Why and how to set up a VPN on your iPhone or Android (2024)

If security and privacy are important to you, then you need to set up a mobile VPN. This Essential Guide shows you how.

What is a VPN? A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, routes all of your internet activity through a secure, encrypted connection, which prevents others from seeing what you’re doing online and from where you’re doing it. Basically, a VPN provides an extra layer of security and privacy for all of your online activities. Want to learn more about VPNs in general? Check out our Essential Guide.

Why do you need a VPN on your iPhone or Android?

These days, we live on our phones and tablets, even more so than our computers. WeWhy and how to set up a VPN on your iPhone or Android (1) bank. We shop. We chat. We search. As we do all of these things, we are sending personal information out over a network and assuming that it is safe and private. Maybe it is, and maybe it isn’t. Do you really want to take that chance with your bank or credit card information?

The number one reason to get a mobile VPN on your Android or iPhone is to ensure that you have a secure internet connection. How many times have you walked into a coffee shop and logged in to their free Wi-Fi using your phone? Perhaps your cell signal was weak, or maybe you just didn’t want to use up data in your mobile plan. The problem is, public Wi-Fi hotspots are not secure, even those that require you to input a password — hey, if you can get the password, so can everyone else. That means any knowledgeable hacker can access any data being sent over that connection, including yours. Setting up a secure VPN on your mobile device ensures that, no matter how you connect to the internet, the information you send will be secure.

Why and how to set up a VPN on your iPhone or Android (2)A mobile VPN also protects your privacy from prying eyes like your ISP, Google, and other websites that track your browsing habits. If you’ve ever used the “private browsing” feature in your Web browser so that you could compare prices for flights, hotels, or other services without being tracked, then a VPN is right up your alley. With a mobile VPN in place, you’re always in private browsing mode, so the only person or entity that knows where you’ve been on the internet is you. Don't forget, A mobile VPN is much more private different than browsing in incognito mode.

Another benefit to a mobile VPN is the ability to enjoy open, unblocked access to content. If you’re traveling abroad with your iPhone, Android, or tablet, you may not be able to access social media sites like Facebook and Instagram or access certain news sites due to censorship issues. Plus, subscription-based video services that you pay for may not be accessible in all areas. Sometimes, with a mobile VPN you can get around location blocks by selecting a U.S. or other “home” server.

For more real-world benefits, check out 8 Reasons to Use a VPN.

Why and how to set up a VPN on your iPhone or Android (3)

How to choose a VPN provider

Okay, now that we’ve convinced you that a VPN on your iPhone or Android is a good idea, you need to pick a VPN provider. Do a quick internet search, and you’ll realize that there’s no shortage of options — some are free, and some have monthly service charges. While using a free mobile VPN may be tempting, they usually have some limits which can frustrate you. But free mobile VPNs are a good way to try a VPN service in order to select which one you want to buy.

How do you narrow the field? Here are some questions to consider as you research mobile VPN providers:

Is the connection secure?

What encryption method does the VPN provider use? A good VPN will likely use 256-bit encryption and a stronger protocol like OpenVPN (more on this in a second), while a free service may use a lower level of protection. Some free VPNs don’t actually use any encryption at all: these might be good for unblocking content, but they’re not good for security.

Is the VPN provider logging your activity?

If your number one goal for a VPN is privacy, then you want to make sure that the service you choose does not keep a log of your activity. Check privacy policies of the products you are considering and see what you are comfortable with.

How does the company make money?

With a subscription-based VPN, you know how the company makes its money. With a free VPN, you can’t be sure exactly how the company is making a profit. You might just have to deal with a lot of ads in your browsing experience, or they could be selling your personal info to advertisers, which defeats at least one purpose of using a VPN.

How fast is the connection? How many servers does it have?

Will the VPN slow down your internet experience dramatically? If a service has fewer servers in fewer locations, you may have to share bandwidth with other users, and you may not always have access to the VPN when and where you need it. A lot of subscription VPN applications offer a free trial to test these functions.

Are there usage caps?

Some free services might limit your daily or monthly usage. Some VPN providers offer a free tier that offers limited use and gives you the ability to upgrade to a subscription with unlimited use.

Setting up your VPN on your iPhone or Android

Once you’ve chosen a provider, it’s time to set up the VPN on your phone. There are a couple of ways to do this. The first and most straightforward option is to:

  • Purchase a VPN app in the Apple store or the Google Play store and download the app
  • Follow the setup instructions. Generally, these applications are easy to set up, even for the novices. And, they’re easy to maintain, since you can set up and save preferences. Avast SecureLine VPN offers apps for both Android and iOS mobile devices. And, it has 256-bit bank grade encryption and is built on the strong OpenVPN and OpenSSL protocols.

Technophiles keep reading: Want more control over your VPN?

The second option is to manually set up the VPN on your mobile device, which obviously requires a bit more time, effort, and knowledge. This approach is best suited for someone who wants more control over the VPN experience, including the ability to choose a specific protocol and customize settings.

What are the different VPN protocols?

If you opt to go the DIY route and set up the VPN manually, you will have to choose which VPN protocol you want to use. So, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the different options that are available — how they operate and their strengths and weaknesses. Some VPN providers, including Avast SecureLine, support multiple protocols.


One of the most popular and recommended protocols, OpenVPN is a highly secure, highly configurable open-source platform that can use AES 256-bit encryption and is especially good at bypassing firewalls. OpenVPN works on all of the major operating systems, including Android and iOS. However, it is not natively supported on any platform, which means you have to add it to your mobile device via a third-party client (we’ll explain how to do this in the next section).


Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol is a common protocol supported by most operating systems. It was developed by Microsoft and others back in the 1990s. This protocol is fast, but it’s considered to be one of the least secure options available today — which is probably why it is no longer natively supported by iOS. We do not recommend the use of this protocol, so we did not include it in the setup sections below.


L2TP stands for Layer 2 Tunnel Protocol. On its own, L2TP is a tunneling protocol that does not provide any encryption, which is why you’ll generally see it mated with IPSec encryption. Together, this duo is pretty easy to set up and is supported natively on many devices. It provides good security, but there is some concern that the NSA has successfully cracked it. Because it uses a single port (UDP port 500), it’s also easier to block and not as good at bypassing firewalls as OpenVPN. Plus, because it’s a two-step process of conversion and encryption, it’s not as fast.


Developed jointly by Microsoft and Cisco, Internet Key Exchange version 2 also lacks encryption on its own and must be used in tandem with IPSec. It is a fast, secure protocol that is especially good for use on mobile devices because it can move from one connection type to another (i.e., cellular network to Wi-Fi) and still maintain a secure connection. IKEv2 is not as widely supported as the others on this list, but it is supported natively on iOS, Blackberry, and Windows.


IPSec can also be used on its own and is natively supported on iOS devices.


Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol is a proprietary Microsoft protocol that can provide a very secure connection and is good at bypassing firewalls, but its compatibility is limited toWindows devices.

How to set up OpenVPN on your mobile device

We’re devoting a special section to configuring OpenVPN because walks the line between using your VPN provider’s client app and doing a manual VPN setup based on the protocols your phone supports. As we mentioned above, OpenVPN is not natively supported on any mobile platform, so you do need to install a third-party software application on your mobile device.

Before you do, make sure that your VPN provider supports the OpenVPN protocol (they probably do). From your provider’s website, you will need to download the needed OpenVPN configuration files for the servers you want (they will have the extension .ovpn) to your mobile device. Make sure you know where the files are saved. You may be able to download all of your provider’s configuration files in one ZIP file or just download the specific ones you want. (Android devices do not have the native ability to unzip a file, so you would need to use a file manager program.)

The next step is to download the official OpenVPN Connect application to your mobile device — either OpenVPN Connect for Android or OpenVPN Connect for iOS. During setup, you will need to import the configuration files and enter the login credentials for your VPN service. The OpenVPN website provides setup instructions for both iOS and Android, and your VPN provider probably offers these instructions as well.

Why and how to set up a VPN on your iPhone or Android (4)

How to manually set up a VPN on an iOS device

iOS devices natively support the L2TP, IPSec, and IKEv2 protocols. To configure a VPN on your iPhone or iPad, go to: Settings > General > VPN > Add VPN Configuration > Type. Here you can select IKEv2, IPSec (by itself), or L2TP (which includes IPSec encryption, even though it doesn’t say so).

Why and how to set up a VPN on your iPhone or Android (5)Why and how to set up a VPN on your iPhone or Android (6)

Then you need to fill in the required fields, which includes the server address you want to use from your VPN provider, your account name and password, and a remote ID (for IKEv2) or pre-shared key (for L2TP or IPSec). If your VPN provider supports these protocols, you should be able to locate your remote ID or key in your account/customer profile. Then hit “Done” to connect. You will need to repeat these steps for every server you want to set up.

How to manually set up a VPN on an Android device

Android devices natively support L2TP/IPSec but not IKEv2. To set up L2TP/IPSec, go to: Settings > Wireless & networks > More > VPN

Why and how to set up a VPN on your iPhone or Android (7)Why and how to set up a VPN on your iPhone or Android (8)

Click the + sign to add a VPN and fill in the required fields, which includes the server address you want to use from your VPN provider, your user name and password, and a pre-shared key. Then hit “save.” You will need to repeat these steps for every server you want to set up.

If you wish to use the IKEv2 protocol on an Android device, you will need to download a third-party software app like strongSwan VPN Client.

Get a secure connection

If your mobile device is an indispensable part of your daily life, then a VPN is an invaluable tool to protect your sensitive data, safeguard your privacy, and provide open access to the internet. Whether you’re a tech-savvy do-it-yourselfer or a tech-wary “just give me an easy app” kind of person, there’s a mobile VPN solution for you.

Now that you’ve read this guide and are armed with the tools of knowledge about all things related to mobile VPNs, it’s time to arm yourself with the tools of protection. Download a free trial of SecureLine VPN today.

Updated on April 12, 2022 with new updates and information

Insights, advice, suggestions, feedback and comments from experts

As an expert and enthusiast, I have access to a vast amount of information and can provide insights on various topics, including mobile VPNs. I can help you understand what a VPN is, why you might need one on your iPhone or Android device, how to choose a VPN provider, and how to set up a VPN on your mobile device.

Let's start with the basics.

What is a VPN?

A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a technology that routes your internet activity through a secure, encrypted connection. It creates a private network from a public internet connection, allowing you to send and receive data securely. By using a VPN, you can protect your online privacy and security.

Why do you need a VPN on your iPhone or Android?

Using a VPN on your mobile device is important for several reasons:

  1. Secure Internet Connection: When you connect to public Wi-Fi networks, such as those in coffee shops or airports, your data can be vulnerable to hackers. A VPN encrypts your internet traffic, making it difficult for anyone to intercept and access your data.

  2. Privacy Protection: A VPN hides your IP address and encrypts your internet traffic, preventing your ISP (Internet Service Provider), websites, and other entities from tracking your online activities.

  3. Access to Restricted Content: Some websites and online services may be restricted or blocked in certain regions. With a VPN, you can bypass these restrictions and access content that might otherwise be unavailable to you.

How to choose a VPN provider?

When choosing a VPN provider for your mobile device, consider the following factors:

  1. Connection Security: Look for a VPN provider that uses strong encryption methods, such as 256-bit encryption, and supports secure protocols like OpenVPN.

  2. Logging Policy: Check the VPN provider's logging policy to ensure they don't keep logs of your online activities. If privacy is your priority, opt for a provider with a strict no-logs policy.

  3. Business Model: Understand how the VPN provider makes money. Free VPNs may have limitations or display ads, while paid VPNs typically offer more features and better privacy protection.

  4. Connection Speed and Server Network: Consider the speed of the VPN connection and the number of servers available. A larger server network can provide better performance and more options for bypassing restrictions.

  5. Usage Caps: Some free VPN services impose usage caps, limiting the amount of data you can transfer. If you need unlimited usage, consider a paid VPN plan.

How to set up a VPN on your iPhone or Android?

Setting up a VPN on your mobile device can be done in a few steps:

  1. Using a VPN App: Many VPN providers offer dedicated apps for iOS and Android devices. You can download the app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store, install it, and follow the setup instructions provided by the app.

  2. Manual Configuration: If you prefer more control over your VPN setup, you can manually configure the VPN on your device. This involves selecting the VPN protocol and entering the necessary settings. The available protocols may include OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, IKEv2, IPSec, and SSTP.

For iOS devices, you can configure a VPN by going to Settings > General > VPN > Add VPN Configuration. Choose the desired protocol and fill in the required fields with the information provided by your VPN provider.

For Android devices, you can configure a VPN by going to Settings > Wireless & networks > More > VPN. Add a VPN and enter the necessary details based on the protocol you choose.

Please note that the specific steps may vary depending on your device's operating system version and the VPN provider you choose. It's recommended to follow the instructions provided by your VPN provider for accurate setup guidance.

I hope this information helps you understand the concept of mobile VPNs, their importance, and how to set them up on your iPhone or Android device. If you have any further questions, feel free to ask!

Why and how to set up a VPN on your iPhone or Android (2024)


Why would you have a VPN on iPhone? ›

What does VPN do on iPhone? The main function of a VPN setting on an iPhone is to secure data sent to and from the device and ensure all web activity remains private. However, a VPN service can also be useful for circumventing geographical restrictions, accessing location-specific content,.

What is a VPN and why would I use it? ›

A VPN, which stands for virtual private network, establishes a digital connection between your computer and a remote server owned by a VPN provider, creating a point-to-point tunnel that encrypts your personal data, masks your IP address, and lets you sidestep website blocks and firewalls on the internet.

Why would you use a VPN on your phone? ›

The benefits of a VPN are mostly around privacy, but there are other perks. Your internet traffic is guarded against interception. Unencrypted data is viewable by anyone with network access and a desire to see it. With a VPN, hackers and cybercriminals cannot eavesdrop.

How to set up a VPN on iPhone? ›

Open iPhone settings and connect to the VPN
  1. Tap on your “Settings” app on the Home Screen of your iPhone.
  2. Choose “General.”
  3. Press “VPN.”
  4. Tap “Add VPN Configuration.”
  5. Press “Type” and pick the type of VPN protocol you're using. ...
  6. Type in a description, remote ID, and a server for the VPN.

What is VPN on Android? ›

VPNs allow devices that aren't physically on a network to securely access the network. Android includes a built-in (PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, and IPSec) VPN client. Devices running Android 4.0 and later also support VPN apps.

Is VPN on iPhone free? ›

You can use Free VPN with your Apple ID on other iPhone, iPad and iPod devices. You can also register a unlimited number of devices. Free VPN, blocks 98% of ads, providing a better and seamless experience.

Can VPN be tracked? ›

Can you be tracked with a VPN? You can't be tracked using a VPN because it encrypts your data. As a result, your ISP or bad actors can't get any information out of your traffic. They only see the VPN server's IP address, while your real IP and online activities stay hidden.

Does a VPN hide your location? ›

A VPN encrypts your traffic and hides your IP address. As a result, it also hides your location, browsing history, searches, downloads, and any other activities, such as gaming or streaming. A VPN hides this information from bad actors, ISPs, websites, and even oppressive governments.

Are VPNs really private? ›

Using a reliable virtual private network (VPN) can be a safe way to browse the internet. VPN security can protect from IP and encrypt internet history and is increasingly being used to prevent snooping on by government agencies. However, VPNs won't be able to keep you safe in all scenarios.

Does VPN affect WIFI calling? ›

To make best use of Wi-Fi calling, connect to Wi-Fi whenever it's available and keep your Wi-Fi turned on. Wi-Fi calling may not work if you have a virtual protected network (VPN) turned on. To ensure that Wi-Fi calling works, turn off your VPN or update your VPN settings so that the Google Fi app can bypass the VPN.

Are VPNs free? ›

For the most part, you'll have to pay for any service worth using, except when it comes to VPNs. That's right – there are plenty of VPN providers out there that offer free versions of their products, free trial periods, and money-back guarantees that make using their service risk free. We've listed our favorites below.

Is it safe to use VPN on Iphone? ›

The majority of VPNs aren't dangerous for iPhones, especially if you buy them in the App Store. However, make sure that the VPN doesn't log any of your web activity or IP addresses and that it's based in a country that's a nonmember to Five Eyes, Nine Eyes and 14 Eyes.

How much does a VPN cost? ›

The average cost of a VPN typically ranges from $3 to $10 per month, depending on the subscription length and features offered. Longer-term plans usually offer the best value.

How to use a VPN on Android? ›

  1. Open your device's Settings app.
  2. Tap Network & internet. VPN. If you can't find it, search for "VPN." If you still can't find it, get help from your device manufacturer.
  3. Tap the VPN you want.
  4. Enter your username and password.
  5. Tap Connect. If you use a VPN app, the app opens.

How do you set up a VPN? ›

Set Up a VPN on an Android Device

Go to “Settings” and from there click “Network & Internet” then “Advanced” and, finally, “VPN.” Click “Add VPN.” Fill out your VPN's “Name” and “Server” and hit save. Click on your newly added VPN profile and fill out the “Account” and “Password” fields then click “Connect.”

Does Apple recommend using a VPN? ›

Welcome! Mac computers do not need any sort of anti-virus or VPN software. Anti-virus can cause performance issues, security issues, and make macOS appear buggy. Your Mac is worse with these types of Apps installed.

Should I delete VPN on iPhone? ›

It is not safe to disable a VPN, even when you're connected to your home network. Without a VPN, ISPs can see what you're doing online.

Should VPN be on or off? ›

Should I leave my VPN on all the time? Yes, you should leave your VPN on all the time. VPNs offer the best online security, so keeping it on will protect you against data leaks and cyberattacks, especially while you're using public Wi-Fi. It can also safeguard against intrusive snoopers such as ISPs or advertisers.

How do I know if I am connected to VPN? ›

To see if you're using a proxy/VPN online, go to www.whatismyproxy.com. It will say if you're connected to a proxy or not. PC: Check under your WiFi settings, to see if there is a VPN/proxy showing up. Mac: Check your top status bar.


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