- High-Speed: The service provides high speeds under the network. Even the non-subscribed customers experience high speeds, and this is one of the primary reasons for the popularity of the service.
- Secure Protocol: The service provides connectivity with OpenVPN protocol. OpenVPN is one of the safest protocols used in VPN services.
- Streaming Servers: The users can connect to the dedicated streaming servers available on the service, to speedily stream their favorite content while bypassing the geo restrictions
- Encryption: There is no information about the encryption on the service. The provider has also referred to the product as a proxy service a lot of times which makes us believe that the user’s data is not encrypted at all.
- Data Logging: They not only log some information of the users but also allow the third parties to store cookies in the user’s device.
Overview – The people’s choice
Turbo VPN is an app from Innovative Connecting, which is a company based in Singapore. The country is not among the 14-Eyes countries and is known to have strict privacy laws.
With more than 50 million downloads, Turbo VPN is among the most famous VPN apps on android.
The current version of the app that is 2.7.8 supports android 4.1 and above versions of it. The app size is only 10 Mb and is very easy to download. The app is also available for iOS users.
In the product description, the service provider has constantly referred the product as a proxy service, and this suggests that there is no data encryption involved to protect the user’s data.
The major reason for the popularity of the product seems to be its ability to bypass geo restrictions and allow the user to visit various websites, and that too at very high speeds.
In this review, we will go through all the features of the product, and see how secure is this VPN service.
By the end of this review, you will also have a better understanding of the difference between a true VPN service and a proxy service.
Servers – No torrenting, only binge-watching
Servers are the backbone of a VPN service. The number of servers gives an idea about accessibility under the network, and a higher number of servers also allow the VPN services to flex in front of the users.
However, a higher number of servers do not guarantee excellent service, but the chances of coming across roadblocks such as slow speeds because of high density internet traffic do reduce to quite an extent.
It becomes even more important for the popular products such as Turbo VPN itself, to have a strong server network; otherwise, it will not be possible to cater satisfactory services to a large user base.
Turbo VPN offers a total of 27 server options to the VIP users, that is, the users who subscribe to the services of Turbo VPN.
There are nine server options for the users who use the free version of the service. However, these users make up for a large chunk of the 50 million user base of Turbo VPN.
Since the provider gets ad revenue by displaying ads to these users, we feel that it becomes important that these users also receive some good quality services from the VPN provider.
The server locations cover the North American, European, South East Asian, and Australian continents. There are no server locations in Africa and the Middle East.
The users from Africa and the Middle East may get slower speeds as compared to the rest of the users.
There is a fastest server option in the server list which connects the user to the fastest available server for the user. But, other than the fastest server option, there is no server sorting available on the client.
The users need to scroll through the server list and find an optimally located server which will suit their needs.
The users should bear in mind that P2P file sharing and torrenting are not allowed on this service. If someone tries these file sharing methods while connected to the VPN network, he/she may get his account blocked.
With the above stated facts, dedicated P2P servers are out of the picture already. However, the users do get a few dedicated streaming servers on this service.
These dedicated streaming servers are available only to the VIP users. Most of these dedicated streaming servers are directed towards specific streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime.
There are certain generalized streaming servers as well which are named as ‘Video,’ and the users can use one of these to stream content of some of the less popular websites.
The number of server locations on the service seems satisfactory. But the VPN provider can still make a lot of improvements.
Addition of more server locations and the inclusion of features such as server sorting can help the service a lot in the long run.
Security – Not so sure about it
The VPN services use various methods to keep the user’s data safe. Apart from routing the internet traffic through their own servers, the VPN services encrypt the data as well.
The encrypted data is moved through secure tunnels or protocols to keep the data safe from any breaching attempt.
The encryption of data prevents the hacker from knowing the actual content of the user’s online activity in case the internet traffic is compromised.
The encryption varies in type and with the encryption, speed and security over the VPN service differ as well. However, the mobile VPN app services don’t always encrypt the user’s data to achieve higher internet speeds.
As we discussed earlier, the VPN provider has repeatedly called Turbo VPN as a VPN proxy service in the product description, and there is no mention of the type of encryption used in the service. All these factors make us believe that there is no data encryption in this service.
If we talk about the protocols, then the service provides the user with an option to choose between two protocols, that is, OpenVPN and IPSec.
Generally, the proxy services tunnel the traffic with protocols such as HTTPS. But, the protocols available with Turbo VPN are far more superior that the ones used in the proxy services.
OpenVPN is considered to be a protocol with the best blend of speed and security, and it is the default protocol available to the users when they start using the service.
Apart from the protocols, there seem to be no additional security features on the service.
Kill switch, which is a fairly common feature in the VPN services, is also not available. The kill switch automatically stops the internet traffic if the VPN connection drops. This prevents the user’s data from getting on the internet without the protection of a VPN.
There is also no mention of IPv6 support and DNS leak protection. Both of these shortcomings can compromise the location of the user on the internet.
The security features on the VPN service don’t seem to be the best ones. Either it is a result of a non-informative service provider, or it is because they actually don’t have robust security features.
If it is first of the reasons, then we would like to suggest the VPN provider to come up with a more informative description of the product and throw some light on the specifications.
And if it is the latter case, then is an immense need for some security upgrades in this service.
Privacy & permissions – More permissions, less privacy
With the current involvement of technology and internet in our day to day life, it is impossible to keep our personal information away from the internet.
Personal data is the new oil, and there are a lot of people after it. Governments, enterprises, businesses, and a lot of other groups use personal data of the users for their own benefit.
However, there are a lot of things that people are not comfortable sharing with others. But the data miners don’t care, and there is always someone trying to collect your personal information.
The concept of online privacy is relatively new, even to the modern era, and therefore there are not many strict and clear guidelines when it comes to data collection.
The groups use loopholes in the government policies and sometimes even break the laws to collect personal information of the internet users. What is more concerning is the fact that sometimes the governments also collect the personal data of their citizens and spy on them.
Having emphasized the importance of privacy and its safekeeping, let us now see what measures are undertaken by Turbo VPN to keep the personal data of their users safe.
Turbo VPN falls under the jurisdiction of Singapore. The state has relatively strict privacy laws, and there are a lot of VPN services hailing from Singapore which make use of these strict privacy laws.
The VPN services based in Singapore are not mandated to collect data from the users, which is the case with a lot of other countries.
However, we don’t see Turbo VPN making the most of the local laws, and there is an immense amount of data logging on this service when compared with other Singaporean VPN services.
Turbo VPN doesn’t log the user’s activity inside the tunnel such the websites visited, or the servers to which the user connected, or the data transmitted while using the VPN service.
But they store the user’s IP address, the time stamps, bandwidth usage, device information, etc. The company states troubleshooting and enhancement of the product, as the reason for this data collection.
There is some usual data collection such as the storage of the email address and the transaction details. This information is necessary to provide services to users.
Since the service is available as a mobile app, there are certain permissions which are necessary for the app to run on your phone.
You need to give the service full access to your network, allow viewing network connections and similar permissions related to network connections.
You also need to allow the app access to Play Install Referrer API, which enables the app to pop up ads according to the behavior of the user.
Talking of ads, the VIP users don’t receive any ads while using the service. All the free users will get ads, and sometimes even when the app is not running according to some of the reviews.
The app also allows third party cookies. The ad services will use these cookies to collect information about you, and then show you the ads which are supposed to affect you more.
Turbo VPN also shares your data with third party analytics services.
Even though it is impossible to evaluate the net effect of all this data collection, but it is always better to stay informed and thus make informed decisions.
Speed – Rightly called ‘Turbo’
Speed is one of the major reasons that this VPN app is so popular.
There is no mention of bandwidth capping or speed capping, so we are assuming that the users don’t need to worry about such petty issues.
The VIP servers have lesser traffic, and therefore it is evident that the speeds will be higher on such servers. But, as we mentioned earlier, a significant chunk of the users comprises of the non-VIP users.
Hence, we conducted the speed test only for the free servers. And the results were not that bad at all.
We recorded speeds around 77% of the original speed for the fastest server. Considering the fact that these results are for the free servers, this VPN service is indeed high-speed.
The user may sometimes find it hard to connect to the VPN network. The reasons may be high traffic intensity on that particular network, or maybe it is your cellular network which is having poor connectivity.
The users who don’t have a Turbo VPN server in their region may experience a bit slower speeds.
But there is no doubt in our minds that this is among the fastest VPN services which allow the user to experience high speeds under the VPN network, and that too for free.
User interface and Experience – Nothing much to cater
The user interface becomes all the way more important when it comes to a mobile application. The interface needs to be intuitive so that the users don’t find it difficult to navigate through the app.
Turbo VPN comes with a fairly simple app which suits fast connectivity. But if you are a non-VIP user, then the quickness may be ruined by the ads. The ads do not interfere during the connection session though.
The users are served with two server lists, one is for everybody, and the other is only for the VIP users. The VIP server list contains dedicated streaming servers as well.
However, for additional customization options, the users get nothing but the option to change the protocol. There are no further customization options.
The usual feature of auto connection on starting the app is available.
The lack of additional features and customization options make the app look very basic. We think that the service provider should include a few more features to improve the user experience.
Pricing – Receive ads, or pay money
We already discussed that the app is available for free as well as in a paid version. The subscribed customers are not served with ads.
The subscribed customers also get a higher number of server options, and dedicated streaming servers are also included in that.
To become a VIP customer, you need to pay around 11 USD for a month. But if you subscribe for a whole year, then it will cost you less than 3 USD per month.
However, making such a long term commitment might not seem like a very wise idea.
The users can get the VIP service on a trial basis for seven days. This much time should be enough for any user to decide if he/she wants to subscribe to the service.
We feel that the service provider should have provided more subscription options, such as for three months and six months. This will make it easier for the customers to invest in the service.
Turbo VPN app serves its purpose, that is, to provide high speed VPN service at a very less price.
However, there is a certain haze around the product which needs to be cleared. They need to inform the users about the encryption on the service. Data collection also needs to be minimized.
The server options are plenty, but they need to add more features and customization options to the product.
The speed on the service is awe-inspiring, and also explains the reason for the popularity of the product.
If the provider addresses the issues listed above, then this app might just become unbeatable.