ExpressVPN – best VPN for China? – Review
In the last few months it has gotten really tough for VPN users in China. There was definitely some kind of crackdown and many VPNs stopped working. Some are not working at all, some got really slow and some are still OK. My last review was about VyprVPN – you can read it here. Just to update all of you, it is still working fine, even though it got a little bit slower. I used to have AstrillVPN as my backup VPN before, but my subscription was ending and since I was disappointed with their service during the last year, I was looking for some other providers as my back up VPN. I have read an article from Josh who writes Far West China and I am going to try each VPN from his review one by one. First one on the list was ExpressVPN.
User friendliness, setting up and using
First of all, I have decided to try ExpressVPN because it offers a 30 day no-questions-asked money back guarantee. And that is enough time to try it. This is the longest trial period I have encountered so far; most of the providers offer days, mostly weeks to try them out. 30 days is a deal-break and I give them five stars on this one.
If a company is focusing on the Chinese market, it should have its website accessible in China. That is logical. However, many VPN providers are struggling with that. ExpressVPN has it covered. For China-based users it makes it very easy to purchase their subscription and install apps. ExpressVPN has apps for every device. I am using Mac and iPhone, so I will talk about these two apps.
The Mac app is great. Same as the VyprVPN app, it is very well designed and it just works. The app is not falling down; it usually connects pretty fast and has a great UI. Both VyprVPN and ExpressVPN offer a speed test, which is a great functionality. But both have a little bit of a different approach to it. VyprVPN offers only a Ping test. The good side of this is that you have your results instantly. On the other hand, you have no idea how fast the server actually is. ExpressVPN offers a Ping test and a download speed test as well. You can have the most accurate result and choose the best server for you. The downside of it is that you have to wait around 15 minutes for the test to finish. It is not possible to do the test on each reconnect. For me, it would be a great functionality to have both options – to run the whole test or to run only the fast ping test which updates overall results. Since none of these companies has this option, it is a tie for me. As for UI, I would prefer VyprVPN because their app is much lighter (it can run in the background with no dock icon) and it offers a speed graph. I am missing these two things on the ExpressVPN app.
The iPhone app is beautiful. I really like the design. But it lacks a lot of functionality. No speed test, no ping test, no “stop connecting button”, no sorting…
and most of all, after the VPN crackdown in China, I just couldn’t manage to connect. Not even once. I can connect with the VyprVPN iPhone app (best during the evenings), but it was impossible for me with ExpressVPN.
iPhone app is now working great and even faster than VyprVPN. Situation in China is constantly changing, so I try to update my article avery time it does.
Speed and reliability
ExpressVPN is really express. The first thing we want from VPN is speed. And I have to give five stars to ExpressVPN. So far I have tried three providers – Astrill, VyprVPN and ExpressVPN. No question, Express is the fastest. Their Hong Kong servers work with blazing speed. But just to be fair, it may be temporary. In the beginning, VyprVPN was also that fast. Over time it got little bit slower, then fast again, and now it is slower than ExpressVPN. For some time the VyprVPN was even faster than Express, but then Express got super fast again. Not all of the servers work all the time, but with the speed test each time I could find one which was working. However, as I said,
I could not connect on my iPhone. ExpresVPN could have won this battle if it was not for mobile devices. In the end, I am willing to sacrifice a little bit of speed just to be able to connect with my iPhone as well. Connecting on iPhone now works amazing and VyprVPN is really slow lately.
As for functionality, ExpressVPN offers only one plan. You don’t have to crack your head over which one of many plans you should buy. They do not have any special China plans with their own protocol like VyprVPN or Astrill have. Their prices differ only depending on how long of a period you are buying for. One sole month costs 12.95 USD; when subscribing to a 6 months subscription plan, you pay USD9.99 a month and when subscribing for 12 months, you pay USD8.32 a month. With VyprVPN, when buying one sole month, it costs 14.99 USD and when buying a yearly subscription, it costs 6.25USD a month.
You also get 25GB of cloud storage for free! (this service was canceled). The lowest subscription plan with Astrill is 3 months and you pay USD9.98 a month. One year costs USD5.83 a month. But remember, if you want to have Stealth protocol, which works best for China, you have to add 2USD a month to all subscription plans. This makes VyprVPN the most affordable VPN.
Support and affiliate
Both providers have great support. They respond to emails promptly and they know how to help you when solving problems. Both also have an instant chat, which is a great thing if you need to solve your problems immediately.
All companies offer affiliate programs. They offer different income models, depending on your revenue. But the affiliate management UI is much more better on VyprVPN site.
ExpresssVPN is great. It is really a fast and reliable provider. Their apps are also great, but they are not as good as the VyprVPN apps. I may be really picky about the Mac app. If I compare both companies with Astrill, they are just amazing. The Astrill Mac app and iPhone app both really suck. When it comes to price, VyprVPN wins it with their cheapest yearly subscription: ExpressVPN – USD8.32/month, VyprVPN – USD6.25/month, Astrill – USD7.83/month (with StealthVPN enabled). I was so happy with ExpressVPN that in the end I decided not to ask for my money back. But their support still gave me my money back even after my 30 days had been exceeded. Nice of them.
Next on my list is 12VPN. After I try all of the VPNs from Josh’s list, I will decide which will be my backup VPN. However, I have a feeling that it’s gonna be ExpressVPN. And I am still planning on using VyprVPN as my main VPN.
12VPN really sucked and it is not even worth a review. However I started to use ExpressVPN as my primary VPN, since VyprVPN got slow. I give ExpressVPN five stars and I really recommend it to everybody.