Setting up VPN on iPhone: A Quick User Guide

Now and then a Virtual Private Network (VPN) pops up in various security recommendations for iPhones.


In fact, there’s so much attention surrounding the best VPN for iPhone, it’s hard to understand if it’s just hype or whether it really is an effective way of protecting your privacy.


In our quick guide, you’ll find out:

What is VPN on my phone

If the internet is an open highway, then a VPN is a tunnel underneath it. Even though you’re following a slightly different route you’re still able to enjoy the websites you visit, just hidden from the prying eyes of advertisers and hackers. That’s why a VPN is called private.


Here’s how it works: when you connect to the internet in the usual way - be it via Wi-Fi or a cellular connection - you are browsing from your actual location meaning you are exposed to trackers, hackers, and cybercriminals.

How does VPN work?

VPN changes your location. So when using VPN, websites will be unable to see your actual location. This will contribute to your anonymity and enhance your online security. In addition, data is encrypted so you stay pretty safe even if you need to connect to a password-free hotspot.

VPN on iPhone: When and why to use it

1️⃣To access your work intranet

Some companies have their intranet - this is a “little isolated section of the internet” without access to the “big internet”. You can only access the intranet if you are at work. However, with VPN, you can access the intranet even if you’re elsewhere.


2️⃣To access a website or service unavailable in your current location

Let’s say, you are a big fan of Spotify. You may live in Germany and have gone on holiday to Croatia on a scuba diving trip. You’d love to listen to your favourite playlists but Spotify isn’t yet available in Croatia. Thankfully, if you turn on your VPN, you’ll be able to use the service as it thinks you’re in a country where it’s available. This means you can enjoy your favorite music wherever you may be.


3️⃣To protect your data when using public Wi-Fi networks

If we compare the Wi-Fi network to a highway, VPN is a by-pass road. It may not be so comfortable or as high-speed, but you can still safely ride to your destination without the risk of getting into an accident. In terms of information security, you can safely connect to free Wi-Fi networks: it will be harder to get your data or hack your passwords if you are using a VPN.


4️⃣To encrypt your connection and hide your “online self”

We’ll put it simply. The internet is a high-traffic highway with checkpoints. Advertising trackers are patrolling the highway and checking the passing cars. Hackers are criminals looking to steal your purse from your vehicle or cause an accident. You are a regular driver. When driving the highway, you are at risk of being targeted by both highway patrols and criminals. 


Using a VPN is similar to travelling by private helicopter: the patrol and criminals can see you, but cannot reach you, so you are safe and anonymous while on the fly.

How to use VPN on iPhone

It’s quite easy - install a VPN app on your iPhone and set everything up right away. Alternatively, get the necessary setup information and enter it in your iPhone manually.


The first method is a matter of a few clicks. The second requires some additional actions and a bit of network understanding.


Automatic VPN configuration for iPhone

 You need to install a VPN app to set up a VPN on your iPhone automatically.

  1. Open App Store on your iPhone
  2. Find the VPN app you would like to use. Make sure it's credible by checking its rating and user reviews.
  3. Install the app
  4. Open the app and create an account. Sign in if you already have one.
  5. Tap Allow once iPhone asks your permission to set up the VPN configuration for your device

Pros of the automatic VPN configuration:


✅ Easy to install and use


✅ Fast to set up


✅ User-friendly


Cons of the automatic VPN configuration:


❌ VPN apps are prohibited in certain regions


❌ Apps take additional storage on your device


Manual VPN configuration for iPhone

The manual setup doesn’t mean the iPhone has an inbuilt VPN you can just turn on. You will still need a VPN provider to supply you with all the necessary details for the setup.


You will need to get the following in order to set up a VPN on iOS manually:

  • Type
  • Description
  • Server
  • Remote ID
  • User authentication
  • Username
  • Password

When you have this information, you can proceed to set up your Apple VPN on your iPhone.

  1. Open the Settings app and select General
  2. Tap VPN
  3. Tap Add VPN Configuration
  4. Select the type of your network by tapping Type
  5. Choose the type of your network: IKEv2, IPSec, or L2TP
  6. Fill in the Description, Server and Remote ID fields
  7. In the Authentication section enter Username and Password
  8. Tap Done

Pros of the manual VPN configuration:


✅ Saves storage space on your device as no app is required


✅ It’s possible to set up a VPN even in countries where you cannot download the VPN app


Cons of the manual VPN configuration:


❌ The setup requires basic tech skills


❌ More time-consuming setup in comparison to installing the app

How to turn on VPN on iPhone

Regardless of how you have configured your iOS VPN - installed the app or configured the settings on your own - you can enable and disable the VPN following these steps:

  1. Open Settings
  2. Tap General
  3. Tap VPN
  4. Select the desired VPN provider from the list if you have several set up
  5. Switch the Status toggle to On to enable the VPN. Alternatively, switch the toggle to Off to disable it when you are done.

What is the best VPN for mobile

While all VPN services do pretty much the same thing, there are some nuances we would like to cover. Here’s what the best VPN for iOS should look like


1️⃣It offers a quality reliable service

“Quality” in this case is a synonym for “paid”. Unfortunately, finding a free and safe VPN service is challenging. The research shows free VPN services can hand over your data to third parties instead of protecting your privacy. This means you will probably need to pay for a more secure service.


2️⃣It features the data encryption

Keep in mind how some VPN services only change your location, but do not encrypt your data. So when choosing a VPN, make sure it does encrypt your data. This is an essential part of how it keeps your information secure. Check out the app description in the App Store or contact the app developer to learn more about what a VPN does.


3️⃣It saves your iPhone’s battery

A secure connection is important, but staying in touch is crucial. Make sure the VPN won’t drain your battery too fast: check out the size of the app - it should not be too large - and read the user reviews in the App Store.


4️⃣It has features necessary for you

For instance, if you need to connect to an Italian server, make sure the VPN you’ve chosen offers this solution. Good protection is useless if it cannot serve you properly.


5️⃣It has good support

While this requirement may not seem crucial, it’s very useful to have an expert who will help investigate any issues if you ever get into trouble. This is especially important when it comes to your internet privacy and security.

VPN iPhone FAQ

In this section we will cover some additional questions surrounding VPN on iPhone that may be of interest.


Do I need a VPN on my iPhone?

VPN is a must-have if you travel a lot or are concerned about your security online.


Having a VPN on iPhone is highly recommended, and sometimes indispensable, especially if you work from home.


Why do I need to set up a VPN manually?


The manual setup is optional. It can be useful if your VPN iOS app stops working, then the manual configuration is your plan B.


How to set up a VPN on iPhone for free?


The only way to do this is to install a free VPN iPhone app or use the free VPN configuration. However, we already mentioned how choosing a free VPN can be dangerous. If you are still determined to use a free option, make sure you choose the provider carefully.


How to encrypt connection for all devices?


VPN is a good way to protect your internet connection across all devices, be it a Mac, an iPad, or an Android device. Certain apps are available for different devices under one subscription, so opting for this kind of solution is a good way to save your money and effort.


What does a VPN do on an iPhone?


The VPN hides your location and encrypts the data you send and receive. There are two layers of VPN protection: first, the data is anonymous, and second, it is encrypted. This way, you are doubly safer online.


* * *


Now you know how to set up VPN on iPhone, you should feel more confident and secure whenever and however you connect. 


For even more protection, check out Clario and follow our blog for all the latest cybersecurity news and advice.

Read more:

iOS Security

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