Best VPN cellular networks

Anyone who travels a lot knows the value of a good data plan. However, plenty of carriers have been known to sell user data to advertisers. While these providers allow you to opt-out, this may not always be the case. Additionally, depending on where you are in the world, your provider may impose fairly strict web-blocking that can’t be turned off. This isn’t particularly convenient or privacy-conscious, but there’s a simple solution: just use a VPN.

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) will encrypt your internet traffic, ensuring your carrier can’t see what you get up to online. This has an additional benefit too: because your provider has no idea which websites you’re visiting, it can’t compare them to a blocklist, meaning you’re free to access whatever you like.

Without further ado, here are the best VPNs for cellular networks. We’ll examine these further a little later, so just scroll down if you’d like to learn more.

Best VPNs for cell phone networks

  1. NordVPN: Our top VPN for mobile networks. Known for its high speeds and cutting-edge security features. Has more than 5,000 servers plus a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.
  2. Surfshark: The best budget VPN for on-the-go browsing. Excels at beating online restrictions and offers a wide array of privacy tools. Now supports more than 90 locations.
  3. ExpressVPN: Blends speed, security, and streaming ability to help you browse safely whether on mobile data or wifi. Boasts lots of server locations and free 24/7 support.
  4. CyberGhost: An extremely fast service that’s perfect for anyone new to VPNs. Securely stream, torrent, or game on a mobile connection. Can even stop ads in their tracks.
  5. IPVanish: Quick, reliable, and versatile. This provider can secure every device you own and follows a true no-logs policy. Now faster than ever, meaning it’s ideal for cellular networks.
  6. PrivateVPN: A privacy-first VPN that even works in China. Offers competitive speeds and unblocking ability, plus a high connection limit. Doesn’t keep any logs whatsoever.
  7. Atlas VPN: This speedy VPN offers streaming-optimized servers and plenty of powerful security features. Additionally, it’s capable of securing any number of devices.

WANT TO TRY THE TOP VPN RISK FREE?

NordVPN is offering a fully-featured risk-free 30-day trial if you sign up at this page. You can use the VPN rated #1 for cellular networks with no restrictions for a month. This is great if you want to securely browse the internet in remote locations or places where wifi is unreliable.

There are no hidden termsjust contact support within 30 days if you decide NordVPN isn't right for you and you'll get a full refund. Start your NordVPN trial here.

If you’re specifically looking for a VPN that’s suitable for mobile browsing, there are a few things to consider before spending money. For example, you’ll need a service that has minimal impact on your speeds, since mobile networks tend to get less reliable the further from a city you get. Here are a few key features we looked for when researching the best VPNs for cellular networks:

  • Has lots of servers around the world
  • Provides stable, high-speed connections
  • Shields your online activities with uncrackable encryption
  • Works with plenty of popular region-locked services
  • Doesn’t store any data that could identify you
  • Support all major operating systems and devices

Best VPN for cellular networks

Here’s a list of the best VPNs for cellular networks:

1. NordVPN

NordVPN Aug 2022

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux
  • Background FireTV

Website:  www.NordVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

NordVPN is our first choice for browsing safely on cellular networks. With more than 5,000 servers in 60+ countries, you’re all but guaranteed to have one nearby, minimizing latency. This VPN provides above-average speeds, so you should be able to video call and browse as normal, even when on a fairly slow mobile connection. NordVPN even works in places many of its rivals don’t, like China and the UAE.

This service has plenty to offer mobile users. For a start, it blocks ads, trackers, and malware, uses powerful encryption, and keeps no logs. Further, NordVPN has a security meshnet feature that lets you connect a desktop PC and route all of your mobile data through it. This allows you to securely access remote files or have all of your devices share a single IP address. If you run into problems, support is on-hand 24/7 over email and live chat.

NordVPN apps are available for iOS, Android, Linux, MacOS, and Windows. It also works with a variety of routers but you’ll have to follow manual setup instructions to get up and running.

Pros:

  • Over 5,000 high-speed servers
  • Boundary-pushing security tools
  • Can securely access a wide range of region-locked sites
  • Verified no-logs policy
  • Works with most devices
  • Free live chat-based support

Cons:

  • Monthly subscription can be quite expensive

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

BEST VPN FOR CELLULAR NETWORKS:NordVPN takes the top spot. With top-notch security tools and fast, reliable servers all over the world, it’s perfect for any privacy-conscious traveler. Better still, this VPN has a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try it risk-free.

Check out our comprehensive NordVPN review.

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2. Surfshark

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.Surfshark.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

Surfshark is the best budget VPN for cell networks. Despite its low price, this service delivers consistently impressive speeds and can securely access sites like Netflix and HBO Max. Just recently, this provider significantly scaled up its network, and now offers over 3,200 servers in 90+ locations. Unlike most other VPNs, Surfshark has no connection limit, making it ideal for large families or people looking to protect lots of devices.

On that note, Surfshark uses effectively uncrackable encryption to hide your activities from snoopers. There’s also an ad-blocker (even on mobile), leak protection, and a native kill switch for Android that saves you the trouble of replicating this feature in your phone’s settings. This provider doesn’t keep logs and has undergone an independent audit to prove that its server infrastructure is up to scratch. Live chat is available around the clock, so getting help is quick and easy.

Surfshark provides Android, iOS, Windows, MacOS, and Linux apps. You’ll have to configure supported routers manually.

Pros:

  • Has rapidly expanded its network
  • One of the fastest VPNs on the market
  • Puts your privacy above all else
  • Great at accessing region-locked streaming services
  • No connection limit

Cons:

  • Some features require an additional monthly payment to use

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

BEST BUDGET VPN:Surfshark is our top low-cost provider. Its top-tier speeds make it a must-try for anyone who relies on cellular networks often. This zero-logs VPN works in China, reliably unblocks major streaming sites, and offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read the full Surfshark review.

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3. ExpressVPN

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.ExpressVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

ExpressVPN has been a major player in this industry for over a decade, and it’s easy to see why. Users can choose from over 3,000 servers in 90+ countries, and this VPN can even help you browse securely in countries with strict online censorship. What’s more, its custom protocol, Lightway, delivers reliable, high-speed connections that are more than enough for day-to-day tasks like streaming or torrenting. Five devices can be secured simultaneously, which should be enough for most people.

This VPN has a solid security offering, with 256-bit encryption, a kill switch, and protection against DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC leaks. You can also choose to allow certain apps to pass through unencrypted (for instance, if you just want to download a large update as quickly as possible). Just as important, ExpressVPN doesn’t log any personally identifiable info. There’s a 24/7 live chat service on ExpressVPN’s website in case you run into any issues.

ExpressVPN has Android, iOS, Linux, Windows, and MacOS apps. It’s also the only provider in this list with its own router firmware, so it’s great for securing lots of devices at once.

Pros:

  • Servers in 94 countries
  • Fast enough for video calling, streaming, and gaming
  • Takes your security seriously
  • Apps are intuitive and easy to use
  • 24/7 live chat support

Cons:

  • Not the cheapest choice on this list

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

NO STRESS SECURITY:ExpressVPN has novice-friendly mobile apps and just enough advanced features to make you feel in control. Also boasts consistently high speeds and strong streaming potential. This no-logs VPN comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Still not sure? Find out more in our full review of ExpressVPN.

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4. CyberGhost

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.Cyberghost.com

Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS

CyberGhost has a few characteristics that make it a great choice for cellular networks. First off, it’s extremely fast, with an average speed of over 500 Mbps in our latest speed tests. It also provides neatly-organized apps with separate lists for general-purpose, streaming, and P2P servers (in total, there are around 8,000 in 90+ countries). Up to seven simultaneous connections are allowed, and there are no bandwidth limits to speak of.

One of the best things about this service is that it actually makes using the internet on mobile devices better by blocking ads and trackers, and by preventing you from inadvertently downloading malicious files. There’s also 256-bit encryption, a kill switch, leak protection, a no-logs policy, and a feature that’ll automatically turn on the VPN if you do decide to use a public wifi hotspot rather than mobile data. The support staff are pretty helpful too, and can resolve most problems in a matter of minutes via live chat.

CyberGhost apps are available for iOS, Android, MacOS, Linux, and Windows. Alternatively, you can follow manual setup instructions to get it running on supported routers.

Pros:

  • Blocks ads and secures mobile traffic
  • Has a huge network of servers
  • Far faster than most of its rivals
  • No issues with day-to-day tasks like streaming and torrenting

Cons:

  • Could offer more control over advanced functionality
  • Doesn’t wok in China

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

IDEAL FOR MOBILE:CyberGhost provides high speeds, strong security, and a fix for several mobile-browsing annoyances. It’s even suitable for streaming on sites like Netflix and Hulu. What’s more, this service includes a 45-day money-back guarantee.

Take a look at our in-depth CyberGhost review.

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5. IPVanish

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.IPVanish.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

IPVanish has long been a favorite of privacy-conscious cell phone users. Its mobile apps are remarkably lightweight and user-friendly, and its speeds are phenomenal. In fact, following a network upgrade and the introduction of WireGuard support, IPVanish has quickly become one of the fastest providers on the market. Currently, there are around 2,000 servers spread across 60+ countries. Best of all, users can secure any number of devices with a single account.

This VPN ensures your privacy by preventing DNS and IPv6 leaks, following a true no-logs policy, and shielding user traffic with powerful encryption. There’s also a kill switch that stops you from accidentally browsing without the VPN active (though this has to be manually set up on Android). Finally, IPVanish supports split tunneling and can even allow local connections to bypass the VPN if you’d like. Support is available around the clock via email and live chat.

IPVanish has its own iOS, Android, MacOS, and Windows apps. You can manually install it on some Linux systems and wireless routers too.

Pros:

  • Streamlined mobile apps and extremely high speeds
  • User-friendly interface
  • Has plenty of advanced security features
  • Connect all of your devices at once

Cons:

  • Struggles with larger streaming platforms
  • Not reliable in China

Our score:

4 out of 5

LIGHTWEIGHT OPTION:IPVanish is exceedingly fast, versatile, and easy to use. Better still, it achieves this without compromising on your privacy. A solid choice whether you’re looking to video call or stream on mobile data. Annual plans include a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Why not check out our full IPVanish review?

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6. PrivateVPN

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.PrivateVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

PrivateVPN is another strong choice for staying safe on cellular networks. While it only has around 200 servers globally, these cover 60+ countries and provide above-average speeds. They’re able to reliably access services like Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video, which is something not many of its rivals can truthfully claim. This provider recently increased its connection limit to 10, so protecting all of your devices at once won’t be a problem.

The service uses 256-bit encryption by default, but it has an option to switch to 128-bits for a slightly faster connection. That’s not all PrivateVPN has up its sleeve, though: it also offers DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6 leak protection, an app-specific kill switch, and a zero-logs policy. This VPN even has a toggleable stealth mode that works almost anywhere in the world (including China). Customer support is available at almost any time, though the live chat service does go offline for a few hours each day.

PrivateVPN has apps for Android, iOS, Windows, and MacOS. It can also be manually installed on supported Linux distros and wireless routers.

Pros:

  • Solid speeds and no bandwidth limits
  • Works with almost every streaming platform we’ve tested
  • Excellent security and privacy credentials

Cons:

  • Live chat isn’t 24/7
  • Could do with a larger network

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

PRIVACY-CONSCIOUS:PrivateVPN doesn’t keep any logs and goes above and beyond to keep your data secure. With steady speeds, a high connection limit, and a 30-day money-back guarantee, this P2P-friendly provider certainly has a lot to offer.

Read our full PrivateVPN review for further details.

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7. Atlas VPN

Atlas VPN

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android

Website:  www.atlasvpn.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

Atlas VPN may be a newer provider but it’s already making a name for itself. It offers access to roughly 750 servers in 43 countries, and its speeds are top-notch. Not only that, but this provider lets you connect any number of devices simultaneously.  Whether you’re looking to securely stream Netflix, use online banking, or play online games on mobile data, Atlas VPN is up to the task.

This provider has many security tools built-in. Some of its servers are designed to change your IP address periodically for even greater anonymity. Additionally, its tracker-blocker can protect you from ads, malware, and shady websites. Of course, there’s also a no-logs policy in place, as well as uncrackable encryption, leak protection, and a kill switch. Atlas VPN offers 24/7 assistance, free of charge, via live chat and email.

Atlas VPN has its own iOS, Android, Windows, and MacOS apps.

Pros:

  • Fast and secure
  • Beginner-friendly apps and 24/7 support
  • No connection limit

Cons:

  • Doesn’t work with as many devices as others in this list
  • Cancelling could be much easier

Our score:

4 out of 5

HIGHLY VERSATILE:Atlas VPN has the speed, security tools, and server reach required for uninterrupted private browsing. It’s equally suitable for streaming, video calling, and online banking, plus it offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Interested? Find out more in our complete Atlas VPN review.

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How to secure your mobile browsing with a VPN

VPNs can seem pretty intimidating but they’re really quite simple to use. Just follow the steps below to hide your online activities and browse securely while on mobile networks:

  1. Start by signing up for one of the providers above (we recommend NordVPN)
  2. Download and install your VPN’s mobile app
  3. Go into the settings and make sure any ad-blocking, tracker-blocking, or malware-prevention features are enabled
  4. Select a server in a nearby location and get connected
  5. Your internet traffic is now encrypted and shielded from anyone who might be watching. What’s more, you should be able to access any website you like, regardless of your cell phone provider’s online restrictions

Methodology: How we chose the best VPNs for cellular networks

If you’re looking to improve your privacy while on cellular networks, not just any VPN will do. After all, it’s not uncommon for providers to claim they’re vastly more secure than they actually are. Speed is at a premium too, since mobile data can be fairly slow at the best of times. Here are a few of the main areas we considered when choosing the best VPNs for cell phone networks:

  • Server choice: In general, you’ll get faster speeds from a server that’s nearby. By looking for VPNs with servers all over the world, we can more or less guarantee that there’ll always be one within a reasonable distance. This approach also increases the number of region-specific websites you’ll be able to access.
  • High performance: Your connection will virtually always be slower when using a VPN. That’s why it’s so important to preserve as much of your base speed as possible. We regularly run dozens of VPN speed tests, allowing us to say with confidence that the providers we recommend are among the fastest on the market.
  • User-friendly mobile apps: Since you’ll primarily be using cell phone data, we looked for VPNs with well-rounded mobile apps. Ideally, most of the functionality from the desktop versions will remain, and we welcome any features that improve the mobile browsing experience (such as ad-blocking).
  • Cloaking ability: A VPN isn’t much use if you have to turn it off to access your favorite sites. We test candidates against popular services like BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and fuboTV and only recommend those that work with a wide range of sites. Ideally, our top VPNs would work in countries with widespread online censorship too.
  • Strong security focus: To make sure your data is adequately protected, we require VPNs to follow no-logging policies, prevent IPv6 and DNS leaks, and use effectively uncrackable encryption (256-bit AES or better). A kill switch is another must-have, though you may need to manually configure this on Android phones.

This is just a brief overview of how we put VPNs through their paces. To find out more, check out our detailed testing methodology post.

Using a VPN on mobile data: FAQs

How is using cellular networks different from using wifi?

The main difference between cellular networks and wifi is range. Wifi is usually only accessible from about 20 meters away, whereas a single cell tower can provide coverage for miles. This comes at a cost, though: most phone contracts only permit a set amount of data usage each month and will bill the user for any extra consumed, whereas wifi usage is effectively unlimited in most cases.

Performance is also a significant factor. Many internet service providers guarantee a minimum speed, so you’ll have a rough idea of what to expect. Meanwhile, the speed you get on cellular networks depends on a wide variety of factors including how far away the nearest tower is, which protocol it’s using (for instance, 5G is much faster than 4G), which protocols your device supports, and how many other users are attempting to connect at the same time. 

The main thing to remember is that you may not always have access to cell networks. If you’re venturing out somewhere remote, attending an event with thousands of other people, or living in a country where the government shuts off mobile internet, it pays to have another way of getting online. 

What exactly does a VPN encrypt?

A VPN encrypts all internet traffic to and from your device. This means that any data from your browser, instant messaging services, games, social media, or other apps is hidden and can’t be read by anyone monitoring the network. That said, there are a couple of exceptions. 

First of all, a VPN will not encrypt data from apps that don’t use the internet. In other words, things like SMS messages and phone calls won’t be hidden. The good news is that it’s fairly difficult for an attacker to intercept these without having already compromised your phone. 

Secondly, VPN browser extensions only encrypt browser data and will not secure traffic from any other apps. We strongly suggest using the full version of the app whenever possible to make sure all of your device’s traffic is protected. 

Will a VPN let me bypass my monthly data allowance?

VPNs can’t remove, increase, or alter your phone’s bandwidth limit. Although some VPNs compress data before sending it, the difference in bandwidth usage is minor. There are no workarounds here, unfortunately; the only way to handle a low data limit is to take it up with your service provider.