ExpressVPN is a veteran of the industry, and it’s been popular for quite some time. It hasn’t had any major issues, and thus, I consider it one of the most consistent mainstream VPNs of all time. That said, it does have its fair share of issues that haven’t been addressed for a large number of years. Here is the unbiased ExpressVPN review you’ve been waiting for!
One of ExpressVPN’s biggest flaws is the price. It’s been the same price for some 8 or 9 years, which in some ways is a good thing (because a lot of VPNs change their price every year to a new complicated model that takes a forensic team to decipher). But the bad thing about the consistency of the price is just the price tag. It’s around $13 a month or $100 a year ($100 for 15 months with my link/deal–although ExpressVPN never wanted to offer me promo codes to reduce the price itself).
The price itself is more expensive than almost any VPN out there, and almost there times as expensive as most Tier 1 options on the channel.
Besides the price, ExpressVPN also only offers 5 simultaneous connections (which is lower than the new industry standard of 8-10 or unlimited devices as seen with stuff like CactusVPN). It also does not include a freely packaged Socks5 proxy that you can use with your torrent application.
But ExpressVPN doesn’t have fake countdown clock timers, tricky pricing changes per year, popups, penalized auto-renewals, or any other such nonsense. It’s expensive but honest about that, and I do appreciate that.
ExpressVPN has a very consistent application as well. Are you starting to see the theme here? 😉
Since I’ve reviewed it for around the time period of some 5 years, the app has not changed much in terms of look and feel, or the stuff offered. In 2021, they’ve offered a pretty minimal brand appearance change and the entire feel of the website feels “papery and retro”–and the application has a bit of a faded color retro feel as well. Overall though, it looks the same and does the same things as it always has.
But that is not to say that ExpressVPN doesn’t have a polished, easy to use, and bug-free interface–because it does.
It has most of the essentials like kill switches and it does have split tunneling–and it was the first one to support this cool new feature. It’s also introduced its Lightway protocol sometime in 2020, but my results with it have been mixed–which I’ll discuss in the next section.
Overall, ExpressVPN has a good workable application. I just sort of wish we had seen more improvements over the years to fix the missing areas seen in the application analysis chart–such as stuff like WireGuard support, ad-blocking features, DNS + port customization, Linux GUI support, and server + latency stats on servers.
One thing to note is that ExpressVPN does have a really good router application which you can install on several routers. This is pretty unique in the industry and not really offered by any other VPNs. I did a video review on it if you’re interested. It’s one of the better ways to unblock streaming services on devices that can’t install VPN (like TVs or game consoles for example).
ExpressVPN is an interesting beast in terms of speeds, and I think it has to do mainly with how many people are using it and what times you decide to use the service.
I’ve gotten some of the fastest speeds, and during other times I’ve just gotten “okay” speeds.
Take for example the global speed test of 2020, ExpressVPN was near the bottom of the list in terms of global tests around the world. Since then, Lightway has seen speed improvements but it’s still something to take note of.
In some ways, I wish ExpressVPN would just use the WireGuard protocol since it seems consistently faster than Lightway and is getting amazing results consistently with nearly every VPN that has been using it. ExpressVPN has REALLY been pushing Lightway as a defining feature I think, but it just sort of leaves a sour taste in my mouth because I would prefer them to use an open-source protocol that is already delivering (but perhaps not as marketable or interesting to make blog posts about).
I’ve noticed that during peak times or specific times of the day, your speeds with this one really can vary. I would say that most people can get decent to amazing speeds with ExpressVPN–but make sure to test it out with a torrent file for a week or so to see if it performs consistently for you before the 30-day refund is up.
Customer Support 5/5
ExpressVPN has great customer support–and always has. They consistently have live chat and the company heads themselves have always been kind to me (some VPNs have tried to sue me for the same lol) even after I’ve given their product a fair share of criticism over the years.
That said, the company itself has always preferred more anonymous ownership and less transparency (but has made good strides in the last year or so). I’ve asked them about this on multiple occasions and they usually cite that they don’t want the government to go after employees.
This anonymity factor and preference not to reveal company employees has backfired a bit and lead some to question ExpressVPN’s ownership. ExpressVPN’s base of location and since the company has offices in Hong Kong, it has led some to believe the company has ties to the Chinese government. However, in 2021, I no longer believe that to be the case since the company has seemingly realized hiding all employees and management doesn’t make the company seem trustworthy and they’ve made a few blog posts answering common questions and stuff.
That said, ExpressVPN is still not in the RVP–and I’m not sure it will ever be (and the company has not expressed interest in applying). Their marketing presence online has made them top several affiliate websites which I do not trust, which leads me to believe that ExpressVPN could be giving out special CPA deals or buying rankings in some way (although not proved).
It could just be due to ExpressVPN’s extremely generous commission model and expensive price (which gives affiliates large chunks of cash). Additionally, the company has ONLY just begun to become more transparent with ownership and overall transparency, so I still think there is room to grow here.
ExpressVPN usually works to unblock most streaming services quite well, and since they have a good router application, it’s a decent pick for people who want to unblock streaming services and don’t mind the high price tag.
That said, due to ExpressVPN’s popularity, there are significant downtimes with servers and you will have to switch servers frequently to remain undetected by Netflix. This has always been a longstanding issue with ExpressVPN even though it does bypass the four required streaming services (Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer).
Conclusion 3.91/5 Top of Tier 2
ExpressVPN has always been a consistent brand and polished product, and in 2021, that hasn’t changed. Sometimes I feel it’s a bit too “samey” though, because besides the addition of the Lightway protocol–not much has changed here. Speeds could be a bit faster and more consistent, however, and due to the expensive price, it’s sometimes a hard sell for people on a budget. But for those who have a bit more cash in their wallet in search of a large VPN that is pretty trustworthy, and easy to use, and works well with streaming, and has good customer support, ExpressVPN could be a decent pick.