If you’re an iPhone or iPad user, you’ll find yourself logging in to sites and services all the time. That’s why a password manager for iPhone or iPad users is essential – password managers can keep your accounts safe.
You need lengthy, complex passwords to keep your online accounts secure, but it’s poor practice to repeat passwords and no one should need to remember all of them.
Tech trends come and go, but just one has been increasingly important as long as I’ve been reporting on the tech industry: Online security. The biggest companies saw huge scandals in 2018, from Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica to the privacy-invading software bug that affected Google+ users.
Your smartphone isn’t going to make headlines if it’s hacked, but keeping it secure is probably a lot more important to you personally. And with the worst passwords of all time holding strong – “123456” and “password” remained at first and second place as of the last count – we all need to start taking better care of our account information. Yes, even those of us with iPhones or iPads.
In this article, we list the top options and explain what makes each one a contender for the best password manager for iOS and MacOS.
The devil’s in the details. Password manager pricing plans alone can be free or paid, personal or for business, for individuals or for families, simple or premium, and might be purchased on a monthly, yearly, or even lifetime basis.
All those persnickety differences between password mangers add up, and that’s in addition to the different strengths and weaknesses each service brings to the table, from ease of setup to the strength of the support team available.
Based on our thorough testing of features and ease of use, these are the top password managers for iPhone users:
1Password— comfortably the best password manager we’ve tested, with a stunning iOS app
Dashlane — fast, secure, and feature-rich, this manager has just one hitch: the price tag
LastPass — a more stripped-down service for purists who want a secure, inexpensive option
Sticky Password — offers strong, flexible core functionality and a password strength checker
Tech.co took the time to test the leading brands, and we found that 1Password is the best overall, closely followed by Dashlane. If you’re re-evaluating your iPhone security measures, our comparison table below ranks the competition, breaking out the most important features to consider.
All the options listed are worth taking your time to consider, and any single one of them is certainly better than going without a password manager at all. 1Password and Dashlane squeezed out the popular LastPass by a narrow margin, but, depending on your needs, Sticky Password may be right for you as well.
Scroll horizontally to view full table on mobile devices
1Password offers the best service, support and pricing around. The service comes as a desktop program, a mobile app, and a browser extension. To use a stored password, just navigate to the site you need to log into, click the 1Password icon or extension, and you’ll be directed into your online account.
On top of passwords, 1Password lets you encrypt everything from passport and driver’s license information to your social security number or software licenses and more.
You can store it all in multiple identities and multiple vaults, ensuring all your work passwords are separate from your personal ones.
On top of all that, the service’s interface is easy to figure out and looks great to boot. The design adds an extra touch that puts it above the more utilitarian layouts at work in the Dashlane and LastPass apps — something any Apple fan should appreciate, and a reason why this is the best password manager for iPhone. Besides, ease of use is the whole point of a password manager.
1Password comes with a 30-day free trial, but no ongoing free version, unlike other top options. The starting rates of $36 per year apply to individual accounts, with a family-oriented option (allowing up to five users) available for $60 per year. Business options come in several tiers, costing either $3.99 or $7.99 per user per month, and including bonuses such as 1GB document storage per user, unlimited shared storage, and admin settings.
Dashlane offers a fast and easy setup process, a strong overall performance, and more features than you’re even likely to need.
Granted, the value it offers might not be quite enough to offset the price hike Dashlane represents compared to the competition, but on the other hand, you can’t put a price on your online security.
As with most password managers, you’ll access your database of passwords through a master password. You’ll also need to add a few personal details – name, date of birth, and phone number – which Dashlane uses to auto-fill online sign-up forms.
Once signed in, clicking the Dashlane icon will allow you into any online account that Dashlane has your password to. Features like unlimited password sharing and emergency contacts make it easy for a newbie to stay safe online: If you love your iPhone, but don’t have a lot of online expertise, Dashlane can hold your hand.
Safe, secure, and easy to use? Dashlane sounds like a dream. A dream that will cost you $60 a year for an individual account. Granted, that includes a free VPN, which is a deal if you also need one of those anonymity-preserving web filters, but it’s still far outside the norm of around $30-something a year. A free tier is available (for one device only, and without cloud-based backup) and a Business option comes sans-VPN for $48 per user per year.
The LastPass password manager does what it says on the tin: it offers a secure password keeper that’s easy to understand and use. Unlike Dashlane, it’s not feature-packed, and its support and help options leave a little to be desired. But, for purists who hate extra bells and whistles, it’s definitely a solid choice.
Entering a master password gets you into the LastPass vault, which holds all your online account passwords. When you arrive at a website you have an account on, LastPass can either auto-enter the details or just make them available to you.
A password generator tool is also available to ensure that you’re using strong passwords. The process for generating these password changes requires you to manually go into your password vault and click the “Auto-Change Password” button manually for each password you’d like changed.
One big downside is that lost connections, though very rare, might result in LastPass losing your new, changed password, essentially locking you out of an account. This really is an once-in-a-blue-moon occurrence, but we flagged it as a frustration in our testing.
Pricing is good, however. There’s a great free option, plus individuals can buy a year’s premium subscription for $24, and families can get up to six accounts for just $48 per year.
Sticky Password comes may not be our top-rated password manager, but it still delivers on the core functionality that any password manager needs. It’s secure, it’s easy, and it’s inexpensive. For plenty of users, that’s all they’ll need.
The service lets you log into any online site with one click, saving you the time of typing or remembering your dozens of passwords.
In addition, a security dashboard checks your passwords’ strength, letting you know if they should be updated, though you’ll need to do that manually.
Sticky Password allows more flexible syncing options than most password managers. For instance, it lets users choose whether or not to auto-sync updates to the cloud or to Dropbox. There are some feature limitations, however. These include no support for saving attachments (which you’ll get with LastPass), and no option for saving documents, a feature 1Password offers.
A free tier is available (supporting just one device) and a premium user license will run you $30 per year, undercutting 1Password and Dashlane. The rare lifetime license is also an option, costing a flat $120. And, since it’s supported on 16 different browsers across four platforms, you’ll be able to sync account information just easily across your iPhone or Mac, your Chromebook, or any Windows browser, making it the flexible option for the Apple fan who’s not an Apple fanatic.
Apple has its very own password management system called iCloud Keychain. This comes built into all iOS or MacOS devices, and works within the Safari browser. So, with iCloud Keychain ready to go, why use a separate password manager app at all?
In fact, there are good reasons to consider 1Password, Dashlane or LastPass instead of sticking to Apple’s iCloud Keychain:
iCloud Keychain only works on Apple devices – you won’t be able to use it on your work Windows PC, for example
iCloud Keychain only works within Safari – if you prefer to use the Chrome browser on your MacBook, for example, then Keychain won’t store your passwords for you
If you stray from Apple one day, you can’t take it with you – if you cross the divide and move to an Android phone in future, you won’t be able to keep using iCloud Keychain to store your devices. You can, however, install something like the LastPass app on your new Android phone, keeping your stored logins.
Don’t get us wrong, iCloud Keychain is still vastly preferable to trying to remember all your own logins (or worse, re-using the same one over and over). But a third-party password manager app is a more flexible and future-proof option.
Adam is a writer with an interest in a variety of mediums, from podcasts to comic books to video essays to novels to blogging — too many, basically. He's based out of Seattle, and remains a staunch defender of his state's slogan: "sayWA." In his spare time, he recommends articles about science fiction on Twitter, @AdamRRowe