Should I use a VPN on my iPhone? Yes, you should! What is a VPN on an iPhone? Well that’s not a yes-or-no answer. To put it shortly, it’s a virtual private network, which protects your iPhone from snoopers and other online dangers. But let’s dive deeper than a single paragraph. Read the article and be enlightened.
What is a VPN on an iPhone? In short
A VPN on an iPhone is any virtual private network capability you employ on your iPhone. It does what a VPN does: it creates an encrypted tunnel between an iPhone and a VPN server and uses it to securely route information when you do anything at all online. It can be an app from a VPN service, or it can be done by configuring the native iPhone VPN capability. The former is more versatile and easier to use, the latter is free.
What is a VPN?
VPN, which stands for Virtual Private Network, is a term for an online connection that imitates the privacy of connecting two devices with a single cable (and no intermediaries) by using the public internet (with many intermediaries).
A VPN needs a VPN client (on your device) and a VPN server (somewhere else). When you establish a connection to the server, your VPN client encrypts all the information you send out. The server then decrypts that information and forwards it to your online destination. Once a reply comes back, the VPN server encrypts it and sends it to the client for decryption.
As an added bonus, routing via a VPN server practically changes your IP address to that of the server’s. So unless you identify yourself in some way (like logging into your account), the website or service will believe that you’re connecting from the VPN server and not wherever you really are, making you that more private.
VPN: let’s break it down
- It’s virtual because privacy is achieved by digital means instead of physically connecting your device and the website’s server with a single uninterrupted cable.
- It’s private because nobody who can monitor your connection (your ISP, the firewall at your workplace, etc.) knows what you’re connecting to – sometimes they don’t know you’re using a VPN.
- It’s a network because there is more than one device interacting.
Still confused? We wrote a whole article on what a VPN is.
Is there a VPN on an iPhone?
Yes, an iPhone has native VPN support, just like all OS X devices, Windows PC, Android phones, and so on. Natively, an iPhone supports these VPN protocols (ways to establish and maintain a VPN connection):
- IKEv2/IPsec – basically called IKEv2 by anyone in the know, it’s a standard trustworthy protocol. Not flashy, but provides stability and speed mobile users appreciate.
- LT2P/IPsec – too slow for modern use, and allegedly compromised by the NSA.
- PPTP – only supported by ancient iOS 9 and OS X 10.11 and earlier devices, and absolutely terrible.
Notably, this is capability. You’re still going to have to do VPN configuration yourself – including finding a VPN server that you’ll route data through. So on the edge cases – like if you’re an IT tech with their own VPN server just chilling somewhere – this may be good.
A VPN app you can subscribe to and download from the App Store offers:
- Not having to do manual setup
- A lot more protocols, including some real bangers like Wireguard
- Many servers to choose from and effortlessly connect to
- All sorts of quality of life features
- A variety of additional security measures like Kill Switch
- Whatever other nice things the VPN provider came up with.
Should a VPN be on my iPhone?
If you’re asking if you should install a VPN on your iPhone, then the answer is YES. Here’s why:
Stay safe and secure on public Wi-Fi networks
Hackers are always on the lookout for vulnerable people online. Unsafe public Wi-Fi is one of their easiest entry points. A lot of the time, the private data shared when using public Wi-Fi is not encrypted. Consequently, malicious actors steal it in various ways.
In a similar vein, sometimes hackers create fake Wi-Fi hotspots. So, to stay safe and secure on public Wi-Fi, you need an additional layer of security.
VPN services help you to establish a safe and secure connection on public Wi-Fi by:
- encrypting your internet traffic;
- hiding your IP address.
Encrypted internet traffic is turned into unreadable code. Meanwhile, hiding your IP makes it hard to pinpoint your location in the real world. Add these two together, and you’ll get a large increase in privacy.
Overcome network restrictions at work and school
Ever get tired of network restrictions at work and school? Schools and workplaces block access to certain websites or online content for reasons like “productivity” and “to lessen the network load.” Nevertheless, you can overcome such blocks – all thanks to VPN apps!
Just connect to a VPN server in a location of your choice and gain access to cool things online. For further reading, check out 6 reasons why you should use a VPN at work.
Bypass censorship wherever you go
There is a rapid increase of internet shutdowns across many nations of the world. Imagine living in a country or traveling to a nation where access to your favorite social media platforms is blocked. If you live in such a place, there is a way out!
Once again, a VPN on your iPhone comes to the rescue. A VPN can bypass most common methods of blocking websites, especially IP blocks and DNS filtering.
In order to avoid censorship, change your location with a VPN. For example, if you want to access BBC or the New York Times while in a country that blocks them, connect to a U.S. location.
Stream privately and throttle-free
Does your internet speed suddenly drop whenever you open a streaming service? It might be your internet service provider (ISP) capping your bandwidth because they see you streaming. Yes, ISPs do that, and it’s called throttling.
Since they see what you do online, ISPs often throttle your speed if you download files or stream videos. A fix? You guessed it – a VPN. A VPN hides your traffic from your internet provider, so they don’t know what you’re doing. This way, you can avoid throttling and stream privately with a VPN.
Disclaimer: Surfshark does not encourage using a VPN in any way that would potentially violate the Terms of Service of other service providers
Defeat price discrimination
Location plays a vital role when it comes to purchasing things online. Here’s the thing: companies set prices based on your zip code, IP address, purchase history, and even which Wi-Fi you’re using. This is price discrimination. And often, you pay more for an item if you’re from a higher-income country.
However, using a VPN, you can switch locations to get the best deals. Yes, you can defeat price discrimination and even use it to your benefit to save significant amounts of money when you shop with a VPN. For more on this topic, read about how to get cheaper plane tickets with a VPN.
How to use a VPN on an iPhone
The easiest way to use a VPN on an iPhone is to get a VPN app. Here’s the process for most VPN apps:
Now you’re set to enjoy the benefits of a VPN.
If that isn’t enough, we have more extensive guides on what you need to set up a VPN on an iPhone.
Should I turn a VPN on or off?
If you’re using the internet on your iPhone, you should turn the VPN on. There are not many cases where having it off is beneficial, but we’ll try and list them anyway.
When to turn a VPN on
When to turn a VPN off
Our advice is to always use a VPN just to be on the safe side.
Is a VPN free on an iPhone?
There are two ways a VPN can be free on an iPhone:
- By using inbuilt VPN functionality: this means setting up a connection manually and finding your own VPN server to connect to. If you’re asking this question, I assume you don’t have one handy, so that part will not be free.
- By downloading a free VPN: not all VPN providers are benign, and using free VPNs is such a risky proposition that we wrote a full article comparing free VPNs with paid ones.
But hey, between free trials and money-back-guarantees, trying out a premium VPN to see if it fits is a risk-free proposition.
Yes, you need a VPN on your iPhone
iPhones are generally secure, but they aren’t immune to privacy issues. You may think you’re safe online when surfing the internet, but your data may be collected legally – or your credentials may be stolen when you’re connected to public Wi-Fi. Hence the need to add an extra layer of security on your iPhone. Surfshark VPN has everything you’ll ever need in a modern VPN – and for an affordable price!