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Best free VPN for Android 2024: Which ones can you trust?

Thursday February 15, 2024. 03:30 PM , from PC World
It might be surprising, but free VPNs are no longer just for PCs. You can also use them to help easily boost your security and privacy game on an Android device. Whether you want extra security while using a public Wi-Fi network, or to get around geo-restrictions for most of your favorite streaming services, a free VPN can help you do it without having to pay for anything.

The problem when looking for a good free VPN, though, is that there are a large number of them available on the Google Play Store. So how do you determine which ones are worth your time? Our experts here at PCWorld have tested a slew of VPNs, both for PCs and Android devices, and have curated a list of the best free options you can feel confident in using. Check out our top picks below.

Why you should trust us: Here at PCWorld we’ve been testing computer hardware, software, and services since the 1980s. We’re continually testing all of the major VPNs on the market and many lesser-known services in order to curate a list of the very best VPNs across a variety of categories. For a more in-depth guide, you can check out our article on how we test VPN services at PCWorld. Below you’ll find our favorite free VPNs, and below that, helpful advice about what to look for when choosing a VPN for your Android device on your own.

And if you’re looking to further upgrade your Android phone’s security, which we highly recommend, be sure to look at our recommendations for the best free antivirus for Android as well. Additionally, you can check out our guide to the best VPNs covering multiple devices.

Updated March 26, 2024: We’ve added AVG Secure VPN as our pick for best free trial. Read more below about why we like this VPN and how you best take advantage of their generous free trial offer.






ProtonVPN – Best for unlimited use





















Pros


Fantastic speeds

Easy-to-use multi-hop feature

Supports TOR over VPN connections



Cons


Expensive
















Best Prices Today:



$96 at ProtonVPN AG





Why we like ProtonVPN

If you only have one device to worry about, ProtonVPN is an excellent choice. This free service provides what the company calls “medium speeds,” meaning you don’t get access to the 10-gigabit-per-second servers that paying customers do. Still, the speeds are just fine. But what you won’t find here are any servers supporting Netflix streaming. That’s another premium feature; however, you can still likely get other streaming services that aren’t as actively fighting against VPNs the way Netflix is.

ProtonVPN has an excellent privacy policy, there are no data limits, but you will have to create an account to use this service even when it’s free. ProtonVPN Free provides three country choices.

Who should use ProtonVPN

ProtonVPN is a great option for anyone with a single Android device who needs a free VPN. Perfect for the one-off phone or tablet user, ProtonVPN provides unlimited data so it can be used all day without worrying about hitting a cap. Plus, privacy-conscious users can take heart that apart from the info required to sign up, ProtonVPN doesn’t collect any other user data.

Read our full

ProtonVPN review






Windscribe Pro – Best for multiple devices





















Pros


Secure.link Generator is a helpful link-shortening service

Works with Netflix



Cons


Not the fastest


















Why we like Windscribe Pro

Another solid choice for Android users. You won’t get the unlimited usage like you do with ProtonVPN. Instead, you get up to 10GB of browsing per month. But there are no device limits, and you have 10 country connection options.

Windscribe requires a confirmed email address to use its free service. Windscribe’s privacy policy is good, but it does track bandwidth usage to keep you to those free limitations.

Who should use Windscribe Pro

Windscribe Pro’s free Android VPN is best suited for those who need access across multiple devices. Watch out for the data limit though, as you can hit it pretty fast while using multiple devices.

Read our full

Windscribe Pro review






Hide.me – Best for no sign-up usage





















Pros


Good download speeds

Easy-to-use Windows app

No-logs promise



Cons


Speeds were inconsistent in our tests

Expensive single year subscription

















Best Prices Today:



$59.95 at Hide Me





Why we like Hide.me

Hide.me has pretty good speeds, and like Windscribe you’re limited to 10GB per month. Hide.me offers five connection choices including two U.S. locations (east and west), Canada, Germany, and the Netherlands. Hide.me doesn’t require an account for signing up, making it seamless and easy to use.

Who should use Hide.me

Since Hide.me’s free version does not require a sign-up in order to use, it’s good for those who just need a VPN for simple, one-off tasks. Alternatively, if you’re concerned about privacy, not having to enter in any personal information is a huge plus as well.

Read our full

Hide.me review






Speedify 10 – Best for leveraging both cellular and Wi-Fi





















Pros


Very good speeds

Speedify’s failover feature seamlessly transitions between Wi-Fi and cellular networks



Cons


Privacy policy says it collects some personal information

Desktop mode for the Windows app needs work

















Best Prices Today:



$71.88 at Connectify





Why we like Speedify

A solid VPN choice for anyone using the VPN on a phone. Speedify’s specialty is a seamless VPN transition between Wi-Fi and cellular. Typically, when you go between Wi-Fi and cellular the connection drops and restarts, but with Speedify it just keeps on going, which is nice. It also harnesses your Wi-Fi and cellular together to try and boost connection speeds.

Speeds are pretty good with Speedify, staying within the top 15 for speeds overall. The downside of this free offering is that you only get 2GB of data usage per month. That’s not much, which is why this is our last suggestion. But if you need something simple for basic web browsing Speedify is well worth a look.

Who should use Speedify

Due to the small data limit, Speedify is recommended for users who just need a VPN for basic web-browsing or a one-time use. The seamless transition between Wi-Fi and cellular and potential connection speed boost means that Speedify is an extremely convenient way to keep a VPN connection up while on the go or in spotty Wi-Fi areas.

Read our full

Speedify 10 review






AVG Secure – Best free trial





















Pros


10 simultaneous device connectionsUnblocks streaming servicesFree 60-day trial



Cons


Logs some user activity dataNot a lot of extra featuresLong-term only subscription options


















Why we like AVG Secure VPN

It might sound odd to include a free-trial option here, but AVG Secure VPN is a fine VPN service on its own and it provides a 60-day free trial for new users. That’s incredibly generous for a premium service — most other VPNs only offer one-week free trials at best. The free trial extends to all devices as well so you can use it on both your Windows machine as well as your Android device.

AVG is a household name in security software and its VPN lives up to its high-standards. The free-trial gives you complete access to all of the paid features such as 10 simultaneous device connections, over 700 servers across more than 50 countries, and guaranteed streaming service unblocking with specific servers. While the speeds aren’t the fastest we’ve ever seen, they’re good enough for most general online activities. All-in-all, two months for free of AVG Secure VPN is a fantastic deal, just don’t forget to cancel the subscription before the free trial runs out.

Who should use AVG Secure VPN

Most people looking for a free VPN for shorter-term use will stand to gain a lot from AVG Secure VPN’s free trial. But we think it’s an exceptional choice in particular for those who are traveling for awhile and need a VPN while abroad. By taking advantage of a premium service’s speeds and broad server network you can access all of your streaming content no matter what country you find yourself in and you shouldn’t have to worry about frustrating data caps from other free services. Stream and browse to your heart’s content for no cost, well, at least for 60 days.

Read our full

AVG Secure review






What to look for in a free VPN for Android

This will follow a lot of the advice we’ve already given for free stuff when it comes to Android. Google is doing a better job than ever at keeping harmful apps out of the Play Store, but there is still a chance of some random VPN app having malicious intent. Another problem is that even if the app is fine, the service itself may be up to no good.

For those reasons we always advise going with a well-known VPN service provider to reduce your chances of running into security issues.

Next, you want a free app that is truly free. Not some 7- or 30-day trial that will automatically start charging the card connected to your Play account after the trial period. You should also read over the privacy policy to make sure there’s nothing there you’re going to have a problem with.

Finally, you want to make sure the VPN has data limits that suit your needs.

How we tested

We judge VPNs on a variety of criteria including server network, connection speeds, privacy protections, ease-of-use, additional features, and cost. For a more detailed guide on how we test, check out our comprehensive guide on how we test VPN services.

Speed tests are kept as simple as possible. We average the connections between different global locations for any given VPN and then compare them to our baseline internet speed to get a good picture of the overall connection speeds. We thoroughly research and analyze the privacy policies and histories of each VPN and note any outstanding discrepancies or data collection issues.

Experience and ease-of-use are subjective, but we try our best to give an accurate representation of how it feels to work with the VPN. Since you don’t have to pay for a free VPN, the value will be contingent upon the trade-offs you’ll need to make and the restrictions it has in place.

Free VPNs aren’t a top recommendation, but if you’re going to go that way we’d strongly suggest the VPNs mentioned above.

FAQ
1.
What is a VPN?

A VPN, or virtual private network, hides your identity and encrypts your traffic while browsing the internet. Also, VPN servers are located all across the world, allowing you to connect to a server in another country. So if you want to access location-restricted content like streaming services, you can connect to the appropriate country’s server and gain access to content that may have been locked in your area.

2.
How does a VPN work?

In short, a VPN hides your IP address by redirecting your web traffic through a remote server hosted by the VPN company. The VPN server then appears to be the source of your traffic instead of your actual location. These remote servers can be located both in different countries around the world or even in your own country. Additionally, your network traffic is encrypted from your computer to the VPN, which adds an extra layer of security. 

While connected to a VPN and browsing the internet, the VPN acts as a middleman between you and a website. If your computer sends a request to the VPN, it will then pass it along to a website. In return, the website sends its response back to the VPN, which forwards it via a secure encrypted connection to your computer.

3.
Is it legal to use a VPN?

In the United States as well as most countries, using a VPN is perfectly legal. Some certain websites try to block VPN connections, but that is dependent upon their own terms of usage. It is important to know that while using a VPN is legal, some of the activities done while using a VPN can still be illegal. Activities such as downloading pirated copyrighted content or accessing dark web markets are both illegal with and without a VPN.

Android, VPN
https://www.pcworld.com/article/695190/best-free-vpn-for-android.html

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