The last time AV-TEST evaluated Android antivirus software, every single program tested earned at least a tentative recommendation, while four programs walked away with perfect scores. Now, history has repeated itself. The Madgeburg, Germany-based analytics company tested 25 different Android AV suites in March 2016, and discovered that while they're not all equally good, pretty much any of them will keep your phone or tablet safe.
In order to test how well each program could protect an Android device, AV-Test evaluated each suite against two databases. The first contained a general selection of up-to-date malware targeting Android systems, while the second contained only malicious software discovered in the last four weeks. Four programs achieved perfect scores in both detection tests: Bitdefender Mobile Security, Cheetah Mobile CM Security, Tencent WeSecure and Sophos Mobile Security.
Down at the other end of the scale, matters were still far from dire. NSHC Droid-X 3 detected about 95% of malware between both databases, while Webroot SecureAnywhere Mobile, Quick Heal Total Security and Ikarus mobile.security scored about 97%, 98% and 99%, respectively.
The rest of the programs scored somewhere between 99% and 100%. These include, in descending order, Baidu Mobile Security, Symantec Norton Mobile Security, Ahnlab V3 Mobile Security, Antiy AVL, ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus, PSafe Total, Kaspersky Internet Security for Android, Qihoo 360 Antivirus, Trend Micro Mobile Security, Avast Mobile Security, G Data Internet Security, Cheetah Mobile Clean Master, Alibaba Mobile Security, BullGuard Mobile Security, AVG AntiVirus Free, Intel McAfee Mobile Security and Avira Antivirus Security.
Detection rates aren't everything that go into an antivirus program, however. AV-TEST measured each program's protection (six points), usability (six points) and extra features (1 point) to give each program a potential rating out of 13. More than half of the programs surveyed scored perfect 13s, while the lowest score was still a quite passable 10.5 (NSHC Droid-X 3).
Among the extra features AV-TEST evaluated were anti-theft capabilities, call blockers, message filters, safe browsing modes, parental controls, backup protocols and encryption. Each program contained a mix of strengths and blind spots when it came to these functionalities, but only one program (Sophos Mobile Security) gave users the ability to encrypt their devices.
The plethora of effective Android antivirus programs is a boon for those who use the popular mobile OS. However, consumers should remember that they still need to choose an antivirus program and keep it active for their phones and tablets to receive protection.