A digital personal community (VPN) is a vital barrier between your community visitors and out of doors perpetrators, so it is best to hunt down an organization with robust safety credentials. ProtonVPN, from the creators of the safe ProtonMail platform, matches that invoice. ProtonVPN for Android is a slick and safe VPN service with a superb free model and privacy-first protections. That stated, pricing tiers are restrictive and the speeds in our testing are under common. Nonetheless, if privateness is your foremost concern, otherwise you already use ProtonMail, ProtonVPN ought to make your brief listing.
What Is a VPN?
In the event you hook up with public Wi-Fi networks typically, your privateness is in danger. Your connection to such networks is weak to assaults from individuals trying to steal your knowledge. Even your house community isn’t solely safe; your web service suppliers (ISPs) could also be promoting your knowledge.
Everybody must be involved about their community privateness each at residence and overseas, which is why you want to use a VPN even in your Android telephone. A VPN helps secures your web visitors by routing it by way of an encrypted tunnel to a server managed by the VPN service. If you find yourself related to a VPN’s server, your public IP tackle seems as that of the server. In different phrases, it’s troublesome to hint again any exercise to your level of connection. Since your knowledge can also be encrypted within the course of, neither aggressors on an area community nor your ISP can see your precise visitors.
Though it’s necessary to know what a VPN does in concept, most VPN apps make it straightforward to arrange and use a VPN service, with out understanding particular particulars. That stated, customers ought to know that a VPN doesn’t make you invincible on the internet. Utilizing a mixture of a VPN, the Tor community, and privateness extensions, reminiscent of Privateness Badger, is a extra complete strategy. All the time bear in mind nevertheless that good safety is a fantasy.
A VPN can also be topic to the identical exploitations and failures as some other app or service. Take Fb’s Onavo VPN app for instance. The app, which Apple has since pulled from the App Retailer, actively tracked its customers’ net visitors, the precise conduct a VPN ought to forestall. In any case, you possibly can examine your VPN by yourself by following our information on methods to inform in case your VPN is leaking your actual IP tackle.
Threats to your privateness and safety are all the time evolving, however a VPN is a considerable first step in the direction of securing your privateness on-line.
Pricing and Platforms
ProtonVPN is likely one of the few VPN providers to supply a totally free choice. The primary limitation of the free tier is that it restricts you to only three servers: one in Japan, one within the Netherlands, and one within the US. The free account additionally solely permits you to use the VPN on a single system. Nevertheless, so far as free VPNs go, ProtonVPN is the best choice, because it doesn’t impose limits in your knowledge utilization or serves advertisements. Check out our roundup of one of the best free VPNs to see the way it compares.
ProtonVPN’s Primary account prices $four per thirty days and opens up entry to all nations. As well as, you get two simultaneous connections and help for P2P sharing. The Plus account prices $eight per thirty days and helps as much as 5 simultaneous connections. This tier additionally unlocks Plus Servers, Safe Core, Tor Servers, and the Safe Streaming function. The Safe Core servers prioritize bodily safety and introduce a number of redirects (consider them as further stops alongside the trail to your safe connection). We go into extra element afterward concerning the Safe Core servers. In any case, each of those plans are under the present common worth ($10.16) of our prime VPNs.
Customers can even go for the Visionary account tier, which features a ProtonMail account along with every thing you get within the Plus account. The $24-per-month Visionary plan additionally will increase the gadget restrict to 10 concurrent connections.
ProtonVPN is a bit bizarre in the way it buildings its plans. Most VPN providers supply the identical options at each worth tier and supply reductions for longer commitments. ProtonVPN, then again, restricts higher-end options to costlier account ranges. The distinction between these plans won’t be instantly evident to first-time VPN customers both.
As for cost choices, ProtonVPN accepts bank cards, PayPal, and Bitcoin. Apart from Android, ProtonVPN is obtainable on Home windows, macOS, Linux. ProtonVPN additionally lately launched a devoted iOS app. We put in ProtonVPN on a Google Pixel operating Android 9.zero and examined with a ProtonVPN Plus account.
One of many standards we use to guage VPNs is the variety of server location and servers it presents. The extra servers and places, the much less doubtless it’s you’ll expertise sluggish connection speeds as a consequence of overburdened servers or vital geographic distances.
On the time of publishing, ProtonVPN presents servers in 30 totally different nations throughout the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Belgium, New Zealand, and Portugal are the newest additions. A complete of 30 nations isn’t the fewest variety of places we’ve seen; TunnelBear presently solely provides servers in 20 nations, and PIA shouldn’t be too far forward with its rely of 33 nations. Nevertheless, different VPNs, comparable to NordVPN and CyberGhost, supply servers in 62 and 60 nations, respectively.
ProtonVPN’s geographic distribution is respectable although it might use extra servers in Africa, South America, and the Center East. Particularly, nations corresponding to Cuba, Russia, Syria, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia usually are not represented. In fact, given these nations’ repressive web freedom insurance policies, the results of a VPN failing are extreme for the top consumer.
ProtonVPN presents 330 servers on the time of publishing, which is low in comparison with different prime VPNs. For instance, NordVPN maintains round 5,100 servers and PIA sits at over three,100 servers. One factor to think about relating to server choices is whether or not a VPN firm truly maintains bodily servers in all of its places. Some corporations use what are often known as digital servers, which could be configured to seem in a special place than their bodily location. The issue with digital servers is that your metadata might cross by means of nations aside from the one you initially selected. And people different nations might not have as privacy-focused knowledge retention legal guidelines. ProtonVPN doesn’t use any digital servers, which is one potential rationalization for its low server rely.
Privateness Coverage and Safety
ProtonVPN maintains a transparent, no-logs coverage. ProtonVPN states in its privateness coverage that it doesn’t “log customers’ visitors or the content material of any communications; discriminate towards units, protocols, or purposes; or throttle your web connection.” ProtonVPN does use third-party providers for cost and processing and retains your e-mail for communication and billing functions, however each practices are fairly commonplace.
ProtonVPN operates beneath ProtonVPN AG, which is predicated in Switzerland. Switzerland is notably not a member of the 14 Eyes initiative. We aren’t assured sufficient in our information of worldwide agreements to make a definitive judgment of a VPN firm based mostly on this alone, however that is nonetheless good info to know.
Third-party audits have gotten more and more widespread within the VPN business and we recognize no matter effort an organization makes to independently confirm its product. ProtonVPN has not revealed any public outcomes of an audit, however it does supply a transparency report about knowledge requests it has acquired.
ProtonVPN’s Android app makes use of the IKEv2 protocol by default, however customers can configure the OpenVPN protocol manually with a configuration profile. We choose the OpenVPN protocol for its open supply nature. ProtonVPN additionally says that its “community visitors is encrypted with AES-256, key trade is completed with 2048-bit RSA, and HMAC with SHA256 is used for message authentication.”
As beforehand talked about, ProtonVPN’s Safe Core servers present an additional emphasis on bodily safety over its common servers. Whenever you hook up with considered one of these servers, your knowledge travels by way of certainly one of ProtonVPN’s bodily secured servers earlier than getting rerouted to an exit server of your selection. These safe servers are situated in Iceland, Switzerland, and Sweden. ProtonVPN shops the Icelandic servers in a former army base, whereas those in Switzerland and Sweden are stored safely underground.
ProtonVPN’s Android App
We put in the newest model of ProtonVPN on a Google Pixel operating Android 9.zero. We had no drawback logging in to the check account. The app carried out shortly in testing and didn’t endure from any lag or crashes. Since you’re counting on a VPN to safe your connection in any respect time, app reliability is a vital metric to think about.
ProtonVPN’s darkish theme seems nice and the inexperienced accents all through the interface assist information navigation. The app interface is split into three totally different header sections on prime: Nations, Map View, and Profiles. A hidden left-hand menu hosts gadgets for App Settings, Account Settings, Logs, Bug reporting, and Assist. If you wish to simply hook up with the closest obtainable server, faucet the Fast Join icon within the decrease proper nook. This icon is current in a lot of the app, so you need to by no means be greater than a faucet away from a safe connection.
From the settings, you’ll be able to configure ProtonVPN to start out with Android and routinely hook up with both the quickest or a random server. You can too allow the cut up tunneling function, which helps you to exclude sure apps or IP addresses from routing visitors by way of the VPN. This function is beneficial for providers that won’t work when you are related to a VPN.
From the nations listing, you’ll be able to choose any of the ProtonVPN servers out there on your subscription. Every nation has a number of servers with useful labels displaying that are P2P or Tor prepared, for instance. ProtonVPN strikes the quickest server to the highest of the listing, but in addition consists of useful color-coded indicators of server load to the aspect. Widespread sense dictates that you need to choose the quickest server at every location until you particularly want one for P2P or Tor.
Premium subscribers can toggle the Safe Core choice to hook up with these servers. This feature restricts the listing of obtainable servers to 23 exit places on the time of publishing. The Safe Core server obtainable to you (Iceland, Sweden, or Switzerland) depends upon your preliminary choice, although a number of places supply multiple choice. When you can hook up with no matter server you need, you’ll doubtless get the most effective efficiency by connecting to the situation closest to you.
Within the Map View part, ProtonVPN shows inexperienced triangles over a map of the world and you may join by tapping on any considered one of them. Whenever you change on the Safe Core choice, the map facilities on Iceland, Sweden, and Switzerland and labels them with small circles. You’ll be able to faucet on any circle to see the potential connection factors and faucet once more on any of the triangle markers to attach.
The final part, Profiles, permits you to save particular person servers for fast entry at a later time. For instance, it preloads choices for the quickest server and a random one. Moreover, you possibly can arrange a customized color-coded profile for a location and server of your selection.
ProtonVPN and Netflix
Some VPNs don’t work nicely with video streaming providers, together with Netflix. That stated, nearly all of the Android VPNs we examined didn’t trigger any issues. We examined these VPNs with Netflix on a Nexus 5X operating Android eight.1, since we had points with streaming content material on our different check gadget, a Google Pixel with Android 9. ProtonVPN labored superb with the Netflix app in our checks. For those who do expertise points, ProtonVPN gives a help web page on the subject. A consultant additionally famous that “Usually all our Plus servers are optimized for safe streaming.“
Notice although, that part four.three of Netflix’s phrases of use web page states “You might view Netflix content material primarily inside the nation during which you’ve got established your account and solely in geographic places the place we provide our service and have licensed such content material.” One potential drawback in case you use a VPN or proxy is that Netflix might not be capable of decide the geographic origin of your connection.
You’ll be able to take a look at our listing of one of the best VPNs to make use of with Netflix, however observe that these usually are not assured to work sooner or later. Video streaming corporations proceed to seek out new methods to detect and block VPN visitors.
Getting a definitive measure of a VPN’s efficiency isn’t easy since outcomes might be affected by any variety of variables, together with your geographic location, the server you choose, and the power of your Wi-Fi connection. As such, contemplate our check outcomes extra of a comparative snapshot of Android VPN efficiency than a definitive verdict. If velocity is a precedence, take a look at our roundup of the quickest VPNs.
See How We Check VPNs
To check the velocity of Android VPNs, we run Ookla’s web velocity check app a number of occasions to determine a baseline community efficiency with the VPN turned off. (Ookla’s Speedtest.internet is owned by Ziff Davis, PCMag’s writer.) Then, we let the VPN hook up with the closest server (or change it to the closest US-based one), and rerun the checks. We calculate the median of every class of outcomes and examine the % change between the values recorded with and with no VPN connection. For every check, we use the obtain (Mbps), add (Mbps), and latency (ms) outcomes.
In our velocity exams, ProtonVPN didn’t carry out nicely in comparison with the competitors. Some discount in speeds is predicted, however different VPNs turned in quicker outcomes throughout the board. For instance, ProtonVPN elevated latency by about 150 % in our checks. Equally, its add speeds have been among the many slowest; it decreased them by round 82.6 %. ProtonVPN’s obtain speeds have been nearer to common, however nonetheless on the high-end with a 78.5 % decline. In all three exams, ProtonVPN produced outcomes worse than the median throughout all VPNs we examined.
Speedify is the quickest in our Android obtain check, solely reducing speeds by three.four %. NordVPN additionally produced good obtain check outcomes and is the quickest in our add check; it slowed down speeds by 48.7 % and 22.6 % respectively. In our latency exams, PIA, TurboVPN, and NordVPN all solely elevated latency by round 20 %.
When PCMag Software program Analyst Max Eddy examined ProtonVPN’s Home windows app, ProtonVPN carried out near the highest within the home obtain and add check, in addition to within the worldwide add outcome. That stated, ProtonVPN did falter within the worldwide obtain check. Observe that for those who do expertise sluggish speeds, you might be related to a traffic-heavy BitTorrent-specific server. As Max famous in his evaluate, even the quickest server preset might routinely join you to certainly one of these servers, even when the app doesn’t all the time do an incredible job of figuring out every server sort.
Use ProtonVPN for Privateness
In case you are on the lookout for a security-centric VPN service, then ProtonVPN is value contemplating. It has an excellent safety and privateness coverage, plus a couple of perks comparable to its Safe Core servers. ProtonVPN additionally has the excellence of providing a free model with no knowledge limitations, which we respect. That stated, Proton VPN is on the sluggish aspect, and its worth plans are restrictive, which can forestall some individuals from paying for all the things ProtonVPN has to supply. Contemplate Editors’ Decisions NordVPN, PIA, or TunnelBear as an alternative. We respectively want these for his or her top-notch options, nice worth, and user-first design.