3 Best Cheap VPNs for iPhone & OpenVPN Protocol Installation Guide

Last Updated by Denise Sullivan on January 30, 2020

While iPhones have excellent malware protection, they can’t protect you entirely, so to keep your mobile data safe from prying and snooping when using public wifi; you should always use a VPN.

The other issue you may run into when using any VPN on your iPhone is that OpenVPN, widely considered the best security protocol is not built-in for iOS. With that being said, you can follow the step-by-step guidelines below and manually install OpenVPN.

Best Cheap VPNs for iPhone

When it comes to affordable VPN service, there are many options. Most providers offer monthly, yearly, and multi-year contracts to allow you to select the best service for your budget.

If you want the best price, it is best to choose a more extended contract as all providers offer larger discounts on longer subscriptions.

1NordVPN

NordVPN

Pros:

    • 5,000+ servers in over 60 countries
    • Unlimited bandwidth
    • Up to six simultaneous connections
    • Kill Switch
  • No-log policy

Cons:

  • Some slow server response at times

NordVPN is for both the novice and expert user, as you can install the software and begin using it without changing any settings; however, those who understand how the software works can configure it as they need. NordVPN also has parental controls, to restrict online access with your perimeters.

NordVPN keeps no logs of user activity to ensure customer privacy fully, and 256-bit AES encryption protects data. There is an optional kill switch which prohibits internet connection if you lose the VPN connection.

NordVPN offers a 3-day free trial if you sign up via the iPhone application, and, if you’re not fully satisfied with the service, you can request a full refund within 30-days of your subscription purchase.

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2CyberGhost VPN

CyberGhost VPN

Pros:

  • The added security of Malware Blockers
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Over 2,000 servers
  • Servers in over 60 countries
  • Military grade encryption

Cons:

  • Limited availability in Asia and Latin America

CyberGhost VPN uses 256-bit AES military-grade encryption to protect your data online, and they don’t log user activities, which is important as the company’s headquarters are in Romania and must adhere to strict EU internet privacy laws.

CyberGhost has an extensive server network, adequate for streaming without endless buffering and bypassing the geo-restrictions of services like Netflix and BBC iPlayer.

CyberGhost does have a 45-day money back guarantee, but to take advantage, you must notify CyberGhost’s customer service department in writing and request a refund, as canceling or deleting your account does not automatically authorize one.

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3Surfshark

Pros:

  • 1000+ servers in 60+ countries
  • Automatic kill switch
  • Strict no-logs policy
  • Connect unlimited number of devices at the same time
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Cons:

  • Has a smaller server network than other VPNs

Surfshark offers many of the premium features you’ll find with top VPNs — all for a very affordable price. With 256-bit military-grade encryption, leak protection, and an automatic kill switch, your internet traffic will always be protected. Its CleanWeb technology even blocks annoying ads and trackers for added security.

Surfshark offers a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can test out the VPN for yourself risk-free.

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How to Adjust your Settings for OpenVPN

OpenVPN is one of the more secure channels for VPN connections. While it is a free, open-source software application, the protocol is not built-in to iOS.

Most VPN service providers include an OpenVPN protocol in their programming, but for those that don’t, there is still a way to run OpenVPN on your iOS device. These are very general instruction, you can see specific instructions for our recommended VPNs below.

  1. Download and install the application on the intended device.
  2. Go to the VPN provider website and download the OpenVPN configuration files from the site’s download page. These files have a .OVPN extension. They will download as a ZIP file.
  3. Extract the files from the zip folder.
  4. Open the OpenVPN Connect App and click “Import,” then choose the downloaded files.
  5. Import the files, then choose a server and log in with your credentials.

You now have the OpenVPN security protocol on your phone.

How to Install OpenVPN on iOS with NordVPN

You will need to purchase a subscription to NordVPN in order to setup OpenVPN on your iPhone

  1. Download the free OpenVPN app on your iPhone
  2. Download the NordVPN OpenVPN configuration files
  3. Opt to open the configuration files in OpenVPN
  4. Tap on the green + button to add the file.
  5. Enter your NordVPN username and password to connect

You can add multiple servers in multiple countries if you choose, just repeat the above steps.

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How to Install OpenVPN on iOS with CyberGhost

You will need to purchase a subscription to CyberGhost in order to setup OpenVPN on your iPhone

  1. Download the free OpenVPN app on your iPhone
  2. Login to your CyberGhost account
  3. Click on “My Devices
  4. Click “Add a new device
  5. It will ask you to select an OS you want to add – select Other (router, Linux, etc.) 
  6. Click Create new credentials
  7. The screen will bring you back to your collection of devices, choose the one you just added. It will be called Linux, Router, etc
  8. Set the Device Name and then choose the settings you want to apply
  9. Under Login Credentials select OpenVPN, and the country that you want to connect to
  10. Click on the Show button to see your username and password (this is not the same as your account login info) and write them down.
  11. Download the configuration.
  12. Open the OpenVPN app on your iPhone and tap on the green + button to upload the configuration file.
  13. Enter the CyberGhost username and password you got in step 10 and connect

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It should be noted that while speaking with CyberGhost customer support about these steps, they feel that with iOS, using IKEv2 is much better protocol in terms of connectivity and speed.

openvpn cyberghost chat

How to Install OpenVPN on iOS with Surfshark

You will need to purchase a subscription to Surfshark in order to setup OpenVPN on your iPhone.

  1. Download the free OpenVPN Connect app from the Apple App Store.
  2. Log into your Surfshark account.
  3. Download one or more of the OpenVPN configuration files. Surfshark will suggest a recommended server which is closest to you, but you can choose any locations you like.
  4. Unzip the compressed configuration files you downloaded. You can use extractor apps to do this easily.
  5. Open the OpenVPN app on your iPhone. Select “OVPN Profile”.
  6. Click “Add” to import the file.
  7. Enter your username and password. To find your username and password, open the Surfshark Manual Connection Guide page and scroll to the bottom to “Service Credentials”.
  8. To save yourself time in the future, mark “Save Password” to store it. Then, click “Add”.
  9. Once you’ve successfully added the profile, click “Connect”.

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Why Not Use a Free Service?

Virtual Private Network (VPN)
If you’re working within a budget, it’s tempting to use a free VPN service since some providers, like CyberGhost, offer both free and paid subscriptions. However, free VPN plans are not equal to paid subscriptions, even if it is the same company providing them.

Often, free software will have limitations, rendering it virtually useless after a few days if you heavily rely on the VPN. With a minimal monthly allowance, companies can reduce the number of free users utilizing the servers.

Companies also limit which servers free users can access. By limiting free accounts to fewer servers, it can impact heavily on connection speed, making them inadequate for most modern requirements, while the protocols used by free VPNs make it more challenging to use streaming services like Netflix, and geo-spoofing.

Companies that solely offer free VPN service may not keep your information protected, and, often, these providers make a profit selling data on to third parties and advertising networks.

This practice is predominantly used for targeted advertisement campaigns; however, it can also indicate that your information has been duplicated and is obtainable by others.

Bottom Line

It’s essential to have a VPN on your iPhone, especially if you use public Wi-Fi, and there are great options available on iTunes.

It is better to pay for a subscription to ensure you get the best coverage possible, and the longer you are willing to commit to a service, the lower your overall monthly cost.

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Denise Sullivan
Denise Sullivan is an accomplished writer from Louisiana, with an Associate's Degree in Journalism from Eastern Oklahoma State College. Denise began her writing career writing operations and maintenance manuals and software utility manuals for flight simulators. She is fascinated with VPNs, cybersecurity and helping to make the internet a more secure place.