The best Android antivirus apps in 2022

Best Android antivirus
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Installing one of the best Android antivirus apps on your smartphone or tablet can help protect you from malicious apps and other kinds of malware while also preventing you from becoming a victim of identity theft.

In addition to excellent malware detection and prevention, the best Android antivirus apps also include privacy and anti-theft features. While most of these apps have a free service tier that allow you to test them out before paying for a subscription, some are entirely free.

At the same time, some of the best Android antivirus apps on this list will backup your contacts and other important data, track your phone or tablet via GPS, take a picture of a thief using your device’s camera and even let you find your phone using your smartwatch.

We’ve rounded up the best offerings from the biggest names in the mobile antivirus business – Avast, Bitdefender, Lookout, McAfee, Norton and even Google itself – and rated their Android apps based on setup, interface, usability, extra features and of course, their ability to protect your devices from the latest cyber threats. These are the best Android antivirus apps you can install on your devices today.

The best Android antivirus app you can get

Why you can trust Tom's Guide Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Best Android antivirus: Bitdefender Mobile Security

Bitdefender Mobile Security (Image credit: Bitdefender)
Best paid option

Specifications

Price per year: $15; free alternative is separate app
Minimum Android support: 5.0 Lollipop
Ads: No
App lock: Yes
Anti-theft: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Top malware protection
+
Affordable premium version
+
Many useful features
+
Small system impact

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive unlimited VPN option

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. A newly added feature, 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, Bitdefender Mobile Security is well worth the expense. It's our choice for the best Android antivirus app.

Read our full Bitdefender Mobile Security review.

Best Android antivirus: Norton Mobile Security

Norton Mobile Security (Image credit: Norton)

Specifications

Price per year: $15, $50 or $105; no more free version
Minimum Android support: 8.0 Oreo
Ads: No
App lock: No
Anti-theft: No

Reasons to buy

+
Flawless malware detection
+
App Advisor beats the competition
+
Intuitive design

Reasons to avoid

-
No more anti-theft functions
-
No more free tier

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'd recently tested. That's been replaced with a security-only app for one device that costs $15 a year.

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.

Read our full Norton Mobile Security review. 

Best free antivirus: Avast Free Antivirus

Avast Mobile Security (Image credit: Avast)

Specifications

Price per year: Free; $20, $40 premium versions
Minimum Android support: 6.0 Marshmallow
Ads: Free version
App lock: Premium only
Anti-theft: Partly premium

Reasons to buy

+
Inexpensive premium version
+
Lots of features for free

Reasons to avoid

-
Unreliable anti-theft features
-
Too many ads in free version

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. 

But 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. 

Read our full Avast Mobile Security review.

Best Android antivirus: Kaspersky Mobile Antivirus

Kaspersky Mobile Antivirus (Image credit: Kaspersky)

Specifications

Price per year: Free; $20 premium version
Minimum Android support: 5.0 Lollipop
Ads: No
App lock: Premium only
Anti-theft: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Strong malware protection
+
Call blocking works
+
No ads in free version

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited features overall
-
Free version won't auto-scan new apps

Kaspersky Mobile Antivirus, also known as Kaspersky Internet Security 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, Android Wear 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.

Read our full Kaspersky Mobile Antivirus review.

Best Android antivirus: Lookout Security & Antivirus

Lookout Security & Antivirus (Image credit: Lookout Mobile Security)

Specifications

Price per year: Free; $30, $100 premium versions
Minimum Android support: 5.0 Lollipop
Ads: No
App lock: No
Anti-theft: Partly premium

Reasons to buy

+
Strong identity-protection option
+
Good user interface

Reasons to avoid

-
Few free features
-
Not much malware-protection data
-
Heavy, slow scans

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 heavy.

Read our full Lookout Security & Antivirus review.

Best Android antivirus: McAfee Mobile Security

McAfee Mobile Security (Image credit: McAfee)

Specifications

Price per year: Free; $30 & $80 premium versions
Minimum Android support: 7.0 Nougat
Ads: Free version
App lock: Discontinued
Anti-theft: Discontinued

Reasons to buy

+
Some decent free features
+
VPN if you're ready to pay a lot

Reasons to avoid

-
Too many ads in free version
-
Pricey premium tiers
-
So-so malware protection

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. 

In the summer of 2021, McAfee Mobile Security phased out many of its most useful functions (opens in new tab), 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.

Read our full McAfee Mobile Security review.

Best Android antivirus: Google Play Protect

Google Play Protect (Image credit: Google)

Specifications

Price per year: Free
Minimum Android support: 4.4 Kit Kat
Ads: No
App lock: Yes
Anti-theft: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Built right into Android
+
Small system impact
+
Good anti-theft tools

Reasons to avoid

-
Awful malware protection
-
Few features

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 is awful at protecting you from malicious apps. For your own sake, please use something else.

Read our full Google Play Protect review.

Best Android antivirus app comparison chart

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 Avast Mobile SecurityBitdefender Mobile SecurityGoogle Play ProtectKaspersky Mobile AntivirusLookout Security & AntivirusMcAfee Mobile SecurityNorton Mobile Security for Android
Price per yearFree; $12; $24$15FreeFree; $15Free; $30; $100Free; $30; $80$30
Minimum Android support5.0 Lollipop5.0 Lollipop4.4 Kit Kat5.0 Lollipop5.0 Lollipop7.0 Nougat6.0 Marshmallow
AdsFree versionNoNoNoNoFree versionNo
App lockPremium onlyYesYesPremium onlyNoDiscontinuedNo
Anti-theftPartly premiumYesYesYesPartly premiumDiscontinuedNo
App advisorYesYesNoNoPartly premiumYesYes
URL screenerYesYesYesPremium onlyPremium onlyPremium onlyYes
Wi-Fi scannerYesYesNoNoPremium onlyYesYes
VPNCosts extraUnlimited data costs extraNoNoPremium onlyCosts extra No
Wear OS supportNoYesNoYesNoYesNo

Why you should use an Android antivirus app

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. 

How to choose the best Android antivirus app for you

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. 

How we tested the best Android antivirus apps

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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) 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.

Anthony Spadafora
Senior Editor Security and Networking

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.