There are a lot of reasons you may want to start using a VPN on Android. After all, many of us walk around with our Android phones in our pockets, constantly sending and receiving data. Many people also have the habit of checking their bank balance while out and about.
While the expansion of mobile communication has made this convenient reality possible, it doesn’t come without its drawbacks. Checking your bank account in public, especially over wifi, without some form of protection could land you in some serious trouble. You could have your identity stolen, or your bank account emptied.
To curb this danger, using a Virtual Privacy Network is highly recommended. These services are designed to tunnel your internet traffic through a proprietary connection, allowing for greater privacy and control when you check your phone in public.
One of the leading options for Android is ProtonVPN. This service provides excellent security and functionality at a reasonable price. It is both effective and easy-to-use.
Proton is a trustworthy VPN service based in Geneva, Switzerland. The client uses AES-256 bit encryption through the OpenVPN protocol, a combination that is the industry standard, and considered quite secure. They also have a decently trustworthy no-logging policy, in which they only log timestamps from user access.
The first thing to like about Proton is the jurisdiction. Switzerland has no strict laws governing the usage of VPN services, and they actually have extensive laws protecting the privacy rights of its citizens and businesses. On top of all that, they are also outside of the Fourteen Eyes jurisdiction, meaning that the Swiss government and LEA will not be sharing any data from Proton with other countries.
Another cool thing is that since the company does not keep logs on the actual information or identifiers used by its client base, they won’t have to comply with requests from LEA or government agencies to hand over your data. Since there is nothing to track, there’s nothing to hand over.
Then there’s the performance. Let’s take a look at some speed test results:
Now, let’s take a look at how connecting through Proton affected my speeds:
As you can see, there was only minimal slowdown through Proton as opposed to my naked connection. This is an excellent speed test result, and although your specific results may vary, connecting through a server close to you should produce similar speeds to the ones shown above.
Now, when it comes to Android devices, there are a few things that we will want to look out for that can make or break a VPN service. Like any proprietary device, Android phones have specific software and hardware details that make them suited to certain kinds of services over others.
The first important thing that all Android users with VPNs should know: most Android VPN apps do not include the kill switch functionality. A kill switch feature will automatically stop your connection in the case of VPN failure. If your VPN suddenly stops working, your continued connection will be unprotected, and potentially reveal your identity and browsing activity.
A kill switch prevents this from happening by killing the connection when an error occurs with the VPN. While most Android VPN apps do not include a specific kill switch, the Android OS itself includes a kill switch-like feature called “Always-On VPN.” With this feature, you can configure your connection to cancel in case your VPN connection fails. This will allow your device to simulate a kill switch, and continue protecting your traffic in case your VPN stops working.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that downloading the app through the play store will require a google account associated with your device. If this is a security concern for you, you may want to make a throwaway account to keep your registration private.
All ProtonVPN apps are open-source
Recently, ProtonVPN took an important step towards ensuring more transparency and security for its users. Now all ProtonVPN apps are open-source.
This update means that VPN users can feel more secure while browsing the Internet. According to the company, this decision was “a natural next step” in fulfilling its mission to make browsing experience as secure, as possible.
ProtonVPN for Android: pricing
The last thing we should go over is the price. This will be the bottom line for a lot of users, as there is no sense protecting your traffic if you have to break the bank to do so. ProtonVPN has a fairly straightforward pricing structure, which is quite reasonable considering the performance and functionality of the service:
As you can see, the prices are very reasonable. Their “best offer” goes for $10/month (billed annually). This is basically industry-standard when it comes to mid-range price plans. It’s slightly cheaper than the average, with the price getting better if you commit to a full year rather than month-to-month.
There’s also an awesome free version, which offers limited server choice and thus likely lower speeds, as well as fewer features, but is otherwise very reasonable.
Pros & cons of ProtonVPN for Android
All this info is well and good in theory, but it doesn’t mean much without considering some of it in context. To see where ProtonVPN stands comparatively with other VPN services, let’s take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages that ProtonVPN provides:
- Free version available
- Excellent performance
- Solid security
- Good jurisdiction
- Competitive pricing
- Kill-switch functionality available through Android settings
- ProtonMail plan is expensive
- Fewer server locations than the competition
- No native kill-switch (typical for Android)
So as we can see, the details are fairly mixed. While there are some very good points in the pro category, there are also a few cons that could be a huge bummer for some users. The real takeaway here, however, is that the most important features (speed, security, privacy, and price) are more or less competitive compared to the competition. In fact, Proton even manages to outpace some big-name VPN services in a few of these categories.
How to install and use ProtonVPN on Android
Like most Android apps, installation and use are quite straightforward. To get started with Proton, you will first want to register an account. Don’t worry, you won’t have to provide any identifying or payment information, other than an email address.
Simply click on the Sign up button in the top right corner of the ProtonVPN homepage to register your account. Once you’re registered, you can navigate over to the Google Play Store on your Android device to download and install the client. This is a straightforward and familiar process that most Android users should have no problem with.
Once you’ve accessed the client, you will see a list of servers:
Simply click on the location you want to use, and hit “connect” when prompted. You will connect through your chosen server and meet the following UI:
The interface is very nicely designed. It isn’t too bright, it has clear buttons for the necessary functions, and it even provides some connection stats in case you want to keep track of your connection within the app itself. Like we said earlier, this is all super straightforward and shouldn’t give anybody any trouble.
The Bottom Line
ProtonVPN is an excellent choice for Android users and a strong candidate to join the ranks of the best Android VPNs. It occupies a competent middle ground of performance and price, with plenty of functionality to satisfy even the most discriminating internet privacy specialists. Although it doesn’t include kill switch functionality, the Always-On VPN feature on Android can simulate the feature and safeguard your traffic. Give this one a try and let us know how you make out!