Android devices are prime targets for malware. There are so many ways to deliver it, including text messages, third-party applications and, sometimes, even Google Play. With such a diverse range of threats, an antivirus is a must.
In this guide to the best antivirus for Android, we’re going to run through the five best options on the market. Some are free, others are paid, but all should keep you protected no matter what you’re doing on your device.
Google includes Play Protect with new versions of Android. It’s a built-in antivirus that, theoretically, should keep you safe. That said, it performed poorly in lab testing. AV-Comparatives, for example, found it only 51.8 percent effective. Our picks, on the other hand, are 99.9 percent effective or better.
Before getting into our picks, we’re going to define how they made our list. All of them, apart from F-Secure, are available for Android alone, so you may not need a full desktop package to get protection.
The Best Antivirus For Android 2018
Choosing the Best Antivirus for Android
For the purposes of this guide, we’re going to assume you have more than just an Android device. All the options we’re going to present have desktop and Android variants and are available as part of a multi-device package. You can get the Android applications on their own, though.
Even if you only have an Android device, it helps us cater our list to both crowds. The picks will still work for you and, since they have desktop and business infrastructure, you’re likely to get better protection, too.
The focus on Android devices is strong, passive security. Unlike your desktop, running regular scans with the user interface pulled up isn’t going to happen. We’re looking for antiviruses that protect you from threats in real-time and scan your device without eating the few system resources it has.
That goes hand-in-hand with usability. Desktop antiviruses come with a slew of settings for good reason, but tinkering isn’t usually wanted or necessary for a mobile device. We’re looking for a straightforward user experience that isn’t bogged down by settings.
Since all of our choices offer multi-device plans, we’re also looking at desktop usability. This is useful for monitoring all your devices at once, including Android. A quick way to see your phone’s status without going into the app is nice, too.
Of course, we can’t talk about antivirus without mentioning protection. We’re using lab results for the Android versions of each application. Since Android phones and desktops face a different suite of threats, it makes sense for us to evaluate them on that front.
Because our picks come with multi-device plans, they’re typically paid. Most offer free counterparts, though, so we’re going to mention which ones do. That said, there are usually benefits to upgrading.
There are Android-specific features to look at, too. The first is filtering for calls and texts. The antivirus should be able to block calls and texts from numbers that aren’t recognized or, at least, warn you about messages that may be malicious.
We’re also looking for location services in case you lose your device. Those include tracking your phone, remotely locking it and remotely wiping it.
Kaspersky is one of our picks for the most secure antivirus. It has excellent protection scores from labs, an easy-to-use interface and a cheap price tag, to boot. The Android experience is just as good, coming with all the features laid out in our criteria.
There are two versions of Kaspersky Internet Security Mobile, one paid and one free. If you’ve purchased Internet or Total Security for your desktop, you can add your Android phone to the device list on your plan. Internet Security Mobile can also be purchased separately for $10 per year.
The free version comes with manual scanning, real-time protection and controls for a lost or stolen device. It supports Android Wear, too, meaning you can monitor your security without taking out your phone.
The paid version comes with features worthy of the $10 annual rate. You can run scans automatically on a schedule, which is reason enough to upgrade on its own. It also comes with text and call filtering, as well as protection from phishing scams.
Kaspersky Protection Results
AV-Test gave Kaspersky a perfect score in protection and performance during its July analysis. It was 99.8 percent and 100 percent effective against real-time malware and Android malware discovered in the four previous weeks, respectively. AV-Test used nearly 6,000 samples and found that the industry average was only 97.4 percent at the time.
AV-Test also tested battery life, speed and traffic, all of which Kaspersky passed. It tested false warnings, too, which Kaspersky had none of. During the July batch of tests, the industry average for false warnings was three.
MRG Effitas found similar results. During its Q2 Android review, it found Kaspersky 100 percent effective against malware tested. The sample list included everything from financial malware to SMS scams.
AV-Comparatives rates Android antiviruses on a pass/fail basis and Kaspersky passed its August Android security review. The lab tested protection rates, as well as battery life impact.
It found that Kaspersky was 99.9 percent effective against the 2,604 samples used with no false positives. The antivirus was also in the top tier for battery life performance, lowering it by, at most, 3 percent during testing. The battery life test included 45 minutes of web browsing, 85 minutes of looking at photos and more.
Kaspersky is a cheap, highly secure Android antivirus that has minimal impact of battery life and performance. You can download the free version to try it or read our Kaspersky Anti-Virus review to learn about upgrading to a multi-device plan.
- Perfect lab results
- Android Wear integration
- Limited free plan
Bitdefender is our first choice for the best antivirus software. We constantly rank it best in its class for its excellent user experience, great protection scores and quality of features. Its Android version is good, too, but not as impressive as Kaspersky’s. Even so, it manages an easy second place on our list.
It offers free and paid versions and, like Kaspersky, you can use the paid variant if you have a Total Security plan for your desktop. The free version is good, too, with on-demand and on-install scanning, as well as real-time protection.
It’s missing a few features, though. The paid variant makes up for that. You can purchase Bitdefender Mobile Security for $14.99 per year or install it as one of your devices on a Total Security plan.
It comes with all the features of the free version, plus web protection, Android Wear integration and anti-theft tools. It also has App Lock, which requires a PIN to access apps you specify.
Our favorite feature, though, is Autopilot. It is a security monitor that gives you insight into how well your device is protected. Based on your hardware configuration and usage patterns, Autopilot will recommend security actions to take.
Bitdefender Protection Results
Bitdefender received perfect marks from AV-Test during its July Android assessment. It had better results than Kaspersky, in fact, with 100 percent blockage of real-time and four-week-old malware.
It passed the tests for battery life, performance and traffic, too, with zero false positives. It doesn’t have as many features as Kaspersky, though. AV-Test’s features list includes call and text monitoring, which, unfortunately, Bitdefender doesn’t have.
MRG Effitas found it 99.8 percent effective in its Q2 analysis. Bitdefender was 100 percent effective in most of the 16 tests, though. It has a hard time with spyware, in particular, missing 2.56 percent of those samples.
AV-Comparatives found it highly effective, even more so than Kaspersky. Bitdefender blocked 100 percent of threats with no false positives. It also ranked in the highest category for battery life alongside Kaspersky.
Bitdefender is more expensive and missing a few features, most notably call and text filtering. It comes with excellent privacy controls, though, and a limited version of Bitdefender’s virtual private network. It’s a matter of what’s important to you.
For protection, there are few other antiviruses that consistently rank as high as Bitdefender, and that holds true for the Android application. You can learn more about the desktop variant in our Bitdefender Antivirus review or try the Android version for free.
- Excellent lab results
- Android Wear integration
- Good free plan
- Slacks on spyware
- No auto-scan on free plan
Trend Micro is a strong antivirus that we like for its easy-to-use interface, abundance of protection features and robust support system. It lacks some features, such as a file shredder, but we like it overall. The Android version is good, too, on its own or as part of a security package.
Trend Micro offers a free trial of its Android security, but there isn’t a free plan. You can install the app on your Android device, but you’ll be prompted to enter a credit card and turn on auto-renew.
That is our only real gripe with Trend Micro. Reading the product page carefully, it’s clear that the antivirus isn’t free, but it’s still under the “free tools” tab on the website. After the trial ends, you’ll be able to scan for malware, but not much else.
A subscription to Mobile Security will run $29.99 annually, which isn’t a good deal on its own. You can use Mobile Security if you purchase Maximum Security, though, which comes with protection for up to 10 devices. Considering that package only costs $59.95 for 10 devices, it makes more sense.
You’re getting a lot of features for the price, though. Trend Micro includes basic protection, including malware scanning, pre-install scanning and theft protection. It has performance features, too, such as the system help checker and app manager.
Our favorite feature is “Just a Phone” mode. When your battery is critically low, Trend Micro will stop all active processes and maintain only your phone’s, well, phone functionality. It’s not that useful, considering power banks are everywhere, but it’s still a nice feature to have.
Trend Micro Protection Results
AV-Test shows excellent results for Trend Micro. It was 100 percent effective against malware tests run in July 2018. At the time, the industry averages for real-time detection and detection of malware discovered in the previous four weeks were 97.4 percent and 96.7 percent, respectively.
It also passed the performance tests, with no noticeable difference in battery life, speed or traffic. It didn’t return false positives, either, during installation of legitimate apps or use of a third-party app store. The feature section of AV-Test’s evaluation is good, too, with Trend Micro ticking the box for parental control.
MRG Effitas found it 100 percent effective in its Q2 Android analysis. It passed all 16 tests, including samples ranging from potentially unwanted applications and adware to SMS phishing. There were 223 samples in total.
AV-Comparatives passed it during its August Android assessment. It was 100 percent effective against the samples used with no false positives. It also ranked in the top category for battery usage, draining less than 3 percent over normal usage.
Trend Micro has excellent security and long list of features. As part of one of its desktop packages, the Android version is worth it. On its own, it’s too expensive and not worth the hassle.
If you want to learn more about Trend Micro’s desktop version, you can read our Trend Micro Antivirus+ review. You can download the Android app for free and try the features included with the paid version, too.
- Perfect protection scores
- Cheap as part of a package
- “Just a Phone” mode
- Expensive on its own
- No free plan
F-Secure doesn’t offer its Android antivirus alone. You can download and use it for 30 days on your phone, but it won’t work after that unless you upgrade to a multi-device plan. F-Secure protects Android on its Safe and Total packages.
Like Trend Micro, it’s hard to access if you just need to protect your Android phone, but, as part of a protection package, it’s rich in features. It has standard malware protection for your device that scans what’s on your phone as well as what’s being installed.
It has banking and browsing protection, too, which we like a lot. Browsing protection will generally steer you away from malicious websites while you’re surfing the web. Safe Browser verifies the banking websites you visit so you don’t fall victim to pharming.
If you lose your device, there are tools to locate, wipe and lock it. All of your devices are managed in a convenient browser UI, so you can see the status of your Android phone and take the actions needed if it’s lost.
The browser UI is where you can also access parental features. F-Secure has some of the best parental control we’ve seen and, on a multi-device plan, it makes sense. It has a content filter, app control, time limits and safe search.
F-Secure Protection Results
AV-Test has good results for F-Secure, at least for protection. It was 99.9 percent effective against malware detected in real-time and 100 percent effective against malware discovered in the previous four weeks.
Usability has issues, though. F-Secure was awarded four and half out of six points. It passed tests for battery life, speed and traffic, but had problems with false positives. It gave two warnings during installation of applications from a third-party app store and one false warning for legitimate apps from Google Play.
Unfortunately, MRG Effitas didn’t include F-Secure in its Q2 Android review.
AV-Comparatives had good results, though. It found F-Secure 99.9 percent effective against malware with no false positives. The antivirus also received the highest grade for battery life, meaning it drained, at most, 3 percent over normal usage.
F-Secure makes sense in a security bundle, much like Trend Micro. Unfortunately, that’s the only place you can get it, too, so Android-only users are out of luck. You can read our F-Secure Antivirus review to learn more or sign up for a 30-day trial.
- Good protection results
- Banking protection
- Web-based manager
- False positives
- Not available on its own
Avast is a go-to antivirus choice because it’s so accessible. It comes with a long list of features, especially on the free plan, and decent protection scores, to boot. It’s not as secure as the other antiviruses on this list, though, so that should factor into your decision.
Mobile Security is free, so it’s good for those of you who don’t want to spend a dime. It comes with real-time protection and scanning abilities for your Android device. New applications will automatically be scanned before you install them.
We like the WiFi monitor a lot. Avast will scan WiFi networks before you connect to them and warn you of vulnerabilities. If you use public WiFi often, that can be very useful.
It has controls for tracking your device’s location, locking it and wiping it. If you pay for the Mobile Security Pro upgrade, you can also secretly capture audio or video of the thief and automatically register your SIM card as lost.
The upgrade has other features, such as SecureLine VPN, as well. We didn’t take kindly to it, though, in our Avast SecureLine VPN review.
Avast Protection Results
AV-Test has the best results for Avast. It found it 99.8 percent effective against malware in real time and 100 percent effective against malware discovered in the previous four weeks. Since both were above the industry average, Avast earned a perfect score for protection.
Usability is good, too. AV-Test awarded it another perfect score. Avast passed tests for speed, battery life and traffic. It also gave no false warnings for downloads from Google Play or third-party app stores.
MRG Effitas didn’t include Avast in its Q2 Android review. The Android 360 efficacy test from 2017 has numbers, though. During that time, MRG Effitas found Avast 93.4 percent effective. In the same test, Bitdefender and Kaspersky earned 99.3 percent detection rates.
AV-Comparatives found it 92.3 percent effective in its most recent test, meaning it was not approved. That said, during the testing, there was a bug in Avast and AVG apps where they wouldn’t query cloud services on Android 7.0 or later under certain circumstances.
Avast was approved during the 2017 testing, though. AV-Comparatives found it 99.9 percent effective at the time. During the same period, Kaspersky was 99.8 percent effective and Bitdefender was 100 percent effective.
It doesn’t have impressive test results, but Avast is a good, free Android antivirus that should get you by in a pinch. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come as part of a larger security bundle, meaning you may spend more if you want to upgrade all of your devices.
That’s why we recommend Avast Pro for desktop. It’s a middle-of-the-road plan that protects a single device and we think it pairs well with Avast’s Android offering. You can learn more in our Avast Pro review or download the application for free.
- Many features
- WiFi monitor
- Only available on its own
- Not the best protection
Those are our picks for the best antivirus for Android. They offer superior protection to Google Play Protect and come with more features, to boot. While you’ll sometimes have to pay a hefty premium, the extra protection and features are worth it.
We recommend Bitdefender or Kaspersky, overall. The other options are great, but come with drawbacks in one way or another. If you need a budget-friendly option, Avast is a great choice without spending any money.
Are you using an antivirus on your Android device? If so, which one? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.