Choosing the best VPN for iPhone in 2023 is quite a challenge. There are simply too many iPhone VPNs on the market, especially when you include all the shady “free” VPNs in the Apple Store. So how do you sort through all the noise to find a good iPhone VPN that works for your needs?
The good news: we've done all the hard work for you by testing the best iPhone VPNs in 2023 and posting the results below. Long story short, there are a few great options that performed well in real-world tests and meet all of the criteria below to be recommended on SecurityTech:
- Secure VPN apps with no data leaks.
- Fast speeds throughout the server network.
- Reputable VPN provider with a good track record.
- Reliable iPhone VPN apps that performed well in our tests.
- The VPN operates from a safe jurisdiction that respects privacy.
Here are the best VPNs for iPhone that met this criteria:
In this iPhone VPN guide, I will first examine the best VPNs for iPhone, and then some common iPhone VPN questions, setup tips, and more further below. So let's get started!
Here are our selections for the best VPNs for iPhone in 2023:
NordVPN – The best VPN for iPhone (fastest speeds and best features)
|No logs (audited)
|24/7 chat; email
NordVPN currently tops our list as the best VPN for iPhone in 2023. Based on our tests for the NordVPN review, and also this guide, there's not a lot to complain about. This VPN is extremely fast, and offers a great selection of features, a huge server, network, all for a great price with our discount coupon.
NordVPN apps and features
The NordVPN iOS app performed very well in our tests on an iPhone 11, particularly with fast speeds. NordVPN's iPhone VPN app utilizes the WireGuard VPN protocol. This protocol offers the fastest speeds combined with upgraded security and improved reliability. NordVPN's implementation of the WireGuard protocol is called NordLynx. Below is one of our speed tests, where we hit 445 Mbps with NordVPN servers in the US.
While I was very impressed with NordVPN's iPhone app, truth be told, all of the apps did well in testing. NordVPN offers secure VPN apps for Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Android, and of course iOS (see below). Additionally, NordVPN supports routers, and streaming devices, and even has a VPN app for FireStick. Below is NordVPN's iPhone VPN app.
NordVPN also stands out with security and privacy features. NordVPN's apps utilize strong AES-256 encryption and include a kill switch to block traffic if the VPN connection drops, thereby keeping your data secure. Additionally, NordVPN's Threat Protection Lite feature protects your iPhone by blocking ads, trackers, and malware domains that jeopardize your safety. You can enable this powerful protection in the Tools section of Settings.
NordVPN also offers specialty servers for specific use cases, including:
- Double VPN servers that encrypt traffic over two hops (double encryption)
- Obfuscated servers that bypass VPN blocks and conceal your traffic as regular HTTPS encryption
- Onion-over-VP servers that combine the security and privacy of NordVPN with the anonymity of the Tor network.
- P2P servers that are optimized for torrenting (making NordVPN one of the best VPNs for torrenting)
NordVPN speed tests with iPhone
One of the benefits of using NordVPN is raw speed. NordVPN's iPhone VPN app supports the WireGuard VPN protocol. This protocol offers the fastest speeds combined with upgraded security and improved reliability. NordVPN's implementation of the WireGuard protocol is called NordLynx.
NordLynx takes advantage of WireGuard's speed and security while adding a level of privacy consistent with NordVPN's no-logs policies. The engineers at Nord Security (NordVPN's parent company) developed a double NAT system that prevents a user's real IP address from being exposed on any server accessible to outsiders. This would prevent your IP address from being exposed, even in a case where a hostile force gains physical access to a NordVPN server.
Despite the extra steps needed to ensure your privacy, NordVPN is extremely fast. Below is one of our speed tests, where we hit 445 Mbps with NordVPN servers in the US.
This is the fastest speed test result we have ever seen in our lab. If speed is important to you, NordVPN definitely needs to be on your short list of VPNs to consider.
NordVPN streaming and torrenting
Do you plan to do a lot of streaming on your iPhone with a VPN? NordVPN has you covered. It is one of the best VPNs for streaming access to a huge selection of Netflix regions, as well as BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Disney Plus, and many more.
How to set up the NordVPN app on your iPhone
Getting NordVPN up and running on an iPhone will only take a minute. Here's what to do:
- Grab a discounted NordVPN subscription (see the coupon below).
- Download the NordVPN app onto your iPhone.
- After downloading, open the VPN app on your iPhone and then log in using your credentials.
- Allow the VPN to “Add VPN Configurations” to enable quick and easy VPN connections.
- Connect to a server of your choice, or just hit the Quick Connect button, and the VPN app will select the fastest server automatically.
That's all there is to it. And if you want the fastest VPN speeds on your iPhone, I would also recommend enabling NordLynx (WireGuard) in the Protocol section of the VPN app Settings:
+ NordVPN Pros
- Based in Panama, a leading pro-privacy jurisdiction
- Audited no-logs VPN with excellent privacy policies
- Support for most operating systems and devices
- Reliable and user-friendly VPN apps with DNS leak protection and kill switch
- Advanced security features like Threat Protection, split tunneling, and multi-factor authentication
- Huge network of fast, 100% diskless servers with WireGuard support and private DNS
- Specialized servers including Double-VPN, Onion-over-VPN, Obfuscated, and P2P servers
- Colocated and 10Gbps servers being strategically deployed throughout the network
- Impressive support for streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and most others
- Responsive 24/7 live chat support
– NordVPN Cons
- Cheapest rates only come with a long-term subscription
Check out our NordVPN review for additional information and test results.
Surfshark – A fast, secure, and affordable iPhone VPN
|24/7 chat; email
In second place on our list of the best iPhone VPNs is Surfshark. Surfshark is a VPN service based in The Netherlands. It offers many similar features to NordVPN, but it also gives you unlimited simultaneous connections with your VPN subscription. Surfshark is also one of the cheapest VPNs you will find, with prices under $3 per month.
Surfshark apps and features
The Surfshark iPhone app is reliable and also user-friendly. It is packed with features (including a kill switch) and offers quick and easy connection to any of Surfshark's 3,200+ servers in 100 countries. Aside from iPhone (iOS), Surfshark also offers apps for Windows, Mac OS, Linux, and Android devices.
Here are some of the privacy and security feature's you'll find in the Surfshark apps:
- CleanWeb which blocks, ads, trackers, and malware domains (like the Threat Protection Lite feature of NordVPN).
- MultiHop servers which are Surfshark's version of double VPN servers.
- Camouflage mode automatically obfuscates your traffic to hide it from internet censors whenever you use the OpenVPN protocol.
- Static IP addresses so you can show the world the same address whenever you wish. (See other static IP VPNs here.)
- Kill switches on all of Surfshark's VPN apps (including the iPhone VPN app) to secure your traffic and prevent any data leaks if the connection drops
- Rotating IP is a new feature that automatically changes your IP address while your VPN location stays the same, making it harder to track your online activities
In January of 2023, Surfshark announced that they had successfully completed a no-logs audit conducted by Deloitte. This latest audit, combined with their previous third-party security audits, and their location in the Netherlands, a good jurisdiction for privacy, makes us more comfortable than ever in recommending this VPN.
Surfshark speed test results
Surfshark has become one of the fastest VPNs we have ever tested. At least part of the credit goes to their support for the WireGuard VPN protocol. We were able to hit speeds up to nearly 400 Mbps in our tests with Surfshark servers in the United States.
While test results can vary, we've found that Surfshark is the second-fastest VPN on the market, trailing only NordVPN.
Surfshark streaming and torrenting
Surfshark also does well for streaming. It is a great VPN for Netflix, with easy access to 15+ Netflix regions. It also works well for other streaming sites, including BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and more.
Torrenting is another Surfshark strength. This VPN has very strong security and is an audited no-logs VPN service. It will prevent your IP address from being exposed while downloading. And thanks to its speed, downloading will take very little time. No wonder it is on our list of the best VPNs for torrenting.
Surfshark support and guarantee
While you are unlikely to need it, you should know that Surfshark provides 24/7 live chat support. We've used this support line a few times over the years and always received rapid, helpful answers.
Surfshark offers a 30-day money back guarantee. This should be plenty of time to evaluate the service and see if it is right for you. With its features and performance, along with a low price and unlimited simultaneous connections, you can see why Surfshark is on this list of the best VPNs for iPhone.
How to set up Surfshark VPN on iPhone
Surfshark VPN is also quick and easy to set up on your iPhone. To do this, simply follow these steps:
- First, get a discounted Surfshark VPN subscription (coupon below).
- Then download the Surfshark iPhone VPN app to your phone.
- Open the app, and log in using your credentials.
- Allow Surfshark to “Add VPN Configurations” to your iPhone.
- Connect to a VPN server.
+ Surfshark Pros
- Based in The Netherlands, a leading pro-privacy jurisdiction
- Audited no-logs VPN with strong privacy policies
- Support for most operating systems and devices
- Security-audited, user-friendly apps with kill switch and DNS leak protection
- Advanced security features like CleanWeb, Whitelister, and multi-factor authentication
- Large network of fast 100% diskless servers with private DNS and WireGuard support
- Specialized servers including MultiHop, Camouflage mode, Static, and P2P servers
- Colocated and 10 Gbps servers being deployed
- Unblocks Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, and most other streaming services
- Unlimited number of simultaneous connections
- Fast and helpful 24/7 live chat support
– Surfshark Cons
- Limited VPN router support
- Big discount only with the two-year plan
See our Surfshark review for additional information and test results.
ExpressVPN – Secure but pricey VPN for iPhone
|British Virgin Islands
|No logs (audited)
Rounding out our list of the best iPhone VPNs is ExpressVPN. This VPN is based in the British Virgin Islands and has long been a big player in the VPN industry. While ExpressVPN is more expensive than our other recommendations, it also has a lot to offer.
First, let's examine performance. ExpressVPN performed well in our speed tests and is a fast VPN for iPhones. One drawback, however, is that it does not support WireGuard. Instead, ExpressVPN has a self-developed protocol called Lightway. And while Lightway is fast, it's not as fast as WireGuard, as you can see in the Surfshark vs ExpressVPN comparison.
ExpressVPN offers a wide selection of apps. The iPhone VPN app from ExpressVPN performed well in our tests – as did all of the other ExpressVPN apps. Aside from desktop and mobile apps, ExpressVPN also offers the MediaStreamer app, which is ideal for certain devices that can't connect to a VPN. Below is ExpressVPN's iPhone app that we tested out.
ExpressVPN provides good security with the Lightway protocol, strong encryption, and a good kill switch in all VPN apps. However, it is also somewhat limited in features. There is now a basic ad-blocking feature called Threat Manager, that works similarly to the ad-blocking features in Surfshark and NordVPN. There is also no option for double VPN servers or any other specialty servers for that matter.
While ExpressVPN generally does well with streaming, it's a bit more limited than NordVPN and Surfshark, and it occasionally gets blocked by some services. Right now, however, ExpressVPN is working with numerous Netflix regions around the world, in addition to other big services such as BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and more.
How to set up ExpressVPN on iPhone
As before, this is pretty simple.
- Grab an ExpressVPN subscription.
- Download the ExpressVPN app to your phone.
- Open the VPN app and log in with your credentials.
- Allow ExpressVPN to “Add VPN Configurations”
- Connect to a VPN server.
+ ExpressVPN Pros
- Strong security and privacy
- Secure apps for virtually any operating system or device
- Lightway VPN protocol added for better performance
- Large, secure server network
- Good streaming and torrenting performance
- Dedicated VPN router app
- Excellent support and refund policy
– ExpressVPN Cons
- Slow OpenVPN performance
- Relatively high price
- Limited feature set
Check out the ExpressVPN review for more info.
Atlas VPN – A cheap VPN for the iPhone
|Live chat; email
Next up is Atlas VPN. This is a very interesting VPN service for a couple of reasons. It performs better than most services and has some impressively advanced features. At the same time, it is very inexpensive and lets you have an unlimited number of simultaneous connections. There's even a quality free version you can use on your iPhone.
In addition, Atlas VPN was purchased by Nord Security in 2021. This gives this small VPN provider the backing and resources that many larger providers would envy. It falls under the same banner as NordVPN and Surfshark today.
But like anything else, Atlas VPN isn't perfect. There are a few issues that might make you think twice about using this service. Let's dig into the situation.
Atlas VPN apps and features
Atlas VPN is a no-logs VPN with some solid apps. As you might expect for a service included in this article, the apps include kill switches and passed all our leak tests. Interestingly, this is a WireGuard-first VPN. Atlas VPN doesn't even support OpenVPN, the protocol that was until recently the industry leader. Their default protocol is WireGuard, with IPSec/IKEv2 available for any weird cases where you can't use WireGuard.
When it comes to features, Atlas VPN definitely has some goodies to offer (assuming you use the paid version rather than the free version). These include:
- Streaming servers which are the subset of Atlas VPN servers that support and are optimized for streaming. This makes it one of the best VPNs for streaming.
- SafeSwap servers boost your security by changing your apparent IP address whenever you open a new website or look something up online.
- MultiHop+ servers are a type of dual VPN server that randomly rotate your traffic through various servers, changing your IP address and encryption layers for additional security and privacy.
Atlas VPN speed test results
Our speed test results for Atlas VPN were somewhat variable. Fortunately, those results varied from average to above average so this isn't a major problem. Here is the best result we got during our testing:
While Atlas VPN won't set any speed records, it is fast enough for most any use case, including streaming (see below).
Atlas VPN streaming and torrenting
Atlas VPN is a good VPN for streaming, as long as you remember to use one of their streaming servers.
Assuming you do that, our testing showed that Atlas VPN works with popular Netflix regional libraries around the world. You may sometimes need to use the 24/7 live chat support system to learn the specific streaming server to connect to in a specific region, but that is sometimes necessary with other streaming VPN services too.
In addition to Netflix, Atlas VPN can unblock other major streaming services such as Amazon Prime Video and BBC iPlayer. Atlas VPN support can answer any questions you might have about streaming a particular service not listed here.
Torrenting is a more confusing issue. The issue isn't the VPN itself. Atlas VPN handles torrenting fine. The issue is two-fold: jurisdiction and auditing. Atlas VPN is based in the United States. This is not ideal because content providers have had success in the United States suing VPNs that support torrenting. The US's Digital Millenium Copyright Act is a law that makes sharing copyrighted content illegal, with potentially huge fines.
A result of these lawsuits has been that multiple VPN services such as TorGuard have been forced to block torrenting on their US servers. It isn't clear what would happen if Atlas VPN lost such a court case since the VPN is itself based in the USA.
Adding to the uncertainty around this issue is the fact that Atlas VPN has not had their no-logs status audited by a third party yet. The company claims to keep no logs, and we have no reason to think they are lying about this, but we have no independent confirmation, one way or the other. It is conceivable that the identities of individual Atlas VPN users could be divulged during a lawsuit, or simply at the behest of the US government.
If torrenting is a major priority for you, consider choosing another VPN.
Atlas VPN support and guarantee
Like many aspects of Atlas VPN, the level of support you receive depends on whether you are using the free version or the paid version of Atlas VPN. The paid version offers 24/7 live chat support, while users of the free version have to settle for email support.
Like NordVPN and other leading VPN services, Atlas VPN offers a 30-day money back guarantee, giving you plenty of time to check out the service.
Atlas VPN drawbacks for iPhone users
As for those drawbacks I mentioned earlier, we already touched on the two main ones. Here's our full list of the drawbacks of Atlas VPN from the perspective of an iPhone user:
- Atlas VPN is based in the United States, which is not an ideal jurisdiction for internet privacy
- Atlas VPN has not yet completed a third-party audit of their no-logs status
- The Atlas VPN server network is much smaller than those of the other VPNs covered in this comparison
- It is not nearly as fast as the other WireGuard VPNs in this comparison
How to set up Atlas VPN on iPhone
You can either get a paid subscription to Atlas VPN right off the bat, or you can skip the subscription for now and start with the free version.
- Grab an Atlas VPN subscription (optional).
- Download the Atlas VPN app to your phone.
- Open the VPN app and log in with your credentials.
- Allow Atlas VPN to “Add VPN Configurations”
- Connect to a VPN server. If you are using the free version, you will only be able to connect to the limited set of free servers until you upgrade to a paid subscription.
And here are the overall pros and cons of Atlas VPN:
- Atlas VPN apps are simple and reliable
- Good encryption and security
- Full WireGuard support
- Additional privacy features
- Affordable prices, plus a free plan
- Unlimited simultaneous connections for the paid version
- Works well for streaming
- Based in the US (bad for privacy)
- No apps for routers
- Smaller server network
You can learn more about this cheap (but high-quality) iPhone VPN in our complete Atlas VPN review.
Now let's look at some frequently asked questions when it comes to iPhones and VPNs.
Do you need a VPN on your iPhone?
The short answer to this question is yes, you definitely need a VPN on your iPhone for basic digital privacy, especially when internet service providers are logging everything you do online. But let's take a closer look at every reason why you need a VPN for your iPhone.
- Privacy – A VPN on your iPhone will encrypt all traffic between your iPhone and the VPN server you are connected to. This means that your internet service provider, and other third parties, will not be able to spy on your online activities. A good VPN is crucial for basic digital privacy, especially when you combine it with a good ad blocker.
- Security – Do you use public wifi? If so, you will definitely want to use a VPN for additional security. Public Wifi can be dangerous and insecure, with hackers targeting people on these public networks. A VPN is crucial for adding an extra layer of security to your connection.
- Bypassing restrictions – Many countries around the world put restrictions in place to block certain websites. This is also the case for school and work networks that block all sorts of content. But there is an easy solution. A VPN will unblock websites and allow you to easily bypass these restrictions. Simply connect to a VPN server and enjoy unrestricted access.
Now let's move on to the next iPhone VPN question we often see.
What does a VPN do on an iPhone?
When you connect to a VPN server on your iPhone, all internet traffic between the iPhone and the VPN servers will be fully encrypted. Specifically, the VPN app on your phone will do the work of encrypting traffic and sending it to the VPN server you are connected to. In short, a VPN on your iPhone will establish a secure tunnel, as you can see in the illustration below.
As we noted above, a VPN on your iPhone will provide you with more privacy, a higher level of security, and also allow you to easily bypass restrictions. All you need to do is get a good VPN app on your iPhone and connect to a VPN server to start enjoying the benefits that a VPN provides.
Is a VPN safe to use on an iPhone?
Provided you are using a safe, reliable, and secure VPN service, then yes, a VPN is safe to use on your iPhone.
But herein lies the catch. You need to first find a safe VPN. Unfortunately, there are many dangerous VPNs out there on the market that fail when it comes to providing users with privacy and security. If you use one of these VPNs, you could be exposing your IP address, DNS requests, and location to third parties.
One of the biggest risks is using a free VPN app for your iPhone. So let's cover that in more depth below.
Should you use a FREE VPN on your iPhone?
No, you should not use a free VPN on your iPhone because the business model of most free VPNs is to collect your data and sell it to third parties. There have been numerous studies confirming this. In fact, we have also found that many free VPN apps contain tracking libraries, malware, and other data collection tools.
One in-depth study that examined over 200 free VPN apps found the following risks:
- 84% of free VPN apps suffer from data leaks (exposing your IP address, DNS requests, and/or location)
- 75% have hidden tracking libraries
- 38% contain malware
- 18% don't even encrypt your data
When considering whether or not to use a free VPN app on your iPhone, you need to remember the business model. Free VPNs make money by exploiting their users. In most cases, this is simply done by collecting your data (through the VPN servers) and then selling it to third parties.
You also need to remember that data is extremely valuable, and a shady free VPN app could easily be collecting all your data through the VPN. This means you need to choose your iPhone VPN carefully and avoid free VPNs entirely.
Do iPhones have a built-in VPN?
The short answer here is no, there is no built-in VPN for iPhones. However, iPhones do have built-in support for the IKEv2 VPN protocol. First, you should know that just like OpenVPN and WireGuard, IKEv2 is a VPN protocol that is supported by some operating systems, including iPhones.
What this means is that you can upload an IKEv2 certificate from your VPN service, and then connect to that VPN service through your iPhone using the built-in IKEv2 VPN support. To see this in action on your iPhone, simply go to Settings > General > VPN. There you will see this screen and an option for the VPN:
There are some big drawbacks, however, to using the built-in VPN support on your iPhone. In comparison to using a dedicated iOS VPN app, here are the drawbacks of using the IKEv2 option on your iPhone:
- You won't have access to all the VPN's features, which are only available in the app.
- You can only connect to a single VPN server, based on the IKEv2 certificate you import to your iPhone. To connect to other servers, you will need to import additional IKEv2 certificates.
- You won't have a functioning kill switch, but you will with the dedicated iPhone VPN app.
For these reasons and more, I recommend sticking with the main iPhone VPN app provided by your VPN service.
Conclusion: Use a good VPN for your iPhone in 2023
Today you get a good overview of the best iPhone VPNs available in 2023. In the past, we have urged you to start using a good VPN on your iPhone right away, given the landscape of waning digital privacy and growing security threats. Since last year the situation has, if anything, gotten even worse.
Many Apple users value our privacy, and Apple has traditionally tried to echo that mindset with pro-privacy actions and statements. As you know, they've gone up against government requests to unlock an iPhone as part of a criminal investigation. But the assaults on our security and privacy continue to increase, and it only makes sense to do what you can to bolster your defenses. The first step in bolstering your defenses is surely to install one of the best VPNs for iPhone and add one more layer of security and privacy to what Apple is doing on your behalf.
This iPhone VPN guide was last updated on March 6, 2023.