Not everyone can be the Phantom of the Opera, but everyone can become no more than a phantom online. Is Avira the best choice for this role? Well, although the trend seems to be that old-school cybersec companies can only make awful VPNs, Avira is actually decidedly average for the top end of the market.
Our crew breaks it down in this Avira Phantom VPN review.
Avira Phantom VPN focuses on security as the key strength. The features include:
- Solid AES-256 data encryption with SHA-512 authentication
- A decent selection of tunneling protocols: OpenVPN for Windows, L2TP/IPSec for macOS, IKEv2 for iOS
- Kill switch (Pro version)
- Supports IPv6
- Own DNS servers
This covers the basics and makes the service secure enough for the overwhelming majority of people.
We ran some leak tests on Avira Phantom VPN and found no IPv6 leaks, DNS leaks, or WebRTC leaks. Meanwhile, the kill switch protects from IP leaks due to dropped VPN connections.
Avira Phantom VPN lacks some of the more advanced security features of top names on the market. A few examples are multi-hop, Tor integration, or a stealth protocol. Yet we wouldn’t hold that against the service – clearly, it’s not aimed at the most demanding users out there.
Does Avira Phantom VPN keep logs?
Short answer: a little, but not enough for concern
However, we would like to point out that we are legally obliged to store certain data for longer periods of time (e.g. the retention periods for accounting documents are currently 10 years (The Fiscal Code of Germany)).
Speaking of which, Germany is a member of the 14 Eyes surveillance alliance and 21 of Avira VPN’s 38 server locations are in 14 Eyes countries. Depending on the activities you engage in, this can be a bit of a privacy concern.
Speed and performance
Avira Phantom VPN is decidedly mediocre in the connection speed department. Here are the particulars.
Paying users will have access to 38 server locations (12 in the USA). That’s a total of 27 countries and an unclear number of servers. The locations are well spread out and cover the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Australia – speeds for users in these regions should be decent. There’s little to no coverage in the Middle East or Africa, however, so users in these regions may want to give Avira a pass.
Speed test results
The Avira Phantom VPN speed test was made from Europe with a 75 Mbps no-VPN connection.
Here are the speeds in three different locations:
- Download: 52 Mbps (31% drop-off)
- Upload: 56 Mbps (25% drop-off)
United States of America
- Download: 27 Mbps (64% drop-off)
- Upload: 12 Mbps (84% drop-off)
- Download: 28 Mbps (63% drop-off)
- Upload: 5 Mbps (99.33% drop-off)
The drop-off percentages you’re seeing above are very middle-of-the-pack. However, the important thing is they are consistent: the speeds and ping change appropriately with the rising distance between us and the server. This means users are unlikely to be disappointed due to their region (unless it’s one where there are few servers).
Ease of use and multiplatform support
Sadly, Avira Phantom VPN also installs a general Avira Software Manager, which really acts like bloatware. Don’t be surprised – you’re also a happy Identity Scanner owner now, never having been given the option to disown it.
The Avira website is user-friendly and doesn’t attack the visitor with technical mumbo-jumbo. This also means that advanced users will have to dig deeper to get the technical answers they’re looking for.
Here’s the list of Avira Phantom VPN apps:
- Windows 7 and later
- Android (4.1, doesn’t apply for TVs)
- macOS 10.11 (El Capitan) or later
- iOS 8 and later
- Chrome (browser plugin that acts as a proxy)
Routers and other network devices, like Smart TVs or game consoles, don’t have custom apps and are not supported. though you can try to make it work if the device uses Android as some TVs do. There’s also no Linux app.
On the plus side, Avira Phantom VPN allows an unlimited number of simultaneous connections per subscription.
The most significant differences between the Windows and Mac versions is the protocol used. Windows and Android have OpenVPN, while Mac offers L2TP/IPSec instead of the preferred IKEv2/IPSec (seen in iOS).
Avira apps are easy to use. The choice is more or less limited to toggling the kill switch and choosing the VPN server to connect to.
Unblocking Netflix and other streaming platforms
Avira Phantom VPN no longer unblocks Netflix (US, Australia, Japan, UK, Netherlands, Germany).
Avira gives no guarantees and recommends you try the free version first to see if you get the content you want. As of late 2018-early 2019, Avira Phantom VPN no longer unblocks Netflix (US, Australia, Japan, UK, Netherlands, Germany).
BBC iPlayer is blocked as well and we don’t expect much success on other streaming platforms either. Simply put, Avira Phantom VPN isn’t worth much as a tool to unlock geo-restricted streams.
P2P and torrenting
Avira doesn’t mention torrenting as a keyword in their presentation of Phantom VPN even though the service itself is not illegal and the VPN does allow P2P file sharing. There was a question posted in their forum some time ago, asking for a straight answer – is torrenting allowed in Avira Phantom VPN?
The answer is “yes.” That’s a good first step because other features make this a good choice for torrenting: the security features are solid and the speeds are decent. Perhaps the only factor that would give us pause is the fact that Germany is known for enforcing copyrights rather rigorously. With that said, Avira’s minimal logging makes the risks quite small.
By the way, that also means users could use Avira Phantom VPN combined with Kodi or Popcorn Time instead of streaming services like Netflix.
Online censorship in China and elsewhere
Based on forum opinions and user reviews, we conclude that while Phantom sometimes does work in China, more often than not it’s a disappointment.
Even Avira itself does not market the Pro version as a tool that guarantees you a decent connection in China, and the last user reply to the knowledge base question about Phantom’s performance in China states that nothing works.
Avira doesn’t have a so-called “stealth protocol” to evade China’s use of Deep Packet Inspection. As a result, it is likely that authorities are able to shut down Avira traffic by identifying the tunneling protocols. Basically put, there are better tools for use in China and other restricted countries. Check our best VPNs for China list instead.
Avira Phantom VPN offers the following troubleshooting options:
- Email support
- Toll-free phone number
- Videos and tutorials
There’s no live chat option. Email support works decently well and users can expect to receive answers to queries within 1-2 days.
With Avira Phantom, you get to test almost everything for free (save for the kill switch and support) and decide if you’re willing to spend money on it.
Avira offers three pricing plans:
- 1-month plan for all devices: $10
- 1-month plan for iOS and Android: $5.99
- 1-year plan for all devices: $78 ($6.50/month)
Compared to the average prices of Top VPNs, Avira becomes quite uncompetitive because for the same price you can get much more powerful and secure software, like ExpressVPN or NordVPN.
Sadly, there’s no truly anonymous payment option like Bitcoin. Users can only pay by card or PayPal, neither of which is ideal for people in high-stakes situations.
Avira Phantom VPN is a lot better than what most anti-virus companies have been offering. This is actually a very decent tool, good for security as well as activities like torrenting. If you want something for Netflix or other streaming content – look elsewhere.
If Phantom of Avira is still there inside your mind, go ahead and take their generous free version for a spin.