Considering that many of the world’s population of a little over 6 billion people are too poor to afford smartphones or internet access, WhatsApp’s pool of 1 billion users represents remarkable market saturation. WhatsApp is particularly popular in emerging and developing nations, because it enables people who can’t afford to pay for phone services to get free international calls and SMS messaging. Unfortunately, democracy and free speech are luxuries that are also not often available in some of those countries.
The coincidence between the demand for WhatsApp’s low-cost features, and the tendency of governments in the developing world towards repression, resulted in the telephony service being the most banned app in the world in 2016, according to Freedom House’s Freedom on the Net report.
Countries with state-owned telephone companies such as Egypt, Kenya, and Nigeria hate the fact that their own profit centers are being starved out of a growing market by the better and cheaper services of WhatsApp. Judges and legislators in emerging economies, such as South Africa and India, are susceptible to lobbing and gifts from private telecoms companies and oblige with bans on WhatsApp. Bangladesh, Brazil, and Bahrain have banned the app because its tough encryption makes it difficult to prosecute criminals and subversive groups. Iran banned the app after it was bought by Facebook, out of spite for its new, Jewish owner, Mark Zuckerberg.
All in all, WhatsApp hacks off a lot of powerful people, which makes it even more fun to use. Bans on the service come and go and then come back again all over the world, at random dates on the calendar. VPNs can solve the problem of trying to get WhatsApp service, because they disguise the internet traffic that creates connections.
This review cuts down the work of finding a suitable VPN to use with WhatsApp. In order to get onto our list of the five best VPNs for WhatsApp, services had to fulfill the following criteria:
• A wide and international network of servers
• Cloaking methods to prevent ISPs from detecting WhatsApp
• Stealth technology to make VPN traffic invisible
• Strong encryption to defeat wire tappers
• High speeds
• Low cost
Although these five world-beating VPNs are in order of preference, any of them would be suitable for accessing WhatsApp anywhere in the world. Your own specific circumstances may persuade you to prefer one of them over the others.
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ExpressVPN is popular all over the world, because it is very easy to use and its apps for mobile devices are suitable for iOS, Android and Windows phone operating systems. The apps are easy to install and the company has top-rated customer support if you ever have any problems with how to use the service. Express VPN has very strong encryption, but that doesn’t slow down the speed of the service.
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Unlimited bandwidth and fast speeds
- Servers in 94+ countries
- Excellent encryption
- Three simultaneous connections
- Quite pricey
Buffered offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can use it for free as long as you remember to cancel it before the trial period ends. You will be charged up front, but you will get all of that money back. However, after trying the service, you may not be so interested in cancelling. This is not the best option for those who have smartphones running Android, because the company doesn’t offer specially-written apps for that operating system.
- Servers in 37+ countries
- Five simultaneous connections
- No activity logs
- 24/7 customer support
- Available on all major OS, including Linux
- No Android App
Based in Switzerland and Bulgaria, VPNArea has servers in 60 countries. You may read reviews elsewhere that say VPNArea is expensive. However, check the date on those, because the company has brought its prices crashing down – it is now the cheapest option on this list. As with all the other VPN services in this review, the company does not track the actions of its customers, and so they cannot be forced to hand over logs, should they be subpoenaed by a court.
- Servers in 60+ countries
- Easy to use
- Seven-day money-back guarantee
- Six simultaneous connections
- Available on all major platforms
- Other services are faster
IPVanish is a US-based company that has built and controls its entire VPN infrastructure. That is unique in the business and it means that they won’t be let down by subcontractors. They can also keep a tight grip on security. The service keeps no logs, so your activities and identity cannot be exposed even if the authorities try to force the company to hand over its records. This purpose-built VPN network gives high speed connections to customers all over the world.
- Supports P2P
- Apps for all mobile devices
- Servers in 59+ countries
- Five simultaneous connections
- Accepts Bitcoin
- A little pricey
VyprVPN is a product of Golden Frog, a company that specializes in great utilities and apps for internet users. The VPN service is fast and has no data throughput limits. You can connect up to five devices simultaneously, and the service does not log the activities of its customers. The company offers two levels of service, but it is the premium package that gets VyprVPN into our list of the five best VPNs for WhatsApp. Cloud storage space is included with this package.
- Three-day free trial
- Cloud storage included
- Three-day free trial
- Servers in 50+ countries
- Five simultaneous devices
- A little pricey
VPN for WhatsApp: Considerations
WhatsApp customers do not have to worry about privacy or security. The service has very strong encryption and keeps no logs. In 2015, a Brazilian judge shut down the entire WhatsApp network in his country in an effort to force the company to hand over copies of messages sent through the service by someone who was on trial there. WhatsApp explained that they could not provide those records, because they don’t store the messages sent over their network. In 2016, one of the company’s executives in Brazil was arrested for non-cooperation with the courts. Later in the year, another judge ordered all mobile service providers to block WhatsApp – again, to try to force the company to hand over logs. They didn’t.
The worry you might have when using WhatsApp is not that the government might prosecute you for what you write or say on it, but that they could prosecute you just for using it. In 2016, eleven countries in the world took WhatsApp users to court on criminal charges.
VPN for WhatsApp: Conclusions
The main features that WhatsApp users need from a VPN are sufficient speed for live voice calls, and guaranteed privacy. The VPN should not only disguise WhatsApp traffic, but also obscure their internet messages, so that ISPs cannot detect that they are from a VPN. This is because in many countries where WhatsApp is banned, VPN use is also a legal risk.
All of the services recommended in this list have a no logging policy. This means that they can’t be made to identify their customers even if a court tries to force them to. All of these VPNs have servers in many different countries in the world, so if you are located in a country with a repressive regime, select a server located in a country with a more liberal attitude, because the repressive government will not be able to threaten and cajole the workforce or management of computer services companies based abroad.