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5 Best (100% Free!) iOS VPN Apps for iPhone & iPad in 2021

Sarah Barnes
Last Updated by Sarah Barnes on July 01, 2021

There are hundreds of free VPNs for iPhone and iPad, but finding a good one is surprisingly difficult. I’ve tested so many free VPNs that have done the opposite of what they promise to do — slow my connection speed, drain my iPhone’s battery life, and even infect my devices with malware. Worse still, some of these terrible free VPNs have positive ratings on the App Store!

That’s why I’ve tested and ranked the best free VPNs that are secure, fast, and work on iOS 14 and older. All of these VPNs have easy-to-use apps for iOS and other devices, keep your online activity anonymous, and protect your connection whether you’re using your home network, public WiFi, or mobile data.

Unfortunately, free VPNs do come with some minor cons, like data limits, small server numbers, and slower speeds. If you’d rather use a VPN without these limitations and restrictions, I suggest ExpressVPN as the top choice for your iPhone and iPad. It offers fast download speeds across a large server network and has unlimited data so you can stream all your favorite TV shows and movies on your iOS device as much as you want.

You can test out ExpressVPN on iPhone or iPad risk-free. If you don’t feel it’s right for you, you can get a full refund within the 30-day money-back guarantee period.

Try ExpressVPN on iOS today!

Quick Guide: Top Free VPNs for iOS in 2021

  1. ExpressVPN — #1 choice for iOS — fast speeds, unlimited data, global server connections, and top-tier security. Offers a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try ExpressVPN risk-free!
  2. Hotspot Shield — Reliably fast speeds for browsing plus robust security, but can’t access global content due to restricted server location.
  3. TunnelBear — High-level security and easy-to-navigate interface, but limited to 500MB data per month.
  4. hide.me — Powerful privacy and security features, but only 2GB data allowance per month.
  5. ProtonVPN — Unlimited data, no bandwidth restrictions, and strong security — but no streaming or torrenting possible.

Try ExpressVPN risk-free on iOS!

Best Free VPNs for iPhones and iPads (Tested July 2021)

1. ExpressVPN — Best iPhone and iPad VPN With Fast Speeds, Top Security, and Guaranteed Anonymity

Key Features:

  • Unlimited data — browse, stream, and torrent as much as you want
  • Fast download speeds for connections without lag or buffering
  • 3000 servers in 94 countries for global network access
  • Audited zero-logs policy guarantees your data is never stored for anonymity
  • Supports iOS 10 and later — plus Windows, Mac, Android, Linux, games consoles, Smart TVs, and routers

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 unblock 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 ExpressVPN’s 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. This makes ExpressVPN a perfect solution to regaining access to your favorite content when you’re abroad. Its speeds even outperform other premium top-rated VPNs, like CyberGhost — so you know you’re getting great value for money when you sign up for ExpressVPN.

Screenshot of Ookla speed test with ExpressVPN's iOS app connected to multiple servers worldwide.
ExpressVPN’s fast speeds meant I could stream, download, and browse online with zero lag

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.

However, 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 be exposed if the VPN connection is interrupted. Although I never experienced connectivity issues while testing the service, I’d like to see ExpressVPN add this feature to its iOS apps for even better security measures.

I was concerned there would be a catch when it came to its money-back guarantee, but I can assure you there isn’t one. 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.

It’s easy to get a full refund using ExpressVPN’s money-back guarantee

I recommend that you sign up for ExpressVPN through its website as that means you’ll deal directly with the company when getting your money back. If you sign up through the App Store, you have to contact Apple and it can be a tedious process to get a refund that way.

Try ExpressVPN risk-free!

July 2021 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.

2. Hotspot Shield — Solid Security for Browsing Without Lag

Key Features:

  • 500MB daily data allowance
  • Caps speed at around 5Mbps — fast enough to browse online without lag
  • One US server location for free users
  • Keeps some logs like total bandwidth consumed, time connected to the VPN, and device specific information
  • Supports iOS 12 and later — plus Windows, Mac, and Android

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 at multiple times throughout the day and always had the same result.

Screenshot of Ookla speed test with Hotspot Shield connected to a US server.
I was disappointed that my iPhone speeds for Hotspot Shield were so slow

As free users can only connect to 1 US server, I thought slow speeds might be due to congestion. However, Hotspot Shield openly states that it caps speeds for free users to prioritize premium customers. Even with slow speeds, I found I could easily browse on Safari without any noticeable lag. However, I couldn’t stream or download using the iOS app due to these restrictions.

The 1 server limit also means Hotspot Shield isn’t the best VPN to use when you want to access your streaming accounts while abroad — unless you live in the US. If you just want to secure your everyday browsing, Hotspot Shield is the best free option. As a bonus, Hotspot Shield doesn’t require any signup to use its free iOS app — you can just download the app to your iPhone or iPad and connect straight away.

Get Hotspot Shield for free!

3. TunnelBear — Fast Download Speeds and Large Server Network

Key Features:

  • Limited to 500MB monthly data
  • Fast download speeds make browsing, banking, and shopping online lag-free
  • Servers in more than 20 countries for global network access
  • Regularly audited — stores some operational data (like iOS device) and account data (like email address)
  • Supports iOS 11 or later — plus Windows, Mac, Android, and Linux

TunnelBear is one of the fastest free VPNs 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 access Netflix libraries around the world without being detected as a VPN.

Screenshot of TunnelBear connected to a US server with Netflix showing US-only content.
I could access Netflix using TunnelBear’s server

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 locally in 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.

Get TunnelBear for free!

4. hide.me — Strong Encryption and Unrestricted Speeds

Key Features:

  • 10GB monthly data allowance
  • Consistently fast speeds across all server connections
  • 5 free server locations — Canada, Germany, Netherlands, US East, and US West
  • Zero-logs policy — never stores your data and no signup details required
  • Supports iOS 9 or later — plus Windows, Mac, Android, Linux, Smart TVs, and routers

hide.me’s top-tier security is some 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. 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.

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.

Screenshot of IP leak test showing German locations with hide.me connected to a German server.
I didn’t have to worry about my data security as hide.me had zero leaks

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, even for totally free accounts! 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 lag or buffering. With a 10GB monthly limit, hide.me gives you enough data for around 10 hours of HD streaming.

Get hide.me for free!

5. ProtonVPN — Unlimited Data and Bandwidth With Strong Security

Key Features:

  • Unlimited data — doesn’t impose data caps or bandwidth limits
  • Speeds vary depending on location — US servers had best download speeds
  • 3 server locations in the Japan, Netherlands, and US available to free users
  • Never logs identifying data, but does record your iOS device model and OS version
  • Supports iOS 11.0 or later — plus Windows, Mac, Android, and Linux

ProtonVPN provides secure, fast connections at zero cost with no data or bandwidth caps! I was skeptical at first, but ProtonVPN genuinely doesn’t cap your use. I find this reassuring as it means my iPhone connection is constantly protected.

I’m also pleased with its iOS security. ProtonVPN’s free plan provides you with the same military-grade encryption as its premium software, although free accounts are missing NetShield (an ad and malware blocker). As ProtonVPN is based in Switzerland, it isn’t required to store user data — and independent audits have confirmed the iOS app is secure.

Unfortunately, ProtonVPN’s iOS app lacks a kill switch. Instead, there’s an “Always On” feature that automatically reconnects to a VPN server. As ProtonVPN can take several seconds to connect, this does pose the risk of some data leaking.

While ProtonVPN only offers 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, ProtonVPN’s free service doesn’t allow streaming or torrenting — these speeds would be fast enough for buffer-free streaming and downloading.

Screenshots of Ookla speed test result when connected to one of ProtonVPN's free US servers.
I was impressed by ProtonVPN’s unlimited speed on its free server options

ProtonVPN’s iOS app is totally free, though you do have to sign up for an account with a valid email address. The service keeps a record of this email address for sign-in purposes but for better anonymity, you can use a brand-new email not associated with you personally.

Get ProtonVPN for free!

Are Free VPNs Really Safe to Use on iOS Devices?

Yes, some free VPNs really are safe to use. You’ll find 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, there are hundreds of VPNs on the App Store that advertise themselves as being 100% free and secure when they’re really not. Some of these VPNs also have high ratings, making it even more difficult to figure out which ones are safe.

One example is Hola VPN, which has hundreds of positive ratings on the App Store but has been caught stealing user bandwidth and has zero connection encryption. Another is VPN 360, which has over 29,000 ratings and 4.5 stars out of 5. This VPN logs URLs visited through its connection and can impose data logging whenever it wants to (the privacy policy states it will disclose your information to the authorities if deemed necessary).

To avoid downloading an unsafe or misleading free VPN, I suggest taking a look at one of the choices on this list. A free service like ProtonVPN or TunnelBear will provide you with a layer of security and anonymity that protects your data when you’re online. However, free VPNs can only provide so much before you encounter limitations — for a truly unlimited service, ExpressVPN is the best choice. Signing up for it is risk-free, as it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you find the service isn’t right for you, you can get a refund before the 30 days are up.

Get ExpressVPN today!

Easy Guide: How to Download and Use a Free VPN on iPhone

  1. 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 no limitations.
    Screenshot of ExpressVPN's website with subscription and download options for iOS.
  2. Sign in with your account details once the VPN app is installed.
    Screenshot of ExpressVPN's iPhone app on the login screen.
  3. Tap “Allow” to add the VPN configuration file. You’ll be prompted to enter your iPhone passcode.
    Screenshot of ExpressVPN's iOS app requesting permission to allow VPN configurations.
  4. Connect to a server and start using the internet securely!

Download ExpressVPN for iOS

How I Tested and Ranked The Best VPN App for iPhones and iPads

I ran tests using my iPhone XS and iPad, both running iOS 14. I examined the following categories to ensure a fair and accurate ranking:

  • Free services without a catch: When you’re not paying for a product, you are the product — but not with the free VPNs on this list. I examined the terms and conditions of each VPN to determine that your data won’t be sold to advertisers and you won’t be shown excessive ads.
  • Top-tier security and privacy policies: There are hundreds of free VPNs that provide little-to-no encryption and have shady privacy policies. The free services on this list have no less than military-grade encryption, zero-log policies for your personal data, and passed leak tests to guarantee your security.
  • 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. The apps are simple to navigate for beginner users as well as more tech-savvy individuals. They feature quick server connections and settings that are easy to configure.
  • Fast download speeds: Unless your speeds are fast enough, your VPN-encrypted internet connection is worse than useless. I ran multiple speed tests connected to each VPN’s available servers and only included services fast enough to browse, shop online, and stream without lag or interruptions.
  • Reasonable limitations: Free VPNs have limitations, but some are so limited they are barely usable. I checked that data caps are high enough for day-to-day use (like checking emails or browsing the internet), speed caps aren’t severely restricted, and that I could connect to servers at all times of day (including peak traffic times).

Try ExpressVPN today!

FAQ: Using a VPN on iPhone and iPad

What’s the best free iPhone VPN for China?

While there are some decent free VPNs out there, 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 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.

Which free iOS VPN is the best for Netflix?

During my tests, I successfully used TunnelBear to access my Netflix account. However, TunnelBear’s free plan limits you to only 500MB per month. This won’t last you more than 1 or 2 episodes in SD quality video. Free VPNs purposefully restrict access to bandwidth so that paying customers have priority — and to encourage you to upgrade to a paid plan.

As a big Netflix fan, I prefer to use a premium VPN service. ExpressVPN has unlimited bandwidth for Netflix streaming in HD 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.

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.

There are less trustworthy VPNs that log and store your personal data, including your IP address and online activity. This data is then sold to advertisers so they can target you more effectively and so the VPN can make a profit. I’d recommend carefully reading the privacy policy of your chosen free VPN to ensure your data is secure before using it. Or, better yet, you can use a premium VPN like ExpressVPN with a guaranteed no-log policy. If you want to keep your data 100% secure, there’s no better option.

Will a VPN drain my iPhone’s battery?

Like any other app, a VPN will have a slight impact on your iPhone’s battery life. This is because your connection is constantly encrypted, even when background processes like mail syncing are running.

I contacted ExpressVPN’s customer support, and they told me that running the VPN won’t drain your battery more than any other background app like Netflix or Spotify. Customer service did recommend switching the VPN connection off if you’re not using it, as this will help to improve your battery life. You should see how a VPN affects your battery life, and test ExpressVPN for yourself today.

Will an iOS VPN work on my other devices?

Yes, most VPNs that support iOS will also work on other devices, like Windows, Macs, and Android smartphones. Many of the best free VPNs for iPhones and iPads can also be used on other devices — ExpressVPN has app support for multiple devices, including iOS, macOS, Windows, Android, Linux, routers, and more! Not only that, but it’s one of the top-rated VPNs for the Windows OS — and almost all its features are available on iOS as well.

It’s worth noting that a free VPN will often only provide a single device connection at a time. You may be able to download the app to multiple devices, but unless you upgrade to a premium subscription you won’t be able to connect them simultaneously.

Get ExpressVPN for iOS and other devices

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. They all offer fast speeds, a high level of encryption, and reliable server connections. ProtonVPN in particular is a great choice as it’s 100% and has unlimited data. These factors make it suitable for everyday security, from safe browsing to online banking and shopping, even on public WiFi.

However, free VPNs inevitably have their own limitations like a small number of servers or restricting streaming sites. For this reason, I recommend you use a premium VPN instead. You can try ExpressVPN’s high speeds and no data restrictions risk-free, as it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you’re not satisfied, you can quickly and easily get a full refund over 24/7 live chat.

Try ExpressVPN today!

Summary: Other Top VPNs for iPhone and iPad in 2021

Top Choice
CyberGhost VPN
$2.25 / month Save 83%
Private Internet Access
$2.08 / month Save 83%
$2.79 / month Save 36%
IPVanish VPN
$3.75 / month Save 66%
$1.89 / month Save 76%
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Sarah Barnes
Sarah is a security writer who believes that people are entitled to a high level of online privacy. She specializes in managing digital projects for small to medium businesses from various industries.