The Best Anti-malware and Antivirus Protection for Your Android Phone

Keeping your Android safe is a challenge because of its operating system, but these recommended antivirus apps and security suites are up to the task. They’ll address malware on your phone and secure multiple devices to ensure your personal data stays private.
Written by | Updated October 25, 2019
Best Comprehensive Protection
Norton logoNorton Security Premium
  • Lots of extra security features
  • Award-winning malware protection
  • Lots of extra security features
  • Award-winning malware protection
Best Android Security
bitdefender logoBitdefender Total Security
  • Superior Android protection
  • Cross-platform protection
  • Superior Android protection
  • Cross-platform protection
Most Affordable
McAfee logoMcAfee AntiVirus Plus
  • Strong anti-phishing protection
  • Affordable security for up to 10 devices
  • Strong anti-phishing protection
  • Affordable security for up to 10 devices

The Bottom Line

Our top picks for the best antivirus app provide real-time protection for your Android phone with premium features like on-demand scans. We’ve focused on solutions that not only excel at mobile security but also serve as virus protection across multiple platforms, including PCs, Macs, Android smartphones or tablets, and iOS operating systems. While you can buy stand-alone security products for your smartphone, we recommend taking advantage of bundled suites to get the best value and protection for all your devices.

Our recommendations have strong malware and antivirus protection coupled with anti-theft features that are essential for mobile devices like app lock and device tracking. But our top three picks go a step beyond with extras that can protect your Android device from unsecured Wi-Fi connections and offer additional bells and whistles like call blocking and VPN protection.

Compare the Top Anti-malware and Antivirus Apps for Android

Product Image
Product Name
Devices Supported
On-Demand Scans
VPN Protection
Best Comprehensive Protection
Best Android Security
Most Affordable
kaspersky logo avast logo AVG logo
Norton Security Premium Bitdefender Total Security McAfee AntiVirus Plus Kaspersky Security Cloud Avast Ultimate AVG Internet Security Unlimited
10 5 10 3 or 5 Varies Unlimited

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes
X
No

Yes

Yes
X
No
View on Amazon View on Amazon View on Amazon Visit Kaspersky Visit Avast View on Amazon

Data effective 4/18/2019. Offers and availability subject to change.

Reviews: Best Anti-malware Apps for Your Android

Norton Security Premium: Best Comprehensive Protection

If you’re looking for the full menu of features that antivirus protection software can provide, Norton 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. 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.

Pros

  • Advanced VPN protection
  • Online backup storage
  • Virus protection promise
  • Dark web monitoring
  • Password manager
  • Parental controls
  • Webcam security

Cons

  • No call blocking for Android
  • Moderate system slowdown
  • More expensive price

Bitdefender Total Security: Best Android Protection

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.

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.

Pros

  • Remote control and monitoring
  • Parental controls
  • Robust anti-theft features
  • Superior ransomware protection
  • Password manager
  • VPN protection

Cons

  • Poor ratings for iOS security
  • Higher price

McAfee AntiVirus Plus: Most Affordable

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.

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.

Pros

  • Excellent anti-phishing protection
  • Solid ransomware protection
  • Very affordable per device
  • Kid mode

Cons

  • Lackluster Mac protection
  • Minimal iOS features

More Anti-malware Apps That Are Worth a Look

avast logo

Avast Ultimate has better than average ratings for antivirus performance and several unique features like a webcam shield. Its automatic updates are also impressively unobtrusive, allowing scans and critical updates to run in the background with minimal distraction. But Avast charges additional costs for some of these features on top of their entry-level product, and they can add up fast if you’re not careful. In fact, you’ll have to purchase the mobile security product for Android separately, which can be a bummer for your wallet.

kaspersky logo

With a 99% detection rate, Kaspersky Security Cloud knocks the basics out of the park in malware and antivirus protection. It also performs admirably in anti-phishing and is packed with anti-theft features. To be clear, the only reason Kaspersky’s Security Cloud isn’t heading up our top three security picks is its limited availability in the United States from major suppliers like Best Buy and Amazon and its heftier plans covers only three or five devices.

AVG logo

One of the significant advantages of AVG Unlimited is that it lives up to its name, providing security for an unlimited number of devices across most platforms. It does a solid job specifically on Android mobile protection and offers encrypted storage. Where AVG falters is in security measures for Mac and iOS devices and with some flaws in their approach to secure browsing and screening for malicious websites.

Things to Consider before You Buy

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.

FAQs 

What’s the difference between anti-malware and antivirus protection?

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.

Does my Android phone really need protection?

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.

Will antivirus protection kill the battery life on my Android device?

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 Smartphone

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 and the Independent IT-Security Institute. See more about our methodology to find out how we ranked the products on this list.

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. Learn more

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