Smartphone antivirus software has become big business in recent years. The Android operating system is under an ever-increasing threat from malware, viruses, and other undesirable programs; the requirement to protect yourself against these threats is more important than ever.
With so many antivirus apps available, it can be challenging to determine the quality releases from the ineffective ones. In this article, we look at some of the best antivirus apps for Android to help you make an informed choice about your coverage.
1. Avast Antivirus
Avast remains one of the most popular antivirus apps for both mobile devices and laptops/desktops.
The mobile version of the app has a suite of tools to keep your device safe. They include app locks, anti-theft features, a photo vault, access to a VPN, a privacy permissions dashboard, a junk cleaner, a web shield, and of course, the virus scanner and removal function.
A free version and a paid version of the Avast suite are available. Some features, such as the VPN, verification of Wi-Fi security, phishing protection, and the VPN, are only available in the paid packages. Plans start at $60 per year.
The free version will do the job, but it is loaded with ads and nag screens; it might be annoying for some users.
It scored 6/6 for protection, performance, and usability in AV-Test's round of testing from November 2020.
Download: Avast Antivirus (Free, subscription available)
2. Bitdefender Mobile Security and Antivirus
Another Android antivirus app that scored a perfect round of sixes in AV-Test's analysis is Bitdefender Mobile Security and Antivirus.
It is a paid app—no free version exists beyond a 14-day trial. However, if you're willing to get your wallet out, it is arguably the best paid option available.
One of the most beneficial features of Bitdefender is its light footprint, both on battery life and device performance. If your antivirus suite is making your phone so slow that it's unusable, you're just going to delete it and leave yourself exposed. There is no risk of that with Bitdefender.
Some other notable features include anti-theft protection (including a geo-locator), web protection, PIN-protected apps, and a smart unlock function for when you are on trusted Wi-Fi networks. Bitdefender also includes support for your Wear OS smartwatch as part of the plan.
Packages start from $15 per year, depending on the number of devices you need to protect.
Download: Bitdefender Mobile Security and Antivirus (Free trial, subscription required)
3. Kaspersky Mobile Antivirus
Kaspersky is one of the most well-known antivirus apps for Android. The security app offers both a free and a paid version.
The free version offers all the basic protection you'll need, including antivirus protection, a background check for viruses, spyware, ransomware, and Trojans, a find my phone feature, and anti-theft tools. Thankfully, even the free version does not include ads.
If you are happy to pay $40 per year, you also get access to anti-phishing features, a web filter, and the app lock tool. The premium version also adds real-time threat detection, rather than relying on manual scans.
Like Bitdefender and Avast, it scored a perfect round of 6/6 on AV-Test's independent analysis.
Download: Kaspersky Mobile Antivirus (Free, subscription available)
4. Norton 360
Readers of a certain age will probably have a poor perception of any Norton product. The company dominated the antivirus landscape in the early 2000s, but its apps were horrific resource hogs that could slow even the most powerful machines down to a crawl.
Thankfully, those issues are now a distant memory; it's time to give Norton a second chance. Indeed, the company's holistic Android antivirus app—Norton 360—is one of the fastest and most reliable apps out there.
Some of the best features include dark web monitoring, a pre-download app scanner, Wi-Fi security alerts, and web protection. You also get bank-grade encryption via the included VPN, a password manager, a smart firewall, and 10GB of cloud backup storage.
The biggest downside of Norton 360 is the cost. You can try the app for free thanks to the 14-day trial but, thereafter, you will need to pay $85 per year for a single device. Five devices will cost you $100 per year. That's a notable jump in price compared to some of the other apps we have looked at.
Download: Norton 360 (Free trial, subscription required)
AVG is a big player in the world of Android virus protection. It offers one of the best free antivirus apps for Android, as well as a powerful paid app.
Under the hood, there aren't many differences between Avast and AVG. They have both used the same antivirus engine since Avast bought AVG back in 2016.
Avast's free tier has more features than the AVG equivalent, but it also carries many more ads. You will need to decide whether the trade-off is worth it. The features available in the free package include anti-theft functionality, app locks, a "camera trap" for phone thieves, and malware scanning.
If you upgrade to the $4 per month paid plan, you also get phishing protection, a website scanner, a network security verification tool, and protection against ransomware. These will all help to keep your Android device secure.
Download: AVG (Free, subscription available).
6. Avira Antivirus
Avira lays claims to be the best free antivirus app for Android. It includes a network scanner, identity safeguard, and web protection. Impressively, you also get access to the free VPN; that's a feature that almost all antivirus apps choose to restrict to their paid tiers.
Away from the basic malware protection, the free tier of Avira has a performance booster, a memory optimization tool, and a storage optimization tool.
There is also a paid option that will cover all your devices, including Windows and Mac machines. In addition to the free features, you get real-time malware detection, encrypted web browsing, a password generator, and computer and mobile speed optimization tools. Prices start at $99 per year.
Download: Avira Antivirus (Free, subscription available)
Don't Forget About Google Play Protect
A lot of commentators and analysts are convinced that Android antivirus apps are unnecessary. The modern Android operating system includes many native security features, meaning these apps might all be redundant.
If you only use the Play Store and install "standard" apps, you are probably safe. Google Play Protect will automatically perform a safety check on apps from the Google Play Store before you download them and can also scan your device for potentially harmful apps from other sources.
Does Android need antivirus apps? What about your iPhone? Here's why smartphone security apps are important.