The phrase Free VPN is a lot like a fly ball in baseball. You’re just constantly watching for the catch.
There are a ton of VPN (Virtual Private Network) services out there for the iPhone, but most of them are just free for a limited period of time. Others severely limit your ability to use them as free services just so you’ll play the premium. A select few are downright malicious. That last one is just cruel when you consider VPNs are supposed to be about security.
It’s a rough world out there for people looking to use VPN on their phone, but it’s not a hopeless one. There are VPN services that are genuinely free. As in “You don’t have to pay for them, and they work well.” It sounds impossible, but many of these free VPN providers have figured out that great service leads to more customers. Go figure.
But how are you supposed to separate the great apps from the rest? That’s where things get tricky, and where we come in. There is no shortage of VPN services out there, but there is only a select group of them that you should consider if you’re looking for a truly free VPN app worth using. If you’re unfamiliar with how a VPN works or why you would use one, check out our primer on how to use a VPN on your iPhone.
Here are the best free VPN services for iOS.
- Easy to sign up for
- Fast Connections
- Full of ads
- Heavily pushes its premium service
HexaTech just makes it onto this list by virtue of its ease of use. This service doesn’t require you to jump through too many hoops in order to utilize its surprisingly fast connections. You download it, you push a button to connect, and you’re pretty much finished. You’ll have to put up with a few ads, but it’s all really painless.
The big downside is that it’s clear HexaTech isn’t meant to fully-function as a VPN for long. Many basic VPN features – such as the ability to swap between regional servers – are missing from the free version of the service.
Usually, that would be a dealbreaker, but the truth of the matter is that there are plenty of free VPN users out there that just want to press a button and access a secure connection. So far as that goes, Hexatech isn’t an awful option given that it’s easy to use and seems to be largely reliable.
- Incredibly Generous Free Options
- Fantastic Speeds
- Easy to Use
- Security Concerns
- Limited Support
- Limited Servers
It’s hard not to at least keep one eye on Betternet if you’re in the market for free VPN services. After all, it’s one of the highest rated productivity apps on the market and boasts some pretty incredible ratings from its users.
Part of the reason that Betternet is so beloved might have something to do with its unlimited data service. That’s right, Betternet doesn’t limit its free users to any cap. You can browse away to your heart’s content so long as you are connected. All the while, you’ll be able to enjoy some above average connection speeds – users in high-profile areas will see little drop-off in quality – and will find little trouble using the service’s various features.
However, there have been talks floating around regarding how Betternet is able to keep all of its considerable services free. Some have stated that Betternet will upload malware to your device and that the service will sell off data to third parties in order to make up revenue. Now, the validity of these claims is somewhat debatable, but they’re prevalent enough to make us wonder whether or not you shouldn’t consider other – maybe less popular – options out there.
- Supports multiple devices
- Easy to use
- Comes bundled with Opera
- 500 MB cap
- Inconsistent performance
Opera has made a name for themselves over the years as the purveyors of browsing experiences that favor the users and not the providers. Their browser is widely recognized as one of the most efficient on the mobile market and is trusted by millions of users. It stands to reason, then, that their VPN would be just as reliable and user-friendly.
It is. SurfEasy boasts a very easy to use interface that benefits greatly from Opera’s experience working with easy to use browsers. It’s hard to imagine anyone getting hung up on even the service’s most advanced features.
Here’s where the “but” comes in. SurfEasy caps you at 500 MB a month for its free service, which might not be enough for regular users of VPN services. However, it might be enough for those who just use VPN services in certain situations.
While SurfEasy’s performance isn’t best in class, this is an easy enough service to recommend for those who use VPNs in public Wi-Fi situations and other such instances. Everyone else might want to look elsewhere.
- Uses multiple VPN channels
- 1 GB a month free
- Great User Interface
- Limited advance functionality
- Not the fastest
- Mediocre support
Speaking of “good for those with limited needs” we come to Speedify. Like many of the other services on this list, Speedify does offer premium options. However, its free service seems to be the VPN’s backbone.
For no cost whatsoever, you get 4GB of free VPN data during your first month and 1 GB of free data every month thereafter. That’s not a number worth sneezing at. While it’s not unlimited, that 1GB of free data you get a month seems to be treated with about the same priority as the service’s premium users. You just get less of it. Speedify even promises to speed up your connection by utilizing multiple VPN channels.
That’s where things start to fall apart. Speedify’s multi-channel VPN options should be fast, but they’re not. They’re not slow, but you’d expect better performance from a service that utilizes such a feature. Maybe that speed is hidden behind a paywall, but those who use this service’s free option need to accept that they’re not getting the fastest VPN out there.
- 1GB a Day Free Service
- Antivirus Protection
- A limited number of servers
- The free version is a little bare bones
HotSpot Shield boasts one of the more generous VPN offers out there that we can think of. For the low price of absolutely nothing, you get 1Gb of free data a day. Not a month…a day. That’s some serious data allowance.
Best of all. HotSpot doesn’t seem to restrict its free users in terms of speed. At least it doesn’t appear to. HostSpot shield is a pretty fast service, which is all the more surprising when you consider that it also offers built-in virus protection. That alone should slow the service down, but it moves quite well.
There is one slight problem, though. HotSpot doesn’t try to fool its free users into thinking that they’re getting full service. They are not. The problem is that you could make the argument that even premium users aren’t getting full service. HotSpot’s number of available servers is oddly limited and the sanctity of its security is somewhat questionable. It is, however, a generous and affordable option for those who may not be power users.
- 2GB a Month Free Service
- Great Privacy Options
- Iffy Support Options
- Expensive Premium Upgrade
- Speed isn’t the best
We can’t tell you what you use a VPN for. Some people use it for their primary browser, some people use it to protect themselves when using public internet, and some people use it to protect themselves in general against those who might be looking at their browsing habits.
If you are part of the last category, then HideMe might be the best free option for you. Just as its name suggests, this is a service that values privacy above all. To be perfectly honest, that even means that they don’t discriminate against things like users who value their service because it allows them to download things like torrents privately.
There is a small price to pay, though. Well…there’s a large price to pay if you upgrade to premium as HideMe is a pretty expensive option for those who might want to upgrade to its premium options. The service’s sped also leaves something to be desired. All and all, though, there’s something to be said for security in your VPN service, and HideMe is one of the best out there in that respect.
- Unlimited free VPN bandwidth
- Values user privacy
- Servers are usually busy
- Only allows you to connect to a few locations
To be honest, it’s easy to be skeptical of ProtonVPN Free. After all, it’s a free VPN service with no bandwidth restrictions that was designed by one of the top email encryption services in Switzerland. Surely, there has to be a catch, right?
The bad news is that there is. As a free user of ProtonVPN, you are pretty low on the service’s priority list for a good connection. It’s not that the company is trying to throttle your speeds – it’s actually possible to get a perfectly good connection as a free user – but rather that the service’s premium subscribers get priority access to the best servers. This issue is complicated by the fact that you can only connect to a few server locations.
Still…we’re talking about a very well-made VPN service that offers no bandwidth restrictions and doesn’t ask you to pay a dime. Any service that offers unlimited bandwidth for free is at least worth considering. The service’s connection issues are frustrating, but they don’t kill its appeal.
- Easy and Fun to Use
- Good Speeds
- Support for Multiple Devices
- 500MB a month data cap
- No Torrenting Support
- Limited Support Options
Tunnelbear has quickly become one of the more popular VPN service options out there. Even a little time with the service will show you why that is the case.
First off, Tunnelbear rightfully prides itself on its user interface experience. Tunnelbear is the rare VPN service that doesn’t make you feel like you’ve just used some dark part of the internet that you weren’t meant to access or something along those lines. It boasts a fun set of features – and an odd sense of humor – that is made all the better by the service’s multi-device support and fairly good speeds.
The big downside with Tunnelbear as your primary free service is its 500MB a month cap. Again, if you’re not really concerned with using a VPN all the time, that’s not the worst thing in the world. However, you could argue that other services make up for their lack of niceties in terms of the raw amount of data that they give you.
- 10 GB a Month Free Data
- Many Servers
- International Service Options
- Support is good, but not great
- A bit slow for free users
Windscribe is, generally speaking, pretty awesome.
This service doesn’t exactly have a calling card in the same way that some other services value privacy or speed, but it’s the perfect option for those looking for generally great service. For one thing, it allows even its free users to take advantage of accessing many different services. That’s especially true of those servers traveling internationally who are allowed to easily access high-profile servers wherever they may roam.
On top of this, Windscribe offers some special features such as its link shortening service which monitors every shortened link you might visit to make sure you’re going exactly where you intend to go. Actually, the service is pretty big on online protection in general.
For everything that Windscribe does well, though, it does come with a couple of catches. For one thing, the service’s support options aren’t 24/7. That may or may not be a big deal to you, but we’re willing to bet that its slightly slower than average speeds will probably mean more to the average user. All in all, though, it’s a great service.
Is there’s a VPN service out there that doesn’t cost a dime that you can’t live without? Share it with us in the comments below.