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The Best Android Antivirus Apps In 2021

You’re putting yourself in danger of infection from damaged applications and other types of malware if you don’t have one of the top Android antivirus applications installed on your smartphone or tablet.

Your protection choices are far from restricted. The finest Android antivirus applications have a variety of privacy and anti-theft features in addition to top-notch malware detection and protection. The majority of them offer a free tier, while others are completely free.

There are free and premium versions of many Android security applications, but not all freemium antivirus applications are made equal.

We gathered applications from the largest brands in mobile antivirus protection, including Avast, Bitdefender, Kaspersky, Lookout, McAfee, Norton, 360 Security, and even Google itself, and assessed them on setup, interface, usability, additional features, and, of course, anti-malware capabilities.

We utilised data from AV-Test, an independent German lab that ranks the efficacy of most major security programmes to identify zero-day malware and other current threats. The Geekbench 4 programme was also utilised to assess the effect of various security applications on overall performance.

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What are the best antivirus programmes for Android?

Based on our testing, the best Android antivirus software is Bitdefender Mobile Security ($15 per year), which provides near-perfect malware protection with a broad variety of features.

Even greater security is provided by Norton Mobile Security ($30 per year). We can’t recommend Norton Mobile Security as highly as we used to, since Norton quietly discontinued the free tier, along with its anti-theft capabilities, in December 2019.

Avast Mobile Security and McAfee Mobile Security are both free apps with a lot of features that perform well in malware detection testing. However, Avast’s anti-theft and call-blocking capabilities were ineffective, and both applications display a lot of advertisements unless you pay them not to.

There are no advertisements in the free edition of Kaspersky Mobile Antivirus, and the call-blocking and anti-theft functions function effectively. It has excellent virus protection, but it lacks a Wi-Fi network security scanner.

Lookout Security & Antivirus was one of the earliest mobile antivirus applications, and it comes with a useful identity-protection feature. However, there isn’t any third-party lab evidence on Lookout’s antivirus effectiveness, so we don’t know how effectively it defends against malware.

Qihoo 360 Security is not something we can suggest. It offers a lot of functions for free, but there are so many adverts that you’ll happily pay to get rid of them. It slowed down our test phone more than any of the finest Android antivirus applications, and we have no idea how effective it is at protecting against viruses.

Google Play Protect, the last programme, is installed on every Android phone that plays Google Play. Unfortunately, it fails miserably when it comes to malware protection. Something else should be used.

The finest Android antivirus applications have a variety of privacy and anti-theft features in addition to top-notch malware detection and protection. They can follow your phone or tablet using GPS, take a photograph of a phone thief using the device’s camera, and even find your phone using your Android Wear wristwatch.

Visit our sections on the best antivirus software and the best Mac antivirus for malware protection on other platforms.

The Best Android Antivirus App You Can Get

1. Bitdefender Mobile Security

Best paid option

Price per year: $15, no free version

Minimum Android support: 4.1 Jellybean

Ads: No

App lock: Yes

Anti-theft: Yes

SPECIFICATIONS
REASONS TO BUY

Top malware protection

Affordable premium version

Many useful features

Small system impact

REASONS TO AVOID

Expensive unlimited VPN option

Bitdefender’s Android security software includes near-perfect malware protection, a low effect on performance, Android Wear watch integration, a VPN client, and a malicious-website blocker that works with most Android browsers.

It also comes with a number of privacy protections, including an app lock, a Wi-Fi scanner, anti-theft measures, and data-breach alerts.

The trial time for Bitdefender Mobile Security is 14 days, although this is not a freemium software. Only malware is scanned by the standalone Bitdefender Antivirus Free for Android app (which is, in fact, completely free).

The built-in VPN client only provides 200MB of free data per data, which is only enough to access your email while traveling.You’ll have to pay $7 per month or $50 per year if you want additional data.

Bitdefender Mobile Security, on the other hand, is well worth the money at $15 per year. It’s the greatest Android antivirus app in our opinion.

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2. Norton Mobile Security

SPECIFICATIONS

Price per year: $30, no more free version

Minimum Android support: 4.1 Jelly Bean

Ads: No

App lock: No

Anti-theft: No

REASONS TO BUY

Flawless malware detection

App Advisor beats the competition

Intuitive design

REASONS TO AVOID

No more anti-theft functions-No more free tier

Of all the Android antivirus applications we evaluated, Norton Mobile Security provides the greatest malware protection. Unfortunately, Norton suddenly cancelled the app’s strong anti-theft features, as well as its contacts backup and Link Guard malicious-link filter, in early December 2019.

Worst of all, Norton Mobile Security’s free tier was the finest of all the Android antivirus applications we’d lately reviewed.

Norton Mobile Security is now completely premium. It’s more expensive than some other paid mobile applications, despite the fact that it lacks several features offered elsewhere, such as an app lock for particular applications.

Norton Mobile Security’s unique App Advisor, which examines applications on your smartphone for large data consumption and strange behavior, may be worth the additional premium. Even before you install applications from the Google Play store, it scans them for security and privacy issues.

3. Avast Mobile Security

SPECIFICATIONS

Price per year: Free; $24, $40 premium versions

Minimum Android support: 5.0 Lollipop

Ads: Free version

App lock: Premium only

Anti-theft: Partly premium

REASONS TO BUY

Inexpensive premium version

Lots of features for free

REASONS TO AVOID

Call blocking doesn’t work

Unreliable anti-theft features

Too many ads in free version

Avast Mobile Security & Antivirus is one of the top Android antivirus applications, with features such as a privacy advisor, a system optimizer, and a customised blacklist.

However, although Avast’s malware protection is adequate, it is far from ideal. Avast’s anti-theft features didn’t work for us, and its call-blocking tool was completely useless. In the free version, the advertising and repeated nags to upgrade are both unpleasant and obtrusive.

If you purchase Avast Mobile Security’s premium levels, Premium ($2 monthly or $24 annually) or Ultimate ($7 monthly or $40 annual), the advertising will go gone. Additional anti-theft protections, an app locker, and tech assistance are available to users of any subscription plan.

The SecureLine VPN’s built-in client is simply a tease, and the only way to utilise it is to upgrade to the Ultimate tier. Because SecureLine on Android costs $48 per year on its own, spending an additional $16 for unlimited data on top of the premium tier isn’t a terrible bargain.

4. Kaspersky Mobile Antivirus

SPECIFICATIONS

Price per year: Free; $20 premium version

Minimum Android support: 4.2 Jelly Bean

Ads: No

App lock: Premium only

Anti-theft: Yes

REASONS TO BUY

Strong malware protection

Call blocking works

No ads in free version

REASONS TO AVOID

Limited features overall

Free version won’t auto

Scan new apps

Kaspersky Mobile Antivirus, commonly known as Kaspersky Internet Security for Android, provides near-perfect malware protection, little system impact, and an effective call blocker.

There are no advertisements for the free version, and there isn’t much of a push to switch to the premium version. Call filtering, Android Wear compatibility, and a robust set of anti-theft features are available to free users, but you must manually check each new app.

Users that pay get automated app checks, app lockdown, and blocking of known phishing websites. That’s all there is to it. There’s no Wi-Fi network scanner, and there aren’t any of the privacy features that other Android antivirus programmes provide.

You can’t go wrong with Kaspersky Mobile Antivirus’s free tier if you’re merely seeking malware protection. However, although the premium version is affordable, it seems barebones, and for $5 less, you can get more from Bitdefender’s competitor premium app.

5. Lookout Security & Antivirus

SPECIFICATIONS

Price per year: Free; $30, $100 premium versions

Minimum Android support: 4.4 Jelly Bean

Ads: No

App lock: No

Anti-theft: Partly premium

REASONS TO BUY

Strong identity

Protection option

Good user interface

REASONS TO AVOID

Few free features

Not much malware

Protection data-Heavy, slow scans

Lookout Mobile Security, currently known as Lookout Security and Antivirus or Lookout Personal, was one of the earliest and finest Android antivirus applications. Its popularity is due to its simplicity of use, clear interface, and absence of advertisements.

However, Lookout’s charges might easily add up. The free tier is basic, just scanning for viruses and tracking down misplaced phones.

Although some of its capabilities, like as harmful website filtering and WI-Fi network scanning, are free with other Android antivirus applications, the premium version costs $30 per year. The high fee is justified by an unrestricted VPN and a data-breach notification service.

The “premium plus” plan, which costs $100 per year, is a reasonably priced identity-protection service that has many of the same features as LifeLock or IdentityForce. It might be well worth the money.

The problem is that Lookout doesn’t regularly submit its programme for third-party lab testing, so we don’t really know how effective it is in preventing malware. Its active scans are likewise sluggish and time-consuming.

6. McAfee Mobile Security

SPECIFICATIONS

Price per year: Free; $30 & $80 premium versions

Minimum Android support: 4.2 Jelly BeanAds: Free version

App lock: Premium only

Anti-theft: Yes

REASONS TO BUY

Lots of free features

Useful guest mode

REASONS TO AVOID

Too many ads in free version

Pricey premium tiers

So-so malware protection

McAfee, like Avast, has a lot of valuable features, but the free edition is filled with advertisements and upsell proposals.
The virus security is adequate, if not exceptional, and a handy “Guest” function allows others to use your phone securely for a limited period.

Anti-theft measures, a mechanism to monitor each app’s data consumption, and a Wi-Fi security scanner are all included in the free edition of McAfee Mobile Security.

With the “Standard” premium tier, you’ll receive even more, including an app locker, a URL screener, 24/7 tech support, and no more advertisements. However, at $30 per year, it’s a tad pricy when you consider that Bitdefender and Kaspersky provide similar functionality for less.

The top paid tier, “Plus,” costs $80 per year and gives you the Standard features plus unlimited VPN access, but only for that single phone or tablet. For a lower price, you may obtain one of the top VPN services to protect all of your devices.

7. Google Play Protect

SPECIFICATIONS

Price per year: Free

Minimum Android support: 4.1 Jelly Bean

Ads: No

App lock: Yes

Anti-theft: Yes

REASONS TO BUY

Built right into Android

Small system impact

Good anti-theft tools

REASONS TO AVOID

-Awful malware protection

Few features

Every Android device that runs Google Play has Google Play Protect built in, and it would be fantastic if it functioned correctly. Unfortunately, Google Play Protect’s poor malware detection makes the case for using a third-party Android antivirus programme even stronger.

We liked that Google Play Protect has a simple UI, no adverts, and has a low system impact. Other built-in Android functions, such as Find My Device and Chrome Safe Browsing, are similar to what third-party antivirus programmes do on the side.

The greatest feature of Google Play Protect is that it allows Google to remotely deactivate harmful applications. This is true whether or not you have third-party antivirus software installed. We don’t suggest turning off Google Play Protect.

However, Google Play Protect does a poor job of safeguarding you against dangerous applications in general. Please use anything different for your own sake.

8. 360 Security, aka Safe Security

SPECIFICATIONS

Price per year: Free; $12 premium version

Minimum Android support: 4.1 Jelly Bean

Ads: Free version

App lock: Yes

Anti-theft: No

REASONS TO BUY

Free option comes with everything

Inexpensive paid version

REASONS TO AVOID

Serious system slowdowns

Untested malware protection

Free version full of ads

360 Security, which seems to have been renamed Safe Security lately, offers all of its features for free, including an app lock, performance booster, system cleanser, anti-theft, picture locker, and Wi-Fi scanner.

However, there are a few caveats. Many of such qualities are ineffective or non-existent. The user interface is a mess. And you’ll be bombarded with commercials, commercials, and more commercials, some of which will take up the whole screen.

Upgrading to the ad-free version didn’t completely eliminate the clutter, since there were still tabs promoting games and news.

All of this would be more enticing if we had a clearer notion of how effectively 360 Security, which is supported by Qihoo 360, protects against malware. Unfortunately, it seldom submits to independent laboratory testing.

During scans, 360 Security brought our system down to a crawl. As of now, we are unable to endorse 360 Security, whether it is free or paid.

Why should you use an antivirus programme for Android?

Keeping your Android device’s software up to date is the best method to keep it secure. Every new Android version is more secure than the previous one, and each monthly Android security update addresses newly discovered issues.

You won’t receive those updates and enhancements straight immediately unless you have a Google Pixel or Android One phone. Most device manufacturers need more time to ensure that updates to Android do not disrupt their hardware or software.

That lag period might range from a few weeks to many months. Worse, after two years, most Android phone models cease receiving Android OS updates, and others never get monthly security fixes at all.

That’s where the best antivirus applications for Android come in. They thwart assaults that aim to exploit Android’s built-in protections, particularly those that Google has fixed but that you don’t have (or will never have). They also protect against new assaults that Google Play Protect will miss, even on Pixel phones.

How do you choose the best Android antivirus app?

Antivirus programmes for Android are available in three price models: completely free, completely paid, and freemium.

Similar to fully paid applications, freemium applications allow you to select between obtaining a restricted set of functions for free or paying for a premium edition that includes all available features. Apps that provide a lot of functionality for free also display a lot of advertisements.

Anti-theft methods, an “advisor” to help you study and pick applications, Wi-Fi network security scanners, or an app lock that needs a password to launch particular applications are examples of these features.

The annual cost of both paid applications and premium tiers is typically between $15 and $30. Some software developers aim to restrict the number of devices on which their premium/paid versions may be installed. Some add a super-premium tier that includes an unlimited VPN or identity-protection service for a reasonable charge.

However, malware protection is the most crucial consideration when choosing an Android antivirus programme.

In this area, Norton and Bitdefender are the leaders, with Kaspersky not far behind. Avast is OK but not exceptional, whereas Google Play Protect is a disaster. Lookout and 360 Security haven’t submitted their applications to current lab testing, so we’re not sure.

How we put the top Android antivirus applications to the test

We utilised the latest bimonthly test results from AV-TEST, an independent lab in Germany that tests how effectively major Android security applications identify zero-day malware and other threats, to assess the security protection of the top Android antivirus applications. We looked back at the previous two years’ findings since certain applications’ ratings were variable from one test to the next.

We also utilised data from AV-Comparatives, an Austrian lab that analyses virtually all Android antivirus applications on Google Play once a year, even those that refuse to collaborate with testing laboratories. These tests, however, are less thorough.

We utilised the Geekbench 4 testing tool on a Google Pixel 3 phone running Android 9.0 Pie to see how antivirus applications affect overall performance. We ran Geekbench numerous times for each programme, first without any antivirus software installed, then with one of the review applications loaded, and lastly with the entire scan of that programme.

We also looked at the amount and utility of each app’s features, noting which ones were only available to premium customers, and evaluating the user interface and installation procedure.

Kaspersky antivirus software has been removed from federal networks in the United States. Because the corporation is Russian, the software it produces poses an unacceptable danger to anyone working on national security and vital infrastructure.

For home users, however, we believe Kaspersky software is entirely secure. We haven’t seen anything to persuade us differently. Kaspersky researchers are well-known in the antivirus market, and the business has publicly revealed both Russian and American cyberespionage efforts.

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