Hi VPN is a free product for simple needs. As long as you don’t need a VPN for anything serious, this one will do.
With over 10 million downloads on the Play Store, Hi VPN is trusted by users worldwide. But is this trust well-earned or misplaced? After all, the popular adage states that “if you’re not paying for it, you’re the product.” Let’s see how much this applies to Hi VPN.
Security and privacy: Hi VPN review
Hi VPN is limited on the security front, which is to be expected of a free VPN service. As a matter of fact, in that sense it’s a bit of an overachiever. Here are the features:
- Solid encryption (AES)
- OpenVPN (UDP/TCP)
- Split tunneling
There’s no kill switch, but this is to be expected for an Android app – the OS has a native kill switch feature called Always-On VPN. Make sure you engage it if privacy is important to you.
AES encryption via OpenVPN is practically unbreakable, but there’s another, more mysterious protocol choice in Shadowsocks. For those unaware, this is a protocol created with the sole purpose of bypassing advanced attempts at blocking VPN traffic. In other words, it should make Hi VPN useful in countries like China, Saudi Arabia, and other censorious places (although we advise against using it in China – more on that later).
Finally, Hi VPN offers the option to exclude certain apps from working under the VPN. This is called split tunneling and is a very useful feature that gives users a lot of flexibility.
Does Hi VPN keep logs?
In short: yes, and quite a lot
Simply said, Hi VPN does indeed log and may share them with legal authorities. This information includes your IP address, location, etc.
This is no surprise:
- Hi VPN is owned by a Hawk Internet Co., a Chinese company, meaning Chinese authorities have access to all the data going through the VPN’s servers
- The service is funded through targeted ads, which implies data collection and sharing with third-parties
If it’s privacy you need, don’t even look in the direction of Hi VPN.
Speeds and performance: Hi VPN review
Hi VPN has good speeds for a free VPN: the drop in download speed and upload speed is reasonable and consistent with the distance between the user and the server.
If the Google Play listing is to be believed, Hi VPN offers “tens of thousands” of servers. That’s a blatant lie, of course. At best, the numbers may be in the hundreds range.
Most of the servers are only available for paid users and come only with the premium subscription. This leaves free version users with three servers (Singapore, Germany, and New York in the United States). Although you may be tempted by those premium servers, believe us when we tell you there are significantly stronger VPN services to spend your money on.
Ease of use and multi-platform support
Hi VPN is an Android-only product – there’s no app for Windows, Mac or iOS.
You can download it from the Play Store or, if you don’t want it linked back to your personal account and credit card information, you can even download the Hi VPN .APK file directly from the website.
The app is fairly intuitive and there are no advanced features. You can connect at the touch of a button and change the server from within another menu. You can also navigate the menu at the top to set up which apps you want protected by the VPN and which ones you wish to exclude.
Unblocking Netflix and other streaming platforms
Users look towards VPNs to help them bypass geo-restrictions imposed by streaming giants such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Fire, and the BBC iPlayer. As a result, not all content is available everywhere in the world in the same way.
Surprisingly, even the free version of Hi VPN will let you access Netflix US. The good speeds are a very positive added bonus here – if you have a half-decent connection, watching Netflix through Hi VPN should be a good experience.
Hi VPN review: P2P and torrenting
To our knowledge, P2P and torrenting aren’t blocked on any of the servers available, even the free ones. Hi VPN offers OpenVPN and Shadowsocks, which are good choices for torrenting. With that said, make sure you do it with Always-On VPN and consider that Hi VPN is not the most trustworthy anonymity tool.
Online censorship in China and elsewhere with Hi VPN
Readers might have already heard of the Great Firewall of China: the country has built a digital wall between itself and the internet of the world. A VPN can help users get around such barriers and the Shadowsocks protocol offered by Hi VPN is great at doing just that.
Yet the company behind Hi VPN is a Chinese company, which is why we would strongly advise against using the VPN within this country. Chinese VPN companies are allowed to function only because they follow the rules, which means your data will not be safe with this service.
Hi VPN may be more appropriate for users in other censorious countries.
Unfortunately, Hi VPN’s customer support is close to non-existent. The options include:
- FAQ with some rudimentary answers within the app
- Feedback form with an email address
This means there’s no live support in the form of a chat or hotline. That’s obviously not ideal, but not at all unexpected.
As mentioned, Hi VPN is essentially a free VPN. Yet, there are premium servers, which you can access by buying a subscription. The payment plans are as such:
- 1-month: $14.50
- 1-year: $96 ($8.00/month)
There’s also a free trial for the VIP plan, but no refund policy or money back guarantee is present. The free trial lasts 3 days after which you’ll automatically be charged for a month.
For a free VPN, Hi VPN is not bad, but the subscription price is absolutely outrageous. Even the best VPN services on the market don’t cost as much as Hi VPN does.
Hi VPN is a decent free VPN with good speeds and the ability to unblock Netflix among other things. Due to the Shadowsocks protocol, it’s quite good at beating online censorship and could be a solid choice for everyday users – assuming they can bare the incessant ads.
With all that said, anyone who cares about their privacy should steer clear of this tool. It collects a lot of data about you and is not shy about sharing it with authorities. Worse still, the company behind Hi VPN is based in China, making the app terrible for that country in particular.