CNET’s Top Android VPN Picks for 2023
August 19, 2023

CNET’s Top Android VPN Picks for 2023

Why You Need an Android VPN

If you’ve got an Android smartphone or tablet and you don’t want your device or apps giving away your geolocation info around the clock, you might want to consider using a VPN.

A VPN won’t eliminate all your privacy concerns on an Android device, but the best Android VPN can provide you with whole-device protection. This means that Google can’t see your geolocation, your internet service provider can’t view your browsing activity or app usage, and your other apps’ owners can’t track what you’re doing outside of their apps. With constant surveillance and data breaches on the rise, this level of protection is essential to avoid becoming an easy target.

The Rise of Android VPN Downloads

According to recent trend reports, Android-specific VPN downloads have accounted for about 75% of the mobile VPN surge in recent years. In just 12 months between 2019 and 2020, over 480 million mobile VPN apps were downloaded globally, which is a 54% increase from the previous year.

While free VPN services make up 84% of all mobile VPN downloads, we strongly advise against using them. Instead, it’s better to choose a trusted paid VPN from one of our recommended providers. In the world of VPNs, you truly get what you pay for, and safety should be a top priority.

Best Android VPN Options

Here are the best Android VPN options that we’ve tested:


ExpressVPN is our top pick for the best Android VPN due to its impressive performance, speed, and usability. It may not be the cheapest option, but it offers the fastest speeds among all the VPNs available. Plus, ExpressVPN provides whole-device protection.


Surfshark is a close second among the Android VPN picks. It offers an easy-to-use interface, unlimited simultaneous connections, and an expansive global network. Moreover, Surfshark is significantly cheaper than most of its competitors.


NordVPN is one of the most recognized brands in the VPN field. Its Android app is user-friendly and has a similar design to its desktop VPN client. NordVPN constantly improves its network to provide faster and more secure service, making it a reliable choice.


IPVanish is a solid choice for beginners. It features a fun and configurable interface, making it ideal for those who want to understand how a VPN works. Its Android app is designed with a clean and user-friendly interface, packing the same extensive suite of features.

FAQs about Android VPNs

What’s the best Android VPN right now?

ExpressVPN is currently CNET’s top pick for the best Android VPN due to its impressive performance, speed, and usability. Surfshark and NordVPN are also highly recommended options. IPVanish is a solid choice for beginners.

Can you use a free VPN?

We don’t recommend using free VPNs due to the risks involved. Free VPNs often sell user data and may contain malware. They also tend to be slower, have limited servers, and offer less security than paid VPNs. It’s best to opt for a budget-friendly, premium VPN from our recommended list.

Can using a VPN get you in trouble?

In most countries, using a VPN is perfectly legal, and you won’t get into any legal trouble. However, in countries where VPN use is restricted or banned, you’ll need to connect to an obfuscated server to disguise your VPN traffic as regular internet traffic.

What are the downsides of using a mobile VPN?

Using a mobile VPN can result in slower speeds, especially if you have poor mobile data or internet service connection. Dropped connections may occur more frequently in these cases. Additionally, some sites may be inaccessible as they rely on your IP address for verification. It’s important to choose a VPN with fast speeds and stable connections to mitigate these downsides.