ExpressVPN Review: User-Friendly Protection

ExpressVPN is the Xbox to NordVPN’s PlayStation: a big-name contender with plenty to offer, even if it’s not quite as popular.

ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5

ExpressVPN is easy to use and competes so closely with NordVPN that they’re identical in some key, great ways. Still, ExpressVPN is an expensive VPN with a ‘safe’ device count and it’s light on some security extras.

ExpressVPN is locked in a sibling-like rivalry with NordVPN. The two virtual private network (VPN) providers are alike in the best ways, albeit with some respective wins in certain areas. While its top-notch encryption is paramount for online security and privacy, ExpressVPN’s ease of use and abundance of guides makes it a first-timer’s haven.

We’re impressed by ExpressVPN’s country and virtual-server location counts, but its tallies for countries and devices are on the low side compared to its closest peers. ExpressVPN is also a comparatively pricey VPN service whose fee doesn’t include security extras like antimalware, which may turn off some users.

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Military-grade encryption
Pro Bullet No-logs, independently audited
Pro Bullet User-friendly guides
Pro Bullet Stacks of supported devices
Pro Bullet Lots of server locations
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet More expensive than NordVPN
Con Bullet Five-device limit is entry-level
Con Bullet Theoretical concerns over new owners
Con Bullet Charged in US dollars
Con Bullet Free version for mobile only

ExpressVPN price

Best global VPN service
ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN
Our Rating
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
Starts at
US $12.95
/mo

Price is accurate as of post date. Read full disclaimer.

We balked at NordVPN’s US$11.99 monthly fee, but the US$12.95 monthly cost for ExpressVPN is even higher. Like other VPN competitors, you can save money by signing up for longer periods. Still, while ExpressVPN offers a common annual subscription (US$99.95 upfront), it also offers an odd six-month subscription (US$59.95 upfront) and lacks the biennial or triennial savings of its closest competitors.

The annual fee is noticeably more expensive than its peers—US$40 pricier than NordVPN’s annual plan at the time of writing—but there are at least plenty of ways to pay: major credit cards, PayPal, bitcoin, plus a handful of other options. Be aware of the US conversion fee when determining value. If you want to try it for free, there’s a seven-day trial available to iOS and Android users, plus a 30-day money-back guarantee if you want to try it before investing.

ExpressVPN features

An ExpressVPN subscription includes access to 3,000+ servers around the globe, located at 160 locations in 94 countries. That server count is the lowest among ExpressVPN’s peers, but the VPN provider has a blog dedicated to explaining why that’s not the be-all and end-all.

The number that’s most disappointing, though, is the limit of five simultaneous connections, which is one behind NordVPN, two fewer than CyberGhost, five lower than ProtonVPN, and can’t hold a candle to Surfshark’s unlimited simultaneous connections. That said, you can install ExpressVPN on as many devices as you like; you just can’t have more than five connected at once.

It may not have enhanced protection care of antimalware (like NordVPN and ProtonVPN do) or antivirus (Surfshark and CyberGhost), but ExpressVPN does boast impressive Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256-bit data encryption and a 4096-bit Diffie-Hellman (DH) key for channel encryption. This makes for incredible foundational security, on par with NordVPN, CyberGhost, and ProtonVPN. ExpressVPN also has split tunnelling for app-specific protection, a kill switch (called “Network Lock”) for stopping the internet when ExpressVPN unexpectedly disconnects, and the company has a no-log policy that’s open to third-party audits.

ExpressVPN user experience

ExpressVPN connects and disconnects in a few seconds with the press of a giant power button, favouring the nearest location by default. While not as pretty as the world-map view of NordVPN, ExpressVPN is a cinch to use. This easy-to-use logic starts with the appreciated handholding when you sign up, continues to using the app, and gets even better via a range of video guides on the ExpressVPN website for discovering more advanced features.

The kill switch isn’t as punitive as NordVPN, either, in that you don’t need to be connected to ExpressVPN to access your internet connection. Instead, NordVPN’s Network Lock feature is on by default and intelligently maintains access to devices on the local network and only kills your internet connection if ExpressVPN unexpectedly disconnects. Split tunnelling is an optional feature that’s a checkbox away from letting you allow or disallow selected apps from using the VPN.

Manually switching servers is another couple of clicks away, which is separated into regions (Asia Pacific, Americas, Europe, plus Middle East and Africa). When connecting, the smart location will pick your nearest server, there’s a list of recent locations, or you can manually scroll the full list (or type in a city or country). Unlike other VPN services like NordVPN, there aren’t any specialty servers, and you can’t manually select individual servers either.

ExpressVPN Australian privacy

For the lowest latency and fastest download/upload speeds, you’ll want to use ‘smart location’ or connect to an Australian location. ExpressVPN offers servers in Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, and two options in Sydney. Unfortunately, this leaves the middle and northern parts of Australia reliant on Brisbane or Perth as the nearest options.

All of the Australian servers support ExpressVPN’s full range of VPN protocols—Lightway UDP and TCP, OpenVPN UDP and TCP, IPsec, and IKEV2—with the exception of the second Sydney server, which has everything except for IPsec support. In fairness, manually switching protocols is for more advanced users (ExpressVPN defaults to automatic), but there are punchy descriptions for the manual protocols in the options menu if you do want to experiment.

In practical terms, ExpressVPN had a fractional uptick in latency, while download speeds were lowered by about 18%, which is still faster than NordVPN. Upload speeds only had a 7% change, which is very respectable. ExpressVPN passed our IP address and DNS leak tests without any issues.

ExpressVPN vs other VPNs

The table below outlines the key differences between ExpressVPN and its closest VPN peers.

Service
Monthly price
Annual price
ServersIcon Tooltip  Dark
CountriesIcon Tooltip  Dark
LocationsIcon Tooltip  Dark
DevicesIcon Tooltip  Dark
LoggingIcon Tooltip  Dark
AuditableIcon Tooltip  Dark
Anti-malware
Antivirus
Split tunnellingIcon Tooltip  Dark
Kill switchIcon Tooltip  Dark
EncryptionIcon Tooltip  Dark
RSA keysIcon Tooltip  Dark
Trial period
Nord VPNNordVPN
540460836ZeroYesYesNoYesYesAES 256-bit4096-bit30-day money-back guarantee
ExpressVPNExpressVPN
3000+941605ZeroYesNoNoYesYesAES 256-bit4096-bit30-day money-back guarantee
SurfsharkSurfshark VPN
3200+65111UnlimitedZeroYesNoYesYesYesAES 256-bit2048-bit30-day money-back guarantee
CyberghostCyberGhost VPN
7618911137ZeroNoNoYesYesYesAES 256-bit4096-bit45-day money-back guarantee
ProtonVPNProtonVPN*
1625638910ZeroYesYesNoYesYesAES 256-bit4096-bit30-day money-back guarantee

Prices are accurate as of post date. Read full disclaimer.

*ProtonVPN Plus plan used for comparison. Cheaper plans are available, but offer limited servers, connections, speed, and more.

Final word

ExpressVPN is an expensive VPN service, but one that’s clearly tailored to newcomers. You’ll be guided through every step of the installation after signing up, which includes installation guides for ExpressVPN’s impressive range of supported devices.

It’s a shame the comparatively expensive pricing doesn’t include more advanced security features, a higher country count, or more than five simultaneous connections. Still, that’s not enough to stop ExpressVPN from being the best VPN for newcomers. It’s fast to connect and fast with local servers, plus it keeps your connection private and secure without interfering with your everyday online adventures.

How we evaluate VPNs

We compare VPNs on several factors, starting with the price and whether you’re paying in Australian currency. After this, we weigh up the numbers: servers, countries, locations, and simultaneous connections for a single account. The bigger the number, the better the ranking. Most VPNs don’t offer a truly free trial, but we like when they do, and we value a reasonable money-back guarantee.

In terms of all-important security and privacy, a no-log policy is considered essential, and we look favourably on VPN providers that are open to third-party security audits. From here, encryption is evaluated alongside meaningful inclusions, such as antimalware and antivirus features, as well as the inclusion of a kill switch and split tunnelling.

Testing is conducted with the VPN running in the background and evaluated through a variety of everyday tasks to rate it in terms of convenience. We also run tests for speed and latency, IP address and DNS leaks, as well as for a kill switch (where available).

FAQ

Below are the answers to some of the most pressing ExpressVPN questions.

While there is a truly free seven-day trial for Android and iOS users, the only way to try ExpressVPN for ‘free’ is by paying upfront then requesting a refund as part of a 30-day money-back trial.

In the NordVPN vs ExpressVPN showdown, it’s a close race, but NordVPN has the edge on its closest competitor. NordVPN is cheaper than ExpressVPN, plus it has more servers, allows for more devices, and it includes some advanced optional security features, including anti-malware.

ExpressVPN can be installed on an unlimited number of devices (capped at five simultaneous connections), which cover the following things:

  • Windows
  • MacOS
  • iPhone, iPad, iPod
  • Android
  • Google Chrome
  • Chromebook
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Microsoft Edge
  • Router
  • Linux
  • Fire TV and Kindle Fire
  • Apple TV
  • Android TV
  • Xbox
  • PlayStation
  • Smart home devices
  • MediaStreamer
  • Manual configuration
ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands, which is a region that has no data-retention laws, plus it’s not a member of any international surveillance-swapping alliances.

Disclaimer
Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time of publish and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on the retailer’s website at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. SafeWise Australia utilises paid affiliate links.
Nathan Lawrence
Written by
Nathan Lawrence

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