill switch (although this isn’t enabled by default)
- IP and DNS leak protection
Surfshark offers two-factor authentication (2FA) on your account. This feature requires you to enter an extra code before you can log in to ensure that only you can access your account.
While Surfshark does have slightly fewer global servers than rivals such as CyberGhost and PIA, I didn’t experience any issues during my tests. I easily connected fast working servers every time, and I had excellent speeds for streaming Netflix in UHD, downloading torrents, and browsing the internet.
Surfshark is not truly free, but it offers a 7-day free trial on Android, iOS, and macOS devices. You can also test out Surfshark on other devices for 30 days thanks to its money-back guarantee. It has plans that cost as little as $2.49. Requesting a refund is easy with Surfshark’s live chat feature. Although the support team asked why I wanted to cancel my subscription, I had no problem getting my money back (and it only took 4 days!).
Surfshark unblocks: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, Sling TV, Hotstar, HBO Max, DAZN, and more
Surfshark works on: Windows, Mac OS, Android, iOS, Linux, Fire Stick, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Samsung Smart TVs, LG Smart TVs, Android TV, Kodi, and selected routers
Comparison Table: 2023’s Best iOS VPNs for iPhone and iPad
|Free Plan||Monthly Data||Server Countries||Unblocks Netflix||Device Limit|
|ExpressVPN||30-day money-back guarantee||Unlimited||94||✔||5|
|CyberGhost||45-day money-back guarantee||Unlimited||91||✔||7|
|NordVPN||30-day money-back guarantee||Unlimited||60||✔||6|
|Surfshark||30-day money-back guarantee||Unlimited||99||✔||Unlimited|
Are Free VPNs Really Safe for iPhone or iPad? (Surprising Results)
Yes, some free VPNs really are safe to use. However, the safest free VPNs services are offered by premium VPN companies. These companies cover the cost of operating a free VPN with revenue from paying customers so they don’t have to sell your data to advertisers like some free options. They also perform well because they’re like a sample of the premium subscription — the free service shows how secure, fast, and user-friendly the VPN is but has some limitations (like not being able to use Netflix or having a data cap).
Unfortunately, plenty of VPNs on the App Store advertise as 100% free and secure when it’s actually the opposite. Many free VPNs lie about the level of encryption offered, inject ads into your web browser, sell your internet history to the highest bidder, and even install unwanted software onto your iPhone or iPad (like adware or spyware).
My personal recommendation is to take advantage of a premium VPN’s money-back guarantee. For instance, CyberGhost is a premium VPN and it’s free for 45 days with the money-back guarantee. Just remember to ask for a refund after you sign up and you’ll be able to use every advanced feature for the remainder of your money-back guarantee period.
How I Tested and Ranked the Best VPNs for iPhone and iPad
I ran tests on all the top iOS VPNs out there (paid and free) using my iPhone XS and iPad, both running iOS 14. I checked each VPN for:
- Hidden catches. Free VPNs have limitations, but some are so limited they are barely usable. I checked for generous data allowances, no speed caps, streaming and torrenting support, and reliable server connections at all times.
- User-friendly iOS apps for iPhone and iPad. I looked at how easy it was to download, install, and set up the apps on an iPhone XS and an iPad.
- Fast speeds with minimal battery drain. I ran multiple speed tests to ensure every VPN is fast enough to browse, shop online, and stream without draining my iPhone and iPad’s battery.
4 Easy Steps: How to Download and Use a VPN on iPhone
- Sign up for the VPN and download it to your iPhone from the app store. I recommend you try ExpressVPN on iOS as it has high-level encryption, fast speeds, and zero limitations.
- Sign in with your account details once the VPN app is installed. Some VPNs don’t require you to sign in at all!
- Tap “Allow” to add the VPN configuration file. You’ll be prompted to enter your iPhone passcode.
- Connect to a server and start using the internet securely!
FAQ: Free VPNs and iPhones
Which free iOS VPN is the best for Netflix?
During tests, both Hotspot Shield and TunnelBear successfully worked with Netflix. Unfortunately, TunnelBear’s free plan limits you to only 500MB per month and Hotspot Shield only has 1 free server in the US. This is because free VPNs purposefully restrict access to bandwidth so that paying customers have priority (and secretly encourage you to upgrade to a paid plan!).
As a big Netflix UK fan, I don’t want to wait for my free data to renew each month. As a result, I prefer to use a premium VPN to stream Netflix on my iPhone. ExpressVPN has unlimited bandwidth for Netflix streaming in UHD and it’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can get a full refund if you’re not satisfied. I even tested the money-back guarantee myself to make sure it works. It only took a couple of minutes over 24/7 live chat to get my refund approved and the money returned to my account in 5 days.
What’s the best free iPhone VPN for China?
Unfortunately, free VPNs are notoriously unreliable in China. Free VPNs simply don’t have the technology to keep you safe from China’s advanced internet surveillance measures, nor the resources to continually break through the country’s firewalls. In fact, only a few premium VPNs even work in China.
ExpressVPN is one of those VPNs and it’s equipped with military-grade encryption to protect your online activity. You can try ExpressVPN in China to see for yourself. It comes with a 30-day guarantee, so you’re entitled to a full refund if it doesn’t meet your needs.
Will a VPN drain my iPhone’s battery?
Like any other app, a VPN will impact your iPhone’s battery life. This is because a VPN constantly encrypts your internet connection, even when background processes like mail syncing are running.
However, I found that ExpressVPN didn’t drain my battery any more than a background app like Netflix or Spotify. If you really need to conserve battery, you can always switch off the VPN connection (although I don’t recommend this if you’re connected to a public WiFi network). Luckily, you can test out ExpressVPN for yourself and see how it affects your own iPhone or iPad. It comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you’re entitled to a full refund if you’re not satisfied.
Will an iPhone VPN work on my other devices?
Yes. For example, ExpressVPN has dedicated apps for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Mac, Apple TV, Apple Watch, Windows, Android, and more. In fact, ExpressVPN is even the top-rated VPN for Windows. Better still, you can connect 5 devices on a single subscription.
Unfortunately, you’ll find many other free VPNs only allow you to connect 1 device at a time (although TunnelBear allows 5 device connections, but the trade-off is you only have 500MB of free data per month).
Do free VPNs keep logs?
The free VPNs on this list do not keep any personally identifiable data. However, some of them do store data — information like the time you connect to the VPN server, your approximate location, and other performance-related data. This information is used to run analysis to improve the service and, in some cases, show you advertisements based on your general location.
Protect Your iPhone and iPad With a High-Quality Free VPN
It can be a challenge to find a free VPN that doesn’t compromise the security of your iOS devices. There are a lot of low-quality services that have extreme limitations or shady policies that don’t protect your data. Even worse, many of them have high ratings on the App Store so you can’t easily tell if they’re safe.
Fortunately, every free VPN on this list is designed to protect your iPhone and iPad, as well as other compatible devices. But even safe free VPNs have their own limitations — like a small number of servers, limited data, or no streaming and torrenting support.
For this reason, I recommend you use a premium VPN instead. You can try ExpressVPN on iPhone or iPad risk-free as it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. This means you’re entitled to a full refund if you’re not satisfied with its performance (no questions will be asked). I’ve tested the policy out for myself and I confirm it works — it only took a few minutes to get my refund approved over 24/7 live chat and the money returned to my account in under a week.