Despite iPhones being more secure against viruses and malware, you can put your online privacy at risk by using an unreliable free VPN. Indeed, you may need a VPN in some instances, and free service will be a better option.
For example, a free VPN will expose you if you usually connect to unsecured public WiFi hotspots or want to conduct a sensitive search with peace of mind. Although we recommend using a premium VPN, like ExpressVPN and NordVPN, we understand that only some people wish to spend a few dollars on monthly subscriptions.
Thankfully, there are a few trustworthy free VPNs for iOS. Many come with limitations, but you can benefit from the basic security they offer without compromising privacy.
This article outlines the top five free VPNs for iPhone users. We’ll also guide you on how to select the best iPhone free VPN to avoid data theft.
Top free iPhone VPNs – Quick list
Below is an overview of the top free VPN services for iPhones tested in 2023.
- ExpressVPN: The industry’s best VPN service for unblocking streaming services and upholding privacy. It has an extensive network with over 3,000 servers, all designed to provide high-speed connection.
- NordVPN: Excellent security for your iOS device. It supports six simultaneous connections, P2P file sharing, and video streaming.
- PureVPN: Intuitive and simple VPN for iPhone. It features traffic obfuscation, a reliable kill switch, and Smart DNS.
- Proton VPN: Totally free, open-source, and independently-audited VPN. Boasts unlimited data, a no-logs policy, and breakneck speeds.
- Hotspot Shield: A decent VPN which focuses on privacy and fast service. Supports free secure browsing for about 500MB per day, totaling up to 15GB per month.
Quick comparison table of top free VPNs for iPhone users
|VPN Service||ExpressVPN||NordVPN||PureVPN||Proton VPN||Hotspot Shield|
|Number of Servers||3,000||5,613||6,500+||130||1,800+|
|Maximum Devices Supported||5||6||10||1||1|
|Logging Policy||No identifying data||No logs||No logs||No identifying data||No logs|
|Download Speed||97 Mbps||95 Mbps||54.75 Mbps||98 Mbps||65.45 Mbps|
|iOS Free Trial||7 days||No||Yes||No||Yes|
|IP Locations||160 in 94 countries||59+ countries||78 countries||68 countries||80+ countries|
|iOS Compatibility||12+||12+||14+||14+||iOS 8+|
5 best VPNs for iPhone – Detailed list
An efficient VPN service that provides lightning-fast speed and cutting-edge encryption techniques. However, it isn’t a free VPN but offers a 7-day free trial.
- Excellent unblocking capabilities
- Offers top-notch privacy
- Provides unlimited data bandwidth
- Less integration with iOS features
ExpressVPN is our top pick for free iPhone VPNs. It is a paid service with a free 7-day trial offering advanced protection. It has an intuitive interface that works excellently on iPhones and iPads. This service has a one-tap dedicated button, making securing your iOS devices easy.
We experienced outstanding speeds during our test, making ExpressVPN ideal for HD streaming. It features a proprietary Lightway protocol, which provides speedy connections and a seamless, buffering-free browsing experience. Lightway is twice as fast as OpenVPN connecting to a VPN server. So, rest assured you won’t experience a drop in connection when switching between cellular data and WiFi.
With over 3,000 servers in 94 countries, you can access multiple streaming libraries like Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, and Amazon Prime Video from anywhere. ExpressVPN is compatible with all iOS devices, including Apple TV. What’s more? It encrypts your Apple Watch data because it has a similar network connection to the iPhone.
In addition, all its servers are RAM-based. This means you can rely on utmost security and privacy when browsing the internet. Since this service is a free model of a premium VPN, you need to sign up on App Store and not from the provider’s website to enjoy the free trial.
One drawback of ExpressVPN is its price. The service is more costly than other VPNs. Considering it has features like a kill switch, 24/7 live chat, and split tunneling, the VPN offers quality for the price.
A top-rated VPN service with blazing-fast speed and industry-leading encryption protocols. It is an excellent choice for iPhone users who value online privacy and security. It comes with a 7-day free trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Top-notch security and privacy features
- Built-in blocker for ad and malware
- Fully integrated with iOS Shortcuts
- Some servers can be slow
NordVPN has a freemium VPN for iPhones that’s worth considering. Like ExpressVPN, NordVPN offers a free trial for mobile users, accessible when downloading the app from the App Store. The provider has a network of over 5,500 servers in 60 countries, all suitable for bypassing geo-restrictions. Its app integrates well with the most advanced iOS features.
Although the VPN’s free service is only available on Android, you can use it on your iOS device after signup. According to our speed tests, NordVPN is the fastest VPN for iOS. This is thanks to the NordLynx protocol, an advanced adaption of WireGuard. When we connected to a nearby server, we recorded a five percent loss in download speed.
Unlike other VPNs that struggle with security and privacy, Nord users enjoy AES encryption, which keeps their internet activity private from third parties. The VPN also features a standard kill switch that protects your iOS device from malware and blocks ads.
NordVPN is based in the privacy-friendly jurisdiction, Panama, outside the 14 Eyes surveillance alliance. It also operates a no-logs policy. This provider allows you to subscribe to its free trial alongside using a 30-day money-back guarantee. Overall, NordVPN is an excellent multipurpose service, and you can upgrade to its premium service for $3.49/month.
A top-notch VPN service that allows users to browse the internet without lag or buffering. It doesn’t compromise online safety.
- Offers unlimited torrenting and P2P sharing
- Comes with a generous money-back guarantee
- Responsive customer support
- Slow VPN connection speeds
There are very few free VPN apps that are as functional as PureVPN. It has an extensive network with over 6,500 servers in 78 countries.
Unlike many other VPN apps, this service has good basic features like a reliable kill switch and traffic obfuscation, allowing you to browse the web while concealing your digital identity.
Another functionality that makes PureVPN a strong contender is its AES-256 encryption, which offers robust protection against cyberattacks. PureVPN prioritizes users’ privacy by only storing their names, email addresses, and payment methods.
Sadly, this provider has no ad blocker, so if you want to remove intrusive ads, ExpressVPN is a great alternative. To enjoy its free version, subscribe to its 7-day trial or use its 30 days money-back guarantee.
4. Proton VPN
A reliable choice for iPhone users looking for a high-quality free VPN. Its robust encryption and no-log policy make it a versatile and convenient option for users.
- Offers robust security and privacy features
- Boasts open-source apps
- Accepts payment in Bitcoin and cash
- Limited server locations on free version
Looking for a trustworthy and reliable freemium VPN with robust security? Proton VPN is your best choice. This provider offers unlimited data to browse the web without restrictions.
First, it has fast download speeds, making it suitable for watching videos and streaming sporting events. With its iOS app, you get six encryption protocols at your disposal. Indeed, this is more than any other free iPhone VPN.
Plus, Proton VPN features a Stealth protocol, which hides your VPN connection. Through this, you can avoid government censorship or geo-restrictions.
Rather than restricting users’ bandwidth, this provider limits its free version feature by blocking access to streaming platforms. Therefore, it’s unable to work with Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+. Moreover, this free service doesn’t adequately support P2P sharing, so it isn’t an excellent pick for torrenting.
If you want a free VPN for daily usage on your iPhone, opt for Proton VPN. With it, you can boost your iPhone security without spending a dime. For $4.99/month, you can subscribe to Proton VPN’s premium plan to enjoy wide server coverage and unblock streaming platforms.
5. Hotspot Shield
A decent free VPN service that offers cutting-edge technology and a user-friendly interface. It’s your one-stop solution to conquering the digital world.
- Offers free version
- Works on multiple platforms
- Integrated with 1Password
- Does not offer multi-hop connections
Thanks to its beginner-friendly features, Hotspot Shield is one of the best free VPNs for iOS. It’s a privacy-focused service with fast speeds.
The VPN has servers in over 115 locations. With Hotspot Shield, you can safeguard your private information from the prying eyes of third parties and the government. As regards security, it has AES 256-bit encryption, IP/DNS leak protection, and a kill switch.
Unlike most VPNs with limited data bandwidth, the VPN offers 15 GB monthly, which is quite generous for a freemium service. Although it limits users’ usage to 500mb daily, this is enough to download small files, update social media, and check emails.
This free VPN has split tunneling for users who wish to customize their connection and conserve their battery. On the downside, it has one server location based in the US. So, if you want to unblock content in the UK or Canada, ExpressVPN or NordVPN is a better alternative.
Also read: Best Antivirus Apps for iPhone and iPad
How to set up a VPN on an iPhone – Easy steps
Setting up a free VPN on iPhone is relatively straightforward, as most providers have a simple app design and interface. Here’s how to set up a VPN on your iOS.
- Subscribe to a reliable VPN. Go to your preferred VPN’s website and choose a subscription plan. We recommend ExpressVPN because it’s super secure and can unblock any streaming service worldwide.
- Download and install the VPN app from your Apple Store. You can also use the VPN’s browser extension if it’s available.
- Launch the app and sign in using your details.
- Connect to a server in your preferred location.
- Now, you can browse the internet safely on your iPhone, watch movies online for free, or do anything else you want.
Can I stream with a free iOS VPN?
A premium service is a good option if you need an iOS VPN for streaming. Few free iOS VPNs have unblocking capabilities, and finding one can be a hassle. Even if you’re lucky to stream with a free iOS VPN, you may have to settle for low-quality videos and struggle with data limitations.
On the other hand, premium VPNs feature unlimited bandwidth, allowing you to surf the web and unblock content on leading streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ Hulu, and BBC iPlayer.
Even so, a few free VPNs work great for streaming. You can rest assured that you’ll stream a few episodes of your favorite series in HD using them. Currently, NordVPN’s free trial is an excellent option for streaming.
Is a free VPN on iPhone different from a paid service?
It cannot be overemphasized. A free VPN can never be worth a paid service. As a result of low funding, they’re unable to offer high-quality security and privacy features like premium VPNs.
In fact, most free services focus on collecting users’ data for advertising and resale. The more people subscribe to their service, the higher revenue they generate from storing personal data. So, subscribing to them can put your security at risk.
Due to the few servers these free versions provide, they usually experience overcrowding. Therefore, many services have bandwidth restrictions to reduce the number of users on a server.
Besides, free VPNs hardly have a zero-logging policy to keep your online activities private. Even well-intentioned free VPNs lack the resources to provide a fully secure service. For these reasons, a premium VPN has an edge over a free service.
How to choose the best free iPhone VPN anywhere
Narrowing the list of the best iPhone free VPNs requires considering several elements. You should choose a free service that’s secure, fast, and reliable. The following criteria enabled us to pick the best VPNs on our list.
- Privacy and security: Opt for VPNs with 256-bit encryption, IP/DNS leak protection, and an automatic kill switch. In addition, check the preferred provider’s privacy terms and no logs policy to determine if they uphold users’ privacy.
- User interface: Ensure your preferred VPN app integrates excellently with Apple’s advanced features and can support iOS 16 widgets and Siri Shortcuts.
- Unblocking capabilities: Some VPNs are more suitable for internet surfing than streaming. You should choose a VPN that can at least access popular streaming iOS apps, including Disney+, Netflix, and HBO Max. Confirm that your preferred free VPN has a history of bypassing streaming content geo-blocks.
- Totally free: The aim of opting for a free VPN service is not to put your hands in your wallet. Ensure the VPN provider offers a free trial and money-back guarantee.
- Excellent customer support: Select free VPNs with friendly and responsive customer service. They should have live chat, email, and phone channels that provide 24/7 customer support.
- Extensive server network: All the best iPhone-free VPNs on our list have an extensive server network to reduce overcrowding and offer a reliable connection. The larger the server, the less chance of traffic congestion with an increased speed.
- Fast speeds: An ideal free VPN should be suitable for torrenting, streaming, and browsing without lags. We advise that you check each VPN’s data limit to ensure you enjoy at least 1GB of usage monthly.
- Mobile-friendly protocols: Prioritize VPNs with fast-connecting protocols like Lightway, OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard. You can protect your data by constantly switching between WiFi and cellular data networks.
Are free VPNs for iOS safe?
We’ve conducted many investigations and tests into the security and privacy of free VPNs, and the results have been shocking. Here are the significant risks of using a free service:
- Free VPNs sell users’ data: Many free iOS VPNs earn revenues by storing users’ data and selling it to third-party advertisers. About 90 percent of them have inaccurate privacy labels. To ensure online privacy, choosing VPNs with a no-logs policy is best.
- Free VPNs display ads: Free VPNs display intrusive and annoying ads, affecting your browsing experience. Through these ads, they can track your online activities across all apps and websites you visit. Moreover, most free services inject malicious domains into these ads to steal your data. So don’t be surprised when using a free VPN and your browser directs you to an ad-filed site rather than the intended destination.
- Free VPNs can leak your data: Since free VPNs don’t generate revenue from users, they lack the resources to offer a fully secure service. They can inadvertently leak your data and expose your IP address. We advise that you opt for free services with AES 256-bit encryption, IP/DNS leak protection, and a kill switch to protect your online information.
- Free VPNs have malware and viruses: While the App Store is safer than the Google Play Store, you risk infecting your device when using free VPNs. Most free services have malicious codes. With a premium VPN, you can access certain features, like blockers for malware, trackers, and ads.
- Free VPNs have limited features: Reputable VPN providers often offer free versions of their services to advertise their products. Hence, you may deal with restrictions like limited bandwidth, limited server locations, and the inability to access streaming services. Essentially, the whole point of subscribing to a VPN is enjoying these limited functionalities.
Also read: Best iPhone Spy Apps Available Today
Free iPhone VPN services to avoid
There are multiple VPNs with a chequered history on the market. These providers are notorious for recording users’ data and sharing it with third parties. They also have poor privacy policies, no encryption, and malware apps.
Therefore it’s best to avoid them altogether. What’s surprising about these free services is their high star ratings on the App Store. Indeed, this can be convincing, but always ensure you do research and not only rely on ratings and customer reviews.
An easy way to avoid risky free VPNs for iPhones is to determine how the provider generates revenue. If the VPN has a premium version, rest assured its paid customers are covering the costs of the freemium service. On the contrary, if the VPN is completely free and has no paid model, then you should be wary.
Listed below are several popular free VPNs containing privacy and security flaws.
This popular VPN performed poorly in our tests. Besides, it doesn’t operate physical servers like other VPNs. It engineers as a Peer-to-Peer using idle user bandwidth on the devices signed into its network. This means your IP address is available to everyone in the network while using the service.
HolaVPN has a reputation for storing users’ data from their IP address and full name to their social media profile picture. The company has a history of hackers exploiting its vulnerabilities. It has injected a “Trojan horse” into users’ devices and also engaged in Distributed Denial-of-Service attacks on other sites.
2. Betternet VPN
BetternetVPN is notorious for its virus-infected app. It has security flaws, meaning it can inadvertently leak your IP address.
This VPN logs IP addresses, connection timestamps, and the websites you visit. Its app only has one free server, which is usually overcrowded, resulting in slow download speeds.
This VPN service is packed with trackers, malware, and advertisements. Not only that, but it also keeps logs of users’ IP addresses and browsing activity. We tested TurboVPN, and it leaked our DNS and IP address.
You’re probably conversant with Opera as a browser. This company claims to have a VPN which works as a browser proxy to ensure online anonymity. On the contrary, it has a history of storing users’ data.
Other free iOS VPNs to avoid include
- Stealth VPN
- One Click VPN
- Touch VPN
- Flash VPN
- VPN Proxy Master
- Yoga VPN
- VPN 360
- Fast Secure Payment
Free VPNs for iPhones have limitations, but depending on your needs, they can be useful.
As a privacy-conscious individual, it helps you protect your data and avoid malware attacks. You can quickly use them to check your emails and work on public WiFi.
Although free services are an excellent option for people on a tight budget, they can’t compare to premium VPNs. Free VPNs can only do so much without features like streaming capabilities, extended server networks, and fast speeds.
There are several free iPhone VPNs to consider, but ExpressVPN and PIA are top-notch freemium services to try. They offer additional security functionalities, including cloud storage, a password manager, and a dedicated IP address.
iPhones don’t have an in-built VPN. However, the iOS 15 update introduced several features, including iCloud Private Relay. This functionality gives users a new IP address different from the one their ISP has assigned. Although this helps hide your online identity, it doesn’t unblock sites. Plus, only some sites work with iCloud Private Relay. For more online freedom and anonymity, you’ll need an actual VPN.
Proton VPN is your best bet for bypassing censorship and geo-restrictions in these countries. It’s one of the few free services that provides server obfuscation. You can hide from VPN detectors in high-censorship countries by activating “Stealth VPN” on its dashboard.
Sadly, Proton VPN may not fully enable you to access worldwide content as it only has three free server locations. In worse scenarios, you’ll be unable to access streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and Disney+.
To get the most from a VPN while accessing these high-censorship countries, we recommend ExpressVPN. It has a large server network, server obfuscation, and impressive unblocking capabilities to access streaming platforms.
Remember, using a VPN for felonious activities in any country is illegal and can attract punishment. We advise that you check the laws regulating VPN usage in your residence country.
Whether you use a free or premium VPN, it will drain your battery. Unlike most iPhone apps, a VPN works in the background, so you would expect it to consume less battery life. However, the VPN causes an increase in connection, CPU, and foreground usage, which in turn drains your battery. Not to mention, when encrypting background processes, it uses extra battery life.
You can customize some free VPNs’ iOS apps to reduce battery consumption. For example, ExpressVPN uses the Lightway protocol, which draws less power. You can also minimize your VPN battery usage using cellular networks rather than WiFi.
Unfortunately, many free VPNs don’t have streaming capabilities. These providers cannot invest in resources that bypass strict VPN connection blocks. Besides, with their data limitation, you can only stream your favorite movies briefly.
Over the years, NordVPN and ExpressVPN free versions have consistently worked excellently with popular streaming platforms, including Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and HBO Max. On top of that, they provide unlimited data and fast speeds, which make streaming enjoyable.
While evaluating completely free iPhone VPNs, we could not find one that could reliably unblock any content platform. The streaming services either blocked our IP address or displayed an error message.
Definitely! There are free secure VPNs for iOS devices. These services have native apps for iOS, fast speeds, and a no-logs policy. What’s more? They use gold-standard AES-256 encryption, IP leak protection, and private DNS servers.
Based on our findings, many free VPNs ranked highly in the Apple App Store are not entirely safe to use. However, the VPNs featured in this article are 100 percent secure and free. For internet safety and privacy, we recommend you use the free models of reliable VPNs in the industry.
Not all free iOS VPNs store users’ information. The purpose of a VPN is to safeguard your privacy from government entities, unreliable ISPs, and third-party advertisers. Services that don’t uphold users’ privacy are better off alone. Be wary of VPNs with unclear privacy policies. Many collect users’ data and sell it to third parties to generate revenue. It’s often advisable to research your preferred VPN to understand what data they collect and how they use or store your personal information.
Of course. Each free iOS VPN on this list integrates well with Android, Windows, and macOS devices. Providers like NordVPN, ExpressVPN, and PureVPN have browser extensions compatible with Safari, Firefox, Chrome, or Microsoft Edge. Some also offer router support, which makes setting them up on devices like Xbox and PlayStation easy. But remember that regardless of whether your free VPN is compatible with all your devices, you can only connect to one at a time. Thankfully, premium VPNs allow you to connect up to 10 devices simultaneously.
When using an iPhone VPN, you’ll consume more data than browsing the internet with only cellular data or WiFi. Depending on the VPN, your data consumption can increase by four percent to 20 percent. For low data consumption, consider switching to a VPN protocol like IKEv2 or WireGuard.