Downloading an APK vs Using a VPN

Many games are only available in select regions. That might be because of a soft launch, choosing not to launch in a part of the world, or just plain regional exclusivity. So when gamers want to access these games they are faced with a choice: using a VPN or downloading an APK from a third party websites. Both options have their pros and cons, and this article will lay them out. Please note, this article contains affiliate links. For more information, see Android Sloth’s affiliate policy.

APK vs VPN

Downloading an APK

Pros:

  • Free
  • Doesn’t require knowing where a game is or isn’t available.
  • Mostly safe when downloading from a trusted source.

Cons:

  • APKs are often not available right away. There is often a delay between when a game is made available or receives an update on Google Play and when it becomes available on APK websites.
  • May require downloading the app again to update a game. Titles downloaded from third party websites cannot be updated through Google Play.
  • Need to modify device’s security settings. You will need to enable 3rd party installations in your device’s security settings.
  • Not an option for games that block certain regions.

Using a VPN to bypass Google Play restrictions

Pros:

  • Download apps directly from Google Play
  • No issues with updating apps
  • Easily browse Google Play in other regions
  • Useful for other things like protecting your privacy and bypassing other regional restrictions on other apps and websites.
  • Can pre-register for games outside of your country

Cons:

  • Not free. A quality VPN will cost a few dollars per month.
  • Typically requires creating a new Google account (more information on changing your Google Play country)

The verdict: VPN vs APK

If you plan on downloading a single game, finding the game’s APK can indeed be easier. All you need to do is download one file, install it, and you’re good to go. When using a trusted APK website, that is often good enough. Though with some titles, more than a simple APK is required to run the game

If you’re into Android gaming, a VPN is a better choice. It makes it possible for you to easily explore Google Play in Japan, South Korea, or many other regions, letting you discover new games that may never be released outside of those countries. A VPN can also easily be used to access Google Play stores around the world in order to download soft launched games that haven’t come out in your region yet.

While not free, a quality VPN is an incredibly valuable tool for Android users. Not only does it let you download games that are not available in your current country, but a VPN also allows you to browse Youtube videos that are exclusive to certain parts of the world, bypass regional restrictions on certain websites, and hide your IP address from websites and services that track your internet usage.

When choosing a VPN to bypass Google Play regional restrictions there are a few things to consider:

  • Price: If you want a quality VPN, look at paying a few dollars a month for it.
  • Server locations: You’re going to want a VPN that has servers in a wide range of countries. While almost every VPN will give you access to servers in the United States, Canada, and Japan, many do not offer locations in South Korea or a range of Southeast Asian nations. These are all important locations for finding new Android games.
  • Speed: Although not incredibly important when your goal is to change your Google Play country, faster is better. While you usually don’t need to use your VPN to play games, you will need to use it download each title. That can take a while on slower VPNs.

I recommend using NordVPN, it has server locations in every region most Android gamers would want, an app that’s easy to use, and a reasonable price tag (currently as little as $3.99 per month on a 2 year plan). It’s also faster than a number of VPNs I’ve tried.

For more information on using a VPN to download games, check out Android Sloth’s guide to changing your Google Play region using a VPN.