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Do I need a VPN on my iPhone?

If you’re questioning whether you need a virtual private network (VPN) on your iPhone then there’s a good chance that you already value your privacy. Your data is the hottest commodity in the world and while privacy is beginning to get the attention it deserves, you need to protect yourself using the tools available to you.

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) track everything that you do online and often share this data with government agencies. In addition, the websites that you visit track your IP address, meaning that they know where you are and can figure out who you are. You can’t even escape using public WiFi, 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. If you want to know more, read on...


What is a VPN?

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a technology that is designed to give you online privacy. A VPN achieves this by doing two important things: 

How does it work?

A VPN works using an app that you install on your iPhone. This app allows you to click ‘connect’ on a server location of your choice.

When you click ‘connect’, the VPN app encrypts your data and sends it to the VPN server. Commonly 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.

How a VPN works on iPhone

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 non-technical way - in our What is a VPN? Beginner's guide.

Do I need a VPN on my iPhone?

If you want to gain digital privacy and added 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 protect, an iPhone VPN is useful for several other things, such as:

      1. Access stuff from back home on vacation

        When you go abroad, many websites and services from your home country become unavailable. 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 you’re your home country, even while you are away on vacation. For more information, check out our VPNs to use while on holiday guide.

        VPN when traveling

      2. Watch more Netflix

        The Netflix catalog varies from country to country due to different licensing agreements, meaning some territories get much 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.

        Netflix logo

      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. With a VPN you can become a digital globetrotter by watch any regional TV channel that you want. Find out more in our best VPN for BBC iPlayer guide.

        BBC iPlayer logo

      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. However, with a VPN you can unblock those channels to stream more sports with your VPN. A VPN also lets you watch local tournaments such as Wimbledon for free.

        It’s worth noting that VPNs do not bypass the need to subscribe to premium services, but they can provide access to channels around the world that might 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 air flight tickets, hotel bookings, and purchasing online services. The world is your oyster when you’re connected to a VPN because you can always shop around for better deals.

        Money Savings

Are there any drawbacks to using a VPN on iPhone?

We would argue that using a VPN on your iPhone, or any device for that matter, is quickly becoming a necessity, but there is one major caveat to think about before subscribing...

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 tasks will cause your internet traffic to slow down. 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 are capable of providing lightning-fast connections. These VPNs can handle your traffic and ‘tunnel’ it quickly, so that the loss of speed that 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.

To find out more about how VPNs can impact 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 ISPs and local WiFi hotspots from accessing 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.

Sadly, there are hundreds of VPNs that dilute 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 collect and steal your data.

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 services:

      • 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 and some alternatives, then check out our best VPNs for iPhone guide. The VPNs we have recommended have been thoroughly tested by our VPN experts, and they are all world-class services that provide the best levels of security and privacy. They are also services that offer the very best value for money.

Alternatively, there are some 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 to 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.

Written by: Ray Walsh

Digital privacy expert with 5 years experience testing and reviewing VPNs. He's been quoted in The Express, The Times, The Washington Post, The Register, CNET & many more. 


Ian Caldwell
on June 29, 2020
My WiFi provider EE (UK based) uses IPv6 protocol on it’s 4g network and the VPNs I have tried do not support this & thus I have been unable to surf the internet while using 4g. Can you recommend a fast VPN that uses IPv6.
Ray Walsh replied to Ian Caldwell
on July 9, 2020
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