Free VPNs are incredibly popular nowadays across all platforms, but even more so on mobile devices like tablets and smartphones. This is because most mobile apps rely on advertisements to make a profit, which is why many people have trouble justifying having to pay actual money for an app, even if it's a VPN.
This is no different in the case of Android. The Play Store is teeming with hundreds of free VPNs that promise fast speeds, anonymity, and unparalleled security. As always, the truth is not quite as straightforward, and there is a reason why the best-rated VPNs out there are paid services that require a monthly subscription.
Why Are Free Android VPNs Less Trustworthy Than Paid VPNs?
If you open up the Google Play Store and do a quick search using the keyword "VPN," you’ll undoubtedly be swarmed by hundreds of results. Among these results, many of them advertise that they are entirely free, which begs the question: why would you pay for a VPN when there are so many free alternatives?
Well, here is why:
- There is no such thing as a free service. If you are not paying with cash, then something else is taken from you in return. In many cases, that something is personal information, which is gathered and sold by the VPN company to keep their server infrastructure running;
- Free VPN providers often overlook things like encryption and general security in order to focus on latency or download speeds;
- You can’t trust customer feedback most of the time. Many free VPN providers rely on false reviews and inflated ratings to attract attention;
- Free VPN services can disappear from the market at any time, especially since they do not have an obligation to keep their servers running if no one has paid them a subscription fee for months in advance;
- You are subject to data caps. This is not an issue if you are just browsing the web now and then, but it quickly becomes a problem if you want to use the VPN to stream movies on Netflix;
If the arguments above have managed to make you reconsider free VPNs as an option, then you might be interested in a paid VPN service instead. One of the best all-rounders out there is ExpressVPN, and you can read more about it in our full review.
Alternatively, you can also read more about the best VPNs for Android and pick one of the many alternatives out there. If you are not quite ready to open up your wallet for a subscription, you should know that many premium VPNs also offer free trials, some of which don't require a credit card either.
How to Use a Free VPN on Your Android Device
- Download or subscribe to one of the VPNs on this list. Our top pick is ProtonVPN.
- Install the app on your Android device and open it.
- Pick a server and connect to it.
- Start browsing the web and have fun!
The 5 Best Free VPNs for Android
Your best bet is to go for a service that offers a free tier as a starting option, with the possibility to upgrade to a paid subscription if you need more flexibility. These services are more trustworthy than others, mainly because other people are still paying for their services, even if you do not. As such, here are our recommendations for the 5 best free VPNs for Android:
1. ProtonVPN - Best Free VPN That Doesn't Have a Data Cap
There are many reasons to be a fan of ProtonVPN, many of which apply to the free version as well. For starters, they are very transparent when it comes to their business model, and the same goes for their software, which is available as open source. This means that people are free to check the code for any flaws or hidden logging practices.
The main reason ProtonVPN is our top choice for this list is the fact that the free version does not come with any limitations in terms of bandwidth. You can use it for as long as you wish and never worry about running into data caps, which is very rare in the world of free VPNs.
There’s also the fact that there are no in-app ads to ruin your experience, and the company also operates from Switzerland - a country with very strict privacy laws. In addition, you always have the option to switch to a paid subscription if you decide it’s worth the investment.
In terms of downsides, the biggest annoyance is the fact that you are limited to only three countries to choose from. These include The Netherlands, U.S.A., and Japan. In fairness, that’s three different continents, which is quite generous.
You are also constrained to a single device per account, and some of the more advanced features are not included in the free tier. Accessing blocked content might also not be possible, depending on what you are trying to do.
Find out more about ProtonVPN by reading our full review.
- No data caps of any kind
- Open-source software
- Servers on three different continents
- No advertisements of any kind
- Upload and download speeds are not the best
- Limited to a single device per account
2. Windscribe - Best VPN That Features Split-Tunneling
Windscribe has ProtonVPN beaten in many regards, but it falls short in terms of bandwidth and data caps. Hence, even if you get more servers and features to play with, the free version restricts you to a maximum of 10GB of traffic per month. It’s definitely enough to cover some casual web browsing, but you can forget about watching YouTube videos or streaming Netflix movies.
There are ten countries to choose from, including the US and Canada, each of which comes with high-speed servers. As a bonus, you can connect an unlimited number of devices to the same account, although you should keep in mind that they will all use the same data cap.
One useful feature comes in the form of split-tunneling, which allows you to create a list of apps that are to be ignored when the VPN is running. Thanks to this, you can make sure that Windscribe is not rerouting your Netflix traffic and wasting your bandwidth while still being able to browse the web anonymously.
You are also presented with four protocols to choose from, although this is definitely something most casual users won’t fiddle with too much. The upside is that all of your traffic is encrypted both ways, which means it’s borderline impossible for anyone to spy on your web traffic activity.
Lastly, you can easily upgrade your account and gain access to all the benefits that come with a paid subscription, which includes more servers and countries, as well as unlimited bandwidth.
You can read more about Windscribe and its features by reading our review.
- 10 different countries to choose from
- Split-tunneling functionality
- Multiple protocols
- Strong encryption
- Unlimited devices
- 10GB/month data cap
3. hide.me - Best Choice for Beginners
If you do not care about video streaming and you want a VPN to access restricted content every so often, hide.me has a pretty good deal when it comes to the free version of their service. In essence, the only major restrictions relate to the number of available servers and a monthly data cap of 10GB.
To make things even better, there are no speed restrictions either, which means you can take full advantage of your regular Internet speeds. Keep in mind that this may not apply if the chosen server is far away from you, although latency is the most affected by distance in most cases.
According to the company behind hide.me, they do not make any money from the free version, relying on the paid subscriptions instead. Because of this, there are no ads inside the app, which is obviously a good thing. On the other hand, you are restricted to only five countries to choose from, although that’s expected.
The last limitation comes in the form of a single connection per account, as opposed to the ten simultaneous connections available for paying users. This won’t be a huge downside for most people, especially since the 10GB data cap makes it very difficult to share an account between multiple devices.
Check out our in-depth review to find out more about hide.me.
- No speed throttling
- No advertisements
- Very simple interface
- No-logs policy
- 10GB/month data cap
- Only 5 server locations
4. Speedify - Best Free VPN With No Server Limits
Speedify is a fairly small VPN provider, yet it’s still ambitious enough to provide users with a free version. In fact, you don’t even need an account in order to start using the app, which is exactly what we like to see. With that being said, there are still limitations when it comes to bandwidth, as you can expect.
The monthly data cap is set at 2GB, which is not terrible, but not great either. It can be enough for some casual Web browsing, but it definitely won’t hold up if you want to stream videos or music. It’s still a lot more generous than other services, and there are also no speed limitations either.
There are also no limits in terms of what locations are available to free users, which is definitely more impressive than other apps on this list. On the other hand, the number of advanced features is incredibly low, with barely anything to customize. VPN newbies may not find this upsetting, but veterans will probably be annoyed by the lack of settings.
Naturally, you are limited to a single connection, although that’s to be expected when you are not even required to create an account to begin with. A paid subscription allows for up to five simultaneous connections, which is more or less on par with most premium VPNs out there.
Find out more about Speedify by reading our review.
- All servers and locations are available in the free version
- No speed throttling
- Very easy to use
- No registration needed
- Few advanced features
- 2GB/month data cap
5. TunnelBear - The Go-to VPN for Casual Web Browsing
TunnelBear is perhaps one of the most recognizable VPN brands on this list, mainly because they also have a fairly decent reputation in the world of paid VPN services. In fact, that is also the reason why they can afford to provide you with a free version as well, even though it is pretty heavily restricted in terms of speed and bandwidth.
As such, the app’s biggest drawback is the 500MB/month data cap. Naturally, this is designed as a way for you to test the VPN's capabilities for a few days and then purchase a subscription. However, you can keep using the free version for as long as you wish, with the 500MB cap resetting every month.
While you can’t stream videos or even look at too many pictures on such a low bandwidth budget, TunnelBear can at least provide you with access to restricted websites if you happen to live in a heavily-censored country. Furthermore, this could also serve as a last resort when you truly need to protect your privacy, and you don’t want to saddle yourself with a lengthy subscription.
The other good news is that there are no ads in the app to distract you. TunnelBear relies on its paying customers for its revenue, which means it can afford to provide a limited free version as well. This also means they are not tempted to sell your data, especially since they have a no-logs policy anyway.
If you want to find out more about TunnelBear, check out our full review.
- No annoying ads
- No logging whatsoever
- Recognizable and trustworthy brand name
- Decent speeds
- Great upgrade options
- Only 500MB/month
- Few locations to choose from, even in the premium version
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions regarding free Android VPNs. If you have a query of your own, feel free to use the comment section below.
Is It Safe to Use a Free VPN on Android?
It heavily depends on the VPN in question. In most cases, we would advise against a VPN service that relies on ads, mainly because such companies are known to sell your data. One way to avoid this is to use the free version of a well-known VPN that also offers a premium subscription.
Do VPNs Keep Me Anonymous While Surfing the Web and Using My Phone?
VPNs are not designed for anonymity - they just make it difficult for people and corporations to track you. However, smartphones are full of design flaws and security issues, not to mention the fact that they have multiple cameras and microphones that are always near you. In short, don't rely on a VPN to keep you entirely hidden.
Is There a Completely Free VPN for Android?
Our list includes five VPNs that are indeed completely free-to-use, in the sense that they do not have ads and do not require a credit card in order to install or create an account. However, they have other limitations, such as data caps and limited server choices. "Completely free" VPNs don't really exist since you always pay for them one way or another.
Which Free VPN Is Best for Android?
The best free VPN for Android is mostly a matter of what you intend to use the VPN for. Some are better if you need unlimited bandwidth in order to stream videos, others are better because they allow you to connect more than one device to the same account. As you can see, we settled on ProtonVPN as our top pick for this article since it provides a great experience in most regards.
Is There a Free VPN With Unlimited Data Usage?
Yes. ProtonVPN is our top pick exactly for this reason. There are others that offer this feature as well, but they also use intrusive ads in their interface - unlike ProtonVPN.
Do Free VPNs Sell My Personal Data?
This is very difficult to know for sure, but the common consensus is that yes, most free VPNs sell your data. The reason for this is because they need to make money somehow, and sometimes ad revenue is not enough to cover the server cost.
Can You Watch Netflix With Free VPN on Android?
Technically yes, you can. However, most free VPNs come with data caps, which means you won't be able to watch more than an episode or so if you want 1080p or 4K quality.