Best Android Antivirus Apps 2019

If you're not running some kind of anti-malware app on your Android smartphone or tablet, then you're at higher risk of infection from corrupted apps and other kinds of malware.

Based on our testing, the best paid Android antivirus app is Bitdefender Mobile Security ($15 per year), which offers nearly flawless malware protection with a wide assortment of extra features. The freemium Norton Mobile Security has similarly excellent protection and doesn't hold back much from users who don't want to pay the premium price of $30 per year.

Avast Mobile Security and CM Security Master each offer a rich assortment of features, even in their free versions, and generally score highly in malware-detection tests. But Avast's anti-theft and call-blocking features didn't work well for us, and CM Security Master's malware-detection rates varied quite a bit from month to month. (CM Security Master has also been criticized for allegedly oversharing user data with advertisers.)

You'll be taking a chance with the other two apps we reviewed. Lookout Security & Antivirus was one of the first mobile antivirus apps, and it has a good reputation among Android users. But the company no longer submits the app to independent testing labs, so we really don't know how well it protects against Android malware.   

The other app, PSafe DFNDR, is easy to use and full-featured, and its paid version is only $4.99. But in lab tests, its malware-detection rates bounced up and down like a yo-yo. We can only hope that PSafe gets those issues straightened out before our next round of Android antivirus app reviews.

The best mobile antivirus apps offer not only top-notch malware detection and prevention, but also a range of privacy and anti-theft features. These include the ability to back up your contacts and photos, track your phone or tablet via GPS, snap a picture of a phone thief with the device's camera, send commands to a lost or stolen phone via text messages and even use your Android Wear smartwatch to locate your phone.

MORE: Best Antivirus Software and Apps

Latest Security Alerts and Threats

— An Instagram phishing campaign masquerades as a method by which your Instagram account can be receive a "verified" badge. But of course, you have to provide your email address and password. ADVICE: Check the URL of the website pretending to be Instagram; the real Instagram won't ask for your email address as verification.

— An Android horror game that was in the Google Play app store until July 27 was actually a phishing scam that tried to hijack Google accounts. ADVICE: If you played "Scary Granny ZOMBYE Mod," change your Google password and set up your Google account with two-factor authentication.

— Microsoft fixed a security flaw in Outlook for Android that could have let hackers seize control of smartphones. ADVICE: Make sure that your installation of Outlook for Android is updated to version 3.0.88.

How We Tested

To gauge security protection, we used the latest evaluation results from AV-TEST, an independent lab in Germany that rates major Android security apps every two months based on their ability to detect zero-day malware and other recent threats. Because some apps' results are inconsistent from one test to the next, we've also looked at the past year's worth of AV-TEST results.

To measure the impact these security apps have on overall performance, we used the Geekbench 6 benchmarking app on a Samsung Galaxy S8 phone running Android 7.0 Nougat. For each app, we ran Geekbench several times with no AV app installed, then with one of the review apps installed and finally during that app's full scan.

We also evaluated the number and usefulness of each app's features, took note of which features were reserved for paid users, and assessed the user interface and installation process.

Best Paid Option

Bitdefender Mobile Security

(Image credit: Bitdefender)
Reasons to Buy
Flawless malware detection
Comprehensive and reliable anti-theft features
Competitive pricing
Intuitive user interface
Reasons to Avoid
No call/text filter
Can't schedule scans
Plain design

Bitdefender's Android security app offers nearly flawless malware protection, minimal performance impact and robust privacy-protection tools, while incorporating Android Wear watches into the app's anti-theft features. However, there are no scheduled malware scans, and there's no freemium option. (The separate Bitdefender Antivirus Free for Android only scans for malware.) But at $15 per year per device, Bitdefender Mobile Security is well worth the expense.

Best Freemium Option

Norton Mobile Security

(Image credit: Norton)

Norton Mobile Security

Best Freemium Option

Reasons to Buy
Flawless malware monitoring
Single paid license covers 10 devices
App Advisor for Google Play still unique
Well-designed and consistent interface
Strong slate of free features
Reasons to Avoid
Heavy system impact
Paid version expensive for a single user

Norton Mobile Security offers terrific malware protection, and its call-blocking, text-blocking and contacts backup features are free for all users, as is the excellent anti-theft functionality. The premium yearly license has dropped to $25 and protects up to 10 devices. Norton's best paid feature is App Advisor, which checks installed software and apps in the Google Play store for security and privacy risks. Also good are Norton's app lock and password manager, both of which are free, stand-alone apps. There's also a new VPN app, but it's an extra $30 per year.

Avast Mobile Security

(Image credit: Avast)
Reasons to Buy
Inexpensive pro version
Highly customizable
Feature-rich free version
Reasons to Avoid
Call blocking didn’t work
Anti-theft feature not reliable
Lengthy setup process
Ads in free version can get annoying

Avast Mobile Security & Antivirus is one of the most full-featured Android security apps on the market, including everything from a privacy advisor to a VPN client to a customizable blacklist. But while Avast's malware protection has improved, some of its otherwise excellent anti-theft functions didn't work for us, and its call-blocking feature barely worked at all.

CM Security Master

(Image credit: CM)
Reasons to Buy
Feature-rich free version
Excellent call blocking
Nice visuals
VPN service, even for free version
Reasons to Avoid
Inconsistent malware protection
Paid version is expensive
Difficult to navigate
Ads can get annoying
No SMS anti-theft functionality

CM Security's new paid version costs $36 per year, adds an unlimited VPN client and kills third-party ads. However, the rest of the app's extensive set of features and options can still be had for no price whatsoever. There's a network scanner; a clean, easy-to-use interface; an app lock; and a call blocker. But CM Security's malware-detection rates fluctuated from month to month, its anti-theft features offer little more than the built-in Android Device Manager, the free version displayed a lot of ads and the company has been accused of using its mobile apps in a click-fraud scheme.

Lookout Security & Antivirus

(Image credit: Lookout)
Reasons to Buy
Intuitive user interface
Identity protection
Well-considered feature set
Reasons to Avoid
Little third-party data to back up malware-protection claims
Paid option is expensive
Free plan lacks key features

Lookout's Android antivirus app was one of the first, and its ease of use and functionality explain its popularity among Android users. There's a free tier; a regular premium tier for $30 per year, which has many features other Android security apps offer for free; and a "premium plus" plan that, for $100 per year, contains a full identity-protection service. But Lookout no longer submits its app to independent labs for testing, so we don't know how well it protects against malware.

PSafe DFNDR

(Image credit: PSafe)
Reasons to Buy
Full functionality is free
Minimal system impact
Low cost to remove ads
Reasons to Avoid
Fluctuating malware protection
Obtrusive ads
No SMS anti-theft functionality

We want to like PSafe DFNDR. It looks great; has many useful features, all of which are free; and its paid version costs only $4.99 per year and merely removes ads. But in lab tests, its malware-detection rate changes from month to month. Sometimes it's excellent, sometime it's pretty bad. Until PSafe gets that problem ironed out, we have to recommend other apps.