According to data from StatCounter, mobile devices are now the primary way we access and use the internet. And more and more, this involves doing sensitive activities—such as banking or shopping—which we previously only did on our home computer or in person.
While this makes life a lot easier, it also adds a layer of risk.
The iPhone (and Apple devices in general) have long been regarded as more secure and stable than others. But mobile connections can be unencrypted and unsecured, especially if you are using public WiFi. This means anyone can monitor your device and access the growing storage of private information you have on your phone.
Luckily, you can keep information private and secure by installing and using a VPN app for iPhone. We’ll discuss some things you need to consider when choosing a VPN provider, and how to use VPN for iPhone, step by step.
Choosing The Right VPN For Your iPhone
iOS—the iPhone’s operating system—is currently the most popular mobile operating system in the US. As a result, the best VPN providers on the market today all have apps specifically for the iPhone.
The VPN app for iPhone that you choose mostly depends on your individual needs and preferences. However, you should also consider the VPN provider’s commitment to privacy (such as data logging policy), as well as technical issues like available security protocols and number of servers.
How to Configure a VPN on Your iPhone
Once you’ve chosen your preferred VPN, it’s time to set it up on your iPhone. This is quite simple.
For the purposes of this guide, we’ll use screenshots from NordVPN’s iOS app, but the installation procedure applies to most other VPNs, too.
Step 1: Go to the App Store and download the app
You don’t usually need to log on to the VPN’s website in order to get a VPN for your iPhone. Instead, you can log on to the App Store, search for your VPN provider by name, and download the app directly on your iPhone.
Step 2: Create your account
Once you’ve downloaded and installed the app, you’ll need to register for an account. Some VPN providers - ExpressVPN, for instance - have a free trial. This means you can start using the VPN immediately without signing up. If this is the case, skip to Step 3. Free trials usually last for a set number of days (typically 7, 14 or 30 days) or expire after you’ve used up a set amount of data. Once your trial expires, you’ll need to come back to this step to create an account and select a subscription.
You can usually create an account straight in the app by typing your email address and creating a password.
You’ll also need to pick a plan and pay for your subscription. Many VPN providers get cheaper with the more months you pay for upfront. A year-long subscription is usually the cheapest option. You can pay straight from the app either by inputting your credit card details or via Apple Pay.
Step 3: Choose a server and connect
Once your account is active, simply connect to a server and you’re done.
Your choice of server will depend on your needs. If you simply want your data to be protected, any server will do. However, it’s best to go for one that’s close to your location, as this will ensure your connection performs optimally.
Of course, if you want to use your VPN to bypass geographical restrictions, you’ll need to choose a VPN server in the area where you want to appear to be located.
You can pick a server in your VPN app, either from a list:
or you can make your selection from a map:
Once you’re connected, an icon on the top left of your iPhone screen, right next to the WiFi or 4G symbol, will show that the VPN is active and working.
How To Use VPN On Your iPhone
iPhone VPN apps come at different price points and range from the very basic to apps with advanced features and iOS-specific functionality (both ExpressVPN and PureVPN iPhone apps are cases in point). The VPN will usually be active while you use your phone and disconnect after a while if you lock the device and put it away. When this happens, you’ll need to switch on the VPN.
You can do this either via the app, or else by sliding the bar next to a new item in your phone’s settings called VPN. When the bar becomes green, your VPN is on.
Alternatively, you can get your VPN to reconnect automatically every time you unlock your iPhone.
Go to your iPhone’s settings.
Scroll down to General. You should notice a new entry called VPN.
Press on VPN. This will take you to a new screen that shows you the names of the VPNs that are enabled on your iPhone.
Click on the information icon next to the name of your VPN. You’ll be taken to an information screen that will show you the security protocol you’re using, the server, your account name, your IP address and the IP address currently assigned to you.
At the very bottom, there’s an option called “Connect on Demand” press the slider and wait for it to become green.
That’s it. Your VPN will connect automatically every time you unlock your iPhone.
Need help choosing the right VPN for your iPhone? Read our in-depth reviews for full details of the best VPNs’ benefits and features.