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Orbot Review 2022 — Is It Completely Safe and Anonymous?

Eric Raue
Last Updated by Eric Raue on August 01, 2022

Android and iOS apps constantly collect and sell your private data, storing it on servers that aren’t secure and watching everything you do online. Thankfully, you can use Orbot with a powerful VPN to retake your privacy by routing your data through the Anonymous Tor network. This hides your apps, messages, and other activities from being watched or monetized by the apps themselves, marketing companies, or other third parties.

However, using the Tor network makes Orbot limited. ExpressVPN is my top VPN to use when Orbot isn’t enough. It gives you the same high level of privacy as Orbot for all your Android and iOS apps, but with much faster speeds and the ability to unblock most websites.

Try ExpressVPN with Orbot

What is Orbot?

Orbot is an open-source mobile application that lets you use your apps, web browsers, and other services privately. When you use Orbot on Android or iOS with a VPN, all your data goes through a proxy provided by the anonymous volunteer Tor network to hide it from third parties.

With Orbot enabled, you can browse websites, use apps, send emails, and chat with friends or family without being monitored by third parties.

2 Ways to Protect Your Mobile Devices: Orbot and a VPN

Orbot is a great way to become anonymous on Android and iOS devices to stop data brokers from collecting your location, browsing activities, app use, and other private information. To use Orbot, install the free app and then just add other apps you want to be protected from the list in the settings. Then turn on “VPN Mode” to activate protection.

However, Orbot doesn’t work like a typical VPN. Since it uses the Tor network, it comes with significant disadvantages like slow speeds, minimal unblocking capabilities, and no extra privacy or security features. That’s why you still need one of the top VPNs on the market to use your mobile devices safely.

Unlike Tor, a top VPN can unblock sites. VPNs also give you the speeds you need to watch videos in HD or 4K without lag, upload files, share torrents, play online games, or do other data-heavy online activities. As an added safety bonus, the best VPNs include extras like IP leak protection and external security audits for extra peace of mind.

Important: Remember that since neither Android nor iOS let you activate 2 VPNs at once, you just have to turn off Orbot before you connect to your VPN of choice.

1. ExpressVPN — Blazing-Fast Speeds and Advanced Security for Fast, Private Apps on Android and iOS

Key Features:

  • 3000+ servers in over 94+ countries globally
  • Android and iOS apps with 256-bit military-grade encryption, no logs, and a kill switch
  • Connect to up to 5 encrypted IP addresses at once
  • Pay via credit cards, PayPal, or anonymously with Bitcoin
  • 24/7 live chat support plus email and an online knowledge base
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

ExpressVPN is my #1 VPN to complement Orbot because of its blazing-fast speeds and industry-leading security and privacy features on Android and iOS. While using the Tor network with Orbot slowed my baseline Android connection from 95Mbps down to 80Mbps, I got the same speeds with ExpressVPN as when I wasn’t using a VPN or Tor at all. Its apps also kept my data completely hidden with a fully audited no-logs policy and military-grade 256-bit encryption across its network of over 3000 servers in more than 94 countries.

Since your IP address and some of your other data can get past encryption on some weaker VPNs, I tested ExpressVPN for common types of leaks. This would show me if the VPN is strong enough to avoid leaking data when my mobile devices make certain types of connections. DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6 leaks are the most common types on Android and iOS, and I tested for all 3. My results proved that ExpressVPN kept me anonymous online at least as effectively as Orbot does.

Screenshot of a successful DNS test on Android while ExpressVPN is connected to a server in Madrid

All my data leak tests proved that ExpressVPN kept my connection anonymous on Android

While Orbot and the Tor browser can’t reliably unblock geo-restricted sites or streaming services like Netflix, ExpressVPN can access most TV and movie sites that other VPNs can’t. During testing, it could access Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, and other mobile streaming platforms. Better yet, it always played content in HD or 4K because of its consistently fast speeds.

If you want to try ExpressVPN to stay anonymous online, it’s risk-free since it’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee. Whether you get the best value 1-year plan for $6.67/month or choose a different option, it’s easy to get a refund if you change your mind. I tested the process by asking for my money back via 24/7 live chat, and it was approved instantly. I had my refund in under 2 days.

Try ExpressVPN with Orbot

What is Tor and How Does It Work?

Also known as the Onion Router, Tor is a group of encrypted servers (or “relays”) run by volunteers. Tor is free to use and lets you access special websites on the Dark Web while keeping your browsing activities private.

How Does Tor Work?

Wherever you connect to the internet, you are assigned an IP address that shares personal information like your location with websites and other third parties. When you use apps, they collect even more data about you from different accounts.

To stop this breach of your privacy, Tor encrypts your data as it passes through its own volunteer relay network and makes it much harder for your activities to be tracked. Orbot uses the same system of relays to pass your Android or iOS traffic through Tor, making all your apps private instead of just your web browser.

The Tor Browser

Developed by the Guardian Project, a non-profit organization devoted to improving web privacy, this Browser uses the Firefox source code so it has a similar layout. However, the Tor Browser has been reconfigured to access the internet privately through the volunteer Tor network. That enables it to open .onion URLs on the Dark Web as well as typical URLs on the surface web, all while keeping you anonymous.

The problem is, that having to encrypt and send your data through relays takes time — so your connection slows down significantly on Tor. Also, many websites use plugins or programming languages like JavaScript that the Tor Browser blocks to make your connection more secure. This causes a lot of services (like Netflix) to not work.

Instead, you can use a VPN like ExpressVPN to browse the web privately with blazing-fast speeds and a similar level of anonymity. This lets you access all your usual websites without errors, and keeps your identity and online activities private.

Quick Note: Orbot used to have a Tor-based web browser called Orfox that is mentioned on other out-of-date cybersecurity blogs. Orfox has been discontinued since it isn’t needed if you just download the official Tor Browser.

How Does Orbot Keep You Safe on Your Android or iOS Device?

Several frames showing screenshots of Orbot's interface on Android

Use Tor on All Apps

By using Orbot, you can make sure all your Android and iOS apps are protected by Tor instead of just the websites you visit. While the Tor Browser hides your connection while you use the web, it doesn’t do anything to hide your activity while using social media, email, image sharing, messaging, or other apps.

Private Communications

Orbot gives you one of the most anonymous ways to access content on either the Dark web or the surface web on your mobile devices. It also gives you other privacy settings like:

  • Private Chat Messaging — Make your texting private by using Orbot with Signal, a free messenger for Android and iOS that hides messages with end-to-end encryption. You can take videos and send pictures and gifs just like with the default messaging apps, but with none of the usual tracking and eavesdropping.
  • Twitter Privacy — Orbot works well with the official Twitter app. If you want to tweet anonymously, all you need to do is choose Twitter in Orbot’s settings screen to add it to the proxy.
  • General App Privacy — You can customize any Android or iOS app to use the Tor network as a proxy. This hides all your data through Tor while you use the app as you usually would.

Anonymity for Business

If you ever work out of the office or abroad, you need the anonymity provided by a service like Orbot or Tor. This is especially true if you ever communicate sensitive information online, like payment details or confidential documents. Many investigative journalists, activists, whistleblowers, and other people who work in sensitive environments use these techniques to stay safe and keep their data hidden from prying eyes.

FAQs About Orbot

What’s the difference between Orbot and a VPN?

Orbot routes your data through the volunteer Tor network to let you use Android and iOS apps anonymously. A VPN makes your entire mobile connection anonymous by connecting to a private server network owned by a VPN company. When you use Orbot you have to choose which apps to protect, while a VPN protects all the apps on your device at once.

Both protect from eavesdropping and third-party tracking — but while VPNs cost some money, they’re much faster than Orbot because they can invest in the best technology. Although there are a few really good free VPN providers, they have tight limits on speeds, servers, data, and other features that make them too restrictive for most uses. Orbot is completely free, but depending on Tor relays slows it down and makes it not as good at unblocking websites.

Can I use Orbot with Windows 10?

Yes, but it’s complicated because you’ll need an Android or iOS emulator for it to work. Since the process is technical and has many steps, I recommend you just use ExpressVPN to stay anonymous on Windows instead. This provides the same online privacy benefits as Orbot but gives you the benefit of super-fast speeds and extra security features on an encrypted global network.

Are there other apps like Orbot?

Yes, but they aren’t as good because Orbot is the Tor routing app that’s easiest to use. Snowflake is another option that works with Android, iOS, Windows, and macOS but it’s slightly technical compared to Orbot. You can also use Lantern, but to activate all its features, you have to pay for a premium version.

Other apps that route your connections through Tor, but they’re experimental or require special skills to use. During my tests, Orbot was the easiest for non-technical users and was completely free.

Can Orbot be tracked?

No — Orbot doesn’t track you and while you use apps on Orbot, you become anonymous. Just keep in mind that for apps that require you to log in like Gmail or Instagram, all your activities within that app can be associated with your account information. That’s why I recommend you make specific email addresses and alternative social media accounts that you only use with Orbot enabled so that you remain anonymous.

Orbot can’t connect. What should I do?

Check your Android or iOS device’s time and date settings because problems arise from the calendar or clock not being configured properly. If the time and date are correct, try clearing all of Orbot’s cached app data and try again. Also, make sure no other VPN apps running — it causes errors if you connect to a VPN provider like ExpressVPN while Orbot is activated.

If none of these techniques work, you should check your network settings to ensure you have a connection. Then make sure your phone and apps are up to date and uninstall Orbot to start fresh.

Conclusion

Orbot offers you the privacy and safety of the encrypted web on all your Android and iOS apps. It’s an impressive tool to make you anonymous and improve your privacy on mobile devices, but to get fast speeds for streaming and other data-intensive activities, you’ll also need a VPN.

ExpressVPN was the fastest and most secure VPN for Android, iOS, and other platforms during my tests. It can also unblock most websites even if they have geo-restrictions or VPN blocking algorithms. This makes it perfect when you need an upgrade from Orbot’s slow speeds and minimal unblocking capabilities.

If you want to try ExpressVPN for Android or iOS, there’s a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee so it isn’t a big deal if you change your mind. You can get your money refunded quickly and easily if you don’t like it.

Try ExpressVPN with Orbot

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