5 best VPN browsers for Android


Despite the sheer amount of dedicated Android VPN Apps available for Android smartphones and tablets, many of you out there prefer your virtual private network to be built-in to your Android browser. After all, they are often lightweight, free, and stop you from hopping between applications to get where you need to go.

Opera browser is one of the most popular Android VPN browsers out there, but there are a few other options available. We list them in this guide and give you some advice around using Android VPN browsers.

 

Why Not Use a VPN App?

Although Android VPN browsers are handy tools, It is better to secure your entire connection rather just traffic on your browser. A VPN app will also allow you to access apps that are currently blocked in your region. Find out more information about VPNs on our best VPNs for Android page. Alternatively, if you just want a VPN, our top pick is ExpressVPN . They offer high speeds and a 30 day money back guarantee so you can try without fully committing to a contract.

The best VPN browser for Android

Since privacy and security is our ethos, we must urge you to read the advantages and disadvantages of VPN browsers of Android we have listed below, before you download any of the services. Dedicated VPN applications are inherently more private with their ability to protect multiple applications instead of one individual program.

If you still believe that a VPN browser is a way to go for you, the following browsers for Android all include functionality very similar to that of a VPN. 

Tenta Browser tops our list despite still being in beta, thanks to its very real VPN under the hood

  • Free option

    Yes

    Pricing

    From  $1.00

Although still technically in Beta, Tenta Browser offers a slew of features designed to improve your online privacy. The most important of these is a “real” VPN (not a proxy) that secures your connection with its own OpenVPN-based encryption protocol called MimicVPN.


A little confusingly for a VPN protocol, MimicVPN only protects browser sessions for free users, but this makes more sense in light of the fact that Pro users can expand the protection to their entire Android device.


And what is particularly impressive about MimicVPN is that it can provide per-tab VPN encryption, with different tabs being able to connect to multiple servers simultaneously. That’s a seriously impressive party trick, although the untested nature of MimicVPN concerns us a little.


tenta browser


Free users automatically connect to the nearest VPN server location, while Pro users ($1/month) can select from any of the 28 server locations in 19 countries. Using the free VPN we logged download speeds of around 14 Mbit/s on our 350 Mbit/s connection, although these would no doubt improve with a Pro plan.


Besides offering a true no-logs VPN (with full DNS and WebRTC leak protection), Tenta Browser features an ad-blocker, secure DNS over TLS, DNSSEC, blockchain support, PIN code or fingerprint unlock, and more.


One feature worth special mention is the Encrypted Media Vault, which downloads videos, music, and pictures to an encrypted folder where they can be played back using Tenta’s built-in media player. 


Although it makes use of many open source repositories, Tenta Browser itself is not open source. Please check out our full Tenta Browser Review.

Opera sits in the top 5 most popular browsers in the world, thanks to its free VPN

  • Free option

    Yes

Opera is the fifth most popular browser in the world, and its free VPN feature has proven a big hit with its users. This feature was initially only available for desktop versions of the browser (see our Opera Browser Review for more info), but is now included in the Android app (as its rather unsubtle renaming makes very clear!). 


As with most browser “VPNs,” the VPN is really a secure HTTPS proxy. But it gets the job done, has no data limitations, and is fast.


Locations available are “America” (United States), Asia, and Europe. Connecting to America and Europe worked well enough in our tests, but selecting Asia strangely seemed to place us in Switzerland, Europe. Except for the United States, it is not possible to specify a particular country to location spoof.


opera VPN browser


A cool feature is the ability to only enable the VPN when using private tabs, and you can opt whether or not to bypass the VPN when using a search engine to deliver more relevant search results.


Outside of the VPN, Opera is a slick and modern Android browser with built-in ad-blocking, translate, and save web page offline features. It also includes Opera’s patent data compression technology, which reduces data use and improves page loading times, although this cannot be used when the VPN is running.


Another nice feature is the built-in Crypo Wallet, which integrates the Ethereum Web 3 API, allowing you to send and receive Ethereum, Bitcoin, and Tron payments directly in your browser.


Despite featuring a built-in ad-blocker, Opera is itself ad-funded, although you can opt out of it using your browsing history to deliver personally targeted ads.

Psiphon is an open source anti-censorship tool

  • Free option

    Yes

Psiphon is an open source anti-censorship tool that, on Android, comes bundled with a browser. Although the Windows app includes an optional true VPN, the Android app routes all connections through an HTTPS SOCKS proxy


This is useful, as it allows you to route either just your browser traffic, or (on Android 4+ devices) all your device’s traffic through the encrypted tunnel, which acts very like a true VPN. You can connect to servers in 21 countries around the world.


It is important to understand there are two versions of Psiphon for Android:


Psiphon - a free version that is available from the Psiphon website, which must be downloaded as an .APK file and sideloaded onto your device.


Psiphon Pro - a premium version with a limited free tier available to download directly from Google's Play Store.


You can get a completely ad-free experience on the free version of Psiphon or if you purchase Psiphon Pro, however those on the free tier of Psiphon Pro will still have to brave some ads. These are personalized by default, but users can opt for non-personalized ads in the settings. Sadly, speed limitations saw our 350 Mbits/s connection reduced to just 2 Mbits/s on the free version and Psiphon Pro's free tier, but if this is important to you, you can pay for a limited-time “speed boost.”


The free version of Psiphon is completely ad-free, however there are speed limitations on both


We are not sure if there are any official speed limits on this app, but even when using 350 Mbits/s connection, download speeds hovered at around the 2 Mbits/s mark in our tests. This version of Psiphon, however, is ad-free.


psiphon browser


It is also possible to download the Psiphon Pro app from the Google Play Store. This is a premium app with a limited free tier. Free users can opt out of personalised advertising, but will see still ads prominently displayed inside the app.


They are also limited to speeds of 2 Mbits/s, although these can be improved by paying for a limited-time “speed boost.”  The pricing structure for the Android Pro app, in general, is rather complicated (and that’s not even including the “speed boosts”), and it's not very clear just how much of a speed improvement you will see at each price range. 


Although the Pro version exists in order to help support the free Psiphon anti-censorship tool, we find its monetizing measures to be both expensive and intrusive, so can only really recommend using the free APK-sideloaded version.


The browser that comes bundled with Psiphon is a simplified version of the excellent Firefox for Android. It lacks support for most of Firefox’s bells and whistles (including a Private mode and support for add-ons), but does include the ability to Sync with your regular Firefox account.


Check out our Psiphon review for more information.

Aloha is an ad-funded but feature-filled browser with built-in VPN

  • Free option

    Yes

Aloha Browser Turbo is a browser that sports a number of privacy features, including a built-in “VPN” (actually an HTTPS proxy), an ad-blocker, a screenshot blocker, and a passcode lock.



The VPN can be easily enabled on a per-tab basis inside the browser simply by clicking the shield icon to the left of the URL bar. Free users are auto-connected to a nearby server (in the UK we were connected to a server in the Netherlands) and download speeds were among the best we have seen in free VPN browser apps, at around 20 Mbits/s download on a 350 Mbits/s connection.


The free service is ad-supported, although you can disable personalised tracking. Or for around $2.50 per month you can upgrade to Premium, which allows you to choose VPN servers in 30 countries, removes ads, and (presumably) improves speed performance.


Aloha Mobile Ltd. is based in Cyprus and publishes a good no logs privacy policy on its main website, but we otherwise know nothing about this company. The app is closed source, and a number of clone apps from the same publisher are also available under different names from the Play Store.

Tor Browser has a new official Android App

  • Free option

    Yes

This is the newly-released official version of the infamous Tor Browser. Like almost all the other apps listed here, it's not really a VPN, but it is close enough to one and useful enough that we feel it worth mentioning here.


Tor Browser


All Tor browser connections are routed through the Tor network, which is to say they are forwarded through at least volunteer-run “nodes,” with your data being re-encrypted each time.


 Because no-one in the chain can know both who you are and where you go on the internet, Tor Browser allows for true anonymity. 


Tor Browser is mainly designed for defeating censorship and accessing the open internet anonymously, but it can also be used to view .onion websites (aka the “dark web”).


The Tor network is notoriously slow, but if you need real anonymity on the internet then it's the way to go. Tor Browser for Android is based on the latest version of Firefox, but has been “hardened” to improve privacy and security in various ways.


Tor Browser is 100% free and open source.

Should I use an Android Browser with a built-in VPN?

The popularity of Opera Browser with a built-in VPN shows that there is a demand for such apps in the Android ecosystem, but it has to be said that we think the advantages of using them are rather limited compared to using a stand-alone VPN app from a reputable provider.

Advantages

Convenience

Having a VPN built right into your browser is undoubtedly convenient. With just the touch of an icon, you can easily access websites that are otherwise blocked to you. This convenience level is heightened in apps that feature per-tab VPN protection.

Price

All the VPN browser apps listed here are mainly free - a factor we are sure has been a big part of Opera VPN’s appeal. 

It is worth pointing out, though, that there are some excellent dedicated free VPN apps out there, that are a lot more secure. It is important that you take care when choosing a free VPN and only use apps from reputable providers, as the Android VPN space can be something of a Wild West.

“Split Tunneling”

Some true VPN apps offer a handy feature known as split tunneling. This allows you to choose which of your Android apps use the VPN tunnel and which don’t.

Using a browser with a built-in VPN bypasses the need for such a feature if it's just your browser sessions that you want to protect, as you can just use the browser VPN instead. That being said, split tunneling on dedicated VPNs that support the feature is quite customizable compared to the limited VPN browser.

Disadvantages

Privacy

Most browsers with VPNs fund their free offerings with advertising. Targeted advertising is invariably enabled by default, although all the apps we looked at above allow you to disable this.

Even when targeted advertising is disabled, however, these apps use the Google Play Services framework to deliver untargeted ads. And Google tracks everything you do online, even if not using it to deliver targeted advertising. 

There is also the fact that most of these apps are closed source proprietary software. Usually, this wouldn't be too much of an issue, given that VPN providers always know what you get up to online anyway, but doubling up as a browser means we can never tell how this valuable data is going to be applied elsewhere.

Browser VPNs can be very useful for bypassing censorship restrictions, hiding what you get up to online from your internet provider and public WiFi host, and for hiding your real IP address from websites that you visit.

But if you really care about privacy, then using an open-source browser such as Firefox or Brave together with a proper VPN app from a reputable no-logs VPN service is the way to go.

Only your browser

One of the big advantages of a VPN over an HTTPS proxy solution (which is what most browser “VPNs” really are) is that it protects your entire VPN connection instead of just your browser. 

As we discuss under “split tunneling” there are times when this can be an advantage, but most times it's better to secure your entire connection.

Written by: Douglas Crawford

Has worked for almost six years as senior staff writer and resident tech and VPN industry expert at ProPrivacy.com. Widely quoted on issues relating cybersecurity and digital privacy in the UK national press (The Independent & Daily Mail Online) and international technology publications such as Ars Technica.

1 Comment

Hmmm
on June 29, 2020
Reply
I thought Opera shut down the VPN for its mobile apps or am I missing something here? It only works in the browser iirc
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