What is NordVPNs SmartPlay feature?

SmartPlay is a NordVPN feature designed to help you access region-locked streaming platforms. This unique NordVPN feature leverages SmartDNS to give you an IP address in your required location. It also provides robust VPN encryption to ensure watertight privacy while streaming.

By integrating SmartDNS with robust VPN security, SmartPlay hides your IP and encrypts your traffic, making it safe to bypass streaming blocks at work or on campus.

NordVPN’s SmartPlay feature ensures private and secure access to content on any device, including laptops, phones, or tablets. The best thing about SmartPlay is that it is completely automatic, meaning you don’t have to do anything to take advantage of it.

NordVPN also offers a SmartDNS feature that you can access in the member’s area of its website – perfect for unblocking streams on devices that don’t support the main NordVPN apps – such as older smart TVs. With a NordVPN subscription, you get both of these awesome features.

SmartPlay vs SmartDNS – What is the difference?

SmartDNS is a location spoofing technology that allows you to make your devices appear to be in a different location. It uses clever routing via a DNS proxy server to replace your home IP address with an IP address in a remote location.

This makes it possible to access regional services using devices such as game consoles and smart TVs that aren’t compatible with full VPN applications.

The benefit of SmartDNS is that it lets you access regional services. However, it is not a reliable tool for getting online privacy, and although it changes your DNS server, it does not prevent local networks or your ISP from being able to monitor your online activities.

SmartPlay is a unique feature that adds SmartDNS to a full VPN connection. This custom NordVPN feature automatically leverages clever DNS routing to force your DNS queries to be resolved in the precise location required to access the streaming service you are attempting to visit.

SmartPlay gives you additional advantages when compared to SmartDNS alone:

  • Changes your DNS server
  • Hides your IP address from the websites you visit
  • Provides a virtual location for your activities
  • Encrypts your connection to give you online privacy
  • Provides integration with other VPN features such as multi-hop, leak protection, and a kill switch

Remember that you will need to use the full NordVPN application to use the SmartPlay feature. It is an automatic feature that works in the background whenever you connect to NordVPN.

What is the main benefit of SmartPlay?

NordVPN’s SmartPlay feature works regardless of which VPN server you choose.

The SmartPlay feature monitors the URLs you visit. If you visit a streaming service such as Netflix, Hulu, or HBO Max, SmartPlay will automatically use SmartDNS to access the local version of that streaming service, successfully bypassing DNS-based blocks that prevent other VPNs from working.

SmartPlay always monitors your VPN session and automatically adjusts depending on the country of the server you are using. This ensures that SmartPlay helps you access popular streaming services from all around the world.

However, if NordVPN detects that the server you are using has been blocked by the streaming service, SmartPlay will automatically reroute you to the US version of the service. This ensures that you can always access the service with the added privacy of the VPN, but it means you may not always access the regional catalog you were expecting.

The SmartPlay feature makes NordVPN better for accessing popular streaming services, allowing you to stream without needing to test multiple servers, which can be a hassle with other VPNs. This saves time and makes your streaming experience more enjoyable.

The main benefits of SmartPlay are:

  1. Allows you to stream safely with no extra steps
  2. Provides robust privacy and security while helping you access popular streaming services

How can I use SmartPlay?

NordVPN has designed its VPN service with SmartPlay enabled by default. It always works in the background, which means you don’t need to enable anything extra or do anything.

To make use of NordVPN’s SmartPlay feature, all you need to do is:

  1. Get a NordVPN subscription
  2. Download and install the NordVPN app for mobile devices or desktops
  3. Launch the VPN app and connect to the VPN server location you require

That’s it! As soon as the VPN connects, you will receive all the benefits of SmartPlay. This allows you to watch movies and TV shows with complete privacy – and the benefit of automatic SmartDNS routing designed to optimize the streaming services you visit.


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 streaming with no restrictions for a month—great if you need time to test if it’s the right VPN for you.

There are no hidden terms—just 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.

Should I use SmartPlay?

Yes. If you want a VPN that makes it easier to stream popular platforms like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, YouTubeTV, BBC iPlayer, Peacock, and many others, then NordVPN is a solid option.

A NordVPN subscription will give you automatic access to SmartPlay every time you use the VPN. This ensures safe and easy access to your favorite content on vacation – or privately on restricted networks such as at work.

When you use the NordVPN app, SmartPlay is already activated by default. NordVPN enhances your online security and privacy while SmartPlay ensures you can securely access streaming content anywhere.

NordVPN SmartPlay FAQs

Is SmartPlay legal?

Yes, SmartPlay is legal in any country where VPNs are allowed. However, it’s important to remember that SmartPlay is part of a full VPN connection, which might be restricted in some countries.

We recommend always checking the legality of VPN use in your country or any country you visit. In places like China, Russia, and the UAE, using a VPN for certain purposes is prohibited. Nothing in this guide should be taken as legal advice, so always do your own research before using a VPN.

Will SmartPlay make my internet slower?

SmartPlay is integrated with NordVPN’s service automatically and should not noticeably affect your connection speeds. That said, all VPNs will slow down your internet slightly, and it is possible that the extra feature offered by NordVPN is causing a little additional latency.

In practice, however, NordVPN is a very fast VPN that always performs excellently for data-intensive activities like streaming, gaming, and torrenting. Thus, while it is technically possible that NordVPN’s SmartPlay is making the VPN slightly slower (than it might be without it), it isn’t noticeable in practice since it is always on.

How do I turn off SmartPlay?

Although it is not possible to turn off SmartPlay per se, you can bypass the feature by setting up a manual connection to NordVPN. When you set up a manual connection that does not use the official NordVPN apps, you will no longer benefit from the SmartPlay feature. This effectively turns off SmartPlay. NordVPN has set up guides for manual connections on its website.