A Comprehensive Guide to VPNs on iOS Devices
What Does A VPN Offer iOS Users?
Apple ranks as the second most popular smartphone vendor in the world. An estimated 700 million Apple users now populate the smartphone market. Fortunately, quality and security go hand in hand with Apple devices. To this end, the latest versions of iPhones and iPads deserve top-tier VPN support.
Virtual private networks, aka VPNs, can be used to access blocked content, bypass geolocation-based restrictions and provide anonymous online browsing to iOS users. VPNs also offer a great way to protect yourself from prying eyes, notably from your ISP (internet service provider), hackers, and government surveillance agencies.
Online threats are omnipresent – whether you using an Android or iOS device. Thankfully, VPNs obfuscate all of your browsing information and prevent data leaks. VPNs also allow you to securely enjoy torrenting, gaming, and streaming content anywhere in the world.
Many folks wrongly assume that iOS security is ironclad. While it's true that iOS is more secure than Android, iOS users are not immune to cyber attacks. iOS security stems from the fact that iOS is a closed system and nobody but Apple knows the source code. Therefore, iPhone and iPad users have limited access in terms of device modification. The belief that Apple devices cannot be hacked has been debunked many times with scores of jailbroken iPhones with third-party apps.
A VPN is an additional layer of protection for internet users. VPNs provide encrypted traffic through a secure, encrypted, tunnel between your device and the VPN server before accessing the internet at large using the IP address of the server. There are scores of VPN servers in multiple countries all over the world. Some VPN providers offer a myriad of selections for users, while others are rather limited.
Your IP address will largely determine what content you have access to online, but your options are expanded with a VPN. You can easily access Netflix in the US, or the country of your choosing, by using a quality VPN provider with servers there. Netflix will be none the wiser and will assume that you are physically located in the US.
What Are the Top Ranked VPNs for iOS Devices?
It's important to understand the security flaws in iOS devices before we move on to a discussion of the top-ranked VPNs for these devices. For example, in 2018, Apple disclosed major security oversights with flaws like Meltdown and Spectre. By using things like session replay, developers were able to capture sensitive information about users. Apple has made it clear that they are tightening the screws on iOS developers who spy on users of iPhone devices, even if they happen to be Facebook.
While the App Store is typically regarded as safer than the Google Play Store, many security concerns remain. Cyber attacks and security breaches are common, particularly with regards to privacy issues. Once again, VPNs serve as an effective barrier against prying eyes.
VPN benefits offered to iOS users include the following:
IP Address Masking
Full Encryption of Data
Prevention of Website Tracking
Bypassing Geolocation-Based Restrictions
Protection Against Hackers When Public Wi-Fi Connections Are Used<
These are the benefits of using top-ranked VPNs. Here is a full listing of the best iOS VPNs at the App Store. You simply need an iTunes account to make payment, auto-renew and secure your iOS device.
IPVanish is highly regarded by iOS users thanks to its impressive connection speeds. The app automatically suggests the faster server based on your location and ping time.
IPVanish has watertight security protocols and it doesn't keep any logs of user data. This VPN service is not the cheapest on the market and there is no free trial option. The best value for money is the 1-year price plan. Fortunately, a 7-day money back guarantee is available.
Pros of IPVanish: Watertight security, very fast, easy to use
Cons of IPVanish: No live chat for customer support
Based in the British Virgin Islands, ExpressVPN features 148+ servers across 94 countries. ExpressVPN offers strong security, impressive speed and is ideally suited to accessing geolocation-based content like Netflix and Hulu.
The iOS app is intuitive and feature rich. One-click access opens up a world of options to users which can prove beneficial if Wi-Fi outages occur or mobile data connections drop.
ExpressVPN offers 24/7 customer support and live chat functionality. ExpressVPN states that they have a ‘no-logs’ policy. While certainly not the cheapest VPN service, it ranks among the best VPNs for iOS devices. The long-term plans are more affordable, notably the annual subscription which comes with three months free.
Pros of ExpressVPN: Great customer support, reliable speed, a no-logs policy, an impressive amount of servers
Cons of ExpressVPN: A little pricier than other providers, 3 device connection
Hotspot Shield boasts over 82,500 downloads at the App Store with an overall rating of 4.4/5. With military-grade encryption, Hotspot Shield is ideally suited to iOS users concerned about security. This VPN features 2,500 servers in 25+ countries which is great streaming TV shows and films on Hulu or Netflix.
Unlike most premium VPN providers Hotspot Shield offers a free version of its service. The catch is it only allows 500MB of VPN protected data per month.
Among other great features, Hotspot Shield offers a 7-day trial of its premium version, payment through a member’s iTunes account and the option to auto-renew your subscription.
Pros of Hotspot Shield: 5 device connection, servers in 25+ countries, great speed
Cons of Hotspot Shield: Customer support not as good as other VPN providers, 500MB data limit on the free version
How to Setup Your VPN on Your iOS Device?
iOS users are fortunate in that Apple makes it easy to set up a VPN. All the popular VPN apps offering PPTP, Cisco IPSec protocols, L2TP/IPSec are already integrated into Apple's software. More secure options like OpenVPN require third-party apps.
Downloading and installing these apps requires inputting personal information. You will be required to grant permission to the app for the VPN configuration on your smartphone or tablet. And Touch ID is needed to authorize changes to the VPN settings.
Getting started with VPN on your iPhone:
- Register and sign in to your VPN account. Give your iPhone permission to add a VPN by clicking Allow.
- Next, click Settings - General - VPN.
- Select your preferred VPN from the list and click ‘switch on’. You can also turn off the VPN in the same way.
If you wish to avoid third-party apps altogether, there is a more complex manual procedure you can perform. This requires all your setup information including your username/password, remote ID, and the server.
Once you have subscribed to VPN provider all of this information readily available to you. Next, follow these steps:
- Launch Settings - General - VPN - Add VPN Configuration.
- Click Type. Select the appropriate protocol: IKEv2, IPSec or L2TP.
- Choose your VPN type and click Add Configuration in the top left corner.
- Now Enter Your VPN Information. This includes Description (name of provider) Server Location, and Remote ID.
- Verify your Authentication Credentials.
- Click Done.
- To disable VPN, Navigate to Settings - VPN - Turn off
Before iOS 8 launched, VPNs on iPads and iPhones turned off when the device was put into sleep mode. Fortunately, now all devices with their screen turned off are still automatically connected to a VPN.
It doesn't really matter which method you use to set up your VPN, provided you are connected to a reliable VPN network. It is advisable not to use just any free VPN as their security features are sketchy at best. Most of them offer substandard service, poor privacy and they will leak your information.
If you are uncertain about which VPN to use, try a premium VPN service with a free trial. VPNs routinely offer money back guarantees which is a great way to test their services (connection speeds, reliability, functionality) at zero cost to yourself.
Summary of iOS VPNs
Apple devices are generally regarded as the creme de la creme of personal computers, smartphones, tablets, and wearable technology. Given their cost, it comes as no surprise that users want to protect the contents of their iOS devices with the best possible security.
The VPN providers listed above are highly rated by users and industry aficionados. Now, it's possible to use a VPN to protect your iPhone and iPad at the click of a button. VPNs for iOS devices guard against prying eyes, cybercriminals, government agencies, and other bad actors. VPNs truly offer an effective line of defense against threats for Apple users.
What are your thoughts on VPNs for iOS devices? What experiences have you had with malware, adware, tracking or privacy issues on Apple? Feel free to share your thoughts with our community.