AirVPN perhaps has the most cringe worthy tagline in the entire VPN industry. It defines the service through these words “The air to breathe the real Internet”! But despite this utter lack of creativity in coming up with a better tagline to represent the service, AirVPN is a VPN after all and it needs to be judged on its performance more than on its tagline.
Its website claims that its run and operated by “Activists and hacktivists” who aim to use their service as a vanguard to protect ideals like net neutrality, privacy and openness on the internet.
Yes, the tacky tagline is there, but I have yet to come across a better vision offered for existing as a VPN service than the one offered by AirVPN.
In an industry flooded with superfluous statements like “the world’s best VPN service” “The fastest VPN service” and the like, it was really refreshing to see that a service is actually promoting itself on ideals that should be valued as privacy provider.
This had my hopes high for the VPN’s performance and its security apparatus and it sure didn’t disappoint me.
Lets delve down into a full-fledged review of the service and see whether it lives up to the tall expectations it has set through its vision statement.
AirVPN Security Review
With military grade AES encryption and support for OpenVPN protocol, AirVPN gets the basics of a VPN’s security right.
The provider’s site mentions that it was built and is still run by those who take privacy very seriously, and by what I tested this VPN’s security through, there is much truth in AirVPN’s claims.
Military grade encryption and OpenVPN protocol are, at the same time, the minimum as well as the maximum level of security that can make a VPN safe. Nothing below them is acceptable while nothing better than them is available, its as simple as that.
OpenVPN protocol is not managed by any single entity, rather its an open source technology based product, that keeps getting continuously patched up by a vast community for any existing vulnerabilities.
This self-correcting mechanism has therefore rendered OpenVPN as almost impenetrable.
AES-256 military grade encryption is also the only encryption standard that still cannot be bypassed or broken into, irrespective of what kind of brute-force deciphering attack a hacker deploys.
Now coming to the provider’s logging policy.
Almost every VPN dissociates itself with the policy of keeping logs of any sorts, but the sad truth is, most of them do keep logs and you just have to bit a dig deeper and you will surely come across a betrayal of your trust.
Some keep logs of timestamps, some of bandwidth usage and some keep logs of other kinds, but even if they look harmless and inconsequential, keeping any sort of logs is the biggest sin in the VPN domain ever. (See other vpn reviews)
AirVPN has one of the clearest logging policies among all VPNs out there with zero vague or misleading claims. It doesn’t even track you using cookies because it doesn’t store them in the first place.
It also doesn’t require you to input any sort of personal information for using its services, unless you personally submit your email address for better technical support out of your own free will.
The only not going in AirVPN’s favor here is the jurisdiction its based in. AirVPN is based in Italy, which is a member of the 14 Eyes Alliance.
The countries who are members of the alliance have an information sharing agreement between them, which implies that including Italy, the rest of these 13 countries can also demand AirVPN to turn its data over
- The United States
- The UK
- New Zealand
- The Netherlands
This list is filled with countries that are notorious for being incredibly invasive when it comes to invading user privacy and having draconian data retention laws like the US.
Any VPN based in any of these countries will have to comply with data extradition requests from any other country in the alliance, unless it doesn’t have any data to share, a factor working in huge favor of AirVPN.
The provider’s zero logging policy makes it safe despite existing in the 14 Eyes Alliance formation.
AirVPN also has a feature called the “Network Lock”, which is almost the same as the Kill Switch feature offered by many other VPN providers. This feature automatically cuts your internet connection off if the VPN ever stops working or gets disconnected due to some reasons, thereby protecting your real IP from getting exposed.
This feature comes really handy in functionalities like Torrenting, where hiding your real IP is incredibly important.
AirVPN Pricing Review
There is a common perception that VPNs are price-insensitive services, where users don’t usually go for the brand just because its being offered for a low price than a competing services.
That’s true to a very large extent because VPN users usually value their privacy a lot and if a service is offering stellar security and incredible performance, then price isn’t a major issue.
Just look at ExpressVPN. Its almost thrice as expensive as most VPNs but it still remains popular and users continuously subscribe to just because its incredible in what it does.
So how does AirVPN fare in this department?
Here are the pricing plans it offers:
- 3 Day: 2€ billed once (Trial Offer)
- Monthly Plan: 7€ billed once
- Quarterly Plan: 15€ billed once
- Bi-Annual Plan: 29€ billed once
- Yearly Plan: 49€ billed once
- Two Yearly Plan: 79€ billed once
AirVPN’s best plans i.e. the Yearly Plan and the Two Yearly Plan are more expensive than a lot of bigger providers out there like NordVPN, Torguard and PureVPN etc, which offer a lot more features like niche client apps, extra security features among others.
But despite being a bit over-priced, you can still consider it.
Reason? AirVPN offers great, absolute privacy, a feat that’s becoming rare in the industry fast as providers move from being security enthusiasts to commercial entities willing to indulge in shady activities like selling data just in order to make a quick buck.
I would advise AirVPN to reduce the price of at least these two major plans and bring them in the $3-$4 window to make this service more acceptable to the user by bringing it at par with industry standards.
AirVPN also offers a Free trial, but for that you will need to submit a form/request to their support, which is strange as I haven’t seen such a practice anywhere else in the industry.
Its too long a process to first contact support, wait for their reply and then start your free trial, so it would be really good if AirVPN could expedite the process and make it a bit faster.
NordVPN’s free trial policy can serve as a good example here as it requires nothing more than your email to get you started, no strings attached.
However, if you don’t want to use the free trial process, AirVPN also offers you to buy a trial plan for $1.32 which will remain valid for three days, all features included.
Another issue I faced with AirVPN was that it requires you to register with it before you can buy any pricing plan, which is again strange as its too long a process.
AirVPN really needs to cut down on these cumbersome processes, otherwise its service will definitely deter customers from signing up with it.
The payment methods include Paypal, credit cards and a wide range of cryptocurrencies (for anonymous payments).
The refund policy is where AirVPN gets a bit stingy.
It allows you ask for refunds, no questions asked but you do have to meet its requirements i.e. the request must be submitted in written to its support, you should forward the request within 3 days of paying for your subscription, you shouldn’t have exceeded a bandwidth limit of 5GB.
If you meet these conditions, AirVPN promises to refund your money within 30 days.
Again, the bandwidth and time limit for activating refunds is a dated policy and needs to be done away with. Customers should be facilitated with easy refund programs that just refund the money, with no strings attached.
The more easier such policies are, the more confidence consumers will feel when they are signing up for your product. Too many strings make the customer fearful.
Ease of Use/ Device Compatibility
AirVPN offers the usual list of client apps i.e. for all major devices and OS.
It has client apps for Windows, Mac, Android and iOS devices.
On top of this, it offers support for Linux and Routers along with the Tor browser, which was the most impressive part about its compatibility as there are not a lot of VPNs that promote using their service with the Tor Browser/service.
However, I did feel that this service does need some niche clients as well like those for Firestick or Kodi. One major functionality of VPNs these days is to unblock streaming sites like Netflix US, making it imperative that they offer client apps for devices that are used to watch these services on.
If a VPN is not priming itself as a streaming VPN these days, its under serving its user base.
The client apps are easy to use and well built on the other hand. They don’t have any complications and what I liked the most about them was that they connected to any server within a span of just 3-5 seconds of average, making my experience of using them a whole lot more enjoyable.
AirVPN has put a lot of effort in getting the back end of these client apps right, so they might be low on the design aspect, but they do function exceedingly well. All features work and they work fast, no delays, period.
This is an example for the whole industry to follow. There is no point in offering a flashy client app with great UI and UX if they cant perform according to user expectations.
Unblocking Restricted Sites
There is never enough content that you can stream ever. There will always be some movie or show that you would want to watch on a particular day and you search for it to watch it. But what if its not there?
That’s a common occurrence on sites like Netflix, where a lot of content is locked up in regional libraries.
But that shouldn’t be problem right, as you should be able to bypass these regional restrictions easily with a VPN right? Well, its not that simple as many streaming sites are now notorious for enforcing VPN bans that render many VPNs useless to perform this task.
Nowadays, it requires a lot of effort on part of a provider to be able to bypass this VPN ban and unblock regional libraries for users on sites like Netflix.
So if a VPN can still perform this feat, it has to be valued.
But is AirVPN up to the task?
The answer is a resounding Yes!
AirVPN can unblock Netflix US from at least 2 of its servers i.e. Chicago (Alkaid) and Jacksonville (Pollux).
And to top this off, AirVPN also managed to unblock BBC iPlayer, so it can be safely assumed that this provider is certainly one of those select few services that can be a very good choice for a streaming VPN.
AirVPN also offers complete support to Torrenting and P2P activities, which is an added plus, since it’s got such good security performance. The provider can come in really handy for any user that likes to frequent Torrent sites.
Server Network Appraisal
Despite being a very good service overall, AirVPN falls short in the number of server locations it offers to its users.
In total, just 226 servers are available to users, which is far lower than the a lot of other providers who are offering a similar service for a lower price tag.
For e.g. NordVPN has over 5000 server locations. That’s 25 X times more than AirVPN’s server network.
The server spread isn’t great either, with just a mere 15 servers located in the Asian region and all of them located in three East Asian nations i.e. Hong Kong (6), Singapore (7) and Japan (2).
There are absolutely zero servers in places like Africa, South America, Middle East, South Asia and Central Asia, making it highly unlikely that users from these regions will enjoy good speeds and performance if they connect to this VPN service, owing to the huge distance a connection will have to spring from, even if connected to the nearest possible server.
But there is one thing that I really liked here and that was the “Status” page, where the provider updates things like Speed, Traffic, Data usage etc. on each server in its list, allowing the user to know in real time as to which server is the best to connect to.
Now coming to the speeds that this server network can afford.
AirVPN is relatively fast on European servers, but its performance on US servers wasn’t up to the mark, staying barely above acceptable levels.
But to AirVPN’s credit, the speeds on the US servers on which Netflix is working, was higher than the average on the US domain.
AirVPN Customer Support
One of the weakest points of AirVPN is its out of date and slow customer support.
Many top VPN providers in the industry now offer live chat support that can be used by customers for things like troubleshooting, understanding the refund process, installation assistance etc. Live chat offers a chance for users to interact with the support team of a provider in real time.
Email support by submitting contact forms cannot match live chat support ever and that’s what AirVPN needs to understand.
AirVPN is offering a very good service on the privacy front and its performance is no doubt, incredibly good, but its in these little details that you lose out on making your service count,
I submitted a support form and got a response within a span of 2 hours, which is relatively fast according to this medium, but its still not match for live chat, which is almost instantaneous.
The provider needs to start offering live chat support in order to give its service a boost on the customer facilitation front.
Now, after reviewing and critiquing on nearly all facets of the service, the only question that remains is, do I recommend users to subscribe to this service?
That’s because, despite many shortcomings like no live chat support or low number of servers, AirVPN has got one thing right i.e. its security apparatus. With this provider, you can always be assured that your privacy will remain protected online, no strings attached.
If AirVPN can overcome some chinks in its armor, then there will be little stopping it from becoming an all-round, stellar VPN service. Do try it once and let me know what your experience was like in the comments field below.