We tested several antivirus apps on Android cellphones and tablets to learn, which offer excellent malware protection without causing too much drag on your device. Here are some of the best.
Bitdefender Mobile Security
Bitdefender stops malware attacks, has a VPN and web protection that warns of dangerous websites before you visit them. This app uses power management to use little of your phone’s battery to avoid slow down, and connects to Android smartwatches to help remind you to grab your phone or to locate it if it’s left behind.
$15 at Google Play
Avast Mobile Security Ultimate
The basic version of the app is a free mobile security program that blocks both malware and spam messages. But Avast’s Ultimate program includes a VPN to hide all your online activity. It includes a password manager to keep track of login credentials, and a data shield to protect photos, contact information and other sensitive files from being swiped.
$24 at Google Play
Kaspersky Internet Security for Android
The app blocks phishing schemes in both email and text messages. Kaspersky also locks down your and contacts’ information, so if someone steals your phone, no one can see your personal information. This antivirus solution locks apps, filters calls, and texts, and blocks malware, including ransomware.
$12 at Google Play
McAfee Mobile Security
The Theft Cam tool snaps a pic of anyone trying to access your phone without permission. The app then sends the photo, along with your phone’s location, to you to help track down the thief. This app monitors Wi-Fi connections for any possible hackers and locks down your apps from unauthorized users.
$10 at Google Play
Norton Mobile Security & Antivirus
This app did cause a bit of lag on our phones during testing. It does a great job stopping malware from downloading to your device. It also has tools that monitor your Wi-Fi connection to make sure hackers don’t get through. It also has a system advisor that gives you tips on how to further protect your devices, like setting up a fingerprint lock.
$15 at Google Store
PSafe DFNDR Pro Security
This app scans for malicious downloads and programs running in the background that may slow down your phone, use up too much battery power or cause your device to overheat. It also includes anti-hacking tools like identity theft reports, fake news, and spam blockers, and malicious link alerts in messaging programs, including WhatsApp.
$24 at Google Play
This app includes a QR scanner that checks links for malware before connecting you to scanned data. It filters text messages and quarantines those with malware URLs. This app lets you remotely access stolen phones to wipe data or reset passwords, send text commands to the thieves and track where your phone is.
Free at Google Play
Trend Micro Mobile Security & Antivirus
Malware attacks, including ransomware and phishing schemes, are stopped by this app. It’s designed to secure all your personal data so thieves or apps can’t swipe it. It optimizes your phone by helping you identify apps that are using up too much of your data. It also includes parental controls so you can manage what your child is watching on their cell phones.
$30 at Google Play
Our final thoughts
Be careful when choosing a mobile security app for your Android because several, especially free apps, don’t actually stop virus infections, but rather gather up malware after they’ve made it to your device. Trojans and ransomware are being manufactured for mobile devices at an alarming rate, so malware blocking on top of virus scans are essential. Phishing filters are also needed since the most common malware are schemes that trick you into giving personal information, including credit card numbers, account passwords, and social security numbers.
Keep in mind that several antivirus apps offer a free version as the initial download with an in-app purchase for the ad-free version.
Our top pick for Android antivirus is Bitdefender Mobile Protection because of the quality of protection it gives you on top of being a good value. During our tests, Bitdefender did an excellent job of stopping both malware files trying to download to our phones and phishing schemes. It didn’t use up much of our devices’ resources, so we didn’t notice any lag, even during virus scans. We still opened and used apps, sent text messages, and chatted on our phones without interruption or delay.
We also suggest checking out Trend Micro Mobile Security & Antivirus. This app also does a decent job stopping malware downloads and blocking phishing schemes, plus it includes parental controls. These tools let you limit when your child has access to the internet and control online content and apps they are looking at. It does cost twice as much and slows down devices a smidgen more than Bitdefender.