Featured Play Store Review: Hands on with TunnelBear VPN [Tools]

TunnelBear VPN is one of those apps that’s extremely simple, but is very powerful. There are two really important reasons why you need to download TunnelBear VPN today, and many of you will fall into both. The first if for those who frequently use public WiFi hotspots. Everything you do on a public WiFi is available to hackers and that includes passwords and just about anything else. You can’t always avoid public WiFi’s so how do you safely take care of your business? A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is the only way. Now you can set up your own personal VPN, but who has the time to mess with that. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was something safe and secure without all the hassle? Well TunnelBear VPN is just that. It provides “safe-passage and privacy” for Android tablets and smartphones with a secure, encrypted connection to either a U.S. or UK server (more on that in a bit). What this means is that if you are utilizing TunnelBear on an open WiFi network, anyone who intercepts your data won’t be able to read it thanks to the AES 128-bit encryption.

The second reason is you might not have access to certain apps or sites because of where you live. For example, if you live outside of the U.S., you cannot get Hulu, Pandora, Google Voice, Google Music, or some YouTube videos. With TunnelBear you can experience the internet as if you are living in another country. So if you live outside the U.S. you can choose the U.S. server. Not only will your traffic be encrypted, but it will be just like you were in the U.S. and you would have access to the services mentioned above. Those of us here in the U.S. who might want to watch the BBC out of the UK can now do so by choosing the UK server. If only you knew about it during the Summer Olympics. I know a lot of people tried all kinds of silly things to spoof their IP addresses, but TunnelBear eliminates all the fuss and it’s amazing how simple it is to set up.

Using the TunnelBear app couldn’t be easier, but if you are looking to get access to stuff you are restricted to, you might have to follow a few extra steps to get it working. If you are just looking for a safe VPN when you are connected to an open WiFi, then all you have to do is open the app and you will see a bear in a tunnel. You only have two options which are at the top left. The first is whether you turn it on or off and the second is your choice of server (U.S. or UK). When it’s turned on, the bear will have a digging motion. At the top right, you will see how much data you’ve used towards your quota. If you want access to something in another country, you might have to follow some additional steps depending on what you’re looking to do. If you are accessing something involving an app already installed (such as the BBC iPlayer app) or something via the Browser, you might have to force close the app before running TunnelBear as well as turn off your GPS and other location services. If you are trying to get something from the Play Store, you might also have to clear all data from the Play Store app. You can clear all data, by going into settings, choosing “Apps” and selecting Google Play Store under “Downloaded Apps”. You will then see an option to “Clear Data”. Just tap that, then tap “Force Close” and you will be all set. Now there is one other thing if things still don’t work, and that is to pull your SIM card if your phone ot tablet has one. I believe this is only an issue when dealing with the Play Store, but depending on what you’re doing, it’s possible you still might have to do it. You can see some of these issues in my hands on video below.

If you’re concerned that your speed will drop significantly when using TunnelBear, don’t worry. It’s natural to have a drop off, but you shouldn’t lose more than about 20 to 25% of your current speed. You won’t be able to use sites like Speedtest.net to test you loss because they attempt to find a local server. The only way to truly test your speed is to download a 100mb test file from CacheFly. I was getting 10.26Mbps down with my normal WiFi, but when using TunnelBear, I got 8.70Mbps down. That’s only a 15% reduction, which is very good.

With TunnelBear, you get 500MB of data for free per month and you can grab another 1GB by simply entering your Twitter ID and sharing your love with a tweet. That’s a total of 1.5GB per month, which is more than enough for those that want a simple VPN at times when they are utilizing an open public WiFi. For those of you that plan on using it to access sites that you’re blocked from, you might need more data. Watching a lot of Hulu or listening to Google Music could eat up that data in a hurry. For $2.99 per month, you will have unlimited data, and you can get it as cheap as $2.50 per month (average) if you pay for one year upfront, which is $29.99. They also offer a a 3-month plan for $7.99, which equates to $2.66 per month. This is a small price to pay for access to content that you wouldn’t normally get.

TunnelBear is completely free to try so you have nothing to lose. I guarantee it will work as you will see in my hands on video below. So check that out and hit one of the download links at the bottom to get started. As always, let me know what you think.


* Incredibly simple – On/Off!
* Experience the internet as if you’re living in another country
* Browse the internet on your Android tablet or smartphone with privacy
* A giant-sized animated bear
* Servers in US & UK + more coming soon!




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About the Author: Robert Nazarian

Robert lives in upstate New York where he was born and raised. Technology was always his passion. His first computer was a Radio Shack TRS80 Color that used a cassette tape to save programs, and his first laptop was a Toshiba T1200FB that sported a CGA greyscale screen and two 720kb floppy drives (no hardrive). From the early 90’s through late 2011, he only owned Motorola phones starting with the MircroTAC all the way through to the Droid X. He broke that streak when he bought the Galaxy Nexus. Now he's sporting a Galaxy Note 4, and absolutely loves it. He has a wonderful wife and a 6 year old son. In his free time he enjoys sports, movies, TV, working out, and trying to keep up with the rapid fast world of technology.

  • Lizzy

    There are some alternatives similar to tunelbear. I use Hide My IP, since Tunnelbear is kinda bit more expensive than hide My IP ($2.95/month) also with Tunnelbear 3 devices can be used on 1 subscription. Whereas with Hide My IP 1 subscription can be used on 5 devices simultaneously.