What Is VPN on iPhone And How it Works

Published: Last Updated on Fact checked by Trayan Valchev
What Is VPN on iPhone

You want to be sure about your security when browsing the internet. You can use a VPN service to provide security and anonymity, ensuring your data is safe from spying eyes. Because many people use their phones to access the internet, installing a VPN service on your phone is ideal.

Key Takeaways

  • A VPN encrypts the connection between your iPhone and VPN servers, keeping your information secure. 
  • Your ISP cannot view your online activity once you enable a VPN. 
  • Always keep your VPN on when using free Wi-Fi. 
  • iPhone’s Private Relay is not a VPN service

For your iPhone, you need a reliable VPN that can offer security features and allow you access to geo-locked websites and content. Ensure that the VPN you install is reliable and will not share your information with or sell to third parties. 

What Is VPN and Why Do I Need It?

A virtual private network (VPN) establishes a secure connection over the internet by encrypting your internet traffic. It masks your IP address, making it impossible for other people (including your internet service provider) to track your online activity. With VPN, you can browse the internet anonymously and hide your location. 

How Does VPN Work? 

A VPN uses a specially configured server to route your internet connection. Therefore, the VPN host becomes the source of your data. Data transmitted over the internet from your device comes from the VPN servers due to an encrypted private channel created by the VPN.

Your ISP won’t be able to see the pages you visit online, your downloads, uploads, and any other interactions.

Benefits of Using a VPN

Using a VPN presents various benefits, including: 

  • Access Geo-Locked Content

Some content is only available in some regions, e.g., entertainment websites. With a VPN, you can disguise yourself to be browsing from a foreign location where the content is available and access all that you want. 

Changing your location can also help save money. For instance, some service providers offer different prices for different locations. You can research where the services are cheaper and change your location to that place. 

  • Security 

Ill-intentioned people are constantly crawling the internet and can sometimes access your data. They could send ads to a website you visit or wait for you to connect to public Wi-Fi. A VPN protects your data regardless of the network you use. It hides your banking information, passwords, and browsing history from other people, ensuring you are safe online. 

While VPN offers security, don’t mistake it for an antivirus. Be careful not to submit your information to unsecured websites or download and install compromised files. 

  • Prevent Data Throttling

Some ISPs set data caps to control the amount of data you consume. On reaching this level, your ISP slows your service down. Installing a VPN hides your online activity from your ISP, so they can’t tell how you use the internet. 

If the ISP had placed a cap on the amount of data for streaming, they wouldn’t be able to determine the amount of streaming you do. Thus, you’ll stream freely. Also, some VPNs may come with ad blockers, minimizing data usage.

  • Data Privacy From the Government

While many ISPs and apps may claim not to sell your data, the government usually finds the information. The 2013 Edward Snowden leaks revealed how Verizon had been selling users’ data to the NSA. Several laws are already in place after the Snowden leaks, but even the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) bypassed a law as recently as January 2022. 

A VPN can save you from these data infringements by hiding your online activity. VPN also turns your data to gibberish so that even if someone accesses it, it will be meaningless.

Related: How to Add & Connect a Printer to iPhone?

Should iPhone VPN Be On or Off?

Determining whether to have your VPN on or off depends on the reasons you’re using the VPN in the first place. For instance, if your intention is only to access some geo-restricted websites, then you can turn it on and off when needed. 

If you want to stay anonymous on the internet, then your iPhone VPN should always be on. The VPN also protects you against hackers, keeping your information safe. The best thing is to ensure that your VPN is on whenever you are on the internet. 

Keeping the VPN on or off comes with some pros and cons. 


Having the VPN on your iPhone provides various advantages, like: 

  • Keeping your device secure
  • Hiding your identity
  • Encrypting your connection and data

When you turn the VPN off, you remove the protection. Thus, your iPhone is secure when the VPN is on, whether you’re using it or it’s conducting updates in the background. 

With the VPN on always, you won’t have to go back and forth to the app to turn it off or back on when you need it. After turning it on, you may have to wait several seconds before it connects to the server. Keeping the VPN on means, you can always browse the internet without all these procedures. 


While the VPN presents several advantages, keeping it on may come with several concerns, including: 

  • Battery life: While iPhones may not have the best battery life compared to Android phones, their battery should get you through the day. The battery life gets shorter when a VPN is running in the background. 
  • Speed: Sometimes, the VPN connects to a server that’s far away. The long distance may result in a slower internet connection. You may have to turn off the VPN if you want faster internet.

Related: Surfshark Vs Express VPN – An In-Depth Comparison

Should I Switch On VPN on iPhone?

You can look at several factors to determine whether you should turn the VPN on your iPhone on or off. Consider factors like: 

  • Your Online Activity

You may want to hide what you are doing online, especially when unsure about how people will receive it when they notice it. You may even be hiding it from the government. Plus, you wouldn’t want anyone to access your online history. 

A good VPN service has a no-log policy, meaning it doesn’t keep records of your online activity. Governments may mandate ISPs to keep a record of users’ online activity for some time. Therefore, you can use VPNs from jurisdictions with no data retention laws, e.g., Panama.


  • Location

Sometimes the website will not be accessible from your location. You may need to turn on the VPN on your iPhone and change your location to where the website is accessible. You can then view the content from that website. 

  • Security Needs

You may need an extra security cushion depending on what you do online. For instance, when mobile banking, you’ll need a VPN to encrypt your data and connection. You also need it when using your iPhone for online shopping. 

A VPN will also be ideal when you connect to public Wi-Fi because cyber attackers can use public Wi-Fi to access your data.


Your VPN should be on when: 

  • Using public Wi-Fi
  • Conducting online banking and shopping
  • You want more browsing freedom
  • You want to browse anonymously

Related: What Is Onion Over VPN? A Detailed Guide

How to Turn Off VPN on iPhone

You can disable your iPhone’s VPN through two methods:

  • Through Settings app
  • Through VPN app

Turn Off Through Settings App

Follow the following steps. It works for any VPN. 

  • Step 1: Open the Settings app, scroll down, and tap on General. 
  • Step 2: Tap on VPN and Device Management. 
  • Step 3: Tap VPN (it’s at the top of the page)
  • Step 4: Toggle the status bar. A “Disconnecting” message will display, and the status bar will flip to the left after a few seconds. Your VPN is turned off. 

Turn Off Through VPN App

Not all VPNs will allow you to turn it off through the VPN app, but the best ones, like NordVPN and ExpressVPN will allow it. 

Follow these steps: 

  • Step 1: Open your VPN app
  • Step 2: Find the “Disconnect” option and tap it. The VPN will disconnect.

Reasons for Turning Off VPN on iPhone

You may want to turn off your iPhone’s VPN for the following reasons. 

  • Troubleshooting your internet connection: Your ISP will need your actual IP address to find the problem with your connection. 
  • Having an almost drained battery: Using your iPhone with VPN drains more power than usual, so you can turn the VPN off when you notice the battery is significantly low. 
  • Your streaming platform blocks VPN connection: Some platforms may deny you access once they notice you are using a VPN. You must turn it off before they allow you access.

Related: Best VPN for Firestick – Stream Anywhere, Anytime in 2023

What Happens When You Enable VPN on iPhone?

Once you enable VPN on your iPhone, it creates an encrypted tunnel to the VPN servers. VPN servers are fortified, ensuring a secure connection between them and your iPhone. The encryption keeps your traffic hidden, and your ISP or other third parties cannot intercept data or read your online communication.  

Encryption enhances privacy and security. Only the destination reads the data. Remote servers in other countries act as the destination, keeping you anonymous. Data exiting from the servers shows the servers’ location and not yours.


Is VPN on iPhone Free?

The best way to ensure privacy and security for your iPhone is to pay for a VPN service. However, you can download some free VPNs from the app store. They can help when you are short on cash and enable you to get the services you want. 

Using a free VPN service for your iPhone may have advantages and disadvantages. 


  • They provide decent privacy and security for your data
  • You can bypass firewalls and location restrictions
  • You can download and install free VPNs easily


  • Some free VPNs can sell your data to third parties
  • The encryption is sometimes weak
  • You must watch ads to use a free VPN
  • Free VPNs significantly slow down your internet connection

Does iPhone Have a Built-in VPN?

Apple introduced “Private Relay” in 2021, which many people confuse for a VPN service. It’s good to note that the feature is not built-in since it is only available to iCloud+ accounts (for people paying for additional cloud storage).

The services of Private Relay differ from VPNs in various ways: 

While Private Relay offers some security and privacy features, it isn’t a VPN. It offers security only when using the Safari browser and for apps with insecure (HTTP) connections. If you use another browser, Private Relay doesn’t provide protection. 

Private Relay chooses two random servers to connect to and provide anonymity to your device. However, it cannot pick a specific country like proper VPNs.

Best VPNs for iPhone

For your iPhone, you can choose from various VPN services. Here are three of the best:



ExpressVPN offers more than 3000 servers in 94 countries. It is easy to use and presents most features you’ll want in a VPN (strong encryption and privacy). ExpressVPN does not share your data with third parties.

Located in the British Virgin Islands, it follows a strict no-logs policy. The kill switch will ensure your data is safe even if your connection drops. You will pay $12.95 monthly and save up to 35% on an annual plan.




Located in Panama, NordVPN offers strong and reliable encryption through multiple servers. The location also provides peace of mind knowing that they are not under obligation to hand over users’ information. 

NordVPN also offers excellent customer service. They offer Complete, Plus, and Standard packages across 1-month, 1-year, and 2-year plans. 



Surfshark takes only a few seconds to download and install on your iPhone. You can access various streaming services using Surfshark, including Hulu and Netflix. The service offers military-grade encryption so that you can be sure of your privacy and security. 

Based in the Netherlands, Surfshark allows split tunneling and torrenting. It is one of the cheapest VPNs, charging $2.49 per month. 


Having a VPN on your iPhone will provide security and privacy. You can browse the internet without worrying about hackers or geo-restrictions. Always check the logging policy of a VPN service before paying for it. 

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