SmartVPN is a decent VPN that manages to do most things that you expect a VPN to do, although it falls into the same trap that many VPNs of its type fall into. There are simply far better alternatives for a similar price range.
SmartVPN seems like a great VPN on the surface, and it is definitely not a bad one by any means. However, its logging policy is questionable, as are its features.
The main reason for downloading SmartVPN is its capability to perform well while torrenting. That coupled with its decent speed and the fact that its basic version is extremely cheap means that it can be a decent P2P VPN.
Security and privacy
When it comes to vulnerability, SmartVPN performs fairly well. Most of the features that you expect from a VPN are present, and you will not have any worries when using it.
Here is a complete list of all the security features that come with a SmartVPN package:
- AES-256 encryption
- DNS Leak Protection
- OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec/ PPTP/ IKEv2 Protocol support
- Stealth protocols for geo-blocking
- Dedicated IP (with ‘Dedicated’ plan)
The overall security is fairly tight and you will have privacy when using SmartVPN, but the lack of a kill switch is fairly problematic. The kill switch is extremely important when it comes to torrenting, and since torrenting is the main use of SmartVPN as far as we can tell, it should have been included.
Does SmartVPN keep logs?
SmartVPN has a logging policy which is pretty similar to other VPNs. It does not log any of your browsing data but it does log some data. This data is mainly in regards to the total data transferred over your connection during a session and the time at which you connected and disconnected from the VPN. SmartVPN claims that they only keep this data for a certain duration after which it is deleted, but the duration is not specified.
What do they need it for? We’re not sure, but it doesn’t look good at all.
Speed and performance
During our speed test, we found that the speed did drop a fair bit (around 50-60%), but what we really liked about SmartVPN was that the download speed, as well as the upload speed, was fairly consistent across all of the servers. We found a minor drop when we switched to the US server from the UK one, but that is to be expected.
In total, SmartVPN is available in 13 different locations with the Premium plan. The Basic plan only makes available the Netherlands and Germany. You also have access to the Dedicated plan, but that does not work on the US server (it works on all the other 12).
Ease of use and multiplatform support
SmartVPN is supported on a lot of different VPNs. Here is a list of all the OS that you can download the app of SmartVPN on.
These are a lot of devices, but most industry leading VPNs have applications for other devices as well such as routers and Amazon Firestick TV. The good news is that you can use SmartVPN with these devices if you are willing to go through the hassle of setting up an OpenVPN connection manually on them.
There is ample mobile app support for both iPhone and Android, and the apps were generally easy to use and not too complicated to set up. If you have no prior experience with VPNs, you will not have any trouble getting started with SmartVPN.
Unblocking Netflix and other streaming platforms
Getting around the geo-blocking in place by services such as Netflix and Hulu is possible with SmartVPN. It has the stealth protocol that is necessary for it to move past the geo-restrictions and unblock any service you want.
With the addition of manual OpenVPN configuration, you should not have any trouble setting up SmartVPN on your Roku or Amazon Fire TV as well. SmartVPN is a good VPN for watching all your favorite films and TV shows, but the simple fact is that there are better alternatives available.
A good example of this is PrivateVPN, which is available for around the same price as SmartVPN but offers you a lot more servers, better speed, and better security.
P2P and torrenting
As we have stated above, this seems like the only viable option for using SmartVPN. Although it is possible for you to torrent securely over a P2P connection, do remember that there is no SOCKS5 proxy and kill switch. This means that you are probably safe from any copyright infringement notices as long as you are connected through the VPN, but a sudden disconnection from SmartVPN could leave you completely vulnerable.
The good news is that you can use all of their servers for P2P traffic, and the speeds are decent as well. The absence of a kill switch is not a deal-breaker, and the fact that you can get the basic version of this VPN for so cheap does mean that it can be a decent torrent companion.
Online censorship in China and elsewhere
Although the OpenVPN protocol is actively blocked by the Great Firewall, SmartVPN has a lot of different protocols which can break through the censorship imposed by the government of China.
SmartVPN is secure enough for use in China, but the fact remains that you can get a much better VPN for the same price if you are willing to pay for multiple months in advance, and that VPN will be much better for connectivity in China (SmartVPN has a low number of servers near China). If you are looking for a VPN that works well in China, it is best to try NordVPN.
SmartVPN offers a few different ways for you to be in contact with their customer support. You can use any of the following:
- Live Chat
- Ticket System
There is no phone support like some of the top VPNs offer, but that is to be expected considering the size of SmartVPN. The FAQ is nothing special, but has adequate information and will help you through many of the various questions that you may have.
The live chat feature is only available once you have registered with the service which is problematic because potential customers cannot acquaint themselves with the service properly. Overall, we found the support experience to be satisfactory.
There are a total of 3 different plans that you can purchase when registering with SmartVPN. All of these plans have different prices and come with different features.
- Basic: $3.00/month (2 server locations)
- Premium: $6.00/month (13 server locations)
- Dedicated: $13.00/month (Dedicated static IP, no US servers)
You can further save up to 15% off any of these plans if you decide to pay for a whole year. There is no free trial, but you have a 7-day money-back guarantee provided that the VPN does not connect on your end and their support is unable to resolve this issue.
Most other VPNs offer a longer money-back guarantee which doesn’t have such a strict condition, and this is one avenue that SmartVPN definitely needs to make a change to. Although its Basic plan is fairly cheap, its Premium and Dedicated plans are eclipsed by many competitors who also have a better service. Pricing is definitely a department where SmartVPN could improve.
SmartVPN cannot claim to be a great VPN, but the fact that its Basic plan is so cheap does mean that it can be used by certain users who are looking for an extremely bare-bones VPN service.
If you want a VPN just so you can access the uncensored version of the internet or torrent occasionally, then this VPN is for you. However, serious internet users who want the best possible security and advanced functionality should stay away.