VPN clients for Android and iOS

Tunnel Constructor


The range of VPN clients for establishing a secure connection with a company server is limited in both iOS and Android (Table 1). I did not find a single VPN client during my research that can handle all of the common protocols, including OpenVPN. A combination of two apps therefore had to be used at all times to cover the major protocols. The iOS native client in combination with OpenVPN Connect is enough for the Apple OS.

Table 1

VPN Clients for Android and iOS

Product Operating System Manufacturer Protocols Price
Apple VPN client iOS from 6.1 Apple http://www.apple.com PPTP,* IPsec, L2PT, IKEv2 Free
The Apple VPN client is stable and easy to configure. Various MDM solutions integrated into iOS help support the configuration. Establishing a connection to a Microsoft VPN server from Microsoft can be configured quickly and runs stably. Using L2TP, IPsec, and IKEv2, the app also covers the most common protocols. You only need a separate app to connect to an OpenVPN server.
OpenVPN Connect for iOS iOS from 6.1 OpenVPN http://www.openvpn.net OpenVPN Free
OpenVPN Connect for iOS lets you set up a VPN tunnel to an OpenVPN server. The OVPN file, which you can get on devices in various ways, is required. The app is easy to use: just open and connect. The setup is a bit more complicated because it has to be done manually – an MDM solution is not supported. Both apps together cover all important protocols with the Apple VPN client.
Google VPN client Android from 1.6 Google http://www.android.com PPTP, IPsec, L2PT Free
Google's VPN client supports PPTP, IPsec, and L2TP, but not OpenVPN or IKEv2. The connection setup allows a few more settings than the Apple client but is just as quick to configure and use. Integration with the operating system allows you to make all the necessary settings via MDM.
OpenVPN Connect for Android Android from 4.0 OpenVPN http://www.openvpn.net OpenVPN Free
The OpenVPN Connect app does what it should: It establishes a connection to the OpenVPN server. Unfortunately, it isn't possible at this point to restrict data traffic so that only the requests targeted for the internal network run through the VPN. The app takes everything through the connection, even the Internet traffic. No MDM setup is available, which means you need to perform the setup manually on each device.
OpenVPN Client Free Android from 4.0 Colucci https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=it.colucciweb.free.openvpn&hl=en OpenVPN Free
This alternative to the OpenVPN Connect app provides more extensive options. The configuration is done manually without an OVPN file and is therefore not quite as easy. You can define whether all or just internal data traffic should run through the client. The configuration is pretty confusing for simple setups, but you can perform a load of settings, particularly security-related settings – unfortunately not using MDM. IPv6 support shows that OpenVPN Client Free is a forward-thinking app.
NCP VPN Client Android from 4.0 NCP engineeringhttps://www.ncp-e.com/en/ PPTP, IPsec, L2PT, IKEv1 Basic/$3.35; Premium/$29.90
The Secure VPN client from NCP proved to be the most flexible VPN client in the test. With the exception of OpenVPN, it supports the common protocols, can be set up easily, and has interesting features, such as the automatic reconnection mode, which maintains the connection for a client after an interruption.
* Discontinued in iOS 10.

Although the range of VPN options is slightly larger in Android, the built-in VPN client combined with OpenVPN Connect covers all basic needs on iOS. OpenVPN Client Free is a good alternative for technically well-versed Android users, who receive a greater degree of control with more detailed settings. Anyone who uses a VPN connection now and then to download a file from the company server will do well with the native resources, primarily because they can be configured using MDM. The NCP client is definitely worth the money for more intensive use on Android devices.

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