1Password vs. LastPass vs. mSecure: iPhone password management app shootout!

1Password vs LastPass vs mSecure password management apps for iPhone shootout

Security is constantly at war with convenience. Having unique, strong passwords for all your online accounts sounds great until you realize how tedious it is to implement them and how impossible it is to remember them. Because your iPhone is always with you, however, and because it has some truly great password management apps like 1Password, LastPass, and mSecure, it can be the ideal way to maximize security and minimize convenience. Not only that, password managers can be a great place to store all your secure information, including credit and debit cards, private notes, software licenses, and more. They can also help you generate and help you implement all your super strong, super secure passwords.

Considering the serious hacking attacks we've seen recently, you should absolutely start using a password manager, but which one should you use?

1Password vs. LastPass vs. mSecure: Interface

1Password vs LastPass vs mSecure user interface

At launch, 1Password will ask you to set a master password and a 4 digit pin. After you've picked them, you'll be brought to the main menu. Here you'll see some default tabs along the bottom for logins, accounts, wallet, add, and settings. These may change based on what kinds of items you have programmed into the app. You can also change the sort order of these tabs by editing and dragging them into whatever position you'd like.

Under logins you can toggle sorting between title and domain. This is convenient for times when you have multiple passwords for the same domain. Once you find the item you're looking for you can tap into it. If you've got 1Password configured to protect certain or all items with pin access, you'll be asked for your pin or master password before any data will be shown.

1Password for iPhone user interface

Once you're viewing a credential for a particular site you can load it automatically by tapping the arrow next to the URL. The website will load and 1Password will plug in your credentials you have stored for you. The accounts tab will work in a similar way. If you've required master password access, you'll be asked before the app will show any sensitive information. I recommend this for any password management app. Next you've got a wallet tab that you can use to store things such as credit card numbers, bank account information, and more.

The settings panel of 1Password is straight forward enough and allows you to change things like sync options, master password, pin, how often the app should ask for a password, and more.

LastPass for iPhone user interface

LastPass is configured similar to 1Password when it comes to layout. All your main tabs are along the bottom and you can easily toggle between sections by just tapping them. How you interact with the app is a different though.

The tabs in LastPass are sites, favorites, add new, notes, and settings. All of your regular site logins will show up under the sites tab while any other types of credentials will show up in the notes tab. This is a similar section to what 1Password calls Accounts.

When viewing sites or notes in the LastPass app, tapping on one will bring you a list of options which provides super quick access to the command you want. Examples are copy username, copy password, edit, launch, and more. Tapping launch will load the site and automatically fill in your credentials for you within an in-app browser.

mSecure's main layout and interface is different than both 1Password and LastPass. At launch you'll be asked for a master password and then presented with the main menu. This will contain lists of your logins that you can toggle by either name or type view. Name view will list all your items in alphabetical order based on what you set for the description. Type view will sort them by what kind of login they are. Where 1Password and LastPass have different sections for each account. mSecure combines them instead.

mSecure for iPhone user interface

Tapping the lock button in the lower bottom right corner will lock mSecure instantly requiring a password for re-entry. Clicking the info button will launch settings. From here you can do things such as change lock timeout, set up sync, change fonts and themes, and more.

The other menu items are a sync button located in the lower left corner and a plus sign in the upper right which is what you'll use to add logins and accounts. When adding an item you can choose between several categories and give them names and descriptions. You can also use built-in lists to organize them or add your own through settings. Once the item is added it will appear in your main list. You can use the search bar at the top of the main menu to search for logins by keywords.

When it comes to interface and ease of use, mSecure and 1Password sort and manage passwords and credentials in the most efficient and user friendly ways while LastPass needs some organizational work.

Tie, 1Password and mSecure.

1Password vs. LastPass vs. mSecure: Accounts, logins, and auto-fill

1Password vs LastPass vs mSecure accounts and logins

1Password allows you to add several types of credentials, logins, and forms. Logins, namely web logins, are the ones you'll likely use the most. You can sort them by domain or title, and 1Password can use them to log you into your sites using the embedded web browser.

At first glance the accounts tab may appear to be similar to the login tab, and in some ways it is. The main difference is that the accounts tab can store information that isn't necessarily a web login. This is where you'd want to store things like Wi-Fi router passwords, POP or IMAP information for e-mail accounts, FTP accounts, or any other info that may not depend on just a URL, username, and password.

1Password for iPhone accounts logins

The wallet feature is similar to the accounts tab but is used for items such as banking and credit card information. I'd highly recommend requiring a master password or pin in order to access any of the individual items in this list.

While the desktop version of 1Password supports auto-fill with forms, the iPhone app does not currently utilize the feature.

LastPass supports the creation of many items. Adding an account can be done by adding a new item and selecting site. If you want to add another type of credential you can do so by selecting the type. The iPhone version of LastPass supports adding site logins, notes, bank accounts, credit cards, database info, driver's license info, e-mail accounts, IM accounts, insurance credentials, software licenses, auto-fill forms, and much more.

LastPass for iPhone accounts logins

Once you're done adding the type of credential you need to, it will show up in the main sites section under its own heading. This is one feature that I don't necessarily like about LastPass. Everything seems to aggregate under only one tab. The reason it seems confusing is that the main tab is called sites. Something like accounts seems more appropriate if it is going to encompass every type of login you have. 1Password uses different tabs for different kinds of logins and the names of the sections make more sense and describe what they are more accurately.

Once something is added to LastPass you can tap it to bring up a menu with options on how you can interact and utilize that item. Though LastPass does contain the option to use auto-fill, tapping into an item will only allow you to view and edit it.

mSecure takes the good approach to organizing your data within one menu that you can sort. When adding a new item you'll be asked for the type and whether you want to sort it into a list, adding an extra layer or organization. If you are over compulsive about organizing data and being able to find it quickly, mSecure will satisfy those needs rather well.

mSecure for iPhone accounts logins

From the main screen you can choose an account or login to view or copy the information to clipboard. You can also share it through e-mail. The one feature mSecure doesn't offer that may be a deal breaker for some users is the ability to launch a login from within the app and have it autofill for you. The only option currently present is to copy the data to a clipboard. You will then need to enter Safari or the iPhone web browser of your choice, navigate to the URL of the login, and use the pasted information where needed.

Even though it can't add or auto-fill forms from iPhone, LastPass only allows you to edit and view form data while mSecure doesn't support forms via the iPhone app at all.

When it comes to organizing and using accounts, logins, and forms, 1Password does the best job.

1Password vs. LastPass vs. mSecure: Generating passwords

1Password vs LastPass vs mSecure generating passwords

1Password, LastPass, and mSecure will all allow you to generate strong passwords within the app. Each will also give you some idea of how strong the password is based on how many characters and what kind of characters. Once you're happy you can tap save and it'll ask you to name and fill in more information about what the password is for.

1Password for iPhone generating passwords

To generate a random password with 1Password you can just go to add item and scroll down and select generated password. You can move the slider in order to change the amount of characters. You can also choose to include or exclude numbers and special characters.

LastPass for iPhone generating passwords

LastPass works similar to the way you would generate a password with 1Password but adds a few more options to the mix. You'll also generate them through settings instead of adding an item. You can toggle not only numbers and special characters but capital, lowercase, numbers, special characters, and more.

Most notably, LastPass allows you to enable options that make the password pronounceable or to avoid ambiguity. It doesn't have a feature showing how good the password is but provides many more options to suit any password requirement you may have to meet.

mSecure for iPhone generating passwords

mSecure also allows you to generate random passwords but through an individual login. When adding a login or credential you can choose the key icon in the password field to be taken to the random generator.

From here you can choose to toggle between upper and lowercase, numbers, special characters, and password length. Just move the slider to change the length and a password preview will be shown in the box. Once you're happy with it you can tap save and it'll automatically insert it into the field.

When it comes to generating random passwords, all three have the ability to generate great passwords that are strong and virtually uncrackable without a tiny army of servers and years of time.

Tie.

1Password vs. LastPass vs. mSecure: Cross-platform syncing and browser support

1Password vs LastPass vs mSecure syncing

When it comes to sync support, 1Password has built-in support across all their apps for Wi-Fi sync as well as Dropbox. For Wi-Fi sync, just have your devices connected to the same Wi-Fi networking and launch sync. For Dropbox support, 1Password will create a keychain item within your Dropbox that stores all your data for sync across all devices. This information is, of course, encrypted.

1Password has not only an iPhone app but an iPad app. The pricing and apps are a bit confusing as you can get an iPhone only version or a universal pro version that will work on both iPhone and iPad for just a few dollars more. There is also support for both Mac and Windows PC, and Android. The Mac version is available in the Mac App Store and the Windows version can be downloaded from the Agile Bits website. If you've got any Android devices you'll be covered in that arena as well. 1Password also has browser plugins across Firefox, Chrome, and Safari.

LastPass will sync automatically with its own encrypted servers. To sync simply go into settings and choose the refresh option and you're done.

LastPass has a huge array of offerings across many platforms including Windows, Apple, and Linux for desktops and WebOS, Android, iOS, Symbian, and Windows Phone for mobile. LastPass also supports browser extensions for Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Chrome, and Opera.

mSecure, like 1Password, will sync over Wi-Fi or via Dropbox. Upon initial setup you can just choose the method you'd like to use and then you're good to go.

mSecure also offers apps for both iPhone and iPad as well as Android when it comes to mobile platforms. They also offer support for both Mac and PC users but don't appear to have any native browser plug-ins.

If you're looking for a solution that provides support across almost all major platform, LastPass and 1Password are the best choices. While LastPass supports a few more platforms, 1Password supports the ones that matter the most.

Tie between 1Password and LastPass.

1Password vs. LastPass vs. mSecure: Pricing

1password vs lastpass vs msecure pricing

1Password has a few versions available for iOS. If you're only looking for support on your iPhone, you can pick up the standalone version for $9.99. For $14.99 you can pick up the universal iPhone and iPad app. The desktop version will cost you an additional $49.99.

LastPass is a free download for iPhone and also has universal support for the iPad but will require a premium subscription which will cost $12 annually. The desktop version for Mac or Windows PC is also a free download and won't require an additional fee.

mSecure's iPhone app will cost you $9.99 but is a universal app for both iPhone and iPad. If you've got a Mac or Windows PC, the desktop variant will cost an additional $19.99 to complete the suite.

While it can add up over time, LastPass' subscription can't be beat for first time users. You can get started for only $12 a year.

1Password vs. LastPass vs. mSecure: The bottom line

1Password vs LastPass vs mSecure conclusion

1Password, LastPass, and mSecure will all store your logins, credentials, and accounts securely but the way they do it and how you can interact with each app is different.

1Password provides a great product with support for almost any type of credential you can think of. It's also the suite that works the most fluidly across desktop and device. I've used a lot of password apps in the past several years and 1Password just works the absolute best.

In this case, you really do get what you pay for and if you're looking for a quality password manager that'll work across virtually every platform, look no further than 1Password.

1Password - $14.99 - Download Now

LastPass - Free - Download Now

mSecure - Free - $9.99 - Download Now

Allyson Kazmucha

Senior editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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Reader comments

1Password vs. LastPass vs. mSecure: iPhone password management app shootout!

29 Comments

Great review Ally. I use SplashID, which seems to be more or less on par with the apps you reviewed.

The thing about password apps is that they're really "sticky." Very hard to migrate all those passwords, URLs, lock combinations, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, etc. from one app to another.

Nice review however would like to your thoughts on pwSafe as it is across all platforms ios, osx, windows and linux.

The major feature missing from eWallet is auto-login to websites. So I use it for organizing all of my info (for which it's hands down the best app) and 1Password for logging in to websites.

I have no doubt that there are tons of password management apps out there. When I choose the top 3 for an app vs app article i look at which ones provide the functionality the largest number of users will want and which does it in the best all around package.

Of course some people may not agree or find another one to be the best, but i try to be as objective and knowledgeable of what's out there as possible. If you really think something isn't right or there's definitely a better solution, you can always e-mail me at ally@imore.com and I'd be happy to take a look, update as needed, or review an app separately.

Late to this party because I just found out about this review when Rene mentioned it on a podcast.

This is an excellent and well written review, and its pretty clear most people would b happy with any one of these solutions.

Just wanted to point out a feature about mSecure's backup and syncing to Dropbox....
They are smart enough to not trust dropbox. They encrypt the backup/synced database before they send it to dropbox, so even with a Warrant and a company of Marines nobody can get your backed up passwords from dropbox.

Any product that does not take this extra step and just dumps stuff on dropbox is just asking for trouble.

And Syncing with dropbox or the desktop is not an either/or choice. You can do both. I often
do my cleanup on the desktop, sync to one device from the desktop then sync all the other devices via Dropbox.

I've been with mSecure since the app came out for the iPhone 3G, Have the PC version as well (paid), nagged them till they came out with an Android version, and was one of a very few Alpha testers for the Android version. They are a very good and responsive company.

Hi Alley, great review! Sometime back someone at iMore did a verses comparison with DataVault & 1Passwotd. So my question is about the app DataVault in this comparison with the others mentioned in the article? What's your thoughts on it?

Hi Biglan,
Marc from Ascendo here. We have released version 4.6.39 of DataVault for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch with several improvements including iCloud Sync improvements, automatic backup to iCloud, backup & sync via Dropbox and several usability improvements.
Comments and questions welcome info AT ascendo-inc DOT com

The article mentions "1Password also has browser plugins across Firefox, Chrome, and Safari." And I can't figure out if that requires the Windows version of the software or not. Does anyone know?

You may want to rethink the wisdom of having your passwords plugged into a browser. Cut and paste is good enough for me, and anything that plugs into a browser is just waiting to be hacked, like a picture window in a bank safe.

I use msecure as a replacement for the "password keeper" that was STANDARD on blackberry. It has served me well.
I love the fact that you can back it up to a file but can't access the information on the computer.

Nice review, very informative.

I have been using DataVault Password Manager and it is not worth the money....no data typed fields, limits the master password to 16 characters, awkward UI. I really wish Apple would create some sort of trial usage thing for the app store. It would have saved me a lot of money on well reviewed, useless apps like DataVault.

If you only need a desktop app for Mac, KeePassX is free and excellent.

Nice article thank you for the information. I have been using Secret Server for a while now and it seems to work great for me. I think I will continue to use it unless I find a reason not to.

Great comparison. I wanted to make a few comments though:
(1) I'm a LastPass user and I believe the article said that it does not Autofill forms on the iPhone, but it actually does. If you use the in-app browser to launch the site it will fill your login information and then if you continue to browse the site using the in-app browser and need to Autofill your credit card or something, it will. I find this extremely handing for online ordering from my iPhone.
(2) Steve Gibson of the Security Now podcast on the Twit network gave LastPass the highest security rating over 1Password and I am not sure if he looked into mSecure or not. 1Password was among the group of apps with the highest level of security for keeping your data safe. He did a great episode on password apps for iPhone a couple of months ago.
(3) I wanted to add that LastPass also has a tabbed browser for iPad that makes logging in, and auto-filling forms really convenient on the iPad as well and as long as you pay the $12/yr subscription, the app is free to use.

I would never (again) pay to have info stored on another server. When that server goes down permanently or temporarily, you're out of luck if you need your info.

The app that I use - TapIN - stored everything locally. It doesn't even transmit data to storage over the network so it's safer. You can use it as long as you have connection to the website, even if you're inside a VPN or protected environment.

The LastPass vault is also accessible via the web site, in a secure manner (local encryption and decryption, so the LastPass company doesn't have access). Also, the LastPass service supports several multifactor authentication, such as Google Authenticator, grid, and Yubikey (among others).

I have used the windows version of SplashID and found it really good. User friendly and the best password management tool i have ever used. All the passwords are categorized based on your use and it can also sync to your web passwords in the browser. awesome experience.

I prefered ES Password to mSecure. It can sync with both Dropbox and Google Docs. Other features are almost the same as mSecure.

We have been using MSecure for years and love the dropbox sync feature.
The on thing this article misses is how you work with a small team that need to share passwords....