The Surfshark VPN is straightforward to install and configure.
There are minimal configuration options available, with no option to alter encryption strength, so the security settings are reasonably secure by default. Some privacy-related functions, such as CleanWeb, are disabled by default, and the Surfshark Search function is an additional cost add-on service.
Applications are available for Windows, Linux, macOS, Android, and iOS. In addition, browser extensions are available for almost all browsers, including Brave, Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. Surfshark commissioned an independent security audit of the browser extension code and the results reported on the website. Note that this audit did not cover the installable applications.
For this review, the iOS app was installed on an iPad and evaluated.
The Application Interface
The interface is minimalist, with the screen changing color when a connection has been established, along with a clear indication of the connected VPN server location. In addition, the display includes a pull-up window showing the IP address of the linked server and the volume of data downloaded and uploaded in the current session. Switching to a different server was straightforward. Once the current session is disconnected, a quick-connect list of the last three servers used is available, along with the option to automatically connect to either the fastest available server or the nearest country. However, testing this function did highlight a peculiarity. The test was conducted from a location near London, United Kingdom. The fastest server was always Manchester, United Kingdom, and the nearest country was always Ireland.
Alternatively, pressing the locations button brings up a list of all the available servers that can be sorted by name. This page also has the option of showing just the servers with a static IP address or the multi-hop server options. The latter allows connection via two servers in different countries to improve privacy at the expense of a slower connection speed. While the service supports a global network, the focus is on the US.
The application offers connections through around 3200 servers located in 65 different countries, but there is only one connection option for most countries. For the US, there are 25 locations available; for the UK and Canada, there are three each. Once connected, the VPN connection is transparent to the user apart from latency issues seen with some servers tested. The VPN service also includes an automatic Kill Switch function to block the internet connection if the VPN connection drops unexpectedly.
The VPN service supports split tunneling under the Whitelister feature, but it does not allow the configuration of the auto-connect option to be based on the network type. Other noteworthy options include a facility to override the device GPS to match the location of the connected server and a camouflage mode that disguises network traffic to hide VPN use from the ISP. Another good feature is the inclusion of an Adblocker function known as CleanWeb that claims to block trackers and malware though this feature needs to be manually enabled.