It might be surprising, but free VPNs are no longer just for PCs. You can also use them to help easily boost your security and privacy game on an Android device. Whether you want extra security while using a public Wi-Fi network, or to get around geo-restrictions for most of your favorite streaming services, a free VPN can help you do it without having to pay for anything.
The problem when looking for a good free VPN though, is that there are a large number of them available on the Google Play Store. So how do you determine which ones are worth your time? Our experts here at PCWorld have tested a slew of VPNs, both for PCs and Android devices, and have curated a list of the best free options you can feel confident in using. Check out our top picks below. And if you’re looking to further upgrade your Android phone’s security, which we highly recommend, be sure to look at our recommendations for the best free antivirus for Android as well. Additionally, you can check out our guide to the best VPNs covering multiple devices.
Updated 12/20/2022: Check out our latest review of Windscribe Pro VPN. While it didn’t quite make this list, it’s still a solid all-around VPN with fast speeds, an easy setup, and a surprisingly robust free plan.
1. ProtonVPN – Best for unlimited use
Easy-to-use multi-hop feature
Supports TOR over VPN connections
If you only have one device to worry about, ProtonVPN is an excellent choice. This free service provides what the company calls “medium speeds,” meaning you don’t get access to the 10 gigabit-per-second servers that paying customers do. Still, the speeds are just fine, but what you won’t find here are any servers supporting Netflix streaming. That’s another premium feature; however, you can still likely get other streaming services that aren’t as actively fighting against VPNs the way Netflix is.
Read our full
2. Windscribe Pro – Best for multiple devices
Secure.link Generator is a helpful link-shortening service
Works with Netflix
Another solid choice for Android users. You won’t get the unlimited usage like you do with ProtonVPN. Instead, you get up to 10GB of browsing per month. But there are no device limits, and you have 10 country connection options.
Read our full
Review Windscribe Pro
3. Hide.me – Best for no sign-up usage
Good download speeds
Easy-to-use Windows app
Speeds were inconsistent in our tests
Expensive single year subscription
Hide.me has pretty good speeds, and like Windscribe you’re limited to 10GB per month. Hide.me offers five connection choices including two U.S. locations (east and west), Canada, Germany, and the Netherlands. Hide.me doesn’t require an account for signing up making it seamless and easy to use.
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4. Speedify 10 – Best for leveraging both cellular and Wi-Fi
Very good speeds
Speedify’s failover feature seamlessly transitions between Wi-Fi and cellular networks
Desktop mode for the Windows app needs work
A solid VPN choice for anyone using the VPN on a phone. Speedify’s specialty is a seamless VPN transition between Wi-Fi and cellular. Typically, when you go between Wi-Fi and cellular the connection drops and restarts, but with Speedify it just keeps on going, which is nice. It also harnesses your Wi-Fi and cellular together to try and boost connection speeds.
Speeds are pretty good with Speedify staying within the top 15 for speeds overall. The downside of this free offering is that you only get 2GB of data usage per month. That’s not much, which is why this is our last suggestion. But if you need something simple for basic web browsing Speedify is well worth a look.
Read our full
Review Speedify 10
What to look for in a free VPN for Android
This will follow a lot of the advice we’ve already given for free stuff when it comes to Android. Google is doing a better job than ever at keeping harmful apps out of the Play Store, but there is still a chance of some random VPN app having malicious intent. Another problem is that even if the app is fine, the service itself may be up to no good.
For those reasons we always advise going with a well-known VPN service provider to reduce your chances of running into security issues.
Finally, you want to make sure the VPN has data limits that suit your needs.
How we tested
Speeds were based on our tests for Windows using an Ethernet connection. Clearly, on an Android device relying on Wi-Fi the speeds will be very different. Still, they give us an idea of how much slower the connection will be once the VPN is active.
If you need a VPN for your Android phone or tablet these four services should be at the top of your list for consideration.
If you’re interested in using a VPN with more than just your Android devices, take a peak at some of our other best VPN roundups to see what’s available:
- Best free VPN for Windows
- Best free VPN
- Best VPN for gaming
- Best VPN for streaming Netflix
What is a VPN?
A VPN, or virtual private network, hides your identity and encrypts your traffic while browsing the internet. Also, VPN servers are located all across the world, allowing you to connect to a server in another country. So if you want to access location-restricted content like streaming services, you can connect to the appropriate country’s server and gain access to content that may have been locked in your area.
How does a VPN work?
In short, a VPN hides your IP address by redirecting your web traffic through a remote server hosted by the VPN company. The VPN server then appears to be the source of your traffic instead of your actual location. These remote servers can be located both in different countries around the world or even in your own country. Additionally, your network traffic is encrypted from your computer to the VPN, which adds an extra layer of security.
While connected to a VPN and browsing the internet, the VPN acts as a middleman between you and a website. If your computer sends a request to the VPN, it will then pass it along to a website. In return, the website sends its response back to the VPN, which forwards it via a secure encrypted connection to your computer.
Is it legal to use a VPN?
In the United States as well as most countries, using a VPN is perfectly legal. Some certain websites try to block VPN connections, but that is dependent upon their own terms of usage. It is important to know that while using a VPN is legal, some of the activities done while using a VPN can still be illegal. Activities such as downloading pirated copyrighted content or accessing dark web markets are both illegal with and without a VPN.