Does a VPN Work on Mobile Data

Does a VPN Work on Mobile Data? Guide for 2024

Arthur Sabayi
Last update: April 5, 2024

Quick Answer: Does a VPN Work on Mobile Data?

A VPN can work on mobile data — it functions just like any other internet connection. I highly recommend using a VPN on any connection, as it offers security, privacy and access to geo-restricted content.

As of 2024, there are billions of unique mobile subscribers worldwide — that’s more users than any other internet-enabled device has. Mobile users frequently use data instead of WiFi to access the internet. For those who are conscious of their privacy, this raises an important question: Does a VPN work on mobile data? And can any of our best VPNs do the trick?

The short answer is yes, a VPN works on mobile data, and I strongly recommend using one for several reasons. For one, it stops your internet service provider (ISP) from seeing the sites you access. It also protects you against online threats like hacking, which is especially important if you have banking apps on your mobile device. I’ll explain it all in this article. 


Does a VPN Work on Mobile Data?

A VPN works on mobile data. It functions just like any other internet connection by encrypting your online traffic. Each of our best VPN for mobile picks can protect mobile data connections and WiFi connections alike.

Does a VPN Work Without WiFi?

Yes, a VPN can work without WiFi. VPNs work with any internet connection type, and they’re not limited to WiFi connections. If you’re on mobile data, simply launch the VPN like you would on WiFi and connect to your preferred server to hide your activity.


How Does a VPN Work on a Phone’s Mobile Data?

If you’re using mobile data to access the internet, you can download a VPN from the Apple app store or the Google Play store. Once you log in, connect to any server. This will give you a new IP address so that no one — not even your ISP — can see anything you’re doing on the internet, letting you bypass ISP throttling and access geo-restricted content.

The most common encryption that VPNs use is 256-bit, which creates an encrypted tunnel that your traffic passes through when you access the internet. All the data transmitted to the internet is redirected to the VPN server instead of your device. No one else can see what you access, whether you’re using mobile data, WiFi or any other network.

Does a VPN Give You WiFi or Internet?

No, a VPN doesn’t give you WiFi or internet; it only routes your internet traffic through an encrypted tunnel to mask your online activities. For that to happen, you need an internet connection or a cellular data network.

Does Using a VPN Use More Data?

Yes, a VPN uses more data compared to regular internet traffic. It’s estimated that using a VPN on your mobile network increases data usage by 4-20%, but this depends on your VPN protocol. For instance, protocols using 128-bit encryption consume less data than 256-bit alternatives.

Do I Need a VPN on a Mobile Network?

You need a VPN on a mobile network for the following reasons:


Best VPNs to Use on Mobile Data

Most top premium VPNs are compatible with mobile devices, and you can download them from their respective app stores. Here are the three best VPNs to use on mobile data. For more recommendations, see our best VPN for iPhone and best VPN for Android articles.

1. ExpressVPN

expressvpn mobile
ExpressVPN works on Android and iOS.
Pros
  • Over 3,000 servers in 105 countries
  • Compatible with Android & iOS
  • Fast speeds for streaming
Cons
  • Expensive

ExpressVPN is the best VPN for mobile data. It’s one of the fastest alternatives around, whether you’re using WiFi or data. You can stream content without buffering, which is great if you love watching live sports on your phone. Thousands of optimized servers combined with the Lightway protocol are behind these amazing speeds.

Other features that make ExpressVPN an amazing mobile data VPN include a kill switch for IP and DNS leak protection, as well as RAM-only servers that never store your browsing data. ExpressVPN is one of the costlier VPNs around, but you can try ExpressVPN with its 30-day money-back guarantee. This ExpressVPN review explains the price plans in more detail.

Overall Rating 9.5 / 10
Get 49% Off ExpressVPN

2. NordVPN

nordvpn mobile
NordVPN offers specialty servers for security.
Pros
  • Fast speeds for streaming & gaming
  • Dark web monitor for extra security
  • Specialized security servers
Cons
  • Obfuscated servers can be slow

NordVPN has over 6,000 servers in more than 100 countries that can unblock major streaming platforms like Hulu anywhere in the world, even when using mobile data. It’s fast enough for streaming and mobile gaming, particularly when you use the speed-optimized NordLynx protocol. It recently topped my colleague’s list of the best VPNs for PUBG mobile.

This VPN is a top option for security, as NordVPN offers standard AES 256-bit encryption. On top of this, you get a kill switch, a dark web monitor to keep track of your credentials on the deep web, and obfuscated servers for bypassing VPN blocks. You can also try NordVPN with its 30-day money-back guarantee. Read more in our NordVPN review.

Overall Rating 9.2 / 10
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3. Surfshark

surfshark mobile
Surfshark offers affordable security suite.
Pros
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Affordable security suite plans
  • Fast streaming speeds
Cons
  • Some features (like dedicated IP) cost extra
  • Expensive monthly plans

Surfshark is one of the few VPNsto allow unlimited simultaneous device connections. With this, you can connect as many phones for your friends and family as you want on the same account at no extra cost. Surfshark is also very fast, with over 3,200 servers in 100 countries, each capable of unblocking content while masking your online activities.

However, Surfshark is more than a VPN; it has pivoted to become more of a security suite app. Some reliable security and privacy features that are vital for your mobile connection include a kill switch for IP leak protection, and an ad and tracker blocker called CleanWeb. There’s also Dynamic MultiHop, which routes your traffic through two server locations simultaneously for a safer connection.

Surfshark for Android even has a free GPS spoofing feature for changing your mobile location so it doesn’t get exploited. You can also try Surfshark with its 30-day money-back guarantee. This Surfshark review offers more details.

Overall Rating 8.9 / 10
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Errors & Troubleshooting: Mobile VPN Connection

You may encounter connection issues when using your VPN with your mobile data. Here are some troubleshooting steps you can follow to deal with the errors.

How to Minimize VPN Data Usage

Using a VPN will increase your moible data usage. If you aren’t on a plan with unlimited mobile data, you can set your VPN to reduce data usage in the following ways.

1. Choose a VPN Protocol That Uses Less Data

The two most common types of encryption that major VPN protocols employ are 128-bit, which uses the least mobile data but is slightly less secure, and 256-bit, which uses more mobile data but provides better security. Always check the type of encryption offered before settling on the best mobile VPN. The table below illustrates these points.

VPN ProtocolMobile Data ConsumptionSecurity Level
128-bit PPTPLowLow
128-bit L2TP/IPsecLowModerate
128-bit OpenVPNLowModerate
128-bit Stealth OpenVPNHighModerate
256-bit L2TP/IPsecModerateHigh
256-bit OpenVPNModerateHigh
256-bit Stealth OpenVPNHighHigh

2. Use Split Tunneling

Split tunneling is a handy feature that lets you choose which apps and websites to route through the VPN service and which to leave out. This allows you to exclude data-heavy apps and sites while protecting apps or websites that use very little mobile data. However, take care never to leave sensitive activities like torrenting unprotected.

3. Turn Off the VPN When You’re Away From Your Phone

While it’s a good idea to keep your VPN on whenever you’re actually using the internet, pausing it when you don’t need it will conserve mobile data. However, if you have unlimited data, I recommend keeping the VPN active.

4. Activate Data Compression

Data compression is a process in which data is encoded to reduce its size and make it easier to transfer. When using a VPN on your cellular data, you can activate data compression in different ways depending on your device. Here are the instructions for compressing data on Android, Google Chrome and iOS.

5. Avoid Free VPNs

Some free VPNs generate revenue by selling your data to the highest bidder. Many of them also come jam-packed with annoying ads that interrupt your sessions while using even more of your data. There are many amazing free VPNs — our best free VPN article shares the top performers — but I recommend sticking to premium VPNs if you have the budget.

Why Does My VPN Not Work on Mobile Data?

If your VPN doesn’t work on mobile data, the following potential issues may have arisen.

Why Is My VPN Not Working on My Phone?

Sometimes, the connection issue may not be with the VPN but with your device instead. Here are the potential problems you may experience alongside their possible fixes.


Conclusion

A VPN can work on mobile data, and I highly recommend using one. It will protect you against hackers and snooping from your ISP and government agencies. A VPN lets you change your location easily, so you can access geo-restricted content on your mobile device from anywhere in the world.

If you have used a VPN on your smartphone or tablet to access the internet through mobile data, how was the experience? Were there any significant changes compared to using regular connections? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. We appreciate your continued readership of our blog.


FAQ: Using a VPN With Cellular Data

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