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Pros and cons of having a VPN on your smartphone

11 Jun 2020 Developer News
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There has been plenty of hype about VPNs over the past couple of years. You will find no shortage of tips and opinions online as to how to choose the best one, whether to pay for one or use freeware and the different features to look out for. But the vast majority of these resources focus on PCs and laptops. They ignore the fact that the majority of online activity in 2020 takes place through a mobile handset. The providers are finally starting to wake up to this fact, and at last, a growing number of VPNs are available for iOS and Android devices. The question is this: Is it is just more hype or would your smartphone truly benefit from a VPN?

Why do we use VPNs?

You might use a VPN for all sorts of reasons. Ostensibly, it provides an additional level of security and anonymity online. That is no bad thing when you read about the latest cybersecurity risks that can affect us on mobile as much as desktop. However, for most of us, the VPN provides a handy way of circumventing geographical restrictions to access specific webpages or streaming services. We won’t go into the rights and wrongs of doing so here, but the reality is that it happens. People are as likely to view the page or stream the movie from their smartphone as from a laptop, so from that perspective, it is logical to install a VPN on a mobile device.

Protecting your apps

We have established, then, that the benefits a VPN brings to a PC also apply to a smartphone. But there are also some mobile-specific reasons to consider using one. The age of the smartphone has brought about the age of the app. In fact, more than 80 percent of smartphone time is spent using apps as opposed to the browser. The data held in those apps is a specific smartphone vulnerability and one that has been a target for the latest Android-specific malware. Using a VPN will significantly reduce your exposure to this risk and help keep your data safe.

What’s the downside?

So far, installing a VPN on your Android smartphone sounds like a no-brainer. Yet until very recently, the very idea of doing so was derided by the tech community. So why are the VPN providers only beginning to think about providing the necessary software? There is one main answer to that question, and it concerns the impact a VPN has on your connection speed. If you have experimented with different VPNs on your laptop or PC, you will know that some can drag the loading time right down, or make it difficult to stream movies in comfort.

Speed has always been the biggest bugbear when it comes to mobile internet. Looking at it that way, it is unsurprising that people might be lukewarm about burdening their devices with a tool that has a reputation for slowing things down. However, the latest VPNs are far slicker, and have little or no impact on speed. Add to that the exponential improvements that 5G is bringing, and it becomes clear that mobile VPNs now make all sorts of sense.

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