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8 min read 151 comments

Best Android antivirus and mobile security apps

Considering how often malware, ransomware and hacking hit the headlines, you might be wondering which anti-virus is best to keep your trusty Android phone and all its data safe. So we've put together an updated list of apps for keeping your device protected. Whether you are looking to keep your phone safe from theft or a trojan, these are the best antivirus and security apps for Android currently. 

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Sophos Free Antivirus and Security

Sophos is one of the best security apps for Android, consistently ranking high on regulators such as AV-Test. As of the time of writing, it has the honor of being our top recommended security app for Android. In addition to perfect protection, it offers a varied feature set. The highlight: the app is free of charge and even ad-free (Sophos' profit model comes from business customers). Malware protection is based on an online database that also checks the reputation of individual apps and recommends alternatives.

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Sophos offers a range of features but doesn't overload your device. / © AndroidPIT

Users of Android 6.0 Marshmallow and later are finally allowed to use Web Filtering again. This serves to prevent malware when surfing on mobile websites. Fraud attempts, for example through misleading advertising, can thus be prevented.

The theft protection is also well thought out. It allows you to remotely control your smartphone by SMS from other phone numbers you specify. Child protection filters, call blockers and device encryption complete the package.

The app is specialized in security and does without unnecessary boosting or optimization functions. This makes it more popular with many of its users than CM Security, which while also free, can feel overloaded with bloat and ads. Of all the antivirus apps out there, Sophos stands out as the best deal for most users.

Kaspersky Internet Security

Kaspersky is a well-established anti-virus and security package on desktop, and with its Android app it brings that protection to your mobile. That means you get anti-virus, call and text control, anti-theft, and anti-phishing features.

It can also protect you with real-time, web protection, and a few privacy options, though to get the full package you'll need to pay for the premium version of the app, which is currently priced at $14.95 for one year. If you need to cover more than one Android device, you can add up to two more at $5 per device, per year.

If you want to test out the premium features, there's a 30-day trial to activate within the app, but to use some of the features you will need to create an account using your email address. The anti-theft feature, for example, isn't premium but does require an account to work.

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Kaspersky has a pretty neat UI. / © AndroidPIT

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware

Malwarebytes is one of our favorites in this list, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it focuses on doing one job well - protecting your phone from malware - and secondly, because it does so with a minimalist interface and well-chosen options.

That means it's also relatively lightweight in comparison to the others on this list, and offers free real-time protection. As well as offering malware detection, there's also a handy privacy audit feature that scans all the apps on your phone and breaks them down into different categories. This allows you to get a simple and quick overview of all the apps on your phone.

You'll probably want to pay some attention to categories like 'Apps that can cost you money'. The security audit feature does a similar thing for your phone settings, by quickly assessing potential weak spots in your security and guiding you to turn them off. This includes switching off the ability to install apps from third-party sources and the developer options.

There's no longer a phone location feature, as many of the other apps offer, but then there's also not really any need for one given that Android can do that natively. Malwarebytes might not offer the same level of features as some, but it's a well-thought out, and free, option that does its job well.

malwarebytes
Malwarebytes focuses on doing one job well. / © AndroidPIT

Avast Antivirus & Security

Avast's anti-virus and security package is one of the most feature-packed on this list. If you want an app that can take care of all your security, RAM boosting, junk cleaning and other needs, Avast could be it.

Some of those features will, as with similar apps, require the installation of other components too, however. On the purely protection side of things, Avast has the on-demand and real-time scanning you'd expect of an anti-virus app, and also includes things like the ability to check the security of your current Wi-Fi connection and to lock specific apps so only you can open them.

There's also a firewall option, but to use that you need to have a rooted phone. Unlike some of the others in this list, the ads in the app aren't too off-putting, but Avast does promote a lot of its own apps designed to 'enhance' the suite. If you don't need or want those features that could be slightly annoying to ignore constantly. If you want no display ads at all, you'll need to pay for the premium version, which is available on a monthly or annual basis and varies in cost depending on where you're located.

If you do decide to pay, each subscription is valid across all your Android devices using the same Play Store account. Add in a call blocker and app privacy adviser that displays all the info in a simple, easy to understand way and Avast is a truly useful anti-virus tool for anyone looking for an 'all in one' package.

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Avast offers a decent set of free options without too many ads. / © AndroidPIT

AVG Antivirus Security

AVG Antivirus Security is more than its name suggests, as it also provides app locking, anti-theft, task killer and app backup features. And it does it all in a well-designed interface. There are also a few battery-saving options on board, and the ability to dig down into your battery data to find out what's been draining it.

The power saving options replicate functions dotted around any stock Android settings menus, but bring them all together in one place for easier control. If you want to use the junk cleaning options, you'll need to install AVG Cleaner too. Once you have, it integrates with AVG Antivirus.

In this instance, it seems smart of AVG to provide the cleaner functionality through a separate download, rather than bundle another large app inside the main suite. It's worth pointing out that AVG Cleaner is free to download, just like AVG Antivirus, but also offers a paid upgrade to a Pro version for additional features and the removal of ads.

You don't need the premium version of either app to use the Phone Locator option, but you will need to sign up for an account via your email address to use this feature.

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AVG is one of the most fully-featured options on this list. / © AndroidPIT

Lookout

Lookout is one of the apps on this list that doesn't have a desktop client, as it's focused exclusively on mobile. It's also one that requires you to sign up for an account to use any of the features.

Once inside, you've got the choice of taking the free or premium route - premium is around $2 per month. The free version gives you app security and phone location features, whereas premium will also protect your Web browsing, give you a privacy overview of your apps and allow a few other anti-theft related features.

There's also a handy breach report feature that will alert you if any of the services you use are hacked - allowing you to change your credentials in a timely manner. If it doesn't sound like the free version offers much, that's a mistake.

Within the single category of app security, you're protected against adware, bots, click fraud, remote exploits, root enabler threats, spyware and a number of other types of malicious software.

Lookout
Lookout is one of the simpler options here, but the breach report is worth considering. / © AndroidPIT

 

Norton Security Antivirus

Norton Security Antivirus is another hugely popular desktop protection platform that's made the jump to mobile. In short, it blocks and removes malware both on-demand and in real-time.

It also offers the now-familiar app adviser feature that tells you about privacy risks in a simple, easy to understand manner. One thing that none of the others offer, but Norton does is a handy feature that integrates with Google Play to show you any alerts about an app before you download it; you can see if the app you're about to install hogs battery, uses excessive data or poses any other sort of potential risk.

There's a 30-day free trial for the premium version, which unlocks all the features, but after that it'll cost you $22 per year. It does have an appealingly simple design and is straightforward to use though.

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Norton is an established brand with a modern design. / © AndroidPIT

OK, we know, we missed your favorite! Let us know which one it is, and why, in the comments below!

151 comments

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  • Malwarebytes is lightweight? It uses more memory than most Windows security suites - 300-400MB worth. And uses more battery than even the Android OS according to my battery monitor. I have yet to find an Android security app that provides basic real-time protection, browser/url protection and on-demand scanning only, and is lightweight. I don't want anti-theft, app permission scanning, data usage tracking, or other bloated features.


  • Hi this information helped me a lot to secure my devices


  • Ram D 2 months ago Link to comment

    Hi this is Kailash nice post


  • Are we still talking about AV software even though it's been said over and over you do not need it! All it does is add another program running in the background. If you download external software use a reliable site like APKmirror...


  • CM Security Master

    this was recommended here at Android Pit 3 years ago ;-)


  • he-looo-hoooo
    anybody listening?
    you do NOT need antivirus on Android.
    google that and learn!


  • McAfee and Norton Mobile Security is good but that not much effective. Instead of this, you can go for Bitdefender Mobile Security. This is a total myth that android doesn't need an antivirus. Your device may be infected with the virus, malware. It is the most effective and reliable antivirus software. It doesn't consume battery.


  • why do you keep refurbishing old articles? nothing changed, android does not need anti virus. its only eating battery and cost you money if you use a paid antivirus app. I stated that in 2016 here also.
    this article is like sorta advertising in disguise for the antivirusappmakers
    ....


  • McAfee and Norton, despite being legacy brands, suck ass. They've sucked on desktop PCs for years, and I highly doubt their mobile apps are any better. In my experience, if you want good protection for both your computer and phone, run Malwarebytes on top of either Avast or Kaspersky. Each has adequate free versions, and reasonable paid versions.

    Sophos, as I've heard, is also fantastic, but not one I've used. That says, take my words with a cube of salt; I am but one man


  • CM security is the worst one... my precious photo being deleted by this stupid app


  • D. L. May 28, 2017 Link to comment

    Sophos is free & ad free. It has a big set of features as well. They score the highest in independent testing too. Unlike Avast and AVG, also owned by Avast, you will not be inundated with ads, or nag screens to upgrade to pro version. Furthermore, if you have HTC, their app Boost + has a very good app lock feature to compliment any AV app.


    • Ila V. Aug 16, 2017 Link to comment

      Never heard of Sophos.


      • D. L. Nov 7, 2017 Link to comment

        Sophos has been around a long time, based in the UK, they also have free home PC protection. They make their money on businesses using enterprise protection. They have tons of options, and just updated the UI recently too.


  • Bitdefender, best is the best.


  • Surprised you keep peddling these useless apps that gobble your battery, just keep your phone software up to date and you don't need any of these crappie apps.


  • You missed the master.
    SOPHOS


  • First, I only use AV because I sideload APKs outside the Play Store now and then. Absent that, no real need - the products pretty much replicate what Google does and the only real Android security threats have been from malware in apps.

    There is no basis for brand loyalty in AV or malware protection - learned that from twenty-five years running PCs with pretty much the same list of companies. These products change radically year to year, some years changing algos or loading up with half-baked "features" they're not good at developing and soon abandon. It's worth reviewing the latest results at reliable sites every year at renewal time - for hard lab testing, not for uninformed cheers and jeers. I'd suggest AV-Test and its latest March list.

    I do like BitDefender for its very low resource footprint on my inexpensive devices and that it keeps well out of the way. All current tests put it in the top group of products.


  •   61
    Deactivated Account Mar 31, 2017 Link to comment

    I was thinking about installing mcafee but start wandering since me s7 edge already have the anti malware inside the smart menager i truly need a anti virus? Or the samart menager is enough?

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