Is Private Relay for iCloud Plus Users VPN or Not?

Is Private Relay for iCloud Plus Users VPN or Not?

Do you have an iCloud Plus subscription? Then you can use Private Relay (Private Relay in English). Many people refer to the functionality as a VPN, but is that really true?

Continue reading after the announcement.

Private Relay Looks Like a VPN (But It’s Not)

Private Relay is a feature that Apple announced during its iOS 15 presentation. The feature is currently in the testing phase, but you can already use Private Relay. You need an iCloud Plus subscription for this.

Private Relay has some important similarities with a VPN. The most important thing is that all of your internet traffic cannot be directly traceable to you. However, this does not apply in all situations – we will explain this to you.

The feature only works in Safari

Private Relay only works as a VPN when using Apple’s Safari browser. In this case, your Internet traffic is encrypted and redirected through so-called proxy servers. Others will no longer find out what pages you visit on the Internet. So you have complete privacy. Your IP address (the “home address” of your Internet connection), browsing history, and your location are no longer visible to the outside world.


A regular VPN works with every browser you use. So you can also surf the internet anonymously via Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Edge. Since Private Relay forces you to use Safari, the feature is relatively limited. Not every website works optimally in Safari. There are also, for example, all kinds of useful Chrome extensions that you can only use with Google Chrome.

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Also Read: iCloud Plus: These Are the Extra Features You Get

It is not possible to locate a foreigner

VPNs are regularly used to watch Netflix shows from the United States. The streaming service offers different movies and series in every country. Very frustrating, because the American offer is several times larger (and maybe a little better) than the Dutch one. With a VPN, you can change your internet location, which makes Netflix think you’re in a different country. This way you can access different view of movies and series.

Unfortunately, Private Relay does not offer this option. The new IP address Apple assigned to you is still associated with your region. You can’t modify this yourself either. So you are anonymous, but you have no control over your identity.

private relay

VPN and Private Relay provide more online privacy

Ultimately, both Apple’s VPN and Private Relay offer more online privacy. Private Transfer also comes bundled with iCloud Plus, so you don’t have to do anything for it. You already have an iCloud Plus subscription from € 1 Per month. This makes private relay cheaper than most VPNs. However, you are also sacrificing functionality.

Already have an iCloud Plus subscription and want to use Private Relay? You can turn this on and off manually via the Settings app on your iPhone. It goes like this:

As Private Relay is still an experimental feature at the time of writing, it doesn’t work flawlessly yet. For example, you can’t sign in with your DigiD if you have Private Transfer turned on.

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