CactusVPN have just recently released an Android app for their VPN client which already available on Windows, iOS and Mac OSX. The app has, as you would expect from CactusVPN, a very simple interface making it extremely user-friendly. I have already written a fairly in-depth review of their Windows desktop version which also includes server speed-tests amongst many other things. However I wanted to also write a quick review for the Android version of their product to show current of new users what it is like and how simple it is to use.
Please note that for the purposes of this article, I am using my Nexus 5 running Marshmallow v6.0.1.
Firstly you will need to download the app via the Google Play store and install it. Once that is done, simply open the app to get started.
When you first open the app, you will be required to login. Check the ‘Remember password‘, box to save time when opening later.
Once you have logged in you will be greeted by the main screen which is where you can decide which country and server you would like to connect to.
As you can see, the interface is pretty much the same as the desktop version of the program. The amount of countries that you are able to connect to as well as the server count, also remains the same. All connections for the Android version of the app use the OpenVPN Protocol as standard. All of CactusVPN servers use PFS (Perfect Forward Security) which is another huge bonus. PFS encryption is better due to the encryption keys that change every time you start a VPN session (ephemeral encryption). So even if an attacker was to ‘crack’ one VPN session (steal the encryption keys) that information would not help them decrypt any past or future VPN sessions. PFS is the strongest encryption practice available.
However, if you wish to use a different protocol such as PPTP and L2TP, then you can still do so natively through Androids OS. I have written another article here showing you how to do this.
To connect, simply hit Connect. To keep an eye on whether you are connected to your VPN or not, you can simply check the top of your mobile screen to see the Key icon showing. If this is showing then you are safely connected to your VPN and all traffic going to and from your phone is now secured and encrypted.
Please note that while CactusVPN do support P2P usage, users are requested to connect to servers in the Netherlands (NL) or Romania (RO) when using P2P.
Switching servers is also very simple to do within the app and is the same as it is on the desktop version. To do this, if you are currently connected, hit the Disconnect icon. Once you are disconnected, click on the server that you were connected to (in the image above it is showing as Chicago) to see all the available servers for that country. Then simply select the server you want to use instead and then click Connect again. You can switch between servers as many times as you like.
Below are the current list of Countries that CactusVPN has servers in, along with the servers:
- US: Chicago, Kansas City, Los Angeles and Manassas
- UK, London, London 2, London 3, London 4, London 5, London 6
- NL: Amsterdam 2, Amsterdam 3, Amsterdam 4, Amsterdam 5 (use any of these for P2P use)
- RO: Bucharest, Bucharest 2 (use any of these for P2P use)
If you are looking to switch ports when using the VPN, then you can also do this very easily by selecting the main menu at the top right hand corner (3 dots) and then choosing settings.
By default you will be using Port 443, which is the standard port used for websites that used SSL. (Secure Socket Layer) However, if you wish to choose another port (either TCP or UDP) to use instead then simply click on the TCP:443 icon to see the other ports that are available to you. Click on the port and it will then use the one you specifies for all further connections. Note that if you reboot the device, you will start using the default port of TCP:443 again until you select another one.
Another thing that most users who are going to use a VPN in either a desktop environment or a mobile one, will want to know is whether or not the VPN program they are using has any leaks. This is very important as people who are using such a program need to feel safe that their online activities are not able to be traced, but also that there is no IP leakage that may show their true location. To test this I have used IPLeaks.net, which is what I also use for the desktop versions of any VPN that I test out as it is well-known at being fairly thorough in its testing. Below is a screenshot of my test results when connected to a server in the Netherlands. (NL) Note that I am connecting from the UK, so there should be no indication of any UK activity in the results. It will also test for WebRTC leaks.
As you can see from the results above, the tests are good and I am not leaking any information whilst connected to their VPN service. If you are using a mobile device (or desktop/laptop) and not connected to a VPN, then you are leaving your online activities wide open for anyone to see.
That’s it. I hope that this was of use to you. A you can see the app is very simple to use and connect to and is something that even people with very little technical know-how can easily use, which is something that most people look for when using a VPN.
If you would like to try out CactusVPN then simply go to their site and try them out. They offer a 24hr trial which is completely unrestricted including access to their SmartDNS service. For an indication on prices, I have listed the current ones below:
First, lets look at the prices for each of the services they offer and which ones are P2P friendly.
- UK VPN – $3.49 per month. Includes 4 servers in UK (London, Maidenhead)
- US VPN – $3.49 per month. Includes 4 servers in USA (Los Angeles, Kansas City, Wilmington, San Francisco)
- Liberty VPN (P2P/BitTorrent VPN friendly) – $3.49 per month. Includes 5 servers in Netherlands (Amsterdam)1 server in Romania (Bucharest)
- CactusVPN + Smart DNS – $4.89 per month. 15 servers in USA (Los Angeles, Kansas City, Wilmington, San Francisco),UK (London, Maidenhead), Netherlands (Amsterdam),Romania (Bucharest). Smart DNS service included.
- Smart DNS – $3.49 per month. Unblock US, UK and Polish media websites. DNS servers are located in US, UK and Asia.
There is also a Christmas discount of up to 54% that is available on all their packages to new users between December 16th 2015 thru to January 1st 2016.