8 Best Antivirus Apps For Android Phones

Android smartphones are the most popular on the market today, making them a target for the spread of malware and identity theft. That's why there has been a surge in the number of antivirus applications for Android, all of which promise to protect users' devices from malicious attacks.

Most people are well protected and don't even know it. This is due in part to the Google Play Store's stringent security measures. If you only download apps from the official Play Store, your chances of getting a virus or downloading malware are slim to none. Google Play Protect, which is enabled by default on all Android devices, carries out regular scans on apps installed on the device to identify potential threats such as viruses, spyware, and other potentially harmful apps.

However, there are a number of reasons why you should be using an antivirus app on your Android phone in addition to Google Play Protect. Data thieves are tricky and can attempt to hijack your data through shady links, texts, websites, and phone calls. That is why some antivirus apps provide an important layer of extra security features like anti-phishing, VPN protection, and anti-theft measures.

Below are the eight best antivirus apps for Android phones, including free and paid options, with a deep dive into the features and advantages of each app to assist you in making an informed decision about which one is right for you.

Bitdefender Mobile Security

Bitdefender Mobile Security is one of the best antivirus apps on the Play Store in terms of value, protection, features, and impact on phone performance.

When signing up for Bitdefender, users must create an account, agreeing to terms and conditions that seem like a purchase contract. While this may be intimidating, it's actually just setting users up for their 14-day trial. Bitdefender's antivirus scanning is speedy and efficient, catching several issues on the test phone right away, as well as offering recommended settings to help increase security. In addition to the scans, there is also the option to automatically scan new apps for malware.

Bitdefender handles scam phone calls by automatically blocking numbers known to be illegitimate and users can help by flagging new numbers. For safer browsing, the app has a built-in service that automatically blocks and notifies you of sites that contain harmful links, in addition to offering robust parental controls for children's safety. Included in the subscription is a VPN with 200 MB a day to further mask your privacy and browsing data. If users have sensitive information on certain apps, Bitdefender can lock them with a secure password, adding another layer of protection in addition to a phone's standard lock.

Subscription costs can vary depending on the plan. For one device the yearly cost is $14.99, but a multi-device subscription costs $94.99 a year, which includes support for PC, Mac, and iOS devices, making it a good choice as a family plan.

Norton360 Antivirus & Security

Norton has been a well-known name in antivirus software since 1990, which is pretty impressive in an industry that changes rapidly. Norton360 offers a broad array of safety features that are among the best on the market, but unlike some other antivirus apps, there's no free version of Norton. All of its services are paid, and the basic plan costs $14.99 for the first year and protects a single phone with app, data, phone, text, browser, and network scanning. Norton360 quickly scanned and identified all threats on the test phone during testing.

In addition to scanning, Norton360's mid-tier subscription also monitors information brokers and known dark web sites for stolen information, providing quick notifications to users. This ensures that if you do have your data stolen, you'll be made aware right away to mitigate as much damage as possible. Norton360 also includes its own VPN service to help hide your data from hackers.

For $104.99 per year, Norton's largest and most expensive package offers protection for multiple devices, including PCs, Macs, and phones. No matter what device you have, you can use its service. Also included is a safe browsing mode that can restrict access to websites and set up study times for students to block websites completely or during school hours. Overall, Norton is one of the best antivirus apps on the market, but it comes with a subscription fee.

McAfee Security: Virus Scanner

McAfee is a top name in the antivirus software market and offers a comprehensive collection of features with a focus on family protection. McAfee's free features include an extensive antivirus scanner, a Wi-Fi network security scanner, and a dark web identity scanner to detect already-leaked data. These three features are essential in any solid antivirus software, and all of them work well in the free version.

The premium features require a subscription of $99.99 a year after a 7-day trial and include automatic scheduled scanning, advanced identity theft protection, a VPN service, and browser protection. The advanced identity theft protection is identical to the free version but allows for multiple email addresses and accounts to be monitored at one time, while the free version only monitors a single email address for data breaches.

McAfee Security is a great choice for families, especially with the premium subscription. One subscription includes up to 5 different devices with the same amount of protection, and more importantly, it also includes the safe browser mode. This feature automatically blocks any malicious sites and links and allows parents to control the content on their children's phones to prevent unwanted access to inappropriate sites.

AVG AntiVirus & Security

AVG AntiVirus & Security is a comprehensive app that offers several features to protect your data, Wi-Fi network, and identity. For free, you can access an antivirus scanner, Wi-Fi speed test, password leak detector, junk data cleaner, and a customizable web filter. The antivirus scan can automatically isolate and remove malware from your phone, and the web filter is useful for parents, although it requires manual website blocking.

Included in the free version, AVG AntiVirus will monitor data breaches and can notify users if they're at risk for data leaks. Users can also move files and images into a secure vault that can only be accessed with a secure password separate from the phone lock. The premium features grant users access to AVG's VPN services and remove ads throughout the app.

It's of note that the AVG and Avast apps on this list have identical UI, and that is because they are both owned by the same parent company. AVG is slightly cheaper than its Avast counterpart at $39.99 a year for full access to all features. While both apps are powerful, AVG uses AI to detect new viruses and malware, which sets it apart.

Malwarebytes Mobile Security

Established in 2008, Malwarebytes is a well-known antivirus software company. The free version of Malwarebytes offers two main features — virus scans and app management. 

When tested, it took nine minutes for Malwarebytes to complete an initial full scan, which is much slower than some of the other antivirus apps on this list. Subsequent scans were much faster and took approximately one minute. While the Malwarebytes app was able to detect several potential threats on the test phone and offered automatic fixes, its scanning times are much slower than other apps on this list and must be initiated manually. 

The app manager is a useful tool for those of you who like to dive into the data and numbers behind the scenes. The manager provides app version information, memory usage, time used, and download source. It can be helpful if you have to manually search through your apps to find which ones could be potentially causing you or your phone harm. The rest of the features are locked behind Malwarebytes' premium subscription, which costs $19.99 a year. With the subscription, users will have access to automatic scanning and advanced ransomware as well as spyware detection. 

Its standout feature is its Browser Guard, which acts as an ad blocker and protects from phishing, trackers, and exploit attacks. It's a minimalistic, easy-to-use app that works best when combined with other security applications. 

Lookout Security and Antivirus

Lookout Security and Antivirus offers standard features found in security apps, but its anti-theft features are what really stand out. The free version of the app has a GPS tracker that can locate a lost phone and a scream function that emits a siren alarm, even if the phone is on silent or in do not disturb mode. The premium version offers additional features, such as remotely locking and wiping all data from the phone, as well as tracking the phone even when it's in airplane mode, the SIM card is removed, the device is off, or when the Lookout app is uninstalled. These are all common tactics that phone thieves use to hide their tracks.

During app and file scanning, Lookout caught a few security errors on the test phone and also recommended updates for several outdated apps. For $59.99 per year, Lookout Premium members can access additional identity theft protections, such as monitoring spending habits and social media accounts. The premium plan also includes a million-dollar insurance policy in case of identity theft, handled by a third-party insurance provider.

The free version of Lookout will give users an ad-free and easy-to-use antivirus scanner. Lookout also has one of the better phone recovery toolsets that's offered free of charge. Users who decide to purchase a premium membership will have access to further phone recovery options, data monitoring, and a million-dollar insurance policy.

Avast One – Privacy & Security

Avast is a household name in antivirus software and Avast Antivirus & Security delivers several features for a straightforward and secure online experience. The app and file scanning is efficient, accurately detecting issues and presenting them in clear and concise language. Avast also provides a handy Wi-Fi speed checker and a junk data cleaner as part of its free version to improve phone performance.

This security app offers two options for upgrading to a premium subscription: $47.99 per year for extra security features and VPN or $19.99 per year for solely the extra security features such as automatic scans, dangerous link warnings, and extra tech support.

Avast's VPN wasn't tested because it's actually not part of the Avast security app. If you want to take advantage of its VPN, you'll need to download a separate app, as there is no all-in-one solution.

While Avast is a good choice for those seeking a simple security scan, it is heavily ad-supported, requiring users to watch an ad with every scan or data cache removal while pushing frequent prompts to upgrade to a premium package. It's an excellent free app with an easy-to-navigate UI, but users will have to contend with a barrage of ads while the app is in use.

Avira Security Antivirus & VPN

Avira Security Antivirus & VPN is a highly-rated antivirus app on the Google Play Store for Android users. While the majority of its features and services are free, some upgraded features are only available when users purchase a subscription. The app is extremely user-friendly and features a menu that is broken down into easy-to-use categories like security, privacy, and performance. 

A key feature of Avira is its smart scan which checks all your apps, files, and account security. The account security checks your usernames and compares them to data leaks to give users warnings of potential identity theft. Users can also set up an app block with a password to restrict access to specific apps. This way, even if someone manages to unlock your phone, they'll still need an additional password for these apps.

If you opt for the yearly subscription, you can gain access to web protection, password management, and microphone protection while the VPN feature is upgraded to allow location changes. Without the subscription, VPN functionality is limited to 100 MB of data per day and restricted to the user's region. The subscription is available for $22.99 per year or $104.99 per year for a multi-device plan.

While there were no ads during testing, the app did prompt users for ratings and subscription upgrades. Overall, Avira offers a ton of value and protection for a free app, with some additional features available through a subscription.