Best VPN for iPhone and iOS 16 in 2023

Best VPN for iPhone and iOS: At a glance



Surfshark VPN

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  • What is a VPN?
  • Do VPNs work on iPhone?
  • Can you still use AirDrop with a VPN on iPhone?
  • Best VPN for iPhone
  • 1. NordVPN
  • 2. ExpressVPN
  • 3. Surfshark VPN
  • Does iPhone have a VPN included in iOS?
  • Can I get an iPhone VPN for free?
  • Are you looking for the best VPN for your iPhone? Whether you’re looking to supercharge your privacy online, or want to swerve geo restrictions to unlock TV shows and sports fixtures unavailable to stream in your country …installing a VPN on your iOS device is a serious upgrade. But with so many to choose from, it can be a little overwhelming.

    After testing a number of the biggest VPNs, our top pick is NordVPN. This VPN service has one of the most beautifully designed VPN apps on iOS of any provider that we’ve ever tried. Not only that, but it has a really simple interface that is perfect for VPN newcomers, while still packing a truckload of advanced features – like multi-hop connections, Dark Web monitoring, Kill Switches, and more – for those who are comfortable with Virtual Private Networks and want to really tinker with the settings for hours.

    Better yet, iPhone owners pay for their NordVPN subscription with a single tap using Apple Pay – this has the added benefit of also keeping your credit card details hidden during the checkout process, thanks to Apple’s secure payment system. Those with multiple Apple gadgets will be able to use their subscription to sign-in to up to six devices at a time.

    1/ NordVPN – Get 3 months FREE + save 68%

    View Deal

    Want the best iPhone VPN service, look no further than NordVPN and its stellar iOS app! The iPhone app is beautifully designed and is easy for VPN newcomers to get to grips with. NordVPN also supports payment via Apple Pay making this is the perfect choice for Apple fans!

    2/ ExpressVPN – Get 3 months FREE + save 49%

    View Deal

    ExpressVPN is one of the most popular VPN providers on the planet – and for good reason! It’s a little pricier than some rivals, but Klarna allows new customers to unlock the discounts available with the one-year plan but still pay in smaller, more manageable instalments

    3/ Surfshark VPN – Get 2 months FREE + save 82%

    View Deal

    Surfshark is the most affordable option for iPhone owners – while still providing a great experience. The VPN service has added support for homescreen widgets and iMessage Stickers, which shows its commitment to Apple users!

    NordVPN offers native applications for macOS, iPadOS, as well as web browsers like Safari, Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Firefox. Fire TV Stick, Wi-Fi routers, Windows and Android are also supported for those who use multiple operating systems at home.

    You’ll only need a single subscription to sign-in and use NordVPN on all of these devices, although you’re limited to six simultaneous connections.

    NordVPN boasts a healthy selection of VPN server locations across the planet and automatically checks for DNS leaks. It can also monitor the Dark Web to alert you whenever your login details are leaked by hackers on shady underground forums, so you can quickly change your password to prevent any intrusions.

    Despite some confusion, Apple does not offer a VPN for free with iPhone. However, iOS does play nicely with VPN services, which are available to download from the App Store. You’ll need to allow your chosen VPN service to modify your iPhone settings – and that’s it. You can enable and disable the Virtual Private Network from within iOS 16’s Settings app, saving you the hassle of hunting around for the NordVPN app each time you want to head online.

    Automatic connections also mean you’re covered every time you open Safari or another web browser on your iPhone.

    Scroll down for our comprehensive guide to the best VPN for iPhone. As well as our top-rated pick, we’ve rounded up some of the other brilliant VPNs you might want to consider downloading on iOS. We’ve also got answers to some of the most commonly-asked questions about VPNs, including how a VPN works on iOS, whether there are free iPhone VPNs available, and much more. You can jump to the relevant section using the links on the right-hand side, if you’re short on time!

    What is a VPN?

    A Virtual Private Network, more commonly referred to by its initialism VPN, creates a secure tunnel for all of your internet traffic. This protective, encrypted layer prevents anyone from spying on what you’re doing online – keeping your data safely locked away from bad actors, advertisers, and even your broadband provider. By ensuring everything that you do online is encrypted, you’ll be safe from data-snoopers looking to steal your payment data as well as intrusive advertisements based on your browsing history.

    VPNs can manually alter your IP address, which makes it appear as if you’re based in almost any location around the world. For those who don’t know, every time that your device connects to the internet it is assigned an IP address, which includes information about the location where you’ve connected to the web. This is how the website for your favourite cinema chain knows the nearest branch to you, food delivery services can pinpoint your location, and Google Maps can provide turn-by-turn directions from your current location.

    By manually tweaking your IP address to another country, these websites can be tricked into assuming that you’re abroad. Granted, this isn’t particularly useful when it comes to directions in Google Maps, however, there are a number of services that might be blocked in your current location that could suddenly become available.

    For example, Netflix has a different catalogue of boxsets and movies in each country due to complex global licensing agreements and will only show you a selection of shows, documentaries and films that it’s able to broadcast in the location of your IP address. Select sporting fixtures and streaming services, like HBO Max and BBC iPlayer, are only available in select countries.

    Do VPNs work on iPhone?

    Yes, VPNs work well with iOS.

    Apple has created a dedicated toggle to configure your VPN within the Settings app, so you can quickly enable a VPN connection without hunting for the app on your (probably, very cluttered) homescreen. Just like your laptop or tablet, connecting to a VPN with your iPhone will ensure that all of the data travelling to and from your handset will be encrypted. That will shield you from data snoopers and cyber crooks.

    Connecting to a VPN service with your iPhone will also hide its IP address, so any websites that you visit won’t be able to determine your current location. This adds an extra layer of protection from prying eyes. You’re also able to connect to a server in a different country to unlock content within your favourite iOS apps or websites that might be locked to a specific geolocation.

    Can you still use AirDrop with a VPN on iPhone?

    In a word – no. If you’re trying to use AirDrop to wirelessly beam photos, videos, documents, web links and more between your devices …you’ll need to make sure that you’ve switched off your VPN. Regardless of the VPN provider, routing your internet activity through an encrypted tunnel to keep everything secure doesn’t play nice with the simple wireless transfer system built into all iOS, iPadOS, and macOS gadgets.

    Of course, it only takes a second to jump into your NordVPN app (or another VPN service) and pause the current connection. And that’s it. Everything will work as usual – with users able to beam full-resolution photographs, videos, PDFs and documents between devices with a few taps.

    It’s not a deal-breaker, but it’s something that iPhone owners will need to know before getting a VPN up and running on their handset. 

    Best VPN for iPhone

    If you want a great Virtual Private Network with advanced features, a competitive price, and a stunning app for iOS – look no further than NordVPN. This brilliant service has a beautifully-designed iPhone VPN app that makes connecting to a server impossibly easy – even if you’re new to VPNs.

    The service is well integrated with iOS, the mobile operating system that powers the iPhone, and includes homescreen widgets for those using iOS 14 or newer, iMessage stickers, and support for the system-wide Light and Dark modes. NordVPN even lets you subscribe with a single tap using Apple Pay at checkout. It’s easily one of the best iOS VPN experiences on the market – and a must for iPhone fans.

    1. NordVPN


    An Easy-To-Use VPN With Gorgeous Mobile Apps

    Things To Know

    Money-back guarantee: Yes, 30 days
    Customer support: 24/7 live chat
    Server locations: 80+
    Maximum number of connections: 6
    Password manager: Yes

    What We Love

    • Affordable Subscription
    • Brilliant Apps For All Platforms
    • Fast VPN Connection
    • Monitors For Password Leaks
    • Split Tunnelling Included
    • Never Stores Data On Customers

    What We Don’t

    • Fewer Server Locations Than Rivals

    This VPN earned the full five-stars in our NordVPN review, thanks to its stellar mobile app. And it has helped this brilliant VPN service claim the top spot here too – the iOS version of the app looks simply stunning and is incredibly easy to use, even for VPN newcomers.

    The company supports iOS homescreen widgets, so you can access some of the core features without launching the app. NordVPN has even created a set of stickers to be used in Apple’s iMessage app instead of standard emojis. That’s a serious commitment to Apple users. For those with multiple iOS devices, NordVPN includes an iPad app so you can be sure you’ll be protected on each platform.

    Launching the iPhone VPN app for the first time, you’ll be greeted with a map of all available NordVPN servers and a Quick Connect button that will find the best server for you, based on your current location. And that’s it. With a single tap of a button, you’ll be connected and everything you do on your iPhone will be encrypted and secure.

    You’ll be able to see your current, secure IP address (and it’ll also be helpfully highlighted on the map). Apple also adds a VPN icon next to the Wi-Fi strength indicator in Control Centre to show that you’re connected. NordVPN lets you quickly favourite servers that have performed well for you. It will also highlight recent connections, helpful if you’re jumping between two or more countries on a regular basis.

    When it comes to the number of countries available, NordVPN offers a pretty impressive selection – with a choice of 60 nations worldwide. That said, it’s not quite as many options are ExpressVPN, which boasts 94 possible countries. So, those who want to appear in more exotic locations might want to look elsewhere.

    NordVPN allows iPhone owners to automatically connect to its VPN service whenever the handset connects to the internet. This means – no matter how forgetful you might be – your online data, payment information, streaming and payment data will always be shielded by the extra protection. You can also pause your encrypted connection for 5, 30 or 60 minutes. After that time, the VPN will kick in again in the background.

    For extra security, NordVPN’s iOS app can automatically scan the Dark Web and alert you if it discovers any of your information – email address, passwords – being shared by hackers. This is a standout feature in a number of the most popular password managers, like 1Password, so to have it included with NordVPN at no extra cost is ace. If the iPhone app detects any leaks, you’ll be able to quickly change the password of all accounts that use the email-password combo – keeping you safe from any attacks from hackers.

    NordVPN also has designed its app to match the operating system, whether you’ve got your iPhone set to light or dark mode.

    In our testing, NordVPN only marginally impacted download speeds, which makes it great for streaming video. Without NordVPN enabled, we clocked up 120Mbps and a few moments later, with its VPN enabled and shielding our data, we recorded a download speed of 110Mbps. Sure, that is slower. However, it’s a minimal hit and still more than enough to stream in crisp 4K Ultra HD in multiple rooms around the house. And with features like split-tunnelling included with NordVPN, you only need to ensure that only devices that need to be configured to a VPN server on the other side of the globe will get the biggest hit to their speeds.

    Advanced features, like an automatic kill switch, split-tunnelling and a double VPN connection, are all available with NordVPN. You can also reserve a dedicated IP address that’s only yours to use, although that will cost extra.

    Where NordVPN really shines compared to its closest rival, ExpressVPN, is the difference in price. This provider offers a number of stellar deals, with prices regularly dropping below £3 a month for a subscription. That’s incredibly competitive for such a reliable service, with stunning apps for your iPhone and iPad as well as advanced features like split-tunnelling, auto-connect, and Dark Web monitoring.

    NordVPN offers a number of possible payment options, including all major credit card providers (Mastercard, VISA, AMEX, and Discovery). PayPal and Amazon Pay are also accepted too. Unlike most of the other providers on this list, you can also pay for NordVPN using Apple Pay, which will allow you to breeze through the checkout process, with your iPhone simply filling out all of the payment details (and keeping your credit card details stashed away). If you download the NordVPN app from the App Store on your iPhone, you’ll be able to sign-up for a subscription using the payment information stored with your iTunes account too.

    For those who want to pay with cryptocurrency, NordVPN accepts both Bitcoin and Ethereum. And with 24/7 customer support and a 30-day money-back guarantee, there’s no reason not to unlock the biggest savings by opting for a longer subscription to NordVPN.

    Get 3 months FREE + save 64%

    £9.99 £3.09 View Deal

    For a limited time, get three months of NordVPN for free. Even better, the remaining months of your subscription will be discounted by a whopping 64% as part of its blockbuster Christmas sale!

    24/7 Customer Support: Yes | 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee: Yes

    2. ExpressVPN


    Brilliant VPN That’s Unmatched For Video Streaming

    Things To Know

    Money-back guarantee: Yes, 30 days
    Customer support: 24/7 live chat
    Server locations: 160+
    Maximum number of connections: 5
    Password manager: Yes

    What We Love

    • Fastest VPN Connections Around
    • Brilliant Apps For All Platforms
    • Dedicated Team To Unblock Netflix
    • Split Tunnelling Included
    • Never Stores Data On Customers

    What We Don’t

    • Expensive Compared To Rivals
    • 5 Device Limit Can Be Restrictive

    ExpressVPN is a well-respected Virtual Private Network service – and for very good reason. It offers the same iron-clad encryption, but with a minimal impact on download speeds. iPhone owners will be able to choose from a number of VPN Protocols before they connect for the first time, including the next-generation “Lightway” system that is optimised for speed.

    Compared to the 120Mbps unprotected download speed on our iPhone, ExpressVPN’s Lightway system was able to eke out 105Mbps, which is slower than NordVPN but still more than enough to watch a video in the highest available picture quality, stream music, and make FaceTime calls from your iPhone without any trouble.

    If you’re hoping to watch boxsets and blockbusters on your iPhone, ExpressVPN might be your best option. That’s because this provider works tirelessly to ensure that its service performs well with the biggest streaming services on the planet, including Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, Prime Video, and more.

    For example, ExpressVPN has a team dedicated to ensuring that it has a steady stream of new servers coming online to escape Netflix’s recent crackdown on VPNs. So while some providers might encounter problems when trying to access catalogues available in other countries, ExpressVPN never runs into an issue. It’s the reason that we named ExpressVPN as the best VPN for streaming.

    ExpressVPN’s iPhone VPN app isn’t quite as refined as NordVPN, but it’s still well-designed and devilishly simple for newcomers.

    Launching the iOS app for the first time, you’ll be presented with a large On/Off button that enables your secure connection. Below that, ExpressVPN will list your current location, the “smart location” that it believes will provide you with the best possible encrypted connection, and a recent location. There’s a useful Help tab that provides tips and guides to make the most of the service.

    While there’s no Dark Web monitoring, as you’ll get with NordVPN, but ExpressVPN does include a secure password generator. This will create a unique, randomly-generated password for new accounts so that you’ll never re-use the same email address-password combination, which makes you much more vulnerable to attacks from cybercriminals. That’s a useful addition, however, iPhone users can find the same functionality built into Apple’s Keychain feature, that synchronises your logins securely across all iOS, watchOS, and macOS devices.

    ExpressVPN pledges to never collect identifying information about its customers, including IP address, online activity, traffic destination, or even the length of each session.

    Given that one of the main benefits of using a VPN is the boost in privacy, this is a reassuring step. Actions speak louder than words, and ExpressVPN has taken a number of steps to show its dedication to privacy. The company has based itself in the British Virgin Islands because there are no data retention laws there. That means ExpressVPN isn’t legally obliged to keep tabs on the browsing habits of its customers.

    As one of the market leaders, ExpressVPN charges a little more than the competition. As such, if you’re looking for a truly competitive deal, it might be worth looking elsewhere for the best iPhone VPN for you. That said, ExpressVPN is one of the only providers that supports Klarna – so you can break up the payment into smaller instalments. This means you’ll still be able to take advantage of the biggest savings available (ExpressVPN saves the most impressive discounts for its one-year subscription plans) while still paying in smaller instalments, like the monthly subscription plan.

    ExpressVPN accepts a number of payment methods, including the biggest credit and debit card providers, like Mastercard, VISA, American Express, and Discover. Paypal and Bitcoin are also options. Unfortunately, unlike NordVPN, there’s no Google Pay or Apple Pay for a one-tap checkout.

    Get 3 months FREE + save 49%

    £11.05 £5.69 View Deal

    New ExpressVPN subscribers can unlock 15 months of the award-winning VPN for the price of 12 months. But better than that, ExpressVPN supports Klarna, so you’ll still be able to pay in small instalments – while unlocking the biggest discount!

    24/7 Customer Support: Yes | 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee: Yes

    3. Surfshark VPN

    Surfshark VPN

    Unmatched Value

    Things To Know

    Money-back guarantee: Yes, 30 days
    Customer support: 24/7 live chat
    Server locations: 100+
    Maximum number of connections: Unlimited
    Password manager: No

    What We Love

    • Very Affordable Subscription
    • Brilliant Apps For All Platforms
    • Unlimited Connections
    • Never Stores Data On Customers

    What We Don’t

    • Slower Connection Than Rivals
    • Reconnection Needed At Times

    If you’re looking for an incredible deal on your iPhone VPN, you should sign-up for Surfshark VPN. This popular provider is one of the most affordable options around, especially if you’re willing to sign-up for a longer contract. 

    Apple users will be pleased to find a well-designed iOS VPN app complete with support for a number of popular iPhone features, like Stickers to use in iMessage, homescreen widgets for quick access to configure your VPN connection, and a matching iPad experience.

    With a single subscription, you’ll be able to use both iPhone and iPad VPN apps at the same time. In fact, you’ll be able to use all of Surfshark’s many VPN apps simultaneously as it is the only provider in this article that allows users to use an unlimited number of devices at the same time. For comparison, NordVPN and ExpressVPN only allow customers to use a handful of apps with the same account.

    Surfshark includes a dedicated kill switch within its iPhone VPN app too, which you won’t find from the other providers in this article. If that’s a feature that you believe will be essential on your iPhone, it could be worth picking Surfshark over its closest rivals.

    It’s backed by the same 30-day money-back guarantee and 24/7 customer support as NordVPN and ExpressVPN, so there’s no risk when signing up for the first time and seeing how Surfshark performs for you. If you’re not happy with the way the Virtual Private Network works with your iPhone, you can always contact the helpful customer service team and request a refund for your subscription.

    If you’re ready to sign-up, Surfshark offers a number of payment options, including all major credit cards, from VISA to Mastercard, AMEX and Discover. It also allows customers to pay for their subscription to Surfshark with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum.

    But best of all, iPhone owners will be able to subscribe to the service with a single tap using Apple Pay during the checkout process. If you’ve got your credit card details stored with your Apple ID, this is easily the fastest payment method, but it’s also likely the most secure as Apple generates a unique payment code, rather than sharing your card number during the payment process.

    Get 2 months FREE + save 84%

    £10.89 £1.99 View Deal

    If you want an incredible deal, look no further than Surfshark. It offers the same encryption and privacy as other VPNs, but does so at a much lower monthly cost. Surfshark lets subscribers sign-in to an unlimited number of devices too!

    24/7 Customer Support: Yes | 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee: Yes

    Does iPhone have a VPN included in iOS?

    Apple has included deep support for VPN apps within iOS. After installing the app from your chosen provider, it will install a VPN configuration profile onto your handset (you’ll need to input your password to authorise this).

    After that, you’ll be able to configure a VPN server connection from the Settings app on your iPhone, which will now include a toggle in the main menu. Of course, you can also kickstart a VPN connection from your chosen supplier’s app and, in the case of NordVPN, begin a connection from an iOS homescreen widget or automatically each time your iPhone joins a Wi-Fi or mobile data network.

    Apple has announced a new feature dubbed Private Replay, which will form an integral part of its upcoming iCloud+ subscription plan. This is currently being tested in some countries in iOS 15, iPadOS 15 and macOS Monterey. Private Replay is a privacy feature that allows iPhone owners to withhold their IP address from websites visited via Safari as well as apps with insecure connections.

    Keeping your IP address secure is one of the main features of a VPN, however, Apple’s solution will only work on its devices – so your subscription will only cover your Apple-designed devices. If you own a Fire TV Stick, Windows laptop, or another gadget at home that you’d like to use with a VPN, you’re still better looking at our top pick, NordVPN.

    Private Relay also misses out on an important feature with VPNs – the ability to manually switch your IP address to access TV shows, movies and sports fixtures that aren’t currently available in your location. We’ll put Private Replay through its paces when it launches for iPhone owners in the UK. But for the time being, we’d recommend taking advantage of the brilliant support for VPNs included with the iPhone to unlock an amazing experience with NordVPN’s competitively priced and full-featured Virtual Private Network service.

    Can I get an iPhone VPN for free?

    We’ve got a dedicated guide on the best free VPNs on the market, which includes some fantastic options for those who want to test-out these brilliant services without paying. However, it’s worth saying that (inevitably) all of these free VPNs come with strict limitations in order to push customers to the paid subscription plans.

    If you want the best experience – which we’d absolutely recommend if you want to test a VPN for the first time – it’s much better to subscribe to a paid-for plan. Our top-rated provider, NordVPN, offers a 30-day money-back guarantee and has customer service representatives available 24/7 so if you run into any issues, you can get a full refund. It’s not quite a free trial, but it’s as good as one. Alternatively, you can download the NordVPN app from the App Store and launch a seven-day free trial from within the app. This is only available direct from the app, but will allow you to experience the fully-fledged NordVPN service without paying a penny.

    If you decide that you want to keep using the VPN, the best deals are reserved for those who sign-up for a one- or two-year contract direct from NordVPNs’ online store.

    1/ NordVPN – Get 3 months FREE + save 68%

    View Deal

    Want the best iPhone VPN service, look no further than NordVPN and its stellar iOS app! The iPhone app is beautifully designed and is easy for VPN newcomers to get to grips with. NordVPN also supports payment via Apple Pay making this is the perfect choice for Apple fans!

    2/ ExpressVPN – Get 3 months FREE + save 49%

    View Deal

    ExpressVPN is one of the most popular VPN providers on the planet – and for good reason! It’s a little pricier than some rivals, but Klarna allows new customers to unlock the discounts available with the one-year plan but still pay in smaller, more manageable instalments

    3/ Surfshark VPN – Get 2 months FREE + save 82%

    View Deal

    Surfshark is the most affordable option for iPhone owners – while still providing a great experience. The VPN service has added support for homescreen widgets and iMessage Stickers, which shows its commitment to Apple users!


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