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The Best Android Antivirus Apps in 2024: Keeping Your Device Safe and Secure

TL;DR: The best Android antivirus apps, from Bitdefender, Norton, Avast, Kaspersky, Lookout, and McAfee, offer excellent malware protection and additional features. They fill the security gap left by delayed Android updates. Thorough testing reveals their effectiveness, performance impact, and usability. Using a top-rated Android antivirus app is crucial for device safety.

In today’s digital age, safeguarding your Android smartphone or tablet from malicious apps and other malware is crucial. The best Android antivirus apps not only protect your device but also help prevent fraud and identity theft.

Comprehensive Protection and Extra Features

Top-notch Android antivirus apps offer excellent malware detection and prevention, along with useful privacy and anti-theft features. While some, like Google Play Protect, are free, others require a subscription but often include additional security features such as a VPN or password manager to enhance your online safety.

We’ve gathered the best Android antivirus apps from renowned names in the mobile antivirus industry, including Avast, Bitdefender, Lookout, McAfee, Norton, and even Google itself. We’ve rated them based on ease of setup, interface, usability, extra features, and, most importantly, their ability to protect your Android device from the latest threats.

Finding the Right Fit for Your Budget

Whether you’re seeking a comprehensive mobile security solution and are willing to invest in it, or you prefer a free option to bolster your Android phone’s protection, there’s an app for every budget.

1. Bitdefender Mobile Security: Excellent Protection with Minimal Performance Impact

Bitdefender Mobile Security offers nearly flawless malware protection while maintaining a light impact on performance. It includes features like an app lock, a Wi-Fi scanner, anti-theft tools, and data breach notifications.

2. Norton Mobile Security: Great Malware Protection and Intuitive Design

Norton Mobile Security provides excellent malware protection and boasts an intuitive design. Its App Advisor feature checks for apps that are using too much data or acting suspiciously, which could indicate they’re malicious.

3. Avast Mobile Security: Good Malware Protection with Extra Features

Avast Mobile Security offers good malware protection with minimal impact on system performance. It also includes additional anti-theft features, an app locker, and tech support with its paid plan. Users can also access Avast’s SecureLine VPN as an add-on to either paid plan.

4. Kaspersky Mobile Security: Great Malware Protection with a Small System Impact

Kaspersky Mobile Security provides great malware protection with a small system impact and even includes a call blocker. The free version is ad-free, with only a little nagging to upgrade to a paid plan. The paid version automatically scans news apps, blocks known phishing sites, and adds an app lock feature.

5. Lookout Security & Antivirus: Clean Interface with Identity Protection

Lookout Security & Antivirus features a clean interface and comes with identity protection. The free version only scans for malware, while the paid version blocks malicious websites, scans Wi-Fi networks, and includes a VPN.

6. McAfee Mobile Security: Decent Malware Protection but Lacks Many Features

McAfee Mobile Security provides decent malware protection but lacks many features it once had. The free version includes app data usage tracking and a Wi-Fi security scanner. The paid version adds a URL screener, 24/7 tech support, and removes ads.

Why You Should Use an Android Antivirus App

To keep your Android device safe, it’s essential to keep its software updated to the latest version. Each new version of Android is more secure than its predecessor, and monthly Android security updates fix newly discovered flaws.

However, unless you have a Google Pixel or Android One phone, you won’t receive these updates and upgrades immediately. Most device makers need extra time to ensure that changes to Android won’t break their devices or software.

The time between updates can range from a couple of weeks to months. Some Android phones stop receiving Android OS upgrades after two years, and a few never receive monthly security patches at all.

This is where the best Android antivirus apps come in. They stop attacks that attempt to bypass Android’s built-in defenses, especially those that Google has patched but your device hasn’t yet (or never will) received. They also stop new attacks that Google Play Protect won’t catch, even on Pixel devices.

Pricing Schemes and Features

Android antivirus apps typically come in three pricing schemes:

  1. Fully free
  2. Fully paid
  3. Freemium (limited free features with an option to upgrade to premium)

Freemium apps allow you to choose between a limited set of features for free or upgrading to the premium version, which grants access to all features, similar to fully paid apps. Apps that offer many features for free may also display a lot of ads.

Some features included in the best Android antivirus apps may include:

  • Anti-theft mechanisms
  • An “advisor” to help you examine and choose apps
  • A Wi-Fi network security scanner
  • An app lock that requires a passcode to open specific apps

Both paid apps and premium tiers generally cost between $15 and $30 per year. However, some app makers try to limit the number of devices you can install their premium/paid versions on, while others add a super-premium tier that gives you unlimited access to a VPN or an identity theft protection service, often at a pretty good price.

Malware Protection: The Most Important Factor

The most crucial factor when deciding which Android antivirus app to use is malware protection.

Norton and Bitdefender lead in this area, while Kaspersky isn’t far behind. Avast is good but not great, and the built-in Google Play Protect still needs some work. We’re not sure about both Lookout and 360 Security since neither company has submitted their apps to recent lab tests.

How We Test the Best Android Antivirus Apps

To gauge the security protection offered by each of the best Android antivirus apps, we used the latest bimonthly test results from the independent German lab AV-TEST, which measures how well Android security apps can detect zero-day malware and other threats. We also looked back at the previous two years of results, as some apps had inconsistent scores from one test to the next.

We also used some results from the Austrian lab AV-Comparatives, which tests nearly every Android antivirus app on the Play Store once a year, including those that don’t work together with testing labs. However, these tests are less detailed.

To measure the impact antivirus apps have on an Android smartphone’s overall performance, we used the benchmarking app Geekbench 5 on a Samsung Galaxy Note 20 running Android 12. For each app, we ran Geekbench without an antivirus app first to establish a baseline before running it with one of the review apps installed and during each app’s full scan.

We then took a closer look at the number and usefulness of each app’s features and evaluated which features are reserved for paid users. Additionally, we assessed each app’s user interface and installation process.

Protecting Your Android Device: A Top Priority

In conclusion, protecting your Android smartphone or tablet from malware and other threats should be a top priority. By choosing one of the best Android antivirus apps, you can ensure your device remains safe and secure, even when faced with the latest threats.

Whether you opt for a free solution or invest in a comprehensive mobile security package, the peace of mind that comes with knowing your device is protected is invaluable.

Stay safe out there.


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