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What is VPN on iPhone?

Fergus O'Sullivan
26 Apr 2022
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You may know how to use a VPN on your computer, but what about via your iPhone? This is our guide to get you in the know

VPNs are powerful tools that can help you keep anonymous while browsing the web and can also, among other things, unlock regional restrictions. They’re useful for everybody, but they offer some handy features for iPhone users in particular. But what is VPN on iPhone, and how does it differ from a VPN on your computer? We’ve put together the following guide on how iPhone VPNs work, and what they can do for you.

In short, a virtual private network (VPN) is a tool that can reroute your connection to make it appear like you’re somewhere else. At the same time it also encrypts your connection so people can’t see you’ve changed virtual location.

As we explain in our VPN guide, this is great for a number of reasons. Most importantly, it protects you from being tracked online, as well as helping you to unlock region-restricted content (Netflix springs to mind).

However, as we’ll see below, some VPNs are better than others at certain tasks. For iPhone fans we’ve put together a list of the best VPNs for iPhone, since not all apps work equally well on Apple’s mobile ecosystem.

READ NEXT: Best VPNs with a free trial


Best VPN apps for iPhone: At a glance


How a VPN works

Before we go into a little more detail on these five services, let’s take a slightly closer look at how VPNs work. When connecting normally to a webpage, you connect to your internet service provider’s (ISP) server and from there to the server of the website you’re visiting. In this scenario, the site and your ISP can see what you’re doing and can also see your IP address, the string of numbers that shows your approximate geographical location.

When using a VPN, you reroute your connection. Instead of going directly to the site, it goes from the ISP’s server to a server run by the VPN service and from there to the website. At the same time it encrypts the connection, creating what’s called a VPN tunnel. The new server gives you a new IP address, so you can’t be tracked that way anymore, and the tunnel ensures that the ISP can’t see what you’re up to.

This is great for a number of reasons: the new IP address makes it harder to track you, but also makes it so you can appear elsewhere. For example, Netflix has different libraries of shows and movies for each country it’s based in. By using a VPN you can jump between these libraries (though not as smoothly as before, as we explain in our article on the best VPNs for Netflix).

If you’re worried about marketers or government surveillance keeping tabs on you, VPNs are the answer. To make the most out of them, though, you should always sign out of social accounts like Facebook and Google when switching them on.

Now that we have a better idea of what VPNs are, let’s see which ones we like best for iPhone users. Overall, VPNS work the same regardless of operating system, although mobile versions will occasionally have a different interface to their desktop counterparts. However, our five picks all have good track records on iPhone.

READ NEXT: The best all-round VPNs

Best VPNs for iPhone in 2022

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is our top pick for an iPhone VPN, as it simply works the best on Apple’s mobile OS. It’s also great for those unfamiliar with VPNs as there’s very little that can go wrong when using it. There’s a big button at the center of the screen that switches it off and on and a slightly smaller one below that lets you pick different servers.

Besides being simple and elegant, though, ExpressVPN is also powerful. It has great security and is great at getting through to Netflix. If you want a simple VPN for iPhone that can do it all, check this one out.

Read our full ExpressVPN review for more details

Buy now from ExpressVPN


2. Surfshark

Our second pick is Surfshark. While it performs just as well on iPhone as ExpressVPN does, it isn’t quite as adept at getting through to Netflix, earning it a small demerit. Still, though, its security is excellent and it has a massive ace up its sleeve: its price.

While it has some minor drawbacks, Surfshark makes up for this with its excellent pricing, which is just dirt-cheap at less than £1.90 per month, especially considering you’re getting a top-of-the-line VPN for the money. Though you can argue which VPNs are better, pound-for-pound, Surfshark is our clear winner.

Read our full Surfshark VPN review for more details

Buy now from Surfshark


3. CyberGhost

Our third pick for iPhone users is CyberGhost, which we recommend because of its interface. While it's not quite as simple as ExpressVPN’s minimalist app, we like how it steers users towards the right server depending on what they’ll be using the VPN for. It’s a great touch if you’re not sure how VPNs work.

However, CyberGhost has some issues with streaming, which is a shame, and its plans aren't quite as cheap as Surfshark’s (a one-year plan will cost you £3.25/mth). It has some great deals for long-term users, though, so if you’re planning to stay with it a while, CyberGhost is a good option.

Read our full CyberGhost VPN review for more details

Buy now from CyberGhost


4. NordVPN

While it is our best VPN overall, NordVPN scores a little lower here as its app isn’t quite as well-optimized for iOS as the others on this list. Still, this is only a small blemish on an otherwise solid experience. For one, NordVPN handles streaming sites well, and it has some great speeds too.

One thing we don’t like quite as much about NordVPN is its pricing, which starts at £2.89/mth for a two-year plan. In our estimation, this could be lower, and it is made worse by the fact that, if you sign up for a second time, you pay a much higher price than first-time users.

Read our full NordVPN review for more details

Buy now from NordVPN


5. Windscribe

We finish our list with the best free VPN out there: Windscribe. Besides its excellent free plan, it also has some well-priced paid ones that make allowances for just about any budget. This gives it an everyman appeal that we appreciate.

When it comes to using it, Windscribe is a solid entry, though the iOS app could use a facelift. Still, it gets you into Netflix, so there’s nothing to stop you from trying it out. After all, it’s free.

Read our full Windscribe review for more details

Buy now from Windscribe


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