Preamble

I'm unsure why I never published this article. While I certianly have many half written and incomplete posts I intended to write and finished, this seems farily well researched, organized, and complete. I'm publishing it now, in case anyone finds it useful.

If you find problems, or have any comments at all, feel free to contact me via Twitter.

Background

Since purchasing an iPad Pro (10.5") w/ Smart Keyboard, I consider doing serious work on an iPad to be possible, if I have the right tools. Being a technical / server admin type, a good SSH client is one of those tools I need to have. Today I researched some possibilities and curated my findings here.

Some time ago, I became aware of Blink because of it's Mosh support, but never bought it due to the price tag. Compiling it from source is possible, but not that simple... Then you'd need to "side load" it anyways.

More recently I started using Termius due it's great feature set, but scrollback issues and the $30 annual cost for premium features left me wondering about other options.

I've got an iPhone and iPad Pro, so I started my search in the App Store.


Contenders

  • Termius (Previously ServerAuditor) - Free or $29.99/yr IAP for premium[1] (5 stars w/ 3.1k reviews)
  • Blink - $19.99 purchase (4.5 stars w/ 29 reviews)
  • Shelly - Free or $3.99 IAP (one time) for Pro (5 stars w/ 19 reviews)
  • Prompt 2[2] - $14.99 purchase (5 stars w/ 1.41k reviews)
  • Coda[2:1] - $24.99 purchase (5 stars w/ 748 reviews. Code editor with built in SSH client)

Need to review

  • SimpleSSH
  • iTerminal[2:2] (Free; 4 stars w/ 15 reviews)
  • WebSSH Essential[2:3] (Free; 5 stars w/ 63 reviews)
  • WebSSH Pro ($4.99, no IAP) made by same dev as WebSSH Essential

Non-Contenders (and why)

  • Reflecion for UNIX[2:4] (Free + IAP) - Skipped due to poor reviews.
  • SSH Term Pro[2:5] ($4.99) - Skipped due to poor reviews
  • OpenTerm[2:6] (Free) - Doesn't offer SSH functionality. Just a terminal emulator for iOS.

By Price

App Purchase Price Premium Upgrade
iTerminal Free n/a
WebSSH Essential Free Buy WebSSH Pro ($4.99)
SimpleSSH $1.99 n/a
Shelly Free $3.99 one time
SSH Term Pro $4.99 n/a
WebSSH Pro $4.99 n/a
Reflection for UNIX Free $9.99
Prompt 2 $14.99 n/a
Blink $19.99 n/a
Coda $24.99 n/a
Termius Free $29.99/yr

Features of interest:

  • Background connections support / lifetime of background connections
  • Full support for using, generating, and import/export of SSH keys, including new ed25519 keys.
  • Extra app security w/ pin or touchID.
  • Special (keyboard/input) keys (available, how they work, a customizable keyboard bar to display them)
  • scrollback support
  • Mosh (I've had issues with it, so it's not critical for me to have)
  • UI / Theming
  • ease of copy/paste

Coda notes

  • Code editor with built in SSH client.
  • Made by the makers of Panic
  • $24.99 purchase[2:7]

Prompt 2 notes

  • Made by the makers of Coda
  • For $10 more, Coda "has Prompt 2 built in"
  • $14.99 purchase[2:8]

Termius notes

  • Previously ServerAuditor
  • Android and Desktop versions available
  • Keeping connections open in the background is a premium feature, but it does give a notification when the connection will be closed soon.
  • Premium features ($29.99/yr): Data sync, SFTP Client, Background sessions, DNS discovery service, Snippets, Terminal Tabs, Password paste, SSH Agent forwarding, TouchID app security, Tool to sync ~/.ssh/config

Blink notes

  • Open source. You can download from Github, compile yourself, then side load it... but that is a pain and buying is only a one time $20 purchase. Just pay and support the devs. But this is a good way to try out the app if you are already competent and setup for iOS Dev.
  • UI is text based. To open the menu to configure the app, type config.

Shelly notes

  • App has a light and dark theme. Terminals also can be themed with various, editable, color schemes.
  • Includes an extra bar of keyboard keys that can be customized, reordered, and even allow multiple keypresses to be sent with a single button.
  • Three minute limit on keeping connections open in the background is a frustration. Other apps have workarounds to keep connections open, or at least give a local notification when the connection is about to be closed.
  • Unknown developer, no website, and the developer has only made games before.
  • Premium features ($3.99 IAP): Save usernames and passwords, background connections up to 3 minutes, customize gestures and toolbar, SSH Keyfile auth & tools, set command to execute after connecting

Feature comparison

Termius Blink Shelly
Background connections Premium: Yes[3]
Free: Limited duration w/ notification
With Mosh Premium: Up to 3 min[4]
SSH Key Features Yes Yes Premium only
ed25519 Key Support Yes No Yes
App Security Free: PIN
Premium: TouchID[5]
Yes Premium only
Special Keyboard Keys ? ? Good support
Scrollback No ? Yes
Copy/paste Okay ? Good
Mosh Yes Yes No
UI Good Text based Good
Price Free $19.99[2:9] Free
Upgrade $29.99/yr IAP[1:1] n/a n/a

  1. I have not purchased premium features. ↩︎ ↩︎

  2. I have not purchased this app. Information here was based on reviews, screenshots, app store info, and the app website. ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎

  3. Without premium, background connections are short lived and you get a notification when the connection will be closed soon. ↩︎

  4. No notification when background connections will close. No way to have longer lasting connections, even with Premium. ↩︎

  5. A four digit PIN code can restrict access to the app. TouchID can restrict access to the app if you have upgraded to Premium. ↩︎