Avira was founded in 2006 but is best known for its antivirus software that has been under active development since 1986. Avira only launched the VPN in 2016, and its popularity is no doubt thanks to its household name. To find if its reputation is well-earned, I put it through rigorous testing.
In a nutshell, Avira’s Phantom VPN is an average service with basic features. It is a simple tool that offers solid security and little else, making it a good fit for the casual user who cares only about safe and private time on the internet. Users can secure their browsing data on as many devices as they like – a good option if you’re looking for value. On the flip side, the app is a bit old-fashioned, and the number of servers and server locations is very limited. The VPN struggles to bypass geographical restrictions, and even when it does, streaming quality is often below par.
If you want to try the full suite of its features for yourself, Avira’s Phantom VPN backs its service with a 30-day money-back guarantee. However, Avira’s refund process is a bit more tedious than other VPNs. I had to contact a third party to request the refund, and I bounced between them and Avira before they processed my request. Overall, despite the reputation of the Avira name, Phantom VPN Pro lacks the features, ease of use, and speed of the top VPNs on the market.
During my tests, I was surprised to find that Phantom VPN Pro unblocked Netflix US, Hulu, and Disney+ on most US servers, but nothing else. My colleagues in other countries had mixed and unexpected results — when connected to servers in Japan, Canada, and Manchester (UK), they could only access Netflix US. And, when one colleague connected to the Manchester, UK server Netflix detected their region as Romania!
While I had no trouble unblocking Netflix US, and Disney+, I could not watch any shows at a reasonable stream quality. The VPN’s speeds were significantly lower than my baseline speeds and often stayed between 2 – 8Mbps, which is not enough to stream without excessive lag and buffering.
Netflix US performed the best, content loaded within a few seconds, and the page was immediately responsive. However, Arrested Development buffered for a few minutes before starting. The stream quality was dismal, and I was afraid to rewind when I missed something for fear that I would have to wait minutes for the episode to buffer again.
Watching anything on Disney+ was difficult. After signing in, the homepage took a few minutes to load and I had lag even when scrolling through show titles. Even though movies buffered for a while before starting, I still had to endure more buffering in the middle of a show.
Despite many attempts and connecting to many different servers, Phantom VPN Pro couldn’t unblock HBO NOW, Prime Video, or BBC iPlayer. In some cases, login screens didn’t load, and other times I would just get errors similar to the one below.
It looks like you’re using an anonymous proxy or VPN
I didn’t have any luck accessing Hulu with Avira’s Phantom VPN. I was hopeful at first because the login page loaded fairly quickly. But, after logging in, the homepage just wouldn’t load no matter how long I waited or how many times I hit refresh.
Prime Video didn’t even grant me access to my account. The login page loaded quickly and allowed me to enter my username and password. However, when I clicked the sign-in button, I got an error message telling me my password was incorrect.
Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t access HBO Now. The site usually didn’t load, and when it did, I was either met with another error message, or the page would only display the HBO logo and give me no option to log in.
To gain access to streaming services you pay for while traveling, you will need a VPN with better unblocking capabilities and speeds than Avira Phantom can offer. During extensive testing, ExpressVPN reliably unblocked every streaming service in this review and many more. Additionally, all of its servers are optimized for streaming, so I never have any issues with loading, buffering, or lag when watching content from any platform.
Avira Phantom VPN does not support fast speeds. Most small VPN providers have slow or inconsistent speeds, but Avira’s Phantom VPN reduced speeds by up to 90%! This significant speed difference made streaming almost impossible and even affected my regular browsing. I did speed tests for multiple locations, including local servers.
While connected to Phantom VPN, I had an average speed of around 5Mbps which was an 87% reduction from my regular speed. This was hardly fast enough to stream in standard definition and way too slow for online gaming. As expected, I had the best speeds while connected to a local server, but the VPN still slowed my speed by 67%.
My download speed before connecting to a VPN server was 37.83Mbps.
My speed when connected to local and long-distance servers, from closest to furthest:
|Ping||Download Speed||Upload Speed|
|US – Dallas Server||357ms||12.33Mbps||2.96Mbps|
|UK – London||324ms||3.18Mbps||1.13Mbps|
Overall, Phantom VPN speeds were unusably slow, and the VPN struggled on long-distance connections.
Speed determines how fast content uploads, so if you're torrenting or streaming, you want the speed to be somewhat identical to your regular internet speed. Since a VPN encrypts your data, it usually takes a bit longer to send your data back and forth, which can slow down your connection. However, if your ISP deliberately slows down your connection (also known as throttling) a VPN might increase your internet speed. Testing a VPN is somewhat pointless because new servers pop up and affect speed. Your speed can also differ according to your location, so your speed test might not match ours. Having said that, we tested the speed in numerous locations to provide you with the average.
Avira’s Phantom VPN has a limited number of servers covering only 38 countries. On the website, Avira claims it has 1400 servers. But, the app only offers 51 servers in total. Of course, this means that most of the 38 countries have only 1 server, which is probably why its speeds are so dismally slow.
Coverage is best in Europe at 26 servers, followed by the US at 13. However, Avira has only 4 servers in all of Asia, 2 in South America, and none in Africa. Considering its small size, Avira would do well to consider a more even distribution of its server network.
Avira’s 256-bit encryption with the OpenVPN protocol assured me that my data was safe while using its VPN. However, you won’t find any advanced or customizable privacy features. Also, if you’re looking for a VPN to bypass censorship in high-surveillance states, you’re out of luck.
Phantom VPN uses 256-bit encryption with the OpenVPN protocol. For native apps downloaded from their website, the VPN runs SSL/TSL protocols based on OpenVPN. But, if you download Avira apps from the Apple App Store or Microsoft Store, the VPN uses IPsec.
One of the benefits of the OpenVPN protocol is that it is highly configurable. But, Avira has negated this advantage by not providing the configuration files. At a more basic level, the VPN doesn’t even allow you to choose between UDP and TCP ports.
Interestingly, the company that has built its brand on antivirus software doesn’t have any built-in ad blockers or antimalware features. Instead, after purchasing a Phantom VPN subscription, Avira offers you a 20% discount on a subscription to Avira Prime which offers protection from malware and an adblocker.
I was glad to see that the VPN offers a kill switch and DNS leak protection. But, since Avira hasn’t proven to be completely transparent with information on their infrastructure, I decided to put it to the test.
I checked a few of Avira’s US-based servers for DNS leaks. While the DNS test didn’t detect my real IP address, I found that 2 separate tests kept picking up a Canadian IP even though I was connected to a US server. I was not too concerned by this as my own IP address was not detected, but it did make me doubt if they had servers in as many locations as they promised.
Overall, I was satisfied with the VPNs security but not impressed by its lack of extra features, which are becoming a norm for most top VPNs on the market. I expected that a company that has built a reputation on security technology would perform better in this regard.
Avira Phantom VPN provides a moderate level of user privacy protection. The company is headquartered in Germany, which falls under EU data retention laws and forms part of the 14 Eyes Alliance. The governments of countries in the alliance can request that ISPs or VPN companies share data about their users. Although it isn’t ideal, Avira attempts to put users’ minds at ease by referencing its logging policy.
At first, I thought, this is pretty nice. However, after reading the subsequent paragraphs, I realized, well, this could be a hard sell. First, the policy mentions that the provider adheres to all data protection statutes. However, Germany regularly shares data with 13 other countries that make up the 14 Eyes Alliance.
After digging through some of the FAQs on the website, I found that the VPN doesn’t track or record your IP address or internet activity. The only information they do collect is diagnostic data (which you can opt-out of), whether you’re using the free or pro version of the service and how much data you use. The company explains that this data is necessary to identify and fix bugs and help them calculate the costs of their service and its viability. Tracking free and paid users allows Avira to distinguish which users qualify for customer support since only Pro users get that benefit.
When you compare the privacy policies of Phantom VPN and ExpressVPN, you realize that the latter has a strict and proven no-logs policy. In addition, Express VPN is not based within the jurisdiction of the 14 Eyes Alliance and is therefore not obligated to share user information with any private or public agencies.
According to the policy, Phantom VPN complies with all data protection rules and policies related to the GDPR – a European data protection agency similar to the DMCA in the U.S. Interestingly, the GDPR supports the banning of torrenting sites altogether. This is probably why Phantom VPN’s policy doesn’t mention torrenting at all.
While Avira’s Phantom may be technically compatible with torrenting, I suggest using ExpressVPN for safer P2P file-sharing. The VPN provides resources on the subject and openly supports torrenting on their service. Better still, it has a strict no-logs policy and TrustedServer technology, which automatically wipes the server after every session.
Since there are only a few VPNs that work in China, I was not surprised to find that Avira Phantom VPN does not work in China. The provider is based in Germany, a country that does not have a history of censorship. Though you may get in trouble for making incendiary statements, as far as internet freedom goes, Germany is highly liberal.
Unfortunately, people in other parts of the world, such as Russia, China, Turkey, and the UAE, do not enjoy uncensored Internet access. For instance, China has blocked YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and many other popular websites. You can’t access these sites in China unless you use an excellent VPN provider. Unfortunately, Avira Phantom VPN cannot bypass the firewalls of countries like China. Therefore, I would not recommend Phantom VPN for bypassing censorship in China or any other high-surveillance country.
With Avira Phantom VPN Pro, users can connect unlimited devices to the same account simultaneously, which is probably one of the VPN’s best features. Free users can connect up to five devices simultaneously.
Avira Phantom VPN is compatible with only the most common operating systems. The VPN provides Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android apps but has no software for Linux users. Considering that most major VPNs in the market offer a Linux option, some even with a GUI interface, I find this very disappointing. You can also download a browser extension for Chrome but it has no comparable products for Firefox or Opera.
Worse yet, Avira offers no apps for routers, smart TVs, gaming consoles, or streaming devices. And since it also doesn’t have a Smart DNS, you simply won’t be able to use the VPN on most of your devices, despite being allowed unlimited simultaneous connections.
I found the app relatively easy to set up and install. The interface is simple, and there aren’t many settings to navigate. The VPN allows you to download the apps from the website, which provides prompts to guide you through installation. You can also download Phantom VPN apps from the Apple App Store, Google Play Store, and Microsoft Store. The desktop app is lightweight and minimally invasive, but the mobile apps are much more modern and pleasant to navigate.
After downloading the app from the Play Store on my Android device, it seemed at first like I was being forced into a 7-day Pro trial, even though I had already purchased a Phantom Pro subscription. After swiping back and forth, I found the option to sign in to my existing account. Personally, I don’t appreciate these seemingly sneaky tactics. I think Avira could have done better considering the user experience, especially for paying customers.
You can download the Phantom VPN Chrome extension from the Chrome Webstore.
Avira Phantom VPN has a barely-there model of customer support. Users of the VPN’s free version receive no assistance at all. Pro users are required to either submit a request via the website, send an email or call a support agent. Unlike many other VPNs, Avira doesn’t offer a live chat option for its VPN users.
In my experience, responses take a day at minimum, making a few quick questions more tedious than it needs to be.
To find answers to your questions yourself, you can consult the offline help section to find tutorials, educational videos, and the FAQ section.
It’s puzzling that such a big company cannot offer customer support to free users. Worse yet, even paid users do not get the excellent customer service they expect from such a company.
We personally test the customer support team of every VPN we review. This means asking technical question through the live chat feature (where applicable) and measuring the response time for email questions. Whether you need to connect to a specific server, change your security protocol, or configure a VPN on your router, finding a VPN with quality customer support should be important to you.
For Avira’s quality of service and suite of features for its VPN service, Phantom VPN Pro does not offer the best value for money. Its subscription terms are also limited, allowing you to subscribe either to a yearly plan or one of two monthly plans. One of the plans is the pro version for mobile only. At a reduced rate, this plan allows you to connect 5 of your devices simultaneously, as opposed to the unlimited connections you get on the regular subscription.
Opting for the annual subscription will get you a 35% discount, which, while it is something it’s not as generous a discount as some other VPNs offer.
Payment methods are limited, with credit cards and PayPal listed as the only options. Unfortunately, you can’t pay in Bitcoin (or other cryptocurrencies).
At an added cost of $79.99 per year, you can buy Avira Prime for protection from malware, an adblocker, and VIP customer support. Personally, I find it offensive that the company has tiers for customer support based on how much money users spend on their products.
Phantom VPN Pro plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee, which is always a draw for users looking to test a VPN before committing.
Getting a refund was easier than I thought. Previously, Phantom Pro users had to request a refund from Avira’s payment partner, Cleverbridge. They have since changed the process, and I asked for a refund directly from Avira by submitting a request form on the website.
An agent responded within 24 hours and asked why I was cancelling. I told her that I was not satisfied with the VPN’s performance, and she confirmed my refund within an hour. I had my money back 4 days later.
Ultimately, I cannot recommend Avira’s Phantom VPN. I was eager to get into this VPN, starting only with the knowledge of Avira’s watertight security features and its brand reputation. I even liked the option of the free plan.
However, in addition to unusably slow speeds, Phantom VPN failed to deliver on device compatibility, ease of use, and decent customer service. The company seems to be using its brand to hawk an overpriced underdeveloped product to its customers.
At $6.50-$10.00 per month, Avira’s VPN prices rival even the best VPNs on the market. In fact, for as little as $2.25, you can try CyberGhost — a VPN with excellent speeds, streaming and torrenting optimized servers, and a 45-day money-back guarantee. CyberGhost passed all my security tests, and the company provides around-the-clock support for all of its users through 24/7 live chat.
No. Avira offers the best encryption on the market, but not much else. Phantom VPN delivers consistently low speeds making browsing tricky and streaming and torrenting virtually impossible. The apps are easy to set up and use, but there are no compatible apps for routers, Linux users, smart TVs, or Amazon Fire TV.
More reliable VPNs with better server coverage, speed, and privacy policies cost less than Avira’s Phantom VPN – like CyberGhost. Not only does CyberGhost boast optimized streaming servers and a truly global network of over 6900 servers, the service is also backed by a more generous 45-day money-back guarantee. Best of all, you can get CyberGhost from $2.25.
Yes. Avira offers both a free and paid version of Phantom VPN. Free users are limited to 500MB of data per month which you can double to 1GB/month if you opt to register a free account. With a free account, you won’t have access to your pick of Avira’s servers. Rather, you will only be able to connect to the server closest to you. Avira also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on all of their subscriptions, but getting a refund may be tricky.
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