It’s not easy to find a simple, secure, and reliable Android VPN. Unfortunately, TapVPN isn’t one. This product gets some things right, such as speed and ease of use, but lacks core security features and collects a shocking amount of data. Find out more in this TapVPN review.
TapVPN offers a free and paid VPN for Android smartphones which has been developed by marketing company Mobbo. Superficially appealing due to its easy-to-use client and reasonable speeds, this privacy tool suffers from a severe lack of information regarding security features, while customer support is non-existent.
Dangerously close to a scam product, users should beware when they download this product and read our TapVPN review for essential background.
Security and privacy
Security and privacy mean everything in the world of VPNs, so it makes sense to start our TapVPN review there. And it’s not a pretty place to be. The first thing to note is that TapVPN mainly offers a free service, which often means that its security features are less extensive than paid options. That may be the case, but the VPN’s Google Play listing provides no information about encryption, leak protection, or protocols.
The developers Mobbo claim that TapVPN is “Super Fast, Safe & Secure,” but don’t offer concrete evidence to reassure anyone thinking about starting a download. We don’t know what form of encryption the tool uses (if it encrypts data at all), and that’s a huge omission from any VPN listing.
Additionally, when we looked into Mobbo’s business activities, it became clear that its VPN isn’t all about privacy. Mobbo is a digital marketing development company which proudly boasts about delivering “lead generation” based on “mobile technology data.” In other words, it’s the kind of company many VPN users will want to shut out from their online lives. So we’d have to give TapVPN a failing grade on security – both for the lack of information and the company it keeps.
Does TapVPN log your data?
Short answer: yes.
If anything, things get worse when it comes to logging. You might expect a marketing company which monitors “Over 5 Million apps & 1.5 Million companies, to help [clients] find and reach the best prospects” to capitalize on its Android user base. And you’d be absolutely right.
TapVPN’s terms and conditions are a minefield where data collection is concerned. The company collects users’ “First name, last name, mobile phone number, IP address, physical address, email, username and password” along with “Device ID, data from apps of third parties installed, manufacturer data, browsing history, bookmarks, and network settings.” That represents a vast amount of data that marketers would love to access – and obviously do via Mobbo’s other operations.
Even worse, the VPN will use “third party credentials” to harvest photos, contacts, bookmarks and more from your Facebook or Google accounts. That’s an amazing move from a privacy tool, and totally rules out TapVPN for serious users.
Users can theoretically opt-out of these data collection processes. But if they do, TapVPN states that it “cannot guarantee that you will be able to use [the VPN] at its fullest” – which sounds like discrimination against privacy-conscious users. Again, that’s incredible behavior.
Opting out can be requested “as instructed in the contact section of the Site,” which also comes with a catch: there isn’t a contact area.
All-in-all, this is VPN operates one of the most wide-ranging data collection operations anywhere. If you download it, you’ll be handing the developers access to almost everything you do online, for minimal benefit. So just stay clear.
Speed and performance
It doesn’t really matter how fast a VPN is if its security and logging policies are as poor as TapVPN, but we put it through its paces in any case. When we executed a simple speed test, our connection speed immediately halved from 30 Mbps to 15 Mbps, and didn’t rise above 20 Mbps on any of the servers we tried. That’s enough juice to surf the web and – possibly – stream video, but it’s nothing like the “super-fast” download speed advertised on the VPN’s Google Play listing.
Server coverage is an area where TapVPN performs reasonably well. There are multiple servers in the USA, as well as France, the UK, Singapore, Germany, Australia, the Netherlands, and Japan. We found that local servers were much faster than those in distant nations, which is to be expected.
But the wide geographical spread offers possibilities for both travelers who need to unblock content back home, and those at home who want to explore what’s available abroad.
Ease of use and multiplatform support
TapVPN is solely available for Android users via Google Play. There is no service for Mac or PC and no iPhone version of the mobile app. All you can do is download the client as normal, which is a pretty painless process.
The app seems to work well with the latest version of Android, as well as versions from a couple of years ago, which is handy. And you can download the app in seconds. After that, getting started is fairly simple, although expect to navigate a few ads as you create an account.
When you’re up and running, the client won’t hold any surprises. It features a Connect button and a list of servers. Strangely, the servers aren’t grouped by location or even alphabetic order and are presented in jumbled format. That’s a bizarre design decision, but a fairly minor flaw given other issues we had with TapVPN.
Users can see data like their upload and download speeds, as well as how much bandwidth they are using, which is a neat touch. But beyond that, there’s very little on offer. You can’t play around with bookmarked servers, apply protocols, or access diagnostics to fix leaks. It’s a very pared-down product, with no frills attached.
Unblocking Netflix and other streaming platforms
Unblocking services like Netflix or Hulu is one of the primary reasons to download an Android VPN, but free VPNs like Tap regularly fail to unblock much at all. In this case, we were pleasantly surprised by the extent of TapVPN’s ability to beat geo-restriction.
We had no problems relocating our IP to access BBC iPlayer content, and YouTube geo-restriction was blown away. This suggests that, if nothing else, TapVPn runs an efficient proxy service.
Netflix was a slightly different story. We struggled to access libraries outside the USA, so broadening our content selection wasn’t really an option. And Hulu also detected the VPN without any problems. Again, there’s nothing unusual about this – it’s routine for mass-market Android VPNs.
P2P and torrenting
Don’t even think about establishing a P2P connection via TapVPN.
Not only will your data be shared with third parties around the world, but the VPN also sets out a wide variety of illegal activities that will result in your connection being terminated (or worse). Torrent downloads are almost certainly included. And, in any case, the speeds delivered by this VPN aren’t strong enough for most streams, let alone secure torrenting.
Online censorship in China and elsewhere
TapVPN promises the ability to “Bypass censorship, firewall & proxy content restrictions,” which may well excite users in countries like China, Belarus, Saudi Arabia, or Russia. But don’t press that download button too quickly.
We saw no evidence when researching this TapVPN review that these claims hold any water. To beat systems like the Great Firewall, VPNs need to have cutting-edge encryption and the ability to withstand techniques like Deep Packet Inspection. And they usually aren’t as promiscuous when it comes to data collection and sharing as TapVPN. We wouldn’t recommend this tool for anyone with worries about online surveillance, in China or elsewhere.
But if there is a facility for phone support or live chat, we couldn’t find it. Users could contact the developer Mobbo, but we wouldn’t hope for much. Fundamentally, users are provided with zero support by TapVPN, and that’s an appalling situation.
TapVPN is a free Android-only VPN, so there’s technically no need to provide payment details, and no need to learn about issues like the company’s refund policy or money-back guarantee.
However, when you load the app, you’ll soon find that it’s not quite as free as the marketing information claimed. Free users can continue as long as they like with the basic client, provided they are happy to receive endless ads and be subjected to bandwidth limits. But it’s possible to upgrade to a premium account. Here’s the pricing option:
- A monthly package priced at $5.45/month
The monthly package eliminates ads and limitations but doesn’t solve the speed, security, or logging issues. And it’s more expensive than many elite VPNs like CyberGhost or PIA, which makes it a hard sell. There’s also no annual package with discounts for loyal customers, which is disappointing. There’s also no refund policy, or at least not one we could find in the terms and conditions. So if you purchase a monthly subscription, you won’t have any way to claim recourse if the service doesn’t measure up.
While it provides a reasonably reliable way to work around geo-blocks, and the speeds provided aren’t at the bottom of the pack, TapVPN fails on many levels. This Android VPN isn’t upfront about encryption and protocols, lacks security features like a kill switch, and feeds huge amounts of private information to third parties for marketing purposes.
In other words, it can’t be described as a privacy tool at all. It’s a data harvesting app for Mobbo’s clients, and that’s not what privacy fans need. Stay clear and choose something from the best Android VPNs list instead.