Do I Need a VPN on my iPhone? | Pros & Cons of VPNs on iOS (2024)

These are the best iPhone VPNs

  1. ExpressVPN
  2. NordVPN
  3. Surfshark
  4. Private Internet Access
  5. PrivateVPN

If you're wondering whether you should install a virtual private network (VPN) on your iPhone or not, then there's a good chance that you already value your privacy and you're worried that someone might be trying to access your personal data or financial information. Your data is one of the most valuable commodities in the world, after all. And while online privacy is beginning to get the attention it deserves, you need to take steps now and protect yourself using the tools available.

Internet Service Providers (ISPs), advertising companies, and even government agencies are out to track everything that you do online for the purposes of marketing and profiling. In addition, the websites that you visit track your IP address, meaning that they know where you are and, with all the data they collect about you, they can even figure out who you are. You can't even escape using public Wi-Fi, as this increases the risk of hackers and corporate surveillance. Fortunately, VPNs can protect you from all of this as long as you are connected anytime you're online. If you want to know more, read on...

What is a VPN?

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a digital tool designed to enhance your online privacy. A VPN achieves this by doing two important things:

  • It encrypts your data so that it is secure from prying eyes. It stops snooping on your data, whether it's your ISP, government, or hackers attempting to invade your privacy.
  • A VPN conceals your actual IP address and provides you with an alternative IP address in a location of your choice. This stops anyone trying to snoop on your activities from knowing where you are, as all they will see is the IP address and location of the VPN server you're connected to. Not only does this stop websites tracking your iPhone, but it also means you can pretend to be in a different country to bypass local restrictions or international geo-restrictions to gain access to local content and additional content libraries on your favourite streaming services.

How does it work?

A VPN works using an app that you install on your iPhone. This will allow you to connect to a server location of your choice.

When you click 'connect', the VPN app encrypts your data and sends it to the VPN server using what is referred to as a 'secure VPN tunnel'. This encrypted information cannot be accessed by anybody as it travels from your device to the VPN server.

Do I Need a VPN on my iPhone? | Pros & Cons of VPNs on iOS (1)

Of course, this is just a very brief explanation of what a VPN is and how it works. If you would like to know more, we cover this in a more beginner friendly way in our What is a VPN guide.

Do I need a VPN on my iPhone?

If you want to enhance your digital privacy and increase your security online, you need a VPN. It does not matter what device you use, if you do not encrypt your data before it leaves your device, it can be tracked.

In addition to bolstering your online protection, an iPhone VPN is useful for several other things, such as:

      1. Access stuff from back home on vacation

        When you go abroad, websites and services from your home country might not be available. This is because of geo-restrictions set up by those websites. With a VPN, you can pretend to be back home by connecting to a server in your country. This lets you access websites and services in your home country, even while you're overseas. For more information, check out our VPNs to use while on holiday guide.

        Do I Need a VPN on my iPhone? | Pros & Cons of VPNs on iOS (2)

      2. Watch more Netflix

        The movies and programmes available on Netflix vary from country to country because of different licensing agreements, meaning some territories get more content than others. With a VPN, you can access the largest Netflix libraries to stream much more content on your account. For more information, check out our guide to the best Netflix VPNs.

        Do I Need a VPN on my iPhone? | Pros & Cons of VPNs on iOS (3)

      3. Stream foreign TV channels

        Foreign TV channels such as the BBC's iPlayer are geo-restricted so that they are only available in that country, which is another factor in international licensing agreements. Using a VPN means you can become a digital globetrotter, able to watch any regional TV channel that you want. Find out more in our best VPN for BBC iPlayer guide.

        Do I Need a VPN on my iPhone? | Pros & Cons of VPNs on iOS (4)

      4. Watch international sports competitions

        Services like MLB.TV, UFC Fight Pass, F1 TV, Sky Sports, beIN Sports, ESPN, and Fox sports are not available in every country. With a VPN, you have the power to unblock these channels and stream more sport. A VPN also lets you watch local tournaments such as Wimbledon through the BBC iPlayer free of charge.

        It's worth noting that VPNs do not bypass the need to subscribe to premium services as they will be locked behind a paywall as well as regional restrictions. A VPN can provide access to channels around the world that'll air the same paid content for free.

      5. Purchase things cheaper

        With a VPN, you can change your location, which can bring down the cost of flights, hotels, and other online services by letting you access a more favourable exchange rate or local deal. The world is your oyster when you're connected to a VPN because you can shop around the world for better deals.

        Do I Need a VPN on my iPhone? | Pros & Cons of VPNs on iOS (5)

Useful Guides

10 Best VPN Apps For iOS (iPhone and iPad) in 2024

The best free VPNs for iPhone and iOS users

VPN not working on iPhone? Fix it with our troubleshooting guide

Are there any drawbacks to using a VPN on iPhone?

We would argue that using a VPN on your iPhone, or any device, is quickly becoming a necessity, but there is one thing to keep in mind before you sign up...

Potential of slower speeds

Using a VPN requires your data to be routed via a VPN server. It also requires your data to be encrypted to make it secure. Both these tasks will cause a slowdown in your internet traffic. There are around 850 commercial VPN providers on the market, and the vast majority of those cut corners by using slow servers. As a result, when you connect to those VPNs, your internet will come to a grinding halt.

The very best VPNs use fast 'Tier 1' servers that can provide lightning-fast connections. These VPNs can handle your traffic and 'tunnel' it quickly, so that any loss of speed you experience is negligible. However, even a fast VPN will slow your internet slightly; it's just that the loss of speed is very tiny.

It's also worth noting that selecting a VPN server that is far away from your real-world location will slow your traffic still further. So, it's always best to choose a server as close to you as you can to minimize this hit to your speeds.

Some VPNs providers even claim that they can somehow speed up your connection – don't believe claims like this. Due to the additional distance your traffic has to travel, and the added processing encryption requires, a VPN will always make your traffic slower, not faster.

To find out more about how VPNs can affect your speed, check out our VPN speed test guide, where we run daily tests on many VPN services.

But isn't iOS encryption the best?

iOS encryption is used to secure your passwords on your device and to encrypt your device when it is locked. It also encrypts the data you send back to Apple's servers. However, this is where that encryption ends. iOS encryption does not encrypt your web browsing data (because this is not what iOS encryption is for).

You must encrypt your web traffic yourself if you want to stop your ISP, nosy government agencies or vulnerable public Wi-Fi hotspots from being able to view your data, and the only way to do that is by using a VPN. In addition, when you visit HTTP websites, it is possible that hackers could steal your passwords or card details - which is why VPN encryption is so essential.

Where can I get a VPN?

You can download VPN software for your iPhone from the app store. This is because all the best VPNs have made their app available on the Apple Store.

There are hundreds of low-quality VPNs diluting the market, so simply searching for VPN on the app store is not advised. Many free VPNs are known to contain malware, malvertising, and spyware. In addition, studies have found that many free VPNs lie about the encryption that they provide and others have terrible privacy policies that allow them to harvest your personal data and sell it on to third parties.

This is the exact opposite of what a VPN should do!

What VPN should I use on iPhone?

If you are looking for a VPN, then we recommend one of the following providers:

  • ExpressVPN - Fantastic speeds, servers around the world, unblocks just about everything.
  • CyberGhost - A good looking iPhone app, very secure, some really cool features.
  • PrivateInternetAccess - Great for privacy, easy to use, has a kill switch.

If you want more information or want to learn more about other providers, then check out our best VPNs for iPhone guide. Our VPN experts have thoroughly tested the VPNs we have recommended. They are all world-class services that provide the best levels of security and privacy. They are also services that offer great value for money.

Alternatively, there are a few free VPN services that we recommend to iPhone users. These services won't be able to unblock any streaming services, but they will help you improve your online security. Check out our free VPNs for iPhone page for a list of services.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to drop us a message below. We are always happy to help.

VPN on iPhone FAQs

Do I Need a VPN on my iPhone? | Pros & Cons of VPNs on iOS (2024)


Do I Need a VPN on my iPhone? | Pros & Cons of VPNs on iOS? ›

iPhones are generally secure but aren't immune to online privacy issues. VPNs help ensure the iPhone's online security and user privacy, protect sensitive data on public Wi-Fi, and minimize ISP and third-party tracking activity. A VPN is a recommended addition to the iPhone's online protection arsenal.

Do you really need a VPN for iPhone? ›

Having a VPN an iPhone ensures its security and privacy. Not only does this help protect sensitive data such as personal details, bank accounts, and credit card information, but it minimizes the ability of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and third parties to track activity and create targeted advertising.

Does Apple recommend using a VPN? ›

Apple devices have the option of configuring a VPN directly on them. No app is necessary. Apple does not recommend the use of any third party security apps. Apple's operating systems have all the security they need built in.

Is My iPhone safe without a VPN? ›

Apple iPhones are less vulnerable to viruses and other malware than Android devices. Still, a VPN is a much-needed extra layer of protection for using the internet in private. Here are a few ways a VPN improves your online security and privacy.

Should I leave my VPN on all the time on my phone? ›

Yes, you should leave your VPN on all the time. VPNs offer the best online security, so keeping it on will protect you against data leaks and cyberattacks, especially while you're using public Wi-Fi. It can also safeguard against intrusive snoopers such as ISPs or advertisers. Always use a VPN when you go online.

Do I absolutely need a VPN? ›

VPN use is important for online privacy whenever you're logging into the internet from a public spot because cyber snoops could track your online activity when you are using public Wi-Fi, whether it's on your computer or your mobile device.

Why does VPN not work on iPhone? ›

There might be many reasons for this, but luckily, you can solve most of them without too much effort. Delayed updates, overcrowded VPN servers, or faulty iPhone settings can all lead to the VPN not connecting to a chosen server on the iOS operating system.

What is the most secure VPN for Apple? ›

ExpressVPN is the best iPhone VPN I've tested, thanks to its excellent privacy, great content unblocking power, and streamlined apps that put the competition to shame. Tons of servers, reliable connections on both Wi-Fi and mobile data, plus excellent customer support make ExpressVPN perfect for iOS.

What does Apple's built in VPN do? ›

What Is a VPN On iPhones? A virtual private network or VPN on an iPhones cloaks your IP address, location, device identifiers, and other online activity by encrypting your internet traffic. With a VPN, you can protect your online privacy, bypass internet censorship, and access geo-restricted content.

Does VPN affect Apple location? ›

A VPN hides your iPhone's IP address and gives you a new one from one of its servers. Essentially, changing your IP address alters your phone's virtual location, so ISPs (internet service providers), Netflix, websites, and apps won't know where you really are.

What happens if I turn off VPN on my iPhone? ›

If you disconnect your VPN app, you will disable the additional online security and privacy it provides. Your online activity will become visible to the ISP provider instantly, while websites you visit will know your real IP address and location. So your connection will be less private.

Can iPhone be tracked with VPN? ›

While a VPN masks your real IP address, apps can still collect and track the IP address of the VPN server you are connected to. They can also potentially gather other identifying information from your device or through other means.

When I shouldn't use VPN? ›

If you don't want your internet connection to be unpredictable at times, it's best not to download a VPN. Many reputable services can offer fast servers, but encrypting all your online activity can sometimes slow down connection speeds.

Does using a VPN drain battery? ›

A VPN can drain your device's battery quicker due to the additional computational processes, data routing, and constant connectivity it demands. While the added security and privacy benefits are valuable, it's essential to be mindful of these factors, especially on mobile devices with limited battery life.

When should you turn VPN off? ›

Despite the inherent security risk, there are legitimate reasons to do so, such as: Troubleshooting a faulty or slow internet connection. Accessing local services such as online banks that do not allow signing in from a foreign country. Accessing corporate networks that do not allow VPN usage.

Can you be tracked if you use VPN? ›

Can you be tracked with a VPN? You can't be tracked using a VPN because it encrypts your data. As a result, your ISP or bad actors can't get any information out of your traffic. They only see the VPN server's IP address, while your real IP and online activities stay hidden.

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