Product Use case Rating
Bitdefender Mobile Security Best Paid Option 4
Norton Mobile Security Best Freemium Option 4
Avast Mobile Security 3.5
CM Security Master 3.5
Lookout Security & Antivirus 3
PSafe DFNDR 2.5

Best Android Antivirus Apps

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

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.

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 other features. The freemium Norton Mobile Security has similarly excellent protection, and doesn't hold back much from free users who don't want to pay the premium price of $25 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.

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.

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.

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  • martinsmith123
    I will prefer Kaspersky antivirus licensed software
  • punkncat
    So wait, wasn't Kapersky implicated in a security vulnerability that the AV software was providing metrics on user data and phoning home with it?
  • dleippe
    Is that a question or a statement
  • stones710
    I don't see anything about a virtual keyboard in Bitdefender; how do I find it and how does it work?
  • punkncat
    Anonymous said:
    Is that a question or a statement

    This symbol "?" at the end of a statement makes it a question in the typical world of grammar. Normally the language structure and wording is fairly indicative as well, however I can see where you would be confused with the statement.
    It was a question based on a recollection of an article I read recently indicating as much. Couldn't find the link, of course.
  • Rocky Bennett
    Anonymous said:
    So wait, wasn't Kapersky implicated in a security vulnerability that the AV software was providing metrics on user data and phoning home with it?

    Yes they were. It made the national news for a few days then blew over.
  • chris240b
    Do the authors of these articles take into consideration anything except how well they perform as antivirus software? Kaspersky has been implicated in data breeches at the NSA and other government and corporations around the world. They apparently work with the Russian government for nefarious reasons.
  • Rocky Bennett
    ^^^ This has never been proven. Can you link an article that proves your statements.
  • emkei
    Kaspersky Total Security is my choice because of its' real-time defense against the latest malware and threats. Also, because it offers nearly everything I could want in a security suite.
  • stephaniefernandez0000
    I have never used anything except Avast Antivirus and I'm personally satisfied with this product. So easy to use and everything is available on your finger tips. Instead of that, it also gives about a month of free trail and I'm not satisfied with this article because of not mentioning Avast in this article.
  • ElectrO_90
    Comodo Security and ZHPCleaner - Free and the best :)
  • Rocky Bennett
    Windows Defender, free and the best!!!!
  • Peter Martin
    windows defender. I'm like Scotty, see, the more crap you put into it, the more complex the plumbing becomes and they you have problems. Don't mess with the best and add junkware