The Best iPhone VPNs for 2023

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*Deals are selected by our commerce team

Apple has done a good job of protecting its mobile platform from the worst malware. However, a VPN, or virtual private network, goes beyond malware protection by making it harder for advertisers, ISPs, and snoops to monitor your online activities.

Read on for our top picks for iPhone VPNs, followed by all the factors you should consider when you’re choosing one for yourself.

Why We Picked It

Proton VPN has the best free subscription we’ve yet seen, and its paid offering has excellent features at an affordable price. The iPhone app is simple and nicely customized for mobile use.

Who It’s For

Anyone looking for an excellent VPN on a budget will appreciate Proton VPN. You can download the free version and upgrade to the paid version once you get familiar with the product.


  • Best free subscription
  • Numerous advanced privacy tools
  • Strong customer privacy stance
  • Slick, accessible client
  • Excellent Speedtest scores


  • Awkward Chrome OS implementation
  • Complicated pricing structure


Best for Budget-Conscious Users

Why We Picked It

IVPN bakes privacy into its product and offers VPN protection at a very affordable price. Its barebones design is a little cleaner on the iPhone, making for an excellent experience.

Who It’s For

If privacy is your number one concern, then IVPN is the service for you. Its simple interface layout and affordability are great bonuses.


  • Flexible, affordable pricing
  • Unique multi-hop system
  • Privacy baked into its account system
  • Strong stance on transparency


  • Offers few server locations
  • Multi-hop and Account ID might confuse some users

Mullvad VPN

Best for Privacy-Conscious Users

Why We Picked It

Mullvad VPN offers excellent features at a very affordable price. Its iPhone app lacks some of the grace of the competition, but it’s simple and perhaps a little easier to use than Mullvad’s desktop client.

Who It’s For

If you’re looking for top-notch privacy protection for less than you’d pay elsewhere, Mullvad is the best choice. You don’t get a huge variety of servers or a breathtaking interface, but you do get excellent online privacy. Mullvad VPN is PCMag’s most affordable Editors’ Choice-winning VPN.


  • Requires no email or account information
  • Extremely affordable
  • Radically transparent
  • Some advanced features, including multi-hop and port forwarding


  • Awkward desktop interface
  • Servers in a small range of countries
  • Pay-as-you-go system may confuse some customers


Best for All-Around Security

Why We Picked It

While expensive, NordVPN has a hefty collection of privacy tools and a large number of servers across the globe. The company does an excellent job translating its snazzy VPN app to the iPhone, along with many of its privacy tools.

Who It’s For

If you’re looking for a multi-purpose product that includes a VPN, NordVPN may be your best option. You can use a static IP address, enable split tunneling, try a multi-hop connection, or route your traffic through the company’s Meshnet.


  • Multi-hop, split tunneling, and Tor connections
  • Numerous server locations
  • Uses WireGuard VPN technology
  • Unique Meshnet features


  • Expensive
  • Poor malware-blocking results
  • Occasionally cramped interface

Surfshark VPN

Best for Device-Heavy Households

Why We Picked It

Surfshark VPN may cost a lot, but it’s a quality product. On the iPhone, the product smartly adapts its desktop design for a familiar and highly polished mobile experience.

Who It’s For

If you need many devices protected with a VPN connection, Surfshark VPN may be the best value for you. The product supports unlimited simultaneous VPN connections.


  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Large global server presence
  • Multi-hop and split tunneling tools
  • Intriguing potential in Surfshark Nexus


  • High monthly price
  • Privacy policy needs clarification
  • Confusing long-term subscription pricing

TunnelBear VPN

Best for VPN Novices

Why We Picked It

Don’t let its cuteness fool you: TunnelBear VPN is serious about privacy and transparency. The app’s bright colors are especially welcoming on iOS.

Who It’s For

Tunnelbear is an excellent product for people who haven’t used a VPN before. The app’s design makes it easy to learn how to use the product, even for people unfamiliar with this type of privacy tool.


  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Excellent privacy policies
  • Annual independent audits
  • Friendly, approachable design
  • Bears


  • No multi-hop connections
  • Split tunneling not available on all platforms

CyberGhost VPN

Best for Frequent Travelers

Why We Picked It

CyberGhost offers a massive collection of servers, and its new visual design is now available on the iPhone. CyberGhost has also expanded its reach beyond VPNs with other security tools.

Who It’s For

CyberGhost is expensive, so the ideal customer is someone who will take advantage of the company’s large server fleet scattered around the globe, such as a world traveler.


  • Large, well-distributed server fleet
  • Allows up to seven simultaneous connections
  • Several add-ons, including antivirus
  • Outstanding speed test scores
  • Newly completed third-party audit


  • Expensive
  • Confusing privacy policies


Best Interface

Why We Picked It

ExpressVPN boasts a large and robust network of servers. A visual redesign has invigorated this service across all platforms, including iOS.

Who It’s For

ExpressVPN’s iOS app is visually appealing, but the service is expensive and not as packed with features as the competition. ExpressVPN does have servers scattered around the globe and excellent privacy practices, though.


  • Large, diversely distributed fleet of servers
  • Strong privacy and security practices
  • Split tunneling
  • Stylish interface


  • Expensive
  • No multi-hop connections

Mozilla VPN

Best for Open-Source Proponents

Why We Picked It

The Mozilla VPN app is powered by privacy hawk Mullvad VPN and supports the new WireGuard protocol. It looks great on iOS with its simple and snazzy interface.

Who It’s For

If you enjoy using Mullvad’s VPN service and want to support Mozilla’s message simultaneously, this is the VPN app for you.


  • Helps support nonprofit Mozilla
  • Powered by privacy hawk Mullvad
  • Simple, snazzy design
  • Multi-hop and split tunneling
  • Excellent Speedtest scores


  • Few server locations
  • Expensive, limited compared with Mullvad

Bitdefender Premium VPN

Best for Bitdefender Customers

Why We Picked It

Bitdefender Premium VPN is powered by Hotspot Shield VPN and uses Hotspot’s custom Hydra protocol and OpenVPN. Its iPhone app is simple, clean, and consistent in appearance with its Windows counterpart.

Who It’s For

This is an affordable app that works fine as a standalone product, but customers who already use Bitdefender products will likely choose this VPN.


  • Extremely affordable
  • Clean design
  • Split-tunneling
  • Part of the larger Bitdefender app ecosystem


  • Confusing pricing
  • Confusing privacy policy
  • Few additional privacy features
  • High latency in test results

Buying Guide: The Best iPhone VPNs for 2023

Why Should You Get a VPN for Your iPhone? 

Modern cellular communication is thoroughly encrypted and not easily tapped without police-level tools such as a Stingray-like device or data dumps from cell towers. That said, there are well-documented attacks that can intercept cell transmissions, and phony cell towers may be a bigger problem than you think. There are also fake Wi-Fi networks that mimic networks your iPhone already trusts, enticing them to connect without your knowledge. We’ve seen this attack in action—it’s a staple of security researchers showing off their tricks.

The real day-to-day problem is companies who are out for your data. Advertisers track your movements across the web and can build up detailed records of your preferences they can transmute into cash with the dark alchemy of targeted advertising. Facebook, Google, and other big-name companies have driven an industry built on hyper-specific ad targeting. Even your own ISP can aggregate and sell anonymized information.

Using iPhone VPNs for Encryption and Location Spoofing

When your VPN is active, all your network traffic—whether from browsers, apps, or iOS itself—gets encrypted before it leaves your phone. This encrypted data travels to a server owned by the VPN company, where it’s decrypted and sent on its way.

Encrypted web traffic isn’t the only reason you need a VPN. With a direct, no-VPN connection to a website, your IP address identifies you to not only that site but also your geographic location. When you’re using a VPN, however, the IP address others see is that of the VPN server you’re connected with, not your own.

Beyond protecting your traffic, VPNs can also let you spoof your location and tunnel past local internet restrictions. Journalists and political activists working against repressive regimes have long relied on VPNs to communicate safely with the outside world. Just know that in some countries, you may break local laws just by using a VPN. For example, Russia has banned VPNs, claiming a need to block terrorist activities. China has also banned most VPNs, though some still manage to connect.

PCMag Logo How a VPN Works

Spoofing your location can also get around restrictions of another kind. It’s not uncommon for online streaming services to offer content in one region but not another. Offerings from Netflix and Hulu differ by country. Brits can watch BBC shows for free, while the same shows require a subscription in the US. Spoofing your location with a VPN can get you access to shows not normally available to you. But take care: Location spoofing may violate your terms of service. In addition, companies like Netflix are cracking down on VPN users. Streaming is often not an option when your VPN is running.

What an iPhone VPN Can’t Do

The widespread adoption of HTTPS means most of your traffic is already encrypted. That makes it much harder for anyone snooping on your activity to see much beyond what websites you’re visiting. That said, your ISP still has remarkable insight into your online activities, and there is a benefit to hiding your IP address with a VPN.

Remember that using a VPN doesn’t make you invincible to online threats. We highly recommend enabling multi-factor authentication wherever possible, creating unique logins with a password manager, and using antivirus software (although this may make less sense on an iPhone).

PCMag Logo What Is Two-Factor Authentication?

Although a VPN makes it harder for you to be tracked online, advertisers have numerous tricks to gather data on your activities. Tactics like browser fingerprinting won’t be stymied by a VPN alone. The privacy settings in your mobile browser can also go a long way toward keeping advertisers blind to your activities. For desktop machines, we highly recommend using a tracker blocker like the EFF’s Privacy Badger.

While the data going to and from your VPN server is encrypted, using a VPN doesn’t get you the level of anonymity obtained by connecting through the TOR network, nor the concomitant ability to dive into the scary depths of the dark web. On the plus side, some VPN services include TOR-specific servers.

Does Using a VPN Slow Down Your iPhone’s Internet Connection?

The short answer is yes; a VPN will almost certainly increase the latency of your internet connection and make your uploads and downloads slower. Anecdotally, the already limited speeds of mobile devices seem to be especially adversely affected by VPNs. We also have noticed, but have not confirmed with testing, that VPNs seem to disconnect and reconnect more frequently with mobile devices than desktop machines.

To get a sense of the impact a VPN may have on your internet connection, we compare the results from a series of Ookla speed tests(Opens in a new window) with and without the VPN active. (Editors’ Note: Speedtest by Ookla is owned by Ziff Davis, the publisher of PCMag.) Network speeds can vary greatly depending on the time of day, network conditions, and where you happen to be at the time, so we consider our results to be a snapshot for comparison rather than the final judgment on a service’s performance.

We measure speeds on the PCMag Labs network using a Windows desktop. Before 2021, we tested VPN products back to back, but COVID-19 restrictions have limited our ability to test VPNs in the PCMag Labs. We now use a rolling model and will release new results throughout the year. The latest data is in the chart below.

We rely on a Windows desktop and wired connection for our testing because we’ve found it to be more reliable than testing on individual mobile devices. But as we said above, there appear to be some unique issues with VPNs on mobile. Also, not all VPN providers use the same protocol on every platform, which can impact performance.  

Can You Trust Your iPhone VPN Service?

If you’re using a service to route all your internet traffic through its servers, you have to be able to trust the provider. We’re not cryptography experts, so we can’t verify all the encryption claims providers make. Instead, we give special attention to the privacy practices of VPN companies and not just the technology they provide. In our testing, we read through the privacy policies and discuss company practices with VPN service representatives. What we look for is a commitment to protect user information and to take a hands-off approach when gathering user data.

Recommended by Our Editors

As part of our research, we also make sure to find out where the company is based and under what legal framework it operates. Some countries don’t have data-retention laws, making it easier to keep a promise of “We don’t keep any logs.” It’s also useful to know what personal information the VPN collects and under what circumstances a VPN company will hand over that information to law enforcement.

The best VPN services have a privacy policy that spells out what the service does, what information it collects, and what it does to protect it. Some companies explain that they collect some information but don’t inform you how they intend to use that information. Others are more transparent.

We also liked to see policy backed up by some verifiable effort. Transparency reports and audits are imperfect tools, but we prefer services that have made the effort to at least try and prove their worth to the public.

Which Free VPN Is Best for iPhone?

Finally, there’s the bang-for-your-buck factor. While it’s possible to get a VPN for free, even the best no-cost services have some limitations, such as a draconian bandwidth cap. The average price for a paid subscription among the evaluated services is about $10 per month. These usually offer five simultaneous connections, which would cover most individuals and some households. If the service you’re looking at costs significantly more or offers significantly less, it’s important to make sure it’s justifying its value some other way.

Proton VPN is the only service that does not have data restrictions, making it the only truly free VPN on our list. However, the free tier limits your server location to the Netherlands, Japan, and the United States, and you can only use the free VPN service on one device at a time.

What Is the Best iPhone VPN?

Using a VPN isn’t about protecting your device; it’s about protecting your privacy and network connections. That means any type of device can benefit from a VPN, making it an enormously versatile tool in your privacy toolkit. Read our reviews, check our ratings, and select the best VPN for you. Once you’ve chosen a service, read our guide on how to set up and use a VPN.

(Editors’ Note: While they may not appear in this story, IPVanish and StrongVPN are owned by Ziff Davis, PCMag’s parent company.)

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