The new Opera VPN app for Android lets you browse your favorite websites, apps and services that are blocked in your region. The app is free of cost and does not come with any data limits.
Of late, Opera has been on a roll. In April this year, the company added built-in free VPN feature to its developer version of its browser. A month later, it added native ad-blocker to its mobile and desktop browsers, and rolled out free VPN app for iOS devices. The VPN (virtual private network) app allows iPhone and iPad users to securely browse websites and view content that is otherwise blocked in your geographical region. Now, the company has made the Opera VPN app available for the Android platform too. VPNs are widely popular among users who are conscious about their online privacy, or by those who want to dodge geographic restrictions for content.
I’d recently been to Beijing, China and the government restrictions in the country have blocked access to most Google services, Facebook, WhatsApp and more. To unblock those sites, I was constantly switching between third-party apps such as TunnelBear VPN, SuperVPN and VPN Master. While these apps did let me access the blocked sites, they did come with certain limitations – both in terms of time limit per session (60 minutes) and trial period of 7 to 20 days. Some apps also have data cap of 500MB for trial version, after which, you need to pay approximately $5 (approximately Rs 350) a month as subscription charges. This is a problem that Opera is trying to address by offering free unlimited VPN access using its Android app.
Users can also test the security of Wi-Fi networks and also block ad-tracking cookies. “The Opera VPN app for Android sets itself apart from other VPNs by offering a completely free service – without a data limit, no log-in required, advanced Wi-Fi protection features and no need for a subscription,” said Chris Houston, President of Surfeasy, Opera’s VPN division. ALSO READ: Opera rolls out native ad-blocker for its desktop and mobile browsers, here’s how to activate it
For those who are unaware of what VPN is and how it works, it basically routes internet traffic through servers located in different countries. The encrypted connection used by Opera makes it difficult for government authorities and hackers to monitor the web traffic, thus giving you an access to content that may be restricted in your country.
Opera VPN app interface and supported regions
The Opera VPN app for Android has a pretty neat and good looking interface built on Google’s Material Design guidelines. When Opera VPN is connected, the top interface color turns green, whereas it turns red when disconnected. On the top right, you have the hamburger menu — tapping on which you get options to turn VPN on/off, submit feedback, read FAQs and more.
There are three tabs for — Opera VPN, Wi-Fi network test and Guardian, which can be accessed by swiping the screen left and right. Each tab also has different animations with Vikings character that changes when you turn the service on or off.
Coming to supported regions, the app can automatically choose the closest location, or you can manually select from Canada, Germany, Singapore, Netherlands or United States. I tried accessing one of the restricted sites ‘BleacherReport’ from the browser and it displayed the message saying that the requested URL is blocked by DoT (Department of Telecommunications) and Government of India. However, after activating the Opera VPN, I was able to access the site, without any issues. So yes, it works as it is expected to be. ALSO READ: How to use Opera web browser’s built-in free VPN feature
Wi-Fi network test and Guardian protection
I also did the Wi-Fi network test to see how secure my Wi-Fi connection is. The test tool offers a score from A, meaning that the network is secure, to F, meaning that it’s an unsecure network, and you should be cautions before proceeding. I got a score of A+ with Opera VPN, which according to Opera is a protected network, with high security level and IP address hidden. Without enabling Opera VPN, the score is B, with private network, IP address exposed and network admin monitoring at risk. However, there seemed no way to check the legitimacy of Opera’s claims.
The Wi-Fi network test tool can come handy, especially when you’re using the free Wi-Fi at places such as coffee shops, airpots and railway station among others. There is a Guardian protection mode too, which claims to block threats when you’re surfing unsecured websites. However, I could not thoroughly test the tool.
Overall, during my brief usage of the Opera VPN app, I did not face any issues such as lags or force closes. Unlike other third-party VPN apps, Opera is not charging any subscription fees, or putting any data or time limits, which gives it an edge over its competitors. The interface is pretty neat, easy to use and understand, and there aren’t deep settings that are only understood by tech savvy and geeky users. I’m pretty much liking the app, and I wish Opera had released the app a month ago, could have been a great companion during my trip to China.