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NordVPN is arguably the most well-known VPN in the world. They’ve made quite a name for themselves by having a well-performing product, constantly improving themselves, and setting trends for other VPNs to follow. Their software is easy to use and works well on a wide variety of devices, making it a great choice for any use-case.
Compare that with AirVPN – a service that has not changed much over the years, but has a clear vision and a small, dedicated following of privacy enthusiasts. It may not seem like much, but it’s very customizable if you know what you’re doing.
At first glance, these two providers have little in common. NordVPN has over 5100 servers in 60+ countries, while AirVPN has merely 240+ in around 20 countries. NordVPN is also one of the best services at unblocking restricted content on streaming services like Netflix. Meanwhile, AirVPN is not prioritizing that and simply does not work. However, both are fairly capable at getting around censorship in countries like China. Regardless, NordVPN has plenty of other features as well and is overall the better security app.
There are many more categories to cover in this AirVPN vs NordVPN comparison. So let’s not beat around the bush and start off with an overview of their speed and servers.
|“Best for” nominee||Best overall, Best for Netflix, Best for P2P, Best for China||Best no-logs provider|
|Price starts from||$3.30/month||$2.40|
|Review||NordVPN review||AirVPN review|
When it comes to speed, NordVPN is the clear winner. Their NordLynx protocol, which is based on WireGuard, provides an insane speed boost compared to the competition. AirVPN is left in the dust by only having OpenVPN as their tunneling protocol. Further manual tests and user reviews can confirm this. You can also have a look at our in-house speed testing tool to see the speed disparity between WireGuard and OpenVPN protocols.
|Owns all servers||Not all||No|
|RAM-only servers||Not all||No|
NordVPN has more than 5100 servers in over 60 countries. Some of their servers are specifically optimized for P2P traffic and you’ll be reconnected to those if P2P traffic is detected. Additionally, all of their servers are physical, meaning there are no virtual servers in their fleet.
On the other hand, AirVPN has just around 240+ servers in 20+ countries globally. It’s not much, but they do have high standards and it’s possible to view the server load online. Just like their opponent, all of their servers are physical.
Pricing and plans
|Free trial||7-days for new users on Android||3-days, ask customer support|
|Money-back guarantee||30 days||30 days|
|Payment options||Credit card, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, ACH Transfer, cryptocurrencies, UnionPay||Credit card, PayPal, cryptocurrencies|
NordVPN provides their clients with 3 pricing plans – a single month costs $11.95, a year’s subscription costs $4.92/month and two years cost $3.30/month. A free trial is available for new users when getting the app on Android through the Google Play app store. You’ll have to add your credit card information and you’ll be charged unless you cancel the subscription. .
AirVPN boasts 7 pricing tiers – from three days to three years. They are as follows:
- $2.40 for 3 days
- $8.39 for 1 month
- $5.99/monthfor 3 months
- $5.79/month for 6 months
- $4.89/month for 1 year
- $3.94/month for 2 years
- $3.30/month for 3 years
Unsurprisingly, the longest subscription options are the cheapest, but it’s uncommon to see so many options. You can get a free trial on any platform by simply contacting customer support.
Both services provide you with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Both can also be paid for with cryptocurrencies. However, neither service has a free version.
AirVPN provides a good amount of choices in terms of pricing, and their longest subscription plan is a bit cheaper than NordVPNs best plan, making it the winner in this category.
|Protocols||NordLynx, OpenVPN, IKEv2||OpenVPN (TCP, UDP)|
|Kill switch||Internet kill switch, app kill switch||Internet kill switch|
|DNS and IP leaks||No leaks||No leaks|
|Security features||Split tunneling (Windows, Android), Double VPN, Onion over VPN, CyberSec, SOCKS5 proxy, Obfuscated servers, DNS and IPv6 leak protection||Split tunneling, OpenVPN over SSL/SSH, Tor over VPN, DNS and IPv6 leak protection|
In the security realm, some similarities occur between these two. For starters, both are using military-grade AES-256 encryption. They also support the widely-used OpenVPN protocol, have internet kill switches, have no IPv6 or DNS leak issues, have Tor over VPN, and split tunneling. Quite an impressive suite of features.
However, NordVPN does have a slight edge over AirVPN. For starters, NordVPN has two extra tunneling protocols – NordLynx and IKEv2. Secondly, they have Double VPN for more security, CyberSec to block malware and phishing websites, a SOCKS5 proxy, and obfuscated servers for use in oppressive countries.
Meanwhile, AirVPN allows you to customize your OpenVPN connection by choosing your entry ports, switching between TCP and UDP, or adding an extra SSH/SSL tunnel layer.
This duo has some common ground in terms of security, but the scales tip in favor of NordVPN due to the larger number of features.
|Logging||Independently-audited no-logs policy||No-logs policy|
When we look at the privacy policies of these two, there’s hardly anything faulty going on. Except that AirVPN is based in Italy, which is a member of the Fourteen Eyes alliance. But they do have a no-logs policy and plenty of anonymous payment options.
NordVPN is based in Panama, a safe haven of privacy. Their no-logging policy has been audited independently and they have a wide variety of payment options to choose from, anonymous payment included. These little extra steps put NordVPN slightly ahead in terms of privacy.
Compatibility with devices
|Major dedicated apps||Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS||Windows, Mac, Linux, Android|
|Other dedicated apps||Fire TV & Fire Stick, Android TV||N/A|
|Browser extensions||Chrome, Firefox, Edge||N/A|
|Manual setup||Routers, firewalls, NAS||Routers, ChromeOS, iOS|
If you’re looking for a universally-compatible VPN, NordVPN is, without a doubt, the one for you. It has dedicated apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, Amazon Fire TV & Fire Stick, and Android TV. If that’s not enough, there are browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge. Manual configuration is possible for routers, firewalls, and NAS (Network Access Storage), and it can be installed as an add-on for Kodi.
And what about AirVPN? Well, they have apps for Windows, Mac, Linux and Android. Not iOS though – you’ll have to manually configure that, along with your router and ChromeOS laptop. Finally, you’re limited to only 5 simultaneous connections, compared to the 6 with NordVPN.
Netflix and other streaming platforms
|Other Netflix libraries||Yes||No|
NordVPN is one of the top choices when it comes to streaming. They have no problem unblocking geo-restrictions on Netflix US and other libraries like the UK, Canada, or even Japan. Other streaming platforms, like Amazon Prime, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer are similarly not an issue for this VPN. Their SmartPlay feature is quite capable and is updated constantly.
AirVPN, on the other hand, has thrown in the towel. Streaming, and Netflix in particular, is not a priority for this VPN. They have made this clear in their forums. You can still watch what’s available in your country, but don’t expect to unblock extra content.
Torrenting and P2P
|Allowed on||All servers||All servers|
|Free SOCKS5 proxy||Yes||No|
|Split tunneling||Yes (Windows, Android)||Yes|
Both services are a viable option for torrenting as P2P traffic is possible using both VPNs. However, NordVPN does have specialized P2P servers for that extra speed boost. There’s also A SOCKS5 proxy for the added layer of security, and split tunneling, but only for Windows and Android users.
AirVPN does not come with a SOCKS5 proxy. Nevertheless, they gain the upper hand by having split tunneling on all platforms and even having port forwarding.
China and other restricted countries
|Works in China||Yes||Yes|
|Stealth VPN||Yes (Obfuscated servers)||Yes (OpenVPN over SSL/SSH)|
|Tor over VPN||Yes (Onion over VPN)||Yes|
Both NordVPN and AirVPN agree that freedom of speech is important. That’s why they are working hard to provide customers with as many options as possible to get around any kind of censorship.
As such, either one is a good option to use in China. For NordVPN use in China, you simply need to enable obfuscated servers in the settings menu and you’re good to go. With AirVPN, you can switch to OpenVPN with an SSH or SSL tunneling layer. Both VPNs can also be configured to work in tandem with the Tor Browser.
In the realm of customer support, there’s a bit of disparity between these two providers. NordVPN has everything you’d expect from a big player on the market – 24/7 availability, live chat, email communication, and an extensive number of self-help guides.
Out of those, AirVPN only has email communication and a community forum as an alternative to a support page. However, the forum is by no means subpar and is actually quite active. You’ll find a lot of valuable information there and AirVPN employees themselves will post there quite often. Still, that doesn’t compare to the convenience of live chat and so NordVPN is the victor in this regard.
Comparison by category
|Speed and servers||Wins✔️||Loses❌|
|Total wins||6 out of 9||2 out of 9|
NordVPN vs AirVPN – which is better?
It should come as no surprise that NordVPN is the overall winner of this competition. Even though AirVPN is run by a small team of dedicated hackers, a big team can accomplish more and maintain a larger number of features.
NordVPN blazed through the speed and server category with their NordLynx protocol and huge server infrastructure. AirVPN didn’t have much of a chance with only OpenVPN as their tunneling protocol and a small number of servers. But they recovered in the pricing category by having more plan options and being slightly cheaper.
NordVPN followed up with a winning streak in security, privacy, compatibility, and streaming. It wasn’t completely one-sided though, as AirVPN netted another victory in torrenting by having the port forwarding feature.
The duo put aside their differences and agreed that getting around oppressive restrictions is worth the effort. But then NordVPN once again gained a point with their outstanding customer support.
The verdict – NordVPN does not pull any punches and is a well-rounded VPN with many use-cases. AirVPN is operated by a smaller team and thus does not have the number of bells and whistles that their opponent has. But it’s slightly cheaper and VPN enthusiasts could find their customizability appealing.
Which provider do you prefer? Let me know by leaving a comment!
Does AirVPN work with Netflix?
Unfortunately, AirVPN does not work with Netflix and the team is not working towards fixing this. You’ll be better off with a different provider, such as NordVPN.
Is AirVPN secure?
AirVPN is based in Italy, has a no-logs policy and a good number of necessary security features. It can also be tinkered with extensively to suit your personal security needs.
Is NordVPN trustworthy?
NordVPN has been in the VPN industry for a long time and is still trusted by a large number of customers. It has also been independently audited numerous times to ensure security.
Can you be tracked using NordVPN?
No, you cannot because NordVPN encrypts your entire web traffic and no one is able to decipher it. They also have a no-logs policy, meaning they don’t store any information about you.
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Ethan is a security researcher and digital privacy advocate. He spends his time unraveling various anonymity and security tools, plus contributing to open-source projects. Otherwise, he keeps a low profile by hiking or cycling around the countryside.