Android is the most widely-used operating system in the world, and that means having the best security apps and antivirus tools for Android installed on your device is essential, as Google’s OS is often targeted by malware due to its popularity.
Whatever software you use with your Android phone or tablet, you’d be wise to have an antivirus or a security app installed on your device. In this article, we’re going to highlight 10 of the best antivirus tools for Android in 2019 – most of which are completely free apps to download.
Many of them do much more than run automatic scans, and they’ll actively try to prevent malicious web pages and files from being opened or downloaded in the first place.
Best Android antivirus apps at a glance:
- Avast Mobile Security
- Bitdefender Antivirus Free
- McAfee Security & Power Booster Free
- Kaspersky Mobile Antivirus
- Sophos Free Antivirus and Security
- Norton Security and Antivirus
- Trend Micro Mobile Security & Antivirus
- AhnLab V3 Mobile Security
- Avira Antivirus Security.
1. Avast Mobile Security
Gives you handy extras like a firewall and remote wipe
+ Call blocking
+ Anti-theft feature
_ Ad supported
Antivirus giant, Avast, has used its considerable skills to create an app which goes above and beyond a mundane scanner. Extra features in the free version include a call blocker, firewall and even an anti-theft measure allowing you to remotely lock or wipe your Android device if it goes missing.
The app used to be paid but is now free, supported by ads. You can pay a small monthly or yearly premium to remove these. Another very useful premium feature is ‘in-app locking’ whereby your device will ask for a PIN before opening certain apps. This prevents malware from launching apps such as internet banking automatically.
2. Bitdefender Antivirus Free
A lightweight app from a trusted brand
+ Minimal impact on your OS
+ Dead easy setup
_ You must schedule virus scans
Bitdefender is a big name in the security community, and its free antivirus program is extremely lightweight. In fact, it doesn’t run in the background which frees up system resources and saves on battery life.
This does mean you have to schedule scans or run them manually to be safe. This said, any new apps downloaded to your device are automatically scanned. Another advantage of this app is that it’s ready to go as soon as it is installed – no additional configuration is required.
Just be sure that If you require extra security, sign up for a free 14-day trial of Bitdefender Mobile Security. This includes the basic antivirus as well as real-time protection for Google’s Chrome browser and anti-theft features.
There’s also a nifty Privacy advisor tool and adds a layer of security to your smartwatch via its WearOn technology which alerts you if you leave your phone behind. Security, not in the traditional sense.
A feature-packed and popular app
+ Great range of features
+ Strong anti-theft options
+ Additional privacy settings
AVG antivirus for Android is a feature-packed security app. As well as the core antivirus feature, it also includes a wi-fi security scanner, app lock, and photo vault to help protect your files.
There are also a host of other features such performance enhancement, which aims to kill unnecessary process, turning off battery-draining settings, as well as deleting junk files such as are commonly found in temp and cache folders.
Anti-theft protections are included, too, such as the ability to track a lost phone with Google Maps, and even to lock it down remotely with a lockout message. If you think your phone has been stolen you can even make it emit a siren. If that’s not enough, it also takes selfies of anyone unsuccessfully trying to unlock your phone and emails the images to you, plus it can record audio of any attempts, too.
Additional security features include the ability to lockdown the phone if someone else tries to change the SIM card, and even wipe your phone and SD card content remotely if you fear someone else has somehow been able to unlock it without authorization.
There are also additional privacy settings, such as for blocking callers, and a VPN is included for anonymous surfing. Additional insights are also provided via a dashboard to see which apps you use, which are using the most data, and discover potential privacy issues.
With so many features bundled in, it’s no wonder this app is arguably the most popular in the Google Play store, with over 6.5 million reviews and an average score of over 4.5.
4. McAfee Security & Power Booster Free
Sports some nifty features and blocks malicious sites
+ Extensive anti-theft features
+ Polices installed apps for data leakage
_ Ad supported
McAfee is another well-known name when it comes to antivirus software for the PC, and this Android app – McAfee Mobile Security – doesn’t disappoint. Besides the antivirus scanner itself, free features include tracking a lost device as well as locking and wiping it remotely. If your device is stolen, the app can even take a picture of the thief…
Other highlights include the ability to scan apps to check if they leak sensitive information, and lock them if necessary. McAfee will also block access to potentially malicious websites, as well as allow you to keep a blacklist of nuisance callers and texters.
5. Kaspersky Mobile Antivirus
Tackles the core job of sniffing out malware with aplomb
+ Top-notch malware detection
+ Blocks malicious sites or links
_ Extra features are more reserved for paid app
Kaspersky has a reputation up there with the big players like Bitdefender. The free version of its security app has some impressive features, and it’s very good at picking up on malware, with a detection rate of 99.9% according to AV-Test’s trials from November 2017.
Kaspersky Antivirus & Security will also try to block any malicious sites or links before you click through to them, preventing an infection from happening in the first place. A key feature is support for Android Wear which simplifies security management.
6. Sophos Free Antivirus and Security
Award-winning protection from Sophos
+ Solid protection
+ No adverts
+ Authenticator for 2FA duties
Sophos’ free antivirus app has previously won the AV-Test award for best protection in 2015. Unlike other free scanners, Sophos doesn’t contain any adverts. It does, however, block websites with potentially spammy or illegal content.
Apps are scanned for malware or otherwise harmful content as they are installed and Sophos alerts you if they might leak any sensitive information. The antivirus scanner can be scheduled to scan files and folders periodically, and the malware database itself is updated daily.
The app also includes a handy QR code scanner which can be used to set up secure Wi-Fi connections. There’s also an authenticator that can generate one-time passwords for two-factor authentication.
7. Norton Security and Antivirus
Another big name offering tight security for your mobile
+ Excellent antivirus capabilities
+ Remote locking of phone
_ No malicious site blocking
This free app from Norton was able to detect 100% of all Android malware when benchmarked by AV-Test a few months ago. The scanner is powered by Norton Mobile Insight and can detect viruses inside apps and files, then remove them automatically.
Other useful security features include the ability to lock your phone via an SMS message, or if the SIM card is removed. You can also choose to remotely lock your device if it goes missing (or have it locked after 10 unsuccessful attempts to enter the passcode).
8. Trend Micro Mobile Security & Antivirus
Impressive security with parental control features
+ Solid security
+ Integrated privacy scanner for Facebook
Trend Micro’s effort not only scans new apps for malware, but prevents newly installed apps from accessing other programs, which can be useful for device admins and parents.
There’s also a built-in privacy scanner for Facebook which warns you if your profile settings are displaying sensitive personal information.
There is a free version of the app, along with a paid-for version with a premium list of features. These include a malware blocker which is capable of scanning apps before they are even installed to pre-emptively avoid any potential infection. There are also utilities for safe surfing, as well as call and text filtering.
9. AhnLab V3 Mobile Security
An app which runs well even on older Android devices
+ High malware detection rates
+ Plenty of features
+ Anti-theft alarm
This security app from South Korean AhnLab is not as famous as the others on this list, but nonetheless has very high detection rates for Android malware according to AV-Test (99.6%) and runs well even on older Android devices. Indeed, it has a built-in booster to help speed up your phone’s performance.
The app comes with a free 10-day trial of the anti-malware features which proactively search for vulnerabilities and warn you if apps could potentially leak sensitive personal information.
Other handy privacy features include a hidden gallery for personal photos and a privacy cleaner to securely clear your browsing history. Other features include the ability to stop phishing URLs, as well as to selectively block unwanted and unknown calls, and there’s also built-in protection to stop malware from uninstalling the app.
10. Avira Antivirus Security
Has a smart system of categorising apps on a privacy scale
+ Can scan external storage
+ Neat Identity Safeguard feature
_ No blocking of malicious websites
Avira’s mobile offering will not only scan files you download and content on your phone’s memory, but it can also scan external storage such as your SD card. Applications are rated using a privacy scale to help you easily decide how much they can be trusted with your data.
The integrated ‘Identity Safeguard’ regularly checks if the email addresses in your contacts list have been involved in any major data breaches. The app is controlled by a web-based management portal, which is extremely useful if you want to set up a common policy over multiple Android devices.
The premium version includes better support, automatic blocking of malicious websites, and more frequent updates.