We'll cut to the chase immediately: although Psiphon VPN can unblock highly censored and geo-restricted content, it has a number of glaring privacy issues, including unnecessary data logging.
Psiphon has a “VPN mode”, but it doesn't have strong privacy features. There's no kill switch, and the provider uses outdated protocols and has a history of leaking DNS data. To top it all off, it's significantly slower than most other VPNs on the market, including a number of free offerings.
Read on to find out more about Psiphon, why we won't be recommending it to you, and which VPNs you should probably be looking at instead. Our top pick, NordVPN, costs just $3.29 per month if you get a deal at the right time. Take a look at this handy table to see how NordVPN compares some of the top providers on the market.
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BEST CHEAP VPN
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$4.99 per month
~$2.20 (3-day plan)
$1.00/month (5-year plan)
Industry-beating good value, with a single low price to cover all your devices, plus great speeds and top security features
Fast, effective, low-cost and simple – the best VPN we've tested, with risk-free money-back guarantee
A safe, simple, outstanding VPN
Outstanding value, with an advanced VPN app
Good VPN privacy at good speeds
A good, well-priced VPN
A decent option for expert users
A user-friendly VPN, let down by some speed loss
A powerful tool for expert users
Excellent privacy features for the security-minded
Psiphon VPN Summary
In our many years of testing VPN products at Tech. co, we can safely say Psiphon isn't one of the best we've used.
Despite its flaws, however, Psiphon has a surprisingly rich history of being used by citizens of oppressive regimes since its creation in 2006. Today, Psiphon offers two different services inside its app, which is available for free:
- Psiphon proxy: this service helps users spoof their location, but the traffic that passes through the servers won't be encrypted at any stage.
- Psiphon VPN: This basic VPN service uses AES-256-bit encryption and claims to protect user traffic, but isn't very good for privacy at all.
When using Psiphon's proxy or VPN servers, there are no guarantees that your digital privacy will be protected.
The open-source VPN offers a few advanced features like split tunneling but doesn't offer VPN basics like a kill switch. Psiphon does have over 1000 servers at 20+ locations, but it doesn't consistently unblock any of the major streaming services most VPN users want access to.
You won't have to spend much at all to get a far better VPN experience than Psiphon. The industry has moved on a lot since 2006, and in 2023, Psiphon is coming up against the likes of Surfshark, which now offers a no-logs VPN, antivirus, and data leak alert system in one package for just $3.98 per month.
Psiphon VPN: In-Depth Review
Psiphon is a slow software tool that logs more data than it needs to, with far fewer features than the likes of Surfshark, Private Internet Access, and PureVPN.
Psiphon is pretty easy to use and straightforward to set up, but it only offers slow speeds and has very few privacy-focused features. Unfortunately, Psiphon logs some user data and doesn't even offer a kill switch, which all reputable VPNs provide. It's still a tool capable of unblocking content censored in certain countries or regions, but if you'd like to enhance your privacy online or stream TV shows, we wouldn't advise downloading Psiphon.
Psiphon isn't featureless, but it's not got much to shout about. There is a split tunneling feature of sorts, which enables services based in the same country to connect through a normal internet connection. The logic is that these won’t be censored anyway (for example, accessing US Netflix within the US), and you can enjoy normal speeds when using those services – which is useful considering Psiphon's speeds.
Now for what's missing. There is no kill switch, no multi-hop or double VPN function, no protection against malicious websites or ads, and there seems to be no publicly available information regarding the state of its server architecture.
What we do know is that Psiphon has more than 1,000 servers in 20 locations across the globe. However, unlike most other VPNs and proxy servers, Psiphon won't let you choose which server to connect to when you use its VPN mode.
This is a shame, considering that letting users choose which servers they connect to is important. If you'd like to connect to a specific location and it's too slow, you don't have as much power to change that with Psiphon as you do with VPNs like NordVPN.
If you want server-level choice, you'll have to head over to one of the 27 proxy server locations made available by Psiphon – but of course, you'll have even fewer privacy protections on this version.
Psiphon was pretty sluggish when we lasted took it out for a spin.
Not only will you not enjoy the same internet speeds you’d get without a VPN, but you'll also be a lot worse off with Psiphon than you would be with a faster service like Surfshark.
We charted speed drop-offs of more than 50% with Psiphon activated on our devices. This is significantly slower on both long-distance and local VPN links than many paid-for and free VPN apps.
By way of comparison, NordVPN only saw a 13% reduction in speed on our 2023 VPN speed tests, whereas ExpressVPN experienced a 23% drop off :
To put it bluntly, neither Psiphon's proxy nor VPN mode will enhance your privacy while you use the internet.
For one, they both lack the basic features to do so. Admittedly though, the proxy server is a proxy server and serves its purpose as a content unblocker, rather than a cybersecurity tool.
Psiphon's free version is full of ads, and when you download the app from the Apple or Google Play store, you have to give permission to a collection of entities to track your activity.
The VPN version is not much better. Psiphon has no kill switch, which VPNs like NordVPN and ExpressVPN include to ensure your internet connection drops if your VPN connection does, meaning you'll never spend any time online without being protected. This is a basic feature that almost all good VPNs provide, so the fact Psiphon doesn't provide it doesn't bode well for the provider.
Although it uses AES-256 encryption, it only secures traffic using the L2TP/IPSec protocol, which is widely considered to be outdated. Furthermore, the usual (and more secure) protocols housed by VPNs – most notably OpenVPN – are not available when you use Psiphon.
Psiphon VPN Pricing
Psiphon can be downloaded and used for free. There's an ad-free paid version, which costs $2.99 per week, but you can also purchase it for $6 per month on an annual subscription, or $9.99 if you'd like to pay month-by-month.
Remember though, that with Psiphon's VPN mode, all you can do is “connect” – Psiphon itself chooses the specific server that you'll be connecting to. So it's a lot cheaper, but also a lot less functional, than other mainstream VPN services.
Verdict: We Don't Recommend Using Psiphon
All in all, we don't recommend using Psiphon VPN. It's got poor privacy credentials, slow speeds, and very few additional features that make it worthwhile. It's one of the weakest VPNs we've used, so we'd suggest avoiding it – especially if you live in countries with stringent censorship laws.
The most disappointing thing about Psiphon is the unnecessary data it logs about users, along with the fact it won't provide a kill switch or let you pick a VPN location in VPN mode, as almost all other providers do. Granted, it's free – but in the VPN world, that can often spell trouble, and that's the case here.
What's more, if you're looking for a cheap VPN with better speeds and privacy features, you won't have to look far. NordVPN is our top-rated VPN provider and offers security features like malware and ad blocker while maintaining much better speeds, and unblocking more content than Psiphon ever could.
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