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 fundamental concern, otherwise you already use ProtonMail, ProtonVPN ought to make your brief listing.
What Is a VPN?
When 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 property community shouldn’t be 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 must use a VPN even on your Android telephone. A VPN helps secures your web visitors by routing it via an encrypted tunnel to a server managed by the VPN service. If you end up 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 essential to know what a VPN does in principle, 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, resembling Privateness Badger, is a extra complete strategy. All the time consider 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 among 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 lets you use the VPN on a single system. Nevertheless, so far as free VPNs go, ProtonVPN is your only option, 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 30 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. Except for Android, ProtonVPN is accessible on Home windows, macOS, Linux. ProtonVPN additionally just 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 probably it’s you’ll expertise sluggish connection speeds because of overburdened servers or vital geographic distances.
On the time of publishing, ProtonVPN provides 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 is just not the fewest variety of places we’ve seen; TunnelBear presently solely gives servers in 20 nations, and PIA just isn’t 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 reminiscent of 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 gives 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 generally known as digital servers, which could be configured to seem in a unique place than their bodily location. The issue with digital servers is that your metadata might cross by way 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 users’ traffic or the content of any communications; discriminate against devices, protocols, or applications; or throttle your internet 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 normal.
ProtonVPN operates underneath 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, nevertheless 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 want the OpenVPN protocol for its open supply nature. ProtonVPN additionally says that its “network traffic is encrypted with AES-256, key exchange is done 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. Once you hook up with one among these servers, your knowledge travels by means of considered 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 out there 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 while you’re related to a VPN.
From the nations listing, you possibly can 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 out there to you (Iceland, Sweden, or Switzerland) will depend on your preliminary choice, although a couple of places supply multiple choice. When you can hook up with no matter server you need, you’ll probably get one of the best 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 one in every of them. Once 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 exams. When you do expertise points, ProtonVPN presents a help web page on the subject. A consultant additionally famous that “Generally all our Plus servers are optimized for safe streaming.“
Observe although, that part four.three of Netflix’s phrases of use web page states “You may view Netflix content primarily within the country in which you have established your account and only in geographic locations where we offer our service and have licensed such content.” One potential drawback when you use a VPN or proxy is that Netflix might not have the ability to decide the geographic origin of your connection.
You possibly can take a look at our listing of the most effective VPNs to make use of with Netflix, however word that these aren’t 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 could 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 exams. 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 properly 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 exams. 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 end result. That stated, ProtonVPN did falter within the worldwide obtain check. Word that in case you do expertise sluggish speeds, you could be related to a traffic-heavy BitTorrent-specific server. As Max famous in his evaluation, even the quickest server preset might routinely join you to one among 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 a superb safety and privateness coverage, plus a number of perks similar 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. Think about Editors’ Decisions NordVPN, PIA, or TunnelBear as an alternative. We respectively favor these for his or her top-notch options, nice worth, and user-first design.