Turbo VPN is a popular free VPN proxy client for Android. Google Play reports the app has had 10 to 50 million installs, and it’s easy to see why. The free service gives you access to nine servers across North America, Europe and Asia, and there are no bandwidth limits or restrictions to hold you back.
The app does include ads, but that’s no surprise – if the service is going to be any use, then money has to change hands at some point.
Upgrading to a VIP Account drops the ads, gets your faster speeds, more servers, and allows connecting up to five devices simultaneously. The 1-month plan is expensive at £10.99 ($13.75), though. Sign up for a year and the price plummets to £2.75 ($3.45) a month, but there may still be better deals elsewhere. An annual plan at Private Internet Access costs around the same amount, but gets you a fast and full-strength VPN that you can use on mobile and desktop devices.
The policy explains that Turbo VPN is a ‘no-log network’, stating: “We do not collect any information regarding the websites you visit or the IP addresses assigned to you when you access the Turbo VPN Private Network, and with respect to our VPN service, we do not collect any data stored on or transmitted from your device, including any data that applications on your device may transmit through our network.”
Some data is recorded during sessions, although the policy explains that “any browsing information or other similar information relating to your online activities transmitted by you to our servers when using Turbo VPN is cleared after your VPN ‘session’ is closed.”
We have a couple of issues with this statement: “When you become a user of the Service, we will collect the statistic about users’ behavior and location.” Collect data on behavior? That could be a justification for logging almost anything. We can imagine how location data could be useful to the developer, for example, to see which countries had the most connection failures – but it’s still data we would normally prefer to keep to ourselves.
Turbo VPN installed without difficulty, and once you approve its lengthy permissions list, the app is installed and ready to go.
Open Turbo VPN and you’ll probably see your first ad, and you’ll see more with every action: when you launch the app, connect, disconnect, open Settings, close the app and more.
The ads can be frustrating, especially when you have to check to see how they can be closed or bypassed. Sometimes it’s a regular ‘x’ box in one corner of the window, sometimes another corner, occasionally a Close button, or you might have to ignore the ad and click a button to confirm your real intention (Disconnect). And then other ads have timers and you must wait for them to close.
Despite the occasional hassles, we only saw ads within the app, and they weren’t too intrusive overall.
Turbo VPN is designed for simplicity, and even total novices will figure out the basics within seconds. Click Connect and the app aims to connect you to the fastest server. Click a red Close button when you’re done, and after you’ve cleared another ad, the connection is closed.
There doesn’t seem to be much intelligence at work when it comes to the choice of server. Despite being in the UK, Turbo VPN connected us to the US server each time. But that wasn’t a major hassle, and we could choose any of the nine locations in a couple of clicks.
There’s not a lot of functionality elsewhere in the app, either. Forget protocol tweaking or anything else even faintly advanced – the only significant option is to automatically connect when Turbo VPN starts.
Our performance tests* gave unspectacular results. UK to UK connections typically managed 10-15Mbps downloads. Switching to other European servers – France, Netherlands, Germany – saw speeds fall to 5-8Mbps. US connections struggled to 5-6Mbps, and the India server averaged 4Mbps. That’s less than half the speed we would expect from a full-strength VPN.
Still, if you’re just after a simple free service, these figures really aren’t bad. They’re certainly adequate for basic browsing and video streaming, and the app successfully unblocked BBC iPlayer, Comedy Central and other sites. We did see a few reviews complaining about difficulties connecting and unexpected connection drops, but that wasn’t an issue for us, and overall the service proved very reliable.
Turbo VPN works well as a simple free service for basic site unblocking, browsing and video streaming needs. It has too many issues to compete with the big-name VPNs, though – permissions required, logging concerns, lack of features, Android support only – and demanding users will be much better off elsewhere.
*Our testing included evaluating general performance (browsing, streaming video). We also used speedtest.net to measure latency, upload and download speeds, and then tested immediately again with the VPN turned off, to check for any difference (over several rounds of testing). We then compared these results to other VPN services we’ve reviewed. Of course, do note that VPN performance is difficult to measure as there are so many variables.