Best VPN apps 2023 – from NordVPN to Surfshark

The best VPN apps will help to keep your mobile-based internet activities private and discreet, and we've picked out five of the best options for you.

A phone with multiple apps

Which are the best VPN apps to use in 2023? Good question. The internet is full of massive corporations who are just waiting in line to grab a big ole’ spoon and plunge it into your internet data so and then – slurp, slurp, slurp – sell it all off to the highest bidder. Since we do so much of our browsing on our phones, it makes sense that you’d want to protect yourself from this with a VPN that has a decent app.

The best VPN apps will give you the features of leading VPN providers in the palm of your hand. If a VPN provider is forward thinking enough to ensure that all of their services are mobile-friendly, then that also sends a message that they might be forward thinking enough to protect your privacy even as the internet landscape changes and evolves over time.

Of course, there are an awful lot of VPNs these days, and to make your life easier, we’ve picked six top VPN providers who all offer their services through an app. Our top pick is ExpressVPN (for reasons we’ll get into below), but each of them offers a great service, each with a slightly different list of benefits, like the fastest VPN, the best free VPN, and more.

The best VPN apps are as follows:

Best VPN apps: ExpressVPN. Image shows the company logo on a red background.

1. The best VPN app

ExpressVPN is our choice for the best VPN app and its pricing works out as $6.67 USD or £6.03 GBP per month.

ExpressVPN features
Locations 3,000+ servers in 94 countries
Services unblocked Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, YouTube
Free trial length No free trial
Money-back guarantee 30 days
Simultaneous connections 5
Router support Yes

Pros:

  • Uses the speedy Lightway protocol
  • TrustedServer system gives you extra privacy

Cons:

  • An expensive service
  • No free trial

As we mentioned above, our choice for the best VPN app is ExpressVPN, and that’s because it’s an all-round fantastic service, with a great app to match. With servers in 94 countries around the world, it offers a range which very few of its competitors can match.

Its Lightway protocol means that it is able to encrypt your private data much more quickly than many of its competitors, and the TrustedServer system means that its servers cannot write any data about your online activities. The one thing it lacks is a free trial which would be particularly useful with a service that’s as expensive as this one.

Additionally, ExpressVPN refreshes the IP addresses of its servers more frequently than many of its competitors, and those servers offer some pretty nifty average download speeds too (55.76Mbit/s). So while it might be a little more expensive than other VPN providers, it’s a clear case of getting what you pay for.

Best VPN apps - NordVPN. Its logo is on a white background.

2. The fastest VPN app

NordVPN is the fastest VPN app and its pricing works out as $3.69 USD or £2.89 GBP per month.

NordVPN features
Locations 5,308 servers in 60 countries
Services unblocked Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, YouTube
Free trial length No free trial
Money-back guarantee 30 days
Simultaneous connections 6
Router support Yes

Pros:

  • Fastest VPN app
  • WireGuard protocol ensures speedy encryption

Cons:

  • Slightly more expensive
  • Smaller range of servers

NordVPN has been able to cement itself as one of the most recognisable VPN brands since it was founded ten years ago. The reason it’s become so popular, is because it genuinely offers a really solid service and is definitely one of the fastest VPN providers you’ll find, with an average server speed of 65.79Mbit/s. It is noticeably faster than ExpressVPN (though what it makes up for in speed, in lacks in server locations, covering only 60 countries, compared to ExpressVPN’s 90+).

NordVPN uses the WireGuard protocol, which means that it encrypts your data much more quickly than many other providers. Meanwhile, it has a kill switch in place which severs your connection if the VPN drops for even a second, meaning there’s no risk of those private data-hungry algorithm monsters swooping in at a weak point – this is especially good for anybody who might travel around a lot, connecting to free wi-fi points along the way.

Although NordVPN is cheaper than ExpressVPN, its biggest drawback is probably its price. It’s an expensive VPN and if you’re after a budget solution, there’ll be other more appealing options for you, but if speed is your cheese and you’re a mouse, then go for this one.

Read the NordVPN review on our sister site, PCGamesN, to find out more.

Best VPN apps - Cyberghost. Its logo is yellow and features a picture of a ghost.

3. The best streaming VPN app

CyberGhost is the best streaming VPN app and the pricing works out as $2.29 USD

CyberGhost features
Locations 7,400+ servers in 91+ countries
Services unblocked Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, Hulu, Prime
Free trial length Card-free for 1 day
Money-back guarantee 45 days
Simultaneous connections 7
Router support Yes

Pros:

  • Broad streaming compatibility
  • 45-day money-back guarantee

Cons:

  • Slightly slower than others
  • Free trial could be longer

Next up, we have CyberGhost. We consider it as the best VPN for streaming, due to its compatibility with so many major platforms. Using spilt-tunnelling, you’ll even be able to set some apps to connect through the VPN, while others connect locally. After all, nobody wants to access their banking app through a server halfway around the world.

Meanwhile, with servers in over 90 countries, it also beats many competitors in terms of the number of different regions that are available through the service, even if Private Internet Access does beat it in the sheer number of servers. As if to one-up many other VPN providers, it even has a 45-day money-back guarantee, as opposed to the standard 30-day money-back guarantee.

CyberGhost is also a rare VPN that actually offers a free trial, which’ll give you a chance to test it out with your preferred streaming platforms before you commit financially. Annoyingly, the trial only lasts for 24 hours, but that’s still better than nothing at all.

Best VPN apps - Private Internet Access. Its logo has a smiling padlock.

4. The best cheap VPN app

Private Internet Access (PIA) is the best cheap VP app and its pricing works out at $2.19 USD or £1.69 GBP.

Private Internet Access features
Locations 35,000+ servers in 78+ countries
Services unblocked Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, Hulu, YouTube
Free trial length No free trial
Money-back guarantee 30 days
Simultaneous connections 10
Router support Yes

Pros:

  • Enormous server selection
  • Fantastic pricing

Cons:

  • No free trial
  • Slightly slower

Private Internet Access is a great choice for anybody looking for a cheap VPN, because not only are its rates a little cheaper than you’ll find with certain other providers (thanks in no small part to the exclusive deal for our readers), but its a top notch service too. Don’t fool yourself into thinking this is a second rate VPN because its cheaper, because it’s easily one of the best.

It allows for up to ten simultaneous connections, which should be enough for most busy households, and it has a selection of more than 35,000 servers to choose from across 78 different countries. Add built-in ad-blocking functionality to the mix, and you know you’ve got something pretty swanky.

The only real drawback of Private Internet Access is the fact that it’s just a little slower than some of the other top providers. If your number one priority is a lightning-fast service, something like NordVPN might suit you better, but if you want something cheap and reliable, this may be the best choice for you.

Best VPN apps - Surfshark.

5. The best VPN app for unlimited devices

Surfshark is the best VPN app for unlimited devices and its pricing works out as $2.30 USD or £1.99 GBP per month.

Surfshark features
Locations 3,200+ servers in 65 countries
Services unblocked Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, YouTube
Free trial length 7 days
Money-back guarantee 30 days
Simultaneous connections Unlimited
Router support Yes

Pros:

  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Free trial available

Cons:

  • Lower serve count
  • Fewer server locations

Is Surfshark called Surfshark because it’s the cool surfer dude of the VPN community? Well, that’s probably not what they had in mind, but it has to be said that they’re offering something that’s pretty special – in part because it allows you to have an unlimited number of simultaneous connections. That’ll cover even the largest households, and with a seven-day VPN free trial, customers have plenty of time to get to grips with it before they enter their payment details.

With connection speeds of 2x10Gbps per server, this could be a fantastic way to avoid artificial slowdown from your internet service provider when you use a lot of bandwidth. If you stream on your phone a lot and find that you’re often having to deal with really poor quality video, you might find that switching to a VPN like Surfshark makes a huge difference.

Although as fantastic as Surfshark is, it has to be said that it has a smaller selection of servers than many other top providers, and spans fewer countries too. It’s still a respectable selection, but worth keeping in mind that you can get more elsewhere if that’s an important factor for you.

Best VPN apps: TunnelBear. Image shows a bear emerging from what looks like a pipe under the TunnelBear logo.

6. The best free VPN app

TunnelBear is the best free VPN app.

TunnelBear features
Locations over 2,600 servers in 49 countries
Services unblocked None
Free trial length Has a free version that can be used indefinitely, but limited to 500MB of data per month
Money-back guarantee None, refunds assessed on a case by case basis
Simultaneous connections 5
Router support No

Pros:

  • Free plan available
  • No-logs policy in place on free plan

Cons:

  • No money-back guarantee
  • Doesn’t work well for streaminng

TunnelBear is pretty great if you’re looking for a free VPN, except that it limits you to 500MB of data per month. While this might be too small an allowance for some people, if you only want to use it when you’re out and about, using public wi-fi, then this may be more than enough.

What sets TunnelBear apart from many other VPN providers, is that it has an annual security audit (with the results published publicly online), so if privacy is your number one priority, then this could definitely be the provider for you. Plus, it has a respectable 2,600+ servers in 49 countries, and it is one of the more affordable options as well.

However, unlike most major VPN providers, TunnelBear does not have a money-back guarantee in place. This will be quite off-putting for anybody who’s still kind of on the fence about using a VPN, so we recommend at very least trying the free plan out for a bit first to get a feel for what it can do.

We put this list together by carefully considering the needs of different mobile users, and then comparing them against the unique benefits that these VPN providers have to offer. While we do genuinely think ExpressVPN is the best, we realise it might not be the best for everyone, and that’s why we included these other options too. We hope that  this  helps narrow the field for you.

Need more guidance on the right VPN for your phone? Check out our guides on the best mobile VPNs, and the best VPN for Android for more information.