If you’re an Android user, you’re in the majority: it’s the most popular mobile phone operating system, accounting for 85% of smartphones last year. That translates to a huge number of apps, and you’re seldom on a website that’s not optimised for Android.
Trouble is, it also makes you the biggest target.
Think of it this way: If you were going to write a piece of malware, would you target iOS (14.7% of the market) or Android?
It’s like Windows and Mac: the reason most viruses are on PCs is that most people are on PCs. It’s the biggest target.
So Android users need to be careful. There’s malware on the Play Store, though not much; the usual method of attack is to get in via your traffic. PPhoneywifi networks, man-in-the-middle attacks, and dodgy email links are all a part of using any device online.
Some of the solutions are in your hands. Getting a password that isn’t ‘password’ and not clicking links in emails is about what you personally do, rather than what you download.
But there’s no better protection against malicious code injections on websites — including unwelcome ads stuffed into third-party websites by ISPs like AT&T — than a VPN.
So how do you choose a VPN for your Android phone?
1: Forget the free ones
Free VPNs aren’t really free. Setting up and operating a VPN costs money, so they have to make something on the deal; if you’re not paying for the VPN service, where’s that income coming from?
In some cases, free VPNs are actually used to infect your computer with malware and spyware. In others, they’re just a privacy nightmare: spying on their users and selling that information on to third parties. VPNAdviser.com is one of the many VPN comparison resources to only list safe and secure VPNS.
The bottom line? Factor in the risks, and free VPNs are unaffordable.
2: Start with the best VPNs
Best-rated VPNs with global reputations, like NordVPN, ExpressVPN and PureVPN, come with intuitive, easy-to-install Android apps. You probably don’t need a ‘special’ Android VPN; the full suite of features is usually available right on your phone. Plus, most VPNs will let you use between 3 and 6 devices through a single account. Pick a top-quality VPN and a few dollars a month — anything from $2.99 or less, through to $12.00 or so, depending on the deal you choose — will give you a tool you can use with your PC, other mobile devices and smart TV, as well as sometimes your router to protect all your traffic.
3: Shop around!
A great VPN with an Android app isn’t always a great VPN for Android. When you’re checking up on things like encryption, privacy or server nets, you don’t need Android-specific information. But when you’re looking at speed, or how easy to use the interface is, that’s when you know you need the lowdown on how good it is for your purposes. The fastest VPN on desktop isn’t always going to be fastest on your Samsung.
Check reviews on the Play Store, and double check that any features you especially want, like streaming, definitely work on Android phones.
Choosing a VPN for your Android phone doesn’t have to be tough, but spending a little time figuring out which choice is right for you will pay dividends down the line. The good news is, most VPNs offer trial periods ranging from a few days to a couple of weeks, so make a shortlist, sign up and trial them before you agree to a longer-term agreement.