Avira Phantom VPN Review (2019): As Good As Its AntiVirus?

The famous Avira antivirus company has created a VPN. It’s got unlimited connections, and a free version. However, this is just one of many Avira products. Is this a quality VPN, or just another quick notch to their bowstring? We get the lowdown.

PROS

  • Affordable
  • Unlimited connections
  • Full torrenting
  • US Netflix/Hulu
  • Kill switch
  • Free version

CONS

  • Low server count
  • Some logs
  • German location
  • Annoying desktop app
  • Slightly below average speeds
  • Low device compatibility

Speed & Expectations 

To measure speed, we tested the 3 main speed indicators:

  1. Download speed: The rate at which data is transferred from the server to your device. This is measured in megabytes per second (mbps) and a higher number is better.
  2. Upload speed: The rate at which data is transferred to the server from your device. This is also measured in megabytes per second (mbps) and a higher number is better.
  3. Ping (or latency): Tested by “pinging” the server, it’s the amount of time it takes for it to receive and process your request. This is measured in milliseconds (ms) and a lower number is better.

First we ran a baseline test using a default 100mbps internet connection in Chicago, IL.

Then we tested various Avira VPN servers across the globe.

We ran each test 5 times to increase reliability.

Speed results

These are the results of our baseline test:

So the average baseline score was:

  • Download: 87.1mbps
  • Upload: 12.4mbps
  • Ping: 9.8ms

Next we ran our tests on an Avira United States server:

US averages of the 5 different speed tests were:

  • Download: 51.7mbps (40.7% slower) 
  • Upload: 43.6mbps (252.9% faster)
  • Ping: 13.2ms (34.7% longer)

(You would expect these to give the fastest results since we’re performing the tests in the US).

Next we tested Europe:

Europe’s averages were:

  • Download: 2.8mbps (96.8% slower)
  • Upload: 1.6mbps (87.1% slower)
  • Ping: 122.2ms (1146.9% longer)

Here’s Asia:

Asia’s averages were:

  • Download: 2mbps (97.7% slower)
  • Upload: 4.9mbps (60.2% slower)
  • Ping: 237.4ms (2322.4% longer)

South America:

South America’s averages were:

  • Download: 21.5mbps (75.3% slower)
  • Upload: 8.7mbps (29.7% slower)
  • Ping: 166.2ms (1596.9% longer)

Avira doesn’t have any African servers to test.

We also compared these results against the average of other VPN tests. How does Avira measure up?

First up, let’s take a look at download speeds:

VPNUSEuropeAsiaS.AmericaAfrica
Avira Phantom-41%-97%-98%-75%n/a
Speedify-6%-39%-73%-69%-69%
ZoogVPN-59%-74%-80%-98%-87%
NortonVPN-34%-68%-72%-29%n/a
SurfEasy-43%-61%-65%-37%n/a
Celo VPN-75%-93%-93%n/an/a
proXPN-52%-73%-74%n/an/a
X-VPN-71%-75%-99%-62%n/a
SpyOFF-66%-57%-76%-65%-63%
VPN.ht-48%-78%-68%-67%-67%
vpn.ac-52%-51%-67%-47%n/a
Tiger VPN-48%-68%-68%-55%-72%
VPN Unlimited-27%-77%-79%-64%-61%
Cyberghost-35%-59%-71%-56%-68%
Torguard-37%-58%-81%-60%-67%
ProtonVPN-35%-50%-56%-77%-54%
PureVPN-26%-68%-94%-32%-89%
Trust.Zone-14%-99%-80%-66%-82%
AVG Secure VPN-56%-87%-69%-75%-68%
Hoxx VPN-12%-96%-93%n/a-68%
VPNSecure-68%-93%-98%-61%-77%
IPVanish-36%-54%-72%-76%n/a
NordVPN-40%-99%-69%-58%-75%
ExpressVPN-71%-58%-64%-95%-67%
Avast-45%-63%-72%-66%-77%
Windscribe-44%-57%-80%-98%-73%
Average-43.9%-71.2%-77.4%-64.7%-71.3%

Downloads were just above average for the US, but well below average everywhere else. Europe and Asia speeds were catastrophically low.

Next, how did upload speeds compare?

VPNUSEuropeAsiaS.AmericaAfrica
Avira Phantom252.9%-87%-60%-30%n/a
Speedify-36%-40%-29%-34%-25%
ZoogVPN117%24%50%3%24%
NortonVPN161%38%59%9%n/a
SurfEasy-4%-17%-50%-2%n/a
Celo VPN-35%-30%-40%n/an/a
proXPN-7%-15%-52%n/an/a
X-VPN-33%-61%-98%-77%n/a
SpyOFF-9%-18%-88%-52%-50%
VPN.ht-10%-17%-25%-23%-63%
vpn.ac-6%-18%-44%-16%n/a
Tiger VPN-3%-14%-20%-17%-42%
VPN Unlimited-13%-39%-85%-19%-56%
Cyberghost-8%-16%-92%-37%-48%
Torguard-9%-20%-35%-22%-41%
ProtonVPN-2%-15%-20%-41%-29%
PureVPN13%2.5%-54%-11%-72%
Trust.Zone-13%-45%-67%-28%-84%
AVG Secure VPN-19%-58%-75%-80%-77%
Hoxx VPN-5%-90%-24%n/a-51%
VPNSecure-9%-19%-92%-26%-56%
IPVanish-5%-19%-84%-22%n/a
NordVPN-13%-46%-26%-16%-70%
ExpressVPN-9%-24%-34%-72%-42%
Avast-13%-42%-78%-70%-77%
Windscribe-6%-17%-52%-97%-53%
Average10.7%-27%-46.7%-33.9%-50.7%

Amazingly, in the US upload speeds rocketed up like crazy. They were 252% faster than without using a VPN! This definitely makes it the fastest upload speed we’ve seen.

They weren’t like this elsewhere though. South America speeds were just above average, Asia was below average, and Europe was well below average.

And finally latency:

VPNUSEuropeAsiaS.AmericaAfrica
Avira Phantom35%1147%2322%1596%n/a
Speedify506%1160%2604%1689%3051%
ZoogVPN386%1931%4176%5004%6194%
NortonVPN194%1569%2276%1426%n/a
SurfEasy-9%792%1711%1058%n/a
Celo VPN915%1161%1654%n/an/a
proXPN194%996%2194%n/an/a
X-VPN-28%397%837%560%n/a
SpyOFF213%944%4278%2533%2598%
VPN.ht273%785%1667%1282%2109%
vpn.ac60%388%968%487%n/a
Tiger VPN9%895%1786%1105%2309%
VPN Unlimited33%935%3946%1411%2535%
Cyberghost27%1085%2344%1352%2415%
Torguard7%1036%2023%1384%2502%
ProtonVPN17%810%1840%1185%2017%
PureVPN-23%708%489%1018%1823%
Trust.Zone104%1206%2438%1396%2750%
AVG Secure VPN1021%1111%2419%3560%3336%
Hoxx VPN566%1098%2470%n/a2794%
VPNSecure281%1051%2519%1530%2917%
IPVanish240%1038%4144%1424%n/a
NordVPN34%1278%2328%1560%2696%
ExpressVPN98%965%2122%1545%2461%
Avast33%1133%2465%1556%2815%
Windscribe310%1018%1904%2042%2782%
Average211.4%1024.5%2304.8%1639.3%2783.6%

Again latency was well above average in the US, with only a slight drop. South America was just above average, and Europe and Asia were just below average.

Speed (Summary)

Overall, speeds were just below average. But Avira Phantom VPN had clear regional differences in speeds, with fast local US speeds and goodish South American speeds, but slow Europe and Asia speeds. So it seems it’s good across short distances, but not long.

Performance & Features

In this section we look at the key features all VPNs have and see how Avira matches up.

Number of servers: 100+

How many active servers are available to connect to across all countries, regardless of their physical location.

This is low. Although definitely not the lowest we’ve seen, it’s dwarfed by the big names like NordVPN and Express with thousands of servers.

Number of countries: 36

How many countries the total number of servers cover, regardless of how many are located in a single country.

On the other hand it has quite a high country spread. Here’s the list of locations.

Number of connections allowed: Unlimited

How many devices can be connected to a server (or number of servers) based on a single VPN account or subscription.

Only a few VPNs offer unlimited connections, so this is a big plus. The average is just 5.

Torrenting allowed: Yes.

Whether you can download and share files on a peer-to-peer or P2P network as opposed to a single server.

You can torrent on all Avira servers, which is again great. A lot of VPNs restrict you in some way.

Kill switch available: Yes (desktops).

Whether the VPN software can disable your connection to the network in the event you disconnect from the VPN server. This prevents your IP address from being exposed.

Avira has a kill switch, but only for desktops. However, it’s actually pretty rare to find a VPN that covers mobiles too.

Performance and Features (Summary)

Avira only has 100 servers, but these are spread across a fairly high number of countries. Avira also has a kill switch for desktops, full access torrenting, and the best of all: unlimited connections.

Privacy & Security

How secure is Avira?

First let’s look at the technical aspects:

Protocols/Encryption: AES-256 encryption with OpenVPN and LT2P/IPSec protocols

Avira goes toe-to-toe with the VPN giants here, with military-grade AES-256 encryption, and the much-lauded OpenVPN protocol. It also uses LT2P/IPSec on iOS.

This is the gold standard at the moment, you can’t get much better.

The only downside is it doesn’t offer a choice of other protocols, as some VPNs do. You also can’t choose between UDP or TCP within the app.

DNS leaks: None found.

IP leaks: None found.

WebRTC leaks: None.

Viruses/Malware: None found.

Legal issues

Jurisdiction: Germany. This isn’t a great location, since Germany is part of 14-eyes, and the EU.  It also introduced a draconian Data Retention Act in 2015, with mandatory data collection laws including browsing history. However, it then suspended this in 2017.

Logging policy: Some logs.

Avira is a multi-product company, and it’s log policy is more confusing than most log policies.

It doesn’t offer a specific privacy policy for its VPN.

It tries to sum up its logging policy by saying it only collects:

  • The amount of data used
  • Whether you’re a free or paid user
  • Diagnostic data to improve the product – however you can (and should) switch this off in the app

It says it doesn’t collect anything important, like browsing history or IP addresses.

Which all sounds great, right?

However, upon closer inspection, its general privacy policy states that “the information we require for our billing system only tells us when someone was online and what data volume was utilized.”

Which means it logs connection times too.

It also says for registration it collects “name, email, and IP addresses”.

Plus, “for mobile products, further information is added, e.g. about the device used, your provider, and the operating system.”

This means they actually collect:

  • IP address when you register
  • For mobile – also your device, provider, and OS
  • Connection times
  • Amount of data used
  • Diagnostic data – unless you switch it off in the app

Overall, this is much more than we would like, and is worrying combined with its German location.

Avira hasn’t conducted an independent audit, and doesn’t have a transparency report or warrant canary.

Privacy and Security Summary

Avira Phantom VPN has great AES-256 encryption with OpenVPN and LT2P/IPSec protocols, and no leaks or viruses. However, it collects quite a few logs, and is based in Germany, which is inside 14-eyes.

Usability

This section looks at the following aspects:

  • Streaming/Geo-spoofing
  • Compatibility
  • Overall UI/UX

Streaming/Geo-spoofing

Netflix is a popular reason for purchasing VPNs, so let’s see if Avira works in this regard.

  • Netflix: Partially Detected. Netflix worked on Avira’s special US streaming server, and in Brazil, but nowhere else.
  • Hulu: Partially Detected. Hulu also worked on the US streaming server.
  • YouTube: Undetected. YouTube worked fine on all servers.
  • Kodi: Undetected. Kodi worked fine with Avira.

Compatibility

Is Avira compatible with most devices?

We tested everything from Tor, iOS devices, Android devices, Smart TV’s, Amazon Firestick, Mac, Windows, to routers:

  • Tor browser: Supported. Tor works fine in conjunction with Avira.
  • iOS (iPad, iPhone): Supported. Avira has a fully-functional iOS app.
  • Android: Supported. Same for Android.
  • Smart TV’s: Not Supported.
  • Amazon Firestick: Not Supported. 
  • Windows: Supported. Avira has a Windows app.
  • Mac: Supported. Avira has a Mac app.
  • Routers: Not Supported. Avira has no router support, which is very disappointing.

Overall UX/UI

Avira has a dark gray interface. It’s rather large, especially considering the home screen doesn’t show much information. There’s a lot of wasted space.

Most of it is taken up by telling you how much data you’ve used (even though you have unlimited data), and about your subscription.

The use of both red and green together when you’re not connected is a bit confusing.

Avira also lives in the System Tray rather than the Taskbar, which is rather irritating. It disappears as soon as you click outside of it, and you have to double-click the icon to make it reappear.

Avira also installs another program on your computer, which shows all the possible Avira products you can install. Great if you’re an Avira fan, but highly annoying if you just want the VPN.

This launches every time you start-up, and everytime you open the VPN. Plus, there’s no option in the software to exit. Talk about intrusive.

By default Avira connects to the closest location. You can quickly connect with one click.

Once connected, the icon at the top turns green, the red disappears, and the system tray icon turns green also.

The server list is in alphabetical order, which full country names and flags which is nice. Ping is shown on the right, with a nice traffic light system to easily indicate the fastest locations.

Only the US has multiple locations available. There’s 13, so this VPN is very US-centric.

There’s also a special US streaming server.

There’s no sorting options or favorites, however there is a search bar, so you can quickly access the server you need.

Overall a very simple but easy-to-use server list with nice visuals.

It’s easy to switch servers without disconnecting first.

Unfortunately we did have trouble connecting to servers quite a lot. Some also took an extremely long time (minutes) to connect.

Settings are minimal, but useful. Diagnostic is set to on, so be sure to turn this off.

There’s a kill switch, malware protection, and a startup option.

You can also choose to automatically connect the VPN for specific wifi networks. This is kind of weird as most VPNs do the opposite, letting you set trusted wifi networks where the VPN isn’t needed.

It’s just a shame you can’t choose between UDP and TCP.

The free version of Avira is identical except for the white color scheme.

It also shows the amount of data you’ve used, and only lets you connect to the nearest location. You can view the full server list, but can’t select any country.

The mobile interface home screen contains less useless information.

However, the green color scheme when disconnected is misleading.

Again it defaults to the nearest location. The server list is a pop-up and is simplified, with no ping stats or search bar.

One connected, again the wifi icon turns green.

We seemed to have extremely fast connection times and no connection issues when using the mobile app, which was odd but nice.

However, sometimes we had trouble when switching servers. The VPN would just disconnect first, even though it said ‘Connecting’. We’d have to press the Connect button again to actually change servers.

Under settings, there’s no kill switch or startup option. However, malware protection, diagnostics and auto-connect settings for wifi are still available.

There’s also the option to clear all app data.

The wifi configuration is especially handy for mobiles.

Usability (Summary)

Avira can unblock US Netflix and Hulu, which isn’t bad. However, it only has basic compatibility, with no router or smart device support. The desktop interface had a simple server list but an annoying System Tray location and other intrusive Avira software, plus connection issues. The mobile app was much better.

Pricing & Refunds

Avira has both a free and paid version.

The free version is very restricted though, as most are. It’s limited to just 500MB of data a month, which is hardly anything. You can also only connect to the nearest server location, wherever that may be. There’s also no kill switch or support available.

For the paid version, the monthly price is $8, and the yearly price is $5.17.

The monthly price is on the low-end of the scale compared to other VPNs, whilst the yearly price is more mid-range.

They also offer a mobile plan, which is rare. This gives you a cheaper monthly rate of $4.99 if you only want to use it on your mobile.

The free version is great for testing it out a little bit before committing to buy.

They also offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. Combined with the free version, this is very generous.

Payment is only available via Paypal or card. It’s not surprising they don’t have crypto though, since they’re a multi-product company and the VPN isn’t their main focus.

Pricing (Summary)

Avira Phantom VPN has a free version, but it’s restricted to 500MB a month with one server. In terms of Pro, it’s monthly price is slightly cheap at $8, whilst it’s annual price is mid-range at $5.17. They also have a cheap mobile-only option. There’s a 30-day moneyback guarantee, but payment options are limited to Paypal or card.

Support

Sadly, Avira doesn’t offer live chat. It has both phone and email support, but even these aren’t 24/7; they’re restricted to 9am-11pm CET.

The support was pretty good, although email took a day and a half to respond.

They answered all of our questions correctly, and obviously knew what they were talking about.

With phone support, it took a while to get connected to the right person, since it’s offers support for all of its products.

Their knowledgebase is extremely sparse, containing just 33 articles related to their VPN.

These are all under just one category, ‘General’, which isn’t very helpful.

A lot of these are very general articles, e.g. ‘What is a VPN, ‘What is an IP address’. It’s definitely aimed at those who have no idea what a VPN is.

There’s also a few on the difference between the free and Pro version.

However, it does have some articles on encryption, streaming and logging.

It has just 1 troubleshooting article with very basic advice (if you can’t connect to a server, try a different one or reinstall).

And that’s it. No manual setup guides, or real troubleshooting guides, and a lot of general information isn’t there either.

Support (Summary)

Avira has 9am-11pm CET email or phone support. Staff are knowledgeable, though email took a day and a half to respond. The knowledgebase is extremely sparse.

What Do Other Reviewers Say?

What are other reviewers opinion of Avira VPN? Here’s an overview.

First up, they thought the low number of servers and server locations was a huge downside. They noted it was very US and Europe-centric. Some reported much lower server numbers than us.

All agreed the AES-256 encryption and OpenVPN protocol were top-notch, though one was disappointed they didn’t also use OpenVPN on iOS. Like us, none found any leaks.

They all thought the unlimited devices was a big plus, since it’s extremely rare for VPNs.

They also really liked the fact it allowed torrenting on all servers with no restrictions.

Streaming results results varied. Most like us found US Netflix, and were generally impressed by this. However, one found no Netflix, and another found Netflix worked in the US, Canada, UK and Netherlands. One reported no Hulu access.

Unlike us all thought the logging policy was excellent, but only picked up on Avira logging connection times and diagnostics. They disliked the German location, but didn’t think it was much of a concern due to the logging policy.

They found the apps aimed at beginners who want a set and forget approach with minimal settings. Like us, they approved of the kill switch but found the auto-connect wifi settings a bit backwards.

One liked the malware protection, but were disappointed this didn’t include any ad-blocking. Some disliked the actual design, calling it clunky and old-fashioned.

Like us some found the Avira launcher annoying, but generally found the app quick and easy to use. Unlike us none disliked the system tray location.

They also didn’t mention any connection issues on the desktop app, though some experienced long connection times. One also had issues with the off button on the Android app.

Most found below average speeds overall. Two found fast latencies, but slow download and uploads. Only one found above average speeds.

Like us they were very disappointed in the sparse knowledgebase, and generally weren’t too impressed with the email and phone support either.

They criticized the low device compatibility, which doesn’t include routers or Linux. One said Tor didn’t work for them either.

Generally they thought the pricing was affordable. They liked the cheap mobile option and thought the unlimited devices made it good value for money. One was disappointed there was no bundle deal with other Avira products.

What Do Other Reviewers Say (Summary)

Most rated it good to excellent. They generally liked the security, torrenting, US streaming, price, unlimited devices and logging policy. They disliked the speed, low server network and lack of advanced features. They thought it was great for beginners but not advanced users.

Our Verdict

Avira Phantom VPN has excellent security technically, with top-notch encryption and protocols, watertight leak protection and a kill switch.

However, this is overshadowed by its logging policy, which collects original IP address, mobile device data, and connection times. Combined with its German location, this is worrying.

It’s pretty great for streamers and torrentors, with US Netflix and Hulu and full access torrenting.

Plus, it’s got one big bonus: unlimited connections. This is hard to find in a VPN. However, on the flipside it’s got low device compatibility, with no Linux, routers, or smart devices. If you need these, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

The desktop app was a bit annoying to use, with a system tray location, intrusive second software, and connection issues. The mobile app was great, though. Both are definitely aimed at beginners, with no control or advanced features.

Speeds were unimpressive overall, although local speeds tended to be fast.

In terms of price, it’s free version is too restricted but useful to test the software. It’s Pro version is cheap to mid-range, with a nice money-back guarantee.
However, the logging policy, location and annoying desktop app don’t make it worth our while in our opinion. Overall, we would rate this VPN 2.5 out of 5.


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