Last update: 09.30.2019
Smartphones have become the main device for accessing the web, but too often we forget the importance of securing your connection. One of the best tools to do so is a Virtual Private Network (VPN). But since there’s a bunch of them, it’s hard to choose the right one without testing them all. That’s why we are reviewing Astrill Android VPN today, so you can see if it fits your needs.
Astrill Android VPN
What Astrill says about their VPN? On their website, we found this list:
The best Android VPN app
- Connect to VPN with one click
- Select applications and sites that go over VPN
- Hundreds of VPN servers in 50+ countries
- The fastest VPN of them all
Given that Astrill already offers servers in 60+ countries, we decided to check if the other statements were as outdated.
At the time of our test, Astrill Android had over 100,000 installs and 4,000+ reviews with the average score of 3.9 out of 5, but the last three comments gave only 1 star, citing connection errors, 24/7 live chat not available, or even the app itself not working and asking for activation.
Astrill Android Free version
We’ve decided to start from the Free version of Astrill’s Android app.
Downloading and installing the Astrill Android VPN version is easy and works just like installing anything else from the Google Store. We were happy that it only required an email and a password.
Free Android version is available in North America and Europe only
Then we got to choose either the Android-only free plan for one device or the paid Full VPN account with support for up to 5 devices. We picked the former first to see what it has to offer.
We were welcomed with a message that [email protected] is there for us throughout the year, although we found this strange because email support is deprecated, at least according to Astrill’s website.
After the message, we were left on our own with a simple Main screen. Its header and footer had links offering an upgrade, while the body offered a selection of servers and a humongous swipe-type button for ON and OFF.
The free version for Android works on one device, doesn’t allow to choose a protocol, and limits server selection to 20 countries. But given that some of them offer more than one location (there’s more than 25 in the US alone!), that’s far from the worst free VPN option.
We wanted to ask support about the protocol used by default, but the 24/7 live chat was seemingly offline, unreachable on whichever device we tried. We can only assume it’s OpenWEB, which Astrill offers for Android by default.
Astrill Android paid version
The paid version gives access to the full server list and also allows to choose between OpenWEB and StealthVPN protocol. The latter is tailored to combat geo-blocks and firewalls, including the Great Firewall of China. The last difference from the free version is the option to invite friends. If one purchases Astrill, you get 30 days for free.
From the user experience point of view, the most annoying thing was the need to disconnect to see the list of available servers. It goes beyond saying that switching the protocol will also require you to go offline. Other than that, it’s a simple-to-use app with nearly instantaneous server connections.
Options in the Astrill Android VPN
Here you can choose some non-default settings, like switching from port 443 (for HTTPS) to 80 (HTTP). You would want to use the latter only if your VPN is detected while using port 443 and blocked. Therefore, it’s probably for the best to leave this option on “Auto.”
The Application filter will allow you to select apps that will use the VPN connection and apps that will not use the VPN connection. We recommend selecting all apps.
Show logs was a function that caught our attention – basically, here you can see what information has already been logged by Astrill Android VPN. There’s nothing creepy about this function – many VPNs have it. Actually, it can be crucial in case you have an issue and need to copy-paste something to the Support staff.
Battery optimization is another option in the Free version that says you should not optimize this VPN for “steady results” in speed. Paid users get a pop-up warning that not giving Astrill Android VPN enough power might make your connection speed suffer.
Astrill Android VPN speed test: Free vs Paid version
We decided to run a speed test with both the Free and Paid versions to see if there will be any differences.
Here’s what we got after doing three tests with Free version on Android 7.1.2, using a server that’s ~1000 km away. First one was done without a VPN, the second with the battery-optimized mode, and the last one with the battery non-optimized mode, as recommended by Astrill.
Astrill Android VPN Free version speed test results
Clean channel – 4G LTE
Download speed is 39 Mbps and upload speed is 27 Mbps. Not too shabby.
VPN, battery optimized – 4G LTE
Astrill Android showed 37 Mbs while downloading and 25 Mbps when uploading. Nice.
VPN, battery non-optimized – 4G LTE
Fully-powered Astrill Android managed to surprise with 41 Mbps download speed but saddened with its 19 Mbs upload.
Astrill Android VPN Paid version speed test results
VPN, battery optimized – 4G LTE
29 Mbps download speed and record-breaking 37 Mbps upload speed – a strange combination indeed.
VPN, battery non-optimized – 4G LTE
29 Mbps download speed and silver medal-winning 33 Mbps upload speed – a strange sentence to read.
As you can see, there is no clear advantage in setting non-optimized mode for Astrill’s Android app. And when it comes to the paid and free version, one gives a better download speed while the other offers a better upload speed. Therefore, we can only conclude that both free and paid Astrill for Android is a fast VPN. It can even be the fastest with an extra punch from their VIP servers.
Should you try Astrill Android VPN?
First, we must warn you that there’s no DNS leak protection in the Astrill Android version. We’ve found some claims of DNS leaks earlier in 2018, but our tests have found nothing.
And while the speed of Astrill Android VPN is good, the lack of servers means it will not be the case across the globe. And we’re talking about the paid version here. Sure, you can pay extra to get access to VIP servers, which will improve your connection speed and stability, but spending even more when the standard price is already high makes you think of alternatives.
To sum this up, you should use paid Astrill Android VPN only if you already bought it for desktop. And if you haven’t, we suggest checking out the free version which should give you an idea of what to expect in terms of features and speed. That is, of course, if you’re not outside of North America or Europe.
Alternative VPNs for Android
Since Astrill VPN for Android is clearly not among the most attractive offers, we suggest taking a look at these alternatives from our Best VPN for Android list, updated regularly.
Why you need a VPN for Android
Even if you don’t watch Netflix on your phone, preferring your 4K TV, and you don’t download torrents, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be using a VPN.
First and foremost, it will protect your privacy and anonymity – a task that’s becoming harder each day. So just like your laptop can end-up leaking your personal information, the same can happen when using your phone. What is more, people with smartphones connect to free and unsafe public wifi networks more often: coffee shops, airports, and bus stations are only some of the places where others can spy on your traffic.
When traveling, you might sometimes take your laptop or tablet, but you will never leave without your phone. Therefore, it may come in handy to be able to change your IP location because certain websites are blocked in certain countries, or you may need to access the ‘home version’ of a website.
Finally, just like Windows for PC, Android is the most popular smartphone OS, meaning it has the largest amount of malware, spyware, and other types of badware. And it will be harder to steal your passwords or any other personal data if you’re using a good VPN for Android.