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Hide My Ass Pro VPN for Android review: Slick and effective

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
7.99
per month

An effective VPN with a slick interface, though rival Android VPNs have stronger features

Pros 
Fast, especially on local servers
Total leak prevention
Easy for first-time users
Cons 
No free version
'Virtual location' servers aren't great
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Hide My Ass Pro certainly has a memorable name, and its private-eye donkey schtick is quite likeable. It’s an effective VPN too, with all the features you need to maintain your online privacy, secure your connection over a public Wi-FI network, or access region-locked services such as Netflix or Comedy Central in the US.

There’s no free version of HMA Pro (as the Google Play Store coyly refers to it), but a one-month subscription includes a seven-day trial period – rising to 30 days if you’re prepared to pay £55 for a year upfront. Subscriptions are handled through Google Play, so it’s easy enough to cancel if you change your mind.

Buy now from Hide My Ass

Setup and basic use

The word “stylish” might be pushing it, but the HMA Pro VPN interface is certainly slick. It gives you a choice of three connection modes, selectable with a tap: “Instant Mode” opens an immediate connection to the nearest, speediest server, for situations where you just want to be secure and anonymous. “Location Mode” lets you choose an exit node from a long list of servers in different countries and cities, which you can tailor by nominating your personal favourites.

Finally, “Freedom Mode” takes you to the fastest available server in a territory with uncensored internet. If you’re connecting from a location where specific sites are blocked, this should let you access them.

It’s all well-organised and logically laid out, and there aren’t many additional settings to worry about. You can configure the app to connect the VPN automatically at launch, or to pop up when you connect to a potentially insecure Wi-Fi network. You can also ask HMA to periodically randomise your IP address, giving you an additional layer of anonymity.

Server locations

HMA has more than 760 servers in 190 different locations; its presence is strongest in Europe and the USA, but it’s well represented across Asia, Africa, South America and the Middle East. That means you have lots of options for connecting to regional services, and should almost always be able to find a server that’s relatively nearby and not overloaded with traffic.

Scroll down to the bottom of the server list and you’ll also find options for “virtual” locations covering the US, Canada, the UK, Singapore, the Netherlands and Germany. These are effectively location-spoofing services, designed to get around region locks without the lag involved in actually routing your traffic through faraway servers. These didn’t work brilliantly for us, though: we weren’t able to watch Netflix US or Comedy Central from virtual locations, whereas opening a real VPN connection to the US allowed both services to stream happily.

Performance

HMA is a speedy VPN, particularly if you’re using a local server: we found we lost less than 8% of our normal, non-VPN download connection speed. It’s not quite as fast as PureVPN for US connections, but it only trails by a few percent. Leak prevention is a strength too, with DoILeak.com confirming that all our information was safely concealed, including our location, IP address and DNS requests.

Extra features

HMA Pro doesn’t come with any additional security features, preferring to keep things simple. There is a killswitch, but as with NordVPN it’s hidden away in the VPN section of the Android network settings.

Privacy and security

HMA is based in the UK, which means it’s subject to British legislation and data-sharing agreements with other countries. The company is open about the fact that it collects usernames, time stamps, IP addresses and information on the amount of data uploaded and downloaded. However, the actual data itself isn’t monitored, and the websites you connect to aren’t logged. Just be aware that the service doesn’t condone file sharing or other illegal activity, and has cooperated with local law enforcement authorities in the past to prosecute its own users. If you’re a whistle-blower or P2P enthusiast, this isn’t the VPN for you.

Verdict

HMA Pro VPN is a solid, easy-to-use VPN. It’s ideal for unblocking US streaming services, and for tightening security when you’re connecting to an untrusted public network. It’s not quite the cheapest VPN out there, and it doesn’t have the feature set of NordVPN, but it’s a decent choice for casual users.

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