Best Anti-malware and Antivirus for Android

Keeping your Android safe is a challenge because of its operating system, but these antivirus apps and security suites are up to the task.
Best overall
Bitdefender antivirus logo
Bitdefender Total Security
  • pro
    Superior Android protection
  • pro
    Supports 5 devices
  • pro
    Parental controls
Best anti-phishing protection
McAfee antivirus logo
McAfee AntiVirus Plus
  • pro
    Strong anti-phishing protection
  • pro
    Supports 10 devices
  • con
    No parental controls
Best for budgets
Norton logo
Norton Security Premium
  • pro
    Lots of extra security features
  • pro
    Supports 10 devices
  • pro
    Parental controls

Our research shows that Bitdefender Total Security does the best job of protecting Android devices from viruses and malware without slowing down your device or breaking the bank. 

But all of our top three picks go a step beyond with extras that can protect your Android device from unsecured Wi-Fi connections, and some offer additional bells and whistles like call blocking and VPN protection.

Compare the top anti-malware and antivirus apps for Android

Product
Best for
First year price
Price after first year
Devices Supported
On-Demand Scans
VPN Protection
Best overall$89.99/yr.5
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Best anti-phishing protection$59.99/yr.10
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon No  LightNo
Best for budgets$59.99/yr.10
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes

Info current as of post date. Offers and availability subject to change.

Reviews of the best Android antivirus apps

1. Bitdefender Total Security: Best overall

Bitdefender earns kudos as one of the most well-rounded security suites available. The Total Security bundle excels at Android protection and offers anti-theft features for Windows devices that can be surprisingly helpful if your laptop gets stolen. Thoughtful extras like one-click and startup optimizers keep your devices running smoothly and prevent the slowdown that plagues other security software.

pro
Pros
pro Remote control and monitoring
pro Parental controls
pro Robust anti-theft features
pro Superior ransomware protection
pro Password manager
pro VPN protection
con
Cons
con Poor ratings for iOS security
con Higher price

As with most premium versions, you’ll pay a little extra for the luxury of securing all your devices from malicious apps and websites, but the versatility and quality Bitdefender offers is worth it with one caveat. Its Achilles heel is glaringly inadequate iOS protection, so steer clear if securing an iPhone with sensitive data is one of the five devices you plan to protect with Bitdefender.

2. McAfee AntiVirus Plus: Best anti-phishing protection

Everyone likes a bargain, but not if it means compromising on the security of your smartphone. McAfee strikes the right balance in its AntiVirus Plus with an extensive menu of features that sends malicious malware packing but also has an affordable price that covers up to 10 devices.

 

pro
Pros
pro Excellent anti-phishing protection
pro Solid ransomware protection
pro Very affordable per device
pro Kid mode
con
Cons
con Lackluster Mac protection
con Minimal iOS features

This security suite does a particularly good job of addressing phishing and has recently beefed up the ransomware protection. Many of the antivirus software products we’ve recommended do offer an app lock, but McAfee also offers a kid mode that will delight parents by locking down the entire phone with the exception of approved apps.

If you’re concerned that all this sounds too good to be true, there are some downsides to McAfee. Mac users get minimal security included in this suite and iOS systems are completely shut out of the premium features party.

3. Norton Security Premium: Best for budgets

If you’re looking for the full menu of features that antivirus protection software can provide, Norton Security Premium is going to tick all the boxes for you. In addition to a vigorous firewall and scans that are adept at catching malicious viruses and malware, Norton Premium has a wide array of security components for all your devices and across platforms. 

pro
Pros
pro Advanced VPN protection
pro Online backup storage
pro Virus protection promise
pro Dark web monitoring
pro Password manager
pro Parental controls
pro Webcam security
con
Cons
con No call blocking for Android
con Moderate system slowdown
con More expensive price

This security suite is one of the few that manages to sneak in extras like dark web monitoring, parental controls, and webcam security, making it well priced compared to other products.

Be aware, though, that all these impressive features may cause some moderate lag on your device, especially when you first power up. And, as you might expect, Norton Premium comes with a slightly larger price tag that reflects those extra features. Figure in what you might shell out for a monthly password manager subscription and the cost of covering up to 10 devices, and you'll realize Norton Security Premium adds up to a terrific bargain.

Learn more in our full Norton Antivirus review.

Bell
Online protection for working from home

Anti-malware and antivirus protection are a must, but with so many of us using new platforms like Zoom or online learning portals, it's important to add extra reinforcements.

Check the privacy settings of every device, app, software package, and platform you and your kids are using.

Safeguard your camera. Disable access to the camera as appropriate in specific apps, and cover it with tape or a sticker when not in use.

Update everything. Firmware and software updates are annoying, but they're the first line of defense. Most of them include security patches to new threats. Check all of your devices and programs to make sure the latest updates have been installed.

These are just a few measures that offer extra protection at this time. Find more tips in our complete guide to keeping your computer safe while working from home.

How to choose antivirus and antimalware apps for Android

Your devices

Decide which of your devices require additional protection and prioritize the most critical. For example, if you have only an Android tablet, the best antivirus and malware protection for a Mac may not be relevant to you. But if you do a great deal of work on your laptop in coffee shops, casually surfing the internet, you may want to look for robust unsecured Wi-Fi warnings and anti-theft features for your Windows device.

Effectiveness of anti-malware and antivirus protection

All antivirus software goes through rigorous testing, and you should be able to find each product’s score via independent testing agencies. Look for the percentage of sites blocked, number of viruses identified, ratings on usability, and additional information about the kinds of malware the product was most effective at detecting.

Anti-theft protection

If your home PC is the extent of your relationship with the internet, anti-theft protections might seem silly. But for the majority of internet users, risk comes primarily through mobile devices that expose the increasing amounts of personal data we keep on our smartphones. Anti-theft protections like remote lock or snapping a picture of the thief can not only prevent the costly loss of your latest generation Android but also keep your private information out of the wrong hands.

Other features

The usefulness of some of the features included with these security suites is going to depend on your risk of exposure and online behaviors. For instance, an antivirus product with webcam protections is going to be a priority if you often have remote meetings. But if your exposure to the internet on your mobile device is almost entirely limited to online shopping, you might be better off paying attention to cybersecurity tips than paying for anything with a VPN attached to it.

Anti-malware app FAQ 

You might hear the two terms lumped together, but they aren't interchangeable. A virus is a piece of code that has adapted to copying itself and can infect your device, while malware covers a whole host of specific types of malicious software like Trojans, worms, spyware, and ransomware. Another critical difference between the two is that viruses are usually known threats that have been weaponized by cybercriminals to exploit data or for online scams, whereas malware uses newer, more experimental infiltration techniques that may be difficult to detect.

In a word, yes. Because Android operates off of Google’s open-source platform, these devices are especially susceptible to attack. You should also consider the increasing amount of information your smartphone now has access to, from your credit card number to a litany of passwords. All of that information could quickly get into the wrong hands either through theft or the wrong click on a spammy website.

Security protections can bog down your speed and cause a drain on your battery, so look for lean software that specifically includes optimization programs. These scans help you manage bulky programs or apps by identifying which ones are sucking up your battery juice and your bandwidth so you can delete what you don’t use or block it from running in the background.

How we picked the best anti-malware apps for your Android

In addition to scouring the internet for reviews from actual customers and ratings from consumer agencies, we also carefully considered testing results on protection and usability from independent software collectives like AV-Comparatives. See more about our methodology to find out how we ranked the products on this list.


Related articles on SafeWise

Kaz Weida
Written by
Kaz Weida
Kaz is a journalist who covers home security, parenting, and community and child safety. Her work and product testing in the security and safety field spans the past four years. You can find Kaz in HuffPost, SheKnows, Lifehack, and much more. Her degree in education and her background as a teacher and a parent make her uniquely suited to offer practical advice on creating safe environments for your family.

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