The best Android antivirus apps in 2024 | Tom’s Guide

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The best Android antivirus apps protect your devices, data and your privacy

The list in brief
1. Best overall
2. Best for apps
3. Best performance
4. Best on a budget
5. Best for identity
6. Best for simplicity
How to choose
How we test

The best Android antivirus apps not only keep your smartphone or tablet safe from malicious apps and other malware but they can also help protect you from falling victim to fraud or even identity theft.

In addition to excellent malware detection and prevention, the best Android antivirus apps also include useful privacy and anti-theft features. While some like Google Play Protect are completely free, there are others you have to pay for but they often include extra security features like a VPN or password manager to help keep you safe online.

We’ve rounded up the best Android antivirus apps from the biggest names in the mobile antivirus business — Avast, Bitdefender, Lookout, McAfee, Norton and even Google itself — and rated them based on their ease of setup, interface, usability, extra features and of course, their ability to protect your Android smartphone from the latest threats.

Below you’ll find everything you need to know about the best Android antivirus apps at a glance. Whether you’re looking for a comprehensive mobile security solution and willing to pay for it or you want something free to add a bit more protection to your Android phone, there’s something here for every budget.

The best Android antivirus app overall

Bitdefender Mobile Security provides excellent malware protection with a light impact on performance. It also includes tools like an app lock, a Wi-Fi scanner, anti-theft features and data breach notifications.

Norton Mobile Security provides great malware protection and has 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.

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

Kaspersky Mobile Security provides great malware protection with a small system impact and there’s even a call blocker. Its free version doesn’t have any ads and there’s only a little bit of nagging to get you to upgrade to a paid plan. The paid version of Kaspersky Mobile Security automatically scans news apps, blocks known phishing sites and adds an app lock feature.

Lookout Security & Antivirus has a clean interface and comes with identity protection. While the free version just scans for malware, the paid version blocks malicious websites, scans Wi-Fi networks and comes with a VPN.

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.

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Bitdefender’s Android security app has nearly flawless malware protection, a very light performance impact, Android Wear watch integration, a VPN client and a malicious-website blocker that works with most Android browsers.

It also has robust privacy-protection tools, including an app lock, a Wi-Fi scanner, anti-theft features and data-breach notifications. At the same time, Scam Alert flags possibly malicious links in SMS text messages, messaging apps and screen notifications.

Bitdefender Mobile Security offers a 14-day trial period, but this is not a freemium app. The separate Bitdefender Antivirus Free for Android app (which is indeed totally free) only scans for malware.

The built-in VPN client gives you only 200MB of free data per data — just enough to check your email while traveling. If you want more data, you’ll have to pay $7 monthly or $50 yearly.

But at $15 per year for the first year ($25 on renewal), Bitdefender Mobile Security is well worth the expense. It’s our choice for the best Android antivirus app.

Norton Mobile Security, aka Norton 360, offers the best malware protection of any of the Android antivirus apps we tested. Unfortunately, it no longer has anti-theft functions, nor its contacts backups and Link Guard malicious-link blocker.

Norton also killed Norton Mobile Security’s free tier, which was the best among all the Android antivirus apps we’ve tested. That’s been replaced with a security-only app for one device that costs $15 a year for the first year ($30 on renewal).

For $50 a year, a medium-priced tier called Norton 360 for Mobile adds unlimited VPN service and “dark web” monitoring of your personal information. The most expensive plan, Norton 360 Deluxe, $105 per year, is actually part of Norton’s antivirus lineup and lets you protect up to five Android, Windows, Mac or iOS devices.

All of these subscriptions can be paid for right through the Norton app, which has a 14-day free trial period.

Norton’s killer feature is the unique App Advisor, which checks apps on your device for heavy data usage and unusual behavior. It also checks apps in the Google Play Store for security and privacy risks even before you install them.

Avast Mobile Security & Antivirus is one of the most full-featured of the best Android antivirus apps, offering everything from a privacy adviser to a system optimizer to a customizable blacklist.

While Avast’s malware protection is good, it’s far from perfect. Some of Avast’s anti-theft functions didn’t work for us, and its call-blocking feature didn’t work at all. (It’s since been removed.) And the free version’s ads and constant nags to upgrade are annoying and intrusive.

Those ads go away if you pay for either of Avast Mobile Security’s paid tiers, Premium ($2 monthly or $20 yearly) or Ultimate ($7 monthly or $40 yearly). Users of either paid plan also get additional anti-theft features, an app locker and tech support.

The built-in client for Avast’s SecureLine VPN is just a tease, and the only way to use it is to pay for an Ultimate tier. Since the stand-alone price for SecureLine is $60 per year, paying an extra $20 on top of the premium Android antivirus tier for unlimited VPN data is not a bad deal.

Kaspersky Mobile Antivirus, also known as Kaspersky Antivirus for Android, offers nearly-perfect malware protection, a small system impact and a call blocker that actually works.

There are no ads in the free version, and not much nagging to upgrade to the paid plan. Free users get call filtering, Wear OS support and a strong set of anti-theft functions, but you have to scan each new app manually.

Paying users get automatic scans of new apps, an app lock and blocking of known phishing websites. And that’s about it. There’s no Wi-Fi network scanner and none of the privacy tools that other Android antivirus apps now offer.

If you’re just looking for malware protection, you can’t really go wrong with Kaspersky Mobile Antivirus’s free tier. But while the paid version is inexpensive, it feels stripped-down, and you can get more from Bitdefender’s rival paid app for $5 less.

Lookout Mobile Security, now rebranded as Lookout Security and Antivirus or Lookout Personal, was one of the first Android antivirus apps, and for a long time the best. Its ease of use, clean interface and lack of ads explain its continued popularity.

But Lookout’s costs can rack up quickly. The free tier is bare-bones; it just scans for malware and locates lost phones.

The premium tier charges $30 per year, even though some of its features — malicious website blocking, Wi-Fi network scanning — come free with other Android antivirus apps. An unlimited VPN and a data-breach notification service make the premium price worthwhile.

At $100 per year, the “premium plus” plan is actually a fairly inexpensive identity-protection service that offers many of the same benefits you’d get from LifeLock or IdentityForce. It might well be worth the expense.

The trouble is that Lookout doesn’t often submit its app to third-partly lab evaluations, so we don’t really know how well Lookout protects against malware. Its active scans are also slow and take on a hit on your phone’s performance.

Like Avast, McAfee offers (or used to offer) a ton of useful features, but its free version is also full of ads and upsell suggestions. The malware protection is decent, if not fantastic.

A few years ago, McAfee Mobile Security phased out many of its most useful functions, including its App Lock, Guest Mode, Anti-Theft, Memory Booster and Storage Cleaner features. It’s not really clear why this was done, other than to “adjust our product portfolio.”

You’ll get some good stuff with the free version of McAfee Mobile Security, such as a way to track each app’s data usage and a Wi-Fi security scanner.

You’ll get even more with the “Standard” premium tier, including a URL screener, 24/7 tech support and no more ads. But it’s a bit pricey at $30 per year considering that Bitdefender and Kaspersky give you the same features 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. You can get one of the best VPN services to cover all your devices for less.

Google Play Protect comes built into every Android device that runs Google Play, and it would be great if it worked well. Unfortunately, Google Play Protect’s dismal malware detection makes the strongest possible argument for using a third-party Android antivirus app.

We did like that Google Play Protect’s interface is minimal, there are no ads and the system impact is light. Some of Android’s other built-in features, including Find My Device and Chrome Safe Browsing, mirror what third-party antivirus apps do on the side.

Google Play Protect’s best feature is that Google can use it to remotely disable dangerous apps. This stays the case whether you’re running third-party antivirus software or not. We recommend you not disable Google Play Protect.

But overall, Google Play Protect isn’t the best at protecting you from malicious apps. For your own sake, you should probably use something else.

In order to keep your Android smartphone or tablet safe, you should keep its software updated to the latest version. This is because each new version of Android is more secure than its predecessor, and each monthly Android security update fixes newly found flaws.

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

The time between updates can be a couple of weeks though it can also take months. To make matters worse, some Android phones stop getting 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 try to get around Android’s built-in defenses, especially those that Google has patched but your device doesn’t yet (or never will) have. They also stop new attacks that Google Play Protect won’t catch, even on Pixel devices.

Android antivirus apps typically come in three pricing schemes: fully free, fully paid and freemium.

Freemium apps let you choose between getting a limited set of features for free or upgrading to the premium version which gives you access to all of their features, similar to fully paid apps. Apps that offer a lot of features for free may also show you a lot of ads.

Some of the features included in the best Android antivirus apps might include anti-theft mechanisms, an “advisor” to help you examine and choose apps, a Wi-Fi network security scanner or 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. Meanwhile, others tack on a super-premium tier that gives you unlimited access to a VPN or an identity theft protection service, often at a pretty good price.

Still though, the most important factor when deciding on 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 while 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.

In order 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.

As some apps had scores that were inconsistent from one test to the next, we also looked back at the previous two years of results.

At the same time, we also used some results from the Austrian lab AV-Comparatives that 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 as well as during each app’s full scan.

From here, 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.

For more information, check out our guide on how we test antivirus software and apps as well as our more general how we test page for Tom’s Guide.

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Anthony Spadafora is the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to password managers and the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. Before joining the team, he wrote for ITProPortal while living in Korea and later for TechRadar Pro after moving back to the US. Based in Houston, Texas, when he’s not writing Anthony can be found tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.

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