AirVPN is said to be created by hacktivists and security enthusiasts but is it better than the long-standing security champion NordVPN? We decided to test both services out to see how they are performing against one another. Below, you will find our in-house NordVPN vs AirVPN review with a detailed comparison.
It’s hard to beat NordVPN in the server count category. To date, it features more than 5400 servers and this number is getting bigger day after day.
AirVPN doesn’t come close to NordVPN in terms of server availability. It supplies only 250 servers in 23 countries. Distribution isn’t exciting either – AirVPN doesn’t cover South and Central America, Africa, and Oceania.
NordVPN supplies high-speed connections especially when you choose physically close locations. We tested the service with a few servers within Europe and the speeds were excellent. When we tested the US servers, slow-downs became more prominent. Still, we were able to watch movies, play games, and use VoIP services without any lags.
In the speed aspect, AirVPN is nothing special. It provides speedy connections while you use nearby servers but gets much slower with overseas locations. However, there is one feature that makes AirVPN unique – it doesn’t let your connection drop below 4Mbps. So, even if you bump into a slow server, at least you can use it for basic Internet activities.
NordVPN sets the bar for other VPNs when it comes to security. Even its default AES 256-bit encryption backed up with OpenVPN or IKEv2/IPSec protocols is enough to ensure your anonymity. But privacy-conscious users want more and NordVPN obeys. It rolled out Double VPN technology (as the name suggests it routes your traffic through two servers instead of one before it reach destination) and Onion over VPN servers (combines security features of both a VPN and the Tor network). Another great feature is Obfuscation that mask VPN traffic and this is a wise solution for clients from China and other countries where VPNs are forbidden or restricted.
With NordVPN your data will never leak thanks to DNS and IP leak protection and a Kill Switch. CyberSec feature will take care of your Internet security by blocking ads and malicious websites.
AES is AirVPN’s encryption of choice as well. You can switch from 256-bit to 128-bit key to improve speed (AES-128 is currently impossible to hack either). The service supports only OpenVPN protocol but in a variety of customized versions such as OpenVPN over SSH, over SSL, and over Tor. The latter is similar to Nord’s Onion over VPN but works ‘backward’. AirVPN has masking solutions (similar to obfuscation) to hide VPN traffic from your ISP or network administrators.
AirVPN handless DNS leaks well – we tested the service several times and didn’t notice any leaks. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a protection against IPv6 leaks, so we recommend disabling those before surfing the web. The Network Lock feature works like a kill switch to drop your Internet connection whenever VPN servers go offline.
NordVPN doesn’t know what you do online because it keeps no logs whatsoever. Even harmless metadata aren’t registered on Nord’s servers. If you doubt whether it is true, take a look at this independent audit.
AirVPN didn’t carry out any third-party inspections but the absence of incidents involving the service proves it knows nothing about user activities. Therefore, we have reasons to believe that zero-logging is in place indeed.
NordVPN takes advantage of safe jurisdiction in Panama. The country has no obligatory data retention laws. Privacy is also respected there; therefore it is unlikely that the authorities get court subpoenas to force NordVPN to provide data about its subscribers. Panama doesn’t cooperate with foreign law enforcement or spy agencies so they can’t coerce Nord into disclosing confidential information either.
Italy (this is where AirVPN is registered) isn’t favorable jurisdiction for security-focused services. The country is a member of the Fourteen Eyes, which means it is involved in espionage and willingly shares data with foreign partners. Luckily, you have nothing to worry about since AirVPN has no clue about what the clients use their servers for.
If you require intuitive and sleek software, NordVPN hits the spot. To minimize clicks and taps, you can go with an automated connection that hooks you up to the closest server. If you prefer to take everything under control, you can pick servers on your own from the server lists or on the map. The apps provide information about standard and specialized servers (there are four categories of those) on the main screen. The settings tab houses a robust selection of features and options you can play with. All the necessary features (such as leak protection and kill switch) are enabled by default so if you are scared to get lost in the settings, you will be safe enough even with default configurations.
NordVPN supports basically every possible device whether it is a computer, mobile phone, game console, TV box, Smart TV or router. Extensions for Chrome and Firefox will ensure the safety of your browser. Thanks to 6 simultaneous connections, you can safeguard pretty much every device you have at hand.
AirVPN clients look a bit dated but they are helpful and feature-packed. The easiest way to start a connection is to choose the ‘Recommended Server’ tab. If you would like to pick a server manually, open the Server list and check out convenient stats on upload and download speeds, latency, capacity, load, and the number of current users. You can customize the list by blacklisting some servers you know for sure you will never use. All in all, the apps provide a great deal of stats and even more impressive settings. However, if you don’t have a background in configuring OpenVPN protocols and similar tech-savvy tasks, you might want to stay away from manual configurations. In general, experienced users will enjoy the clients while beginners may find them bulky and confusing.
The service supports devices powered by Windows, Linux, macOS, Android, iOS, as well as ChromeOS. You can also configure it on routers. AirVPN permits up to five connections at the same time from each account.
NordVPN offers P2P-optimized servers with increased bandwidth to cater to torrenting enthusiasts. These servers are available in 40 countries. Alternatively, you can make use of SOCKS5 proxy that is faster than a VPN but less secure due to the lack of encryption.
AirVPN allows torrenting as well. Still, it has fewer servers for this purpose and none proxy is available.
Unblocking Netflix? No problem if you have NordVPN. The service works with Netflix US, Japan, UK, and a few other local versions. In addition, it will help you access HBO, HULU, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and many other premium VoD platforms. We could easily pick servers suitable for unblocking thanks to a very helpful SmartPlay feature.
Because AirVPN’s network is on the smaller side, it is an easy target for streaming services to blacklist its IP addresses. Despite a traffic masking technology, it couldn’t avoid Netflix proxy error. That’s why we can’t call AirVPN a good option for video streaming.
You might want to browse through an impressive knowledge base compiled by NordVPN to find the answers to the most common questions. There, you will discover a a lot of tutorials, articles, FAQs, and instructional videos. To get an urgent solution to your issue, it’s best to use a 24/7 live chat. You may also contact the support team via tickets and email. All the replies we received were helpful and friendly.
AirVPN has no online chat but you can fill out a contact form to submit your question. We had to wait a few hours to get a reply and it wasn’t as friendly as we expected. Basically, a support agent was telling us to go check the website out. On the bright side, the service has a user forum where you can ask any question you want. The threads tend to delve into highly technical details but in general, they are a source of useful information.
Pricing Plans and Payment Methods
NordVPN offers transparent plans that vary in duration. The longer the subscription, the steeper discount you get:
- One month – $11.95 per month;
- 1 year – $6.99 per month (billed $83.88);
- 2 years – $4.99 per month (billed $119.76);
- 3 years – $3.49 per month (billed $125.64).
NordVPN offers 30-day money-back guarantee and safe payment methods (cryptocurrencies and gift cards) on top of credit cards and a variety of money transfer options.
AirVPN has a tiered pricing system with more tiers than any other VPN:
- 2 days – $2.24
- 1 month – $7.83
- 3 months – $5.59 per month ($16.77 one-time payment)
- 6 months – $5.40 per month ($32.42 one-time payment)
- One year – $4.58 per month ($54.78 one-time payment)
- Two years – $3.68 per month ($88.31 one-time payment)
- Three years – $3.07 per month ($110.68 one-time payment)
The service has no refund policy. Supported payment methods include credit cards, PayPal, a bunch of payment processors, and cryptocurrencies from Bitcoin to Doge.
AirVPN is a good service for security enthusiasts thanks to zero-logging and a huge variety of settings. Unfortunately, the service can’t be called multi-purpose due to variable speeds and the inability to unblock geo-restricted streaming platforms. NordVPN, on the other hand, is doing great in every aspect we tested it in. Therefore, we crown it as a winner of out NordVPN vs AirVPN contest.
If you would like to benefit from strong security delivered by NordVPN, the best way to do it with a 75% discount applied to the 3-year plan.