Do VPNs Drain Smartphone Batteries Faster?

Keelan Balderson
Keelan Balderson

Updated · Nov 07, 2022

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Whether you are using an Android or iOS device, a VPN is essential for enhancing privacy and security while browsing online, especially when using public Wi-Fi spaces.

But do VPNs drain smartphone batteries faster?

Like all apps on your phone, a VPN will have an impact on your battery life, but exactly how much depends on several factors. 

Below we explain why VPNs affect battery life, provide a few tips on how to reduce VPN battery drain, and list a few battery-friendly VPNs.

Keep reading to find out more.

Do VPNs Drain Smartphone Batteries Faster?

If you’re wondering “does a VPN affect battery health?” the answer is yes, but no more than any other app on your device. 

On average, you should expect around a 5-15% drop in battery life on your Android or iOS device when a VPN is connected. 

Why Does a VPN Drain Your Phone Battery?

Several factors contribute to the amount of battery use, including your cellular signal strength, the VPN encryption level, and your phone model.

Encryption level

The encryption process takes up CPU power because the VPN app is working to encrypt all the data that’s being sent and received, which in turn drains the battery on your device.

The better the encryption, the more battery it will consume.

Most VPN services use military-grade 256-bit encryption, which is technically the most secure on the market, mostly due to its key length size. To maintain this level of encryption, the VPN needs more power.

Some VPN services let you switch to 128-bit encryption, which provides better performance and uses less battery, but at the cost of reduced security.

Mobile Signal

Poor signal strength results in more power usage because the phone needs to increase its signal receiver to maintain the connection. 

A weak signal forces your phone to use more power, and in turn, more battery, regardless of whether you’re using a VPN or not. 

Strong signals like 3G, 4G, or 5G will have a much smaller impact on battery life.

Background Usage

Unless you’ve tweaked your phone settings to optimize battery life, your phone will run apps in the background, including your VPN. 

As with any other app, the longer your VPN is connected to a tunnel, the more battery it will use. 

But, certain VPNs continue to run in the background even when you’ve turned them off. This process uses up CPU power and puts a strain on the battery’s life.

Security Protocols

Most VPN providers offer several types of tunneling protocols and allow users to switch between them.

Similar to encryption types, a high-level security tunnel protocol needs processing power.

A VPN with low battery consumption typically uses a more lightweight protocol like WireGuard. If you use OpenVPN, which is generally considered the most secure, your battery will drain faster.

Old CPUs

Most Android and iOS devices have CPUs with high-performance cores that can handle heavy-battery usage.

That’s not the case with some of the older models. Connecting to a VPN on an older phone will use more power and more battery, compared to newer models.

Does VPN Use More Battery on an iPhone?

VPN-related battery usage on an iPhone is affected by the same functions and circumstances as on an Android device. 

A higher level of encryption, a more secure tunneling protocol, and a weak signal will drain your phone’s battery faster, regardless of whether you have an iPhone or any Android device.

Tips on How to Use a Battery-Friendly VPN

Here are some things you can do to extend your phone’s battery life and maintain battery health:

Turn Off the VPN When You Aren’t Using It

Disconnect from the VPN when you don’t need it.

Use it only when you want to hide your IP address and spoof your location, but try turning it off when you’re not using your phone or you don’t mind your ISP knowing what sites you’re visiting.

Install a VPN on Your Home Router

Installing a VPN on your router will save you the trouble of having to download, install, disconnect, and reconnect the VPN on separate devices.

This leaves all the heavy lifting – such as encryption and decryption–  to the router instead of your phone. 

You will still need to use the app on your phone when connecting to a public Wi-Fi or a different network outside your home, but you’ll still use it much less often.

Adjust Your VPN Settings

Tweaking your VPN settings can significantly reduce battery consumption. 

If you opt for a more lightweight tunneling protocol and turn off unnecessary features such as double VPN which encrypts your data twice, you should see an improvement in battery life and health.

Most VPNs also have a power saver feature that automatically disconnects from the server when your phone’s screen goes black.

Use An External Battery Bank

In situations when you need your VPN to stay on for longer periods, such as working from a coffee shop, it’s best to bring an external battery bank as a backup. 

You’ll get double the battery life (and maybe more, depending on the battery bank) and you won’t have to risk connecting to an unsafe network without any protection.

VPNs With Low Battery Consumption on Android and iOS

Some VPNs drain more battery than others.

Here are a few battery-friendly VPN services for Android and iOS that you can try. 

NordVPN

NordVPN is widely considered the best VPN for streaming because it offers excellent speed.

A single NordVPN subscription includes up to six simultaneous connections, which should be enough to cover all of your devices under one account, and boasts more than 5,600 servers.

The VPN uses NordLynx – a speedy and secure VPN protocol built around the WireGuard protocol, but if you want to reduce NordVPN battery drain, you should opt for the IKEv2.

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is one of the fastest VPN services on the market.

The Lightway protocol it uses makes the VPN ideal for mobile devices, as it provides high levels of security while bringing battery usage to a minimum. The VPN also offers OpenVPN, PPTP, and IKEv2 protocols for those who prefer a different setup and a better performance.

With more than 2,000 servers in 94 countries and a user-friendly mobile app, ExpressVPN is an excellent choice for gaming, streaming, and torrenting.

Private Internet Access

PIA VPN tops our list of the 10 best VPN services, thanks to its impressive network of more than 35,000 servers and advanced privacy features like kill switch, split tunneling, and port forwarding.

On top of that, this VPN has an in-built ad-blocker that blocks all types of ads, trackers, and malware at the DNS level, which not only enhances your protection but also greatly improves battery life on mobile devices.

PIA is also one of the few VPN services that let you choose your encryption level (128-bit vs 256-bit), which you can use to save battery.

CyberGhost

CyberGhost is another excellent VPN provider with a strict no-logs policy that allows you to choose between several advanced security protocols, including OpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuard, and L2TP.

Unlike most VPNs on the market, CyberGhost boasts a data compression tool, which compresses images and other web content.

This reduces bandwidth usage and extends battery life. 

Surfshark

Surfshark is an affordable, but powerful VPN service that has a large network of over 3,200 servers and unlimited simultaneous connection.

You can reduce Surfshark battery drain by opting for the more lightweight IKEv2/IPSec protocol and turning off the multi-hop feature and the camouflage mode for better performance.

The VPN also boasts solid speeds, which makes it a good option for torrenting and streaming, has plenty of advanced features and is affordable.

Bottom Line

Having a VPN app on your phone will affect your battery life, but no more so than other apps. The good news is you can do some things to reduce battery usage, including turning off some features and disconnecting your VPN when you don’t need it.

If you still haven’t downloaded a VPN, you should consider getting a battery-friendly one. These VPNs usually offer different tunneling protocols and levels of encryption, which can help you save on battery.

FAQs.


Does using a VPN drain your phone battery?

Your battery will drain faster if you’re connected to a VPN.

Does a VPN use more battery?

VPNs use the same amount of batter as any other app on your phone.

Should I leave my VPN on all the time on my phone?

If you’re looking to extend your battery life, you should turn off your VPN when you’re not using it. But, if you’re connected to a public Wi-Fi or you’re on the Tor browser, you should consider keeping it on.

How much battery does a VPN use?

A VPN uses between 5-15% of the battery when turned on.

Will a VPN affect the battery life of my iPad?

Using a VPN will affect the battery life of your iPad, but not as much as on your Android or iPhone device. This is because an iPad comes with a considerably larger battery that can handle battery-heavy operations.

Do VPNs Drain Smartphone Batteries Faster?

A VPN will affect battery life and will use up more battery than usual, but it doesn’t drain the battery any faster than other apps on your phone.

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Keelan Balderson

Keelan Balderson

A qualified journalist and longtime web content writer, Keelan has a passion for exploring information and learning new things. If he's not writing or pushing his own brands, you'll find him watching pro wrestling or trying not to rant about politics online.

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