Psiphon VPN Review
Our Take: Should you use Psiphon VPN service? For those who need to access geographically restricted content, Psiphon works perfectly and is easy to download and use immediately. It is primarily a free program, and even mobile users can ignore the sponsored ads if they’re on a budget or simply don’t wish to upgrade to the Pro version. On the other hand, users who value the traditional security and anonymity of a VPN should look for another service. Psiphon lacks the best available security protocol, and some of users’ personal information may leak to third parties. Overall, Psiphon VPN service is best for getting around censorship and exploring the web freely.
Psiphon is a Canada-based VPN service that grew from a project at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab to a commercial product. Unlike most VPNs, Psiphon isn’t built with privacy in mind. Instead, the VPN service is focused on circumventing content restrictions, giving its users the freedom to choose how they use the internet. While that may be a drawback for some, VPN users have different needs. In this article, we’ll cover the pros and cons of using Psiphon, including details about security, speed, pricing options and differences between downloading the mobile or desktop apps.
Pros & Cons of Psiphon VPN
|What We Like and What We Don’t|
Key Features of Psiphon VPN
To determine the quality of different VPNs, we evaluated services based on these four categories: security and privacy, server coverage, performance and price. Below is a breakdown of Psiphon’s features.
Security and Privacy
Maintaining the user’s security and privacy during browsing sessions is a critical feature for a VPN service. This is especially important when accessing sensitive websites that request personal information. Psiphon’s website warns that the tool isn’t well suited for keeping the user’s data and activity secure. In fact, users are warned not to consider it a security tool. The VPN service mostly focuses on circumventing rules and restrictions that prevent open access to web content.
Psiphon operates using the L2TP/IPSec protocol rather than OpenVPN, which is the most secure available. This is less of a worry when used with AES-256 encryption — the industry standard for ciphers — but for security and privacy purposes, it leaves much to be desired.
Psiphon had a security audit in 2017 from the German firm Cure53, and no significant security risks were discovered. However, user tests have shown some data leaks while using the VPN’s proxy addresses. This means at least some personal information is exposed to third parties and can be obtained without consent.
To manage high usage and provide convenient access to regional addresses, a VPN service should have a large network of servers across different countries. Some users require a VPN to access content restricted in their country while others just prefer to hide their real physical location while surfing the web.
Unfortunately, Psiphon has a small number of available servers. The iOS app provides 22 locations in total, and the Android app has one fewer at 21. There are 22 available locations for Windows, but the VPN doesn’t allow the user to choose their server connection, which is inconvenient if a specific location is needed to access web content.
The majority of Psiphon’s servers are in North America and Europe, with a select few in Asia (India, Japan and Singapore). There are none at all in South America or Africa. The company doesn’t provide much information about the types of servers it uses or whether they’re company-owned or rented.
A VPN must provide good performance, or it will be difficult for users to surf, stream and work online. Although using a VPN generally slows down connection speeds, some VPNs perform well enough that the losses aren’t too noticeable.
Compared to other VPNs, Psiphon is considerably slow. The free version for iOS and Android throttles connection speed to 2Mbps — much too slow for most people. The Windows app doesn’t cap speed, but the automatic server location may result in the user being stuck with a poor connection. Some users might find it frustrating to reconnect in search of a closer or faster server.
There is a paid version for mobile users that’s similar but promises higher speeds. However, the speed boost is relatively minor compared to competitors’ offerings, maxing out around 5Mbps. Psiphon’s slow speeds shouldn’t be a problem while browsing static sites and watching low-definition videos, but for gaming, HD video streaming and P2P file sharing, much higher speeds are preferable.
VPN services vary in price, and some even offer a free version. In addition to their internet subscription, many web users have subscribed to movie streaming, gaming and online productivity services. A VPN’s pricing should be comparable to (or less expensive than) other subscriptions.
Psiphon offers a free version that can be downloaded on Windows, Android and iOS. The mobile versions can be upgraded to a Pro plan to remove in-app ads as well as raise the 2Mbps speed cap. The plan pricing depends on the length of the subscription. The ad-free, higher-speed plan costs $2.99 per week for iOS or $4.99 per week for Android, or users of either can pay $9.99 on a monthly basis. There is a yearly plan exclusively for iOS users ($99.99 per year).
Psiphon offers a free 30-day trial of the Pro plan. Mobile users can also receive PsiCash, an in-app currency that can be used for temporary speed boosts, by using the app and voluntarily watching short video ads.
Psiphon Plans & Pricing
|Plans and Pricing|
Ads on mobile app
$2.99/week for iOS
$4.99/week for Android
$9.99/month for either iOS or Android
$99.99/year (iOS only)
Free account (2Mbps speed cap)
Windows, iOS, Android
20+ locations available in over 20 locations
Number of Devices
Logging policy (data discarded after 60 days)
Learn more at Psiphon
What Customers Are Saying
Psiphon has earned many positive reviews, especially from free VPN users such as this one: “The entire VPN is awesome, and with the updates, it gets better! This is my favorite, easy to use, user friendly, 100% free VPN! If your connection is slow, obviously it will be slow, but if you want to skip over a firewall or two (ALL) then this is what you’ve been looking for! Psiphon can be downloaded, put on a drive, and used from any location with ease.”