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Smartphone antivirus software has become big business in recent years. The Android operating system is under an ever-increasing threat from malware, viruses, and other undesirable programs, and the requirement to protect yourself against these threats Smartphone Viruses Are Real: How To Stay Protected Smartphone Viruses Are Real: How To Stay Protected Read More is now more important than ever.

With so many antivirus apps available and the selection growing on a daily basis, it can be difficult to determine the quality releases from the ineffective ones. In this article, we take a look at some of the best antivirus apps in the Play Store to help you make an informed choice about your coverage.

Avast

It seems that almost any list about antivirus software is obliged to include Avast, and it would be extremely remiss of us to leave it out.

Launched out of Prague in the Czech Republic in 1991, Avast now controls 21.4 percent of the worldwide security vendor market and boasts 233 million active users. It started life as a Windows program but now also has releases available for Mac, Linux, and Android.

As with their desktop versions, the developers of the app operate a freemium model. Nonetheless, the free version should be more than enough for most users. It includes “live” scanning of installed apps, the ability to schedule phone memory and memory card scans, SMS and call blocking, web shields to protect you against spyware and malware-infected links, and the ability to pin-protect up to two apps. If you have a rooted device, you can also manage firewalls. The paid version ($2 per month, $12 per year) adds unlimited pin-protection of apps, ad detectors, remote data recovery, and geo-fencing.

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In terms of threat detection performance, independent security lab AV-TEST said the app detected 100 percent of their 2,950 malware samples in their January 2015 test, beating the industry average of 99.3 percent.

Kaspersky Internet Security

Kaspersky is one of the most well-known and widely trusted names in the antivirus sector. The company was founded in Moscow in 1997, and has gone on to have 300 million users with offerings across all the major platforms Check Your PC Fast & Free With Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool Check Your PC Fast & Free With Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool Sometimes, even when you run professional antivirus software and anti-malware apps, your computer may still start acting a bit screwy - leading you to wonder whether it's possible some new virus somehow made it past... Read More . They made the jump from desktop to Android in 2012 and now provide a solid app that strongly competes with the other mobile-based market leaders.

Their latest Android release finally did away with separate versions from phones and tablets, and is much more streamlined as a result. Like Avast, they operate a freemium model. The free version includes protection against viruses, spyware, and trojans, an antivirus scanner, and anti-theft protection. The $14.95 per year premium version adds real-time protection, cloud protection, SMS anti-phishing protection, and privacy protection.

Drawbacks include the necessity to create a Kaspersky account before you can even open the app and the lack of a white-list.

The January 2015 AV-TEST analysis gave it a 99.9 percent threat detection rate, down from 100 percent in November 2014.

AVG

AVG has been downloaded 100 million times from the Google Play Store and has an average rating of 4.4 from 3.3 million reviews — facts that mean you can be sure you’re going to be protected by using a well-regarded piece of software.

Unlike some of its competitors, the free version comes well-stocked with features, including identification of unsecure device settings, a task killer to identify apps and processes that are eating up your device’s RAM, a full anti-theft suite, and phishing protection. The pro version adds social media protection Are Your Social Friends Infecting You With Malware? Are Your Social Friends Infecting You With Malware? The Internet and social networks are incredible – they allow us to connect with one another in a way we have never been able to before. But in many instances, they also propose a threat.... Read More , “Safe Web Surfing” for the stock browser and Chrome, a battery drain monitor Find out Which Apps Are Killing Your Android Battery Find out Which Apps Are Killing Your Android Battery If you're getting poor battery life on your device, you likely have an app abusing your battery in the background. Find out how to identify those apps and solve your battery problems. Read More and a 3G/4G traffic monitor.

Despite its popularity and impressive range of features, AVG performed below the industry standard in AV-TEST’s January 2015 analysis, with a detection rate of 98.7 percent (0.6 percent below average). The institute also noted that it identified four false positives, something neither of the previous two apps did.

Finally, be aware that they offer separate apps for phone and tablets.

Lookout

Lookout is probably the slickest antivirus app in terms of design and ease of use, and has garnered a huge following as result.

Like most offerings, there is a free and a paid version. The free version comes packaged with anti-malware protection, data backup, a remote locator (which will work even when your battery is dead), and a remotely triggered alarm. The paid version adds a full anti-theft suite, a privacy advisor, and remote data deletion.

The app detected 99.4 percent of 1,460 malware samples in AV-TEST’s independent analysis which is about on-par with the industry average.

Bitdefender Mobile Security and Antivirus

Bitdefender is different from our other four suggestions in that it only offers a paid version. The initial download will give you a 14-day free trial, but thereafter it will cost you $1.49 per month or $14.95 per year.

The money is well spent. Aside from a 100 percent detection score with AV-TEST, they are also at the forefront of innovation; they are one of the only antivirus apps that will already seamlessly sync with Android-based smartwatches, they offer a “Phone Alert” that will alert you when you step too far from your phone to prevent you from leaving it behind, and they use independent testers as part of their development process.

The only drawback we came across was the lack of scheduled scans, meaning you can’t set it to run in the middle of the night when you won’t notice.

Do You Even Need It?

A lot of commentators and analysts are convinced that Android antivirus apps are unnecessary. The modern Android operating system includes vast amounts of stock security, meaning these could apps could all be redundant. The truth is that if you only use the Play Store and install “standard” apps, you are probably safe. Nonetheless, adding third-party peace of mind is certainly a sensible approach, especially if you have a rooted device 6 Key Tips To Avoid Bricking Your Rooted Android Device 6 Key Tips To Avoid Bricking Your Rooted Android Device When you own a rooted Android phone running a custom ROM, you need to take some precautions or risk "bricking" (destroying) your device. Read More or side-load a lot of software How to Download an APK from Google Play to Bypass Restrictions How to Download an APK from Google Play to Bypass Restrictions Need to get your hands on the installable APK file for an app from Google Play? We got you covered. Read More .

What do you think? Have we missed your favorite? What are you experiences with the apps we listed? Do you think Android antivirus apps are a waste of time and money, or do you subscribe to the better-safe-than-sorry viewpoint?

We’d love to hear your thoughts. Let us know your opinions and feedback in the comments below.

  1. Logu
    August 24, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    I am using ESET for more than a year. Really great antivirus for mobile and PC.

  2. Viral talks
    June 25, 2016 at 10:05 am

    you can also check 5 best free antivirus apps for android deviceshttp://www.viralityreal.com/2016/06/best-free-antivirus-apps-for-android-phones-devices.html

  3. Bryan J
    August 7, 2015 at 9:04 pm

    Yeah Dan, like so many others have already said, CM security beats every app this article mentions hands down. Check out a/v comparatives for its real world results. And for all those using clean sweeper and similar optimization apps, all you're doing is killing your battery and making android work twice as hard. I know we've all been trained to clear temp files and keep things from running in the background from so many years of Windows use, but the android os doesn't work that way. It needs those apps stored in your phones memory to achieve optimal performance. I too was using clean sweeper and task managers, until I realized how much more juice I had at the end of the day by not constantly purging everything. I still use CMs data cleaner after a week or so, but that's about it. Oh and cheetah mobile also makes the best backup app available. Migration to a new phone will never be a pita with that app. It backs up everything except your media. And gives you 10gb for life.

  4. George Combey
    July 16, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    Nice and interesting article. I am an avid follower of makeuseof. I have it on my smartphone. I want to suggest that every articles like this, which lists the Best, should have a poll so at least readers can right away vote as well as comment. This way, we can have an idea which is the most favored.

  5. Steven
    May 23, 2015 at 6:23 am

    I think CM SECURITY is missing from the list.
    One of the top antivirus app.

  6. Dan Price
    May 21, 2015 at 3:30 pm

    Sounds like you need a Nokia 3210!

  7. Ron Robert
    May 18, 2015 at 9:37 pm

    I had CM Security, Clean Master and the Battery Saver App. until one day I realized it couldn't be saving battery or anything else because every time I pulled my phone out I was following instructions, procedures and prompts. The CM apps were getting more phone time with me than my BFFs or the hottie I met at the club the weekend before. It was like having a wife and kids in my pocket that needed my attention constantly. Now that I uninstalled all of that crap I feel like a free man again, Ahhh!!!

  8. Rajaram.V
    May 6, 2015 at 6:55 pm

    None of Antivirus applications has capable to alert the user before the harm invading the device. All of the only alert after the down loads of applications and etc. No benefit through keeping Antivirus expect this provides a false feel that their device has been protected.

    • Dan Price
      May 21, 2015 at 3:31 pm

      Thanks Rajaram. You might have gotten yourself a market niche ;)

  9. Anonymous
    May 1, 2015 at 8:48 pm

    Clean Master is very good! It's free on Google Play store.

    • Dan Price
      May 1, 2015 at 8:50 pm

      I like it, but always found the notification ads too annoying to keep using it...

  10. Faith
    May 1, 2015 at 4:23 am

    Another vote for CM Security. It even has a lock screen app and some kind of battery saving wallpaper app that I haven"t tried yet. Yes, the ads are intrusive. That's the cost of a killer set of apps being free. When the ads show up hit the home button. It's not rocket science. *shrug* My only real complain is it's not yet a suite like Eset or Kaspersky.

    • Dan Price
      May 1, 2015 at 7:13 pm

      Cheers Faith. I'm starting to lose count of CM Security votes!

  11. Fufu
    April 29, 2015 at 5:24 am

    None. If you use some common sense and download apps from the Play store you're safe. Even if you do side-load a lot of apps make sure you verify where it's coming from and if it's a trustworthy source. In other words don't download and install apps from some shady site you found in a Google search.

    • Dan Price
      May 1, 2015 at 7:13 pm

      The problem with common sense is that it's not very common (according to some well-known quote - I forget who by)

    • kourt
      May 20, 2015 at 5:01 am

      I agree

  12. Frank
    April 28, 2015 at 11:58 pm

    What about eset?

    • Dan Price
      May 1, 2015 at 7:14 pm

      What makes it stand out for you Frank?

  13. Chris
    April 28, 2015 at 8:00 pm

    360 Security, because not only does it check in real-time, it also removes left over stuff during (incomplete or sloppy) deinstallation, lets you clean your phone (caches, thumbnails...), boost memory and battery life.

    In that it is similar to Clean Master but much less intrusive with respect to in-app ads.

    • Dan Price
      April 28, 2015 at 8:54 pm

      Yeah, that's the worst thing about Clean Master. They annoyed me too much, I deleted it...

    • Kris
      April 29, 2015 at 2:19 am

      Dan and Chris,

      360 is really decent. I don't run it full time, but if I'm going to be doing anything... questionable, I'll run it before, during and after then uninstall again.

      Clean Master, though... OUCH so much annoyance!

  14. Sanjeet Miranda
    April 28, 2015 at 5:49 pm

    Have been using CM security for quite some time. Love it as it works very well with Clean master, battery saver, RAM cleaner etc (all from the same developer). Has kept my device protected till date.

    • Dan Price
      April 28, 2015 at 8:55 pm

      Thanks for the tip Sanjeet.

  15. Timothy Davis
    April 28, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    I used an AV once on my Nexus 7 (2012), then I rooted and flash 3rd part roms. Never reinstalled an AV since, never had a problem either. I do occasionally sideload apps, nothing that I don't know about, or have researched thoroughly. So I am cautious about what I install.

    • Dan Price
      April 28, 2015 at 8:55 pm

      Not everyone is a wise as you :)

  16. Jack White
    April 28, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    bitdefender has an "Antivirus Free" app that doesnt require a subscription, just FYI. Very lightweight with few features.

    • Dan Price
      April 28, 2015 at 5:11 pm

      Ah, good to know. Thanks for the advice Jack.

  17. FJL
    April 28, 2015 at 12:50 pm

    CM Security and 360 votes here.

    • Dan Price
      April 28, 2015 at 5:11 pm

      Thanks FJL :)

  18. Mota
    April 28, 2015 at 11:32 am

    What Is the Best Antivirus App for Android?

    User is.

    • Chinmay Sarupria
      April 28, 2015 at 12:11 pm

      Completely agree with you. It depends on user and what he do on his phone.

    • Dan Price
      April 28, 2015 at 5:10 pm

      +1

  19. Alfredo Garzia
    April 28, 2015 at 11:22 am

    On my Note 3 Avast made my phone slow, I changed to ESET and it's doing a great job.

    • Dan Price
      April 28, 2015 at 5:10 pm

      Another Eset recommendation... I'm really going to have to try it our aren't I?!

  20. Dmitry
    April 28, 2015 at 9:51 am

    I like PSafe. My second favorite is Eset.

    • Dan Price
      April 28, 2015 at 5:10 pm

      Second recommendation for Eset... Why do you like it?

  21. Deen
    April 28, 2015 at 9:32 am

    One word: Esset. I've used at least 2 of the antivirus reviewed/ recommended above but none compares to Esset. It works silently in the background, doesn't nag or bother you in anyway unless threat is detected...and real threats too, not false positives or whatever you call it.

    • Dan Price
      April 28, 2015 at 5:09 pm

      Thank Deen, that's a new one for me!

    • Deen
      April 29, 2015 at 5:38 am

      Okay, it's ESET, with a single S. My bad! Haha.

  22. John P
    April 28, 2015 at 4:49 am

    2 items...
    1. Trend Micro - Well known AV supplier of multiple platforms including Android.
    2. I would be interested to see a subsequent article on Apps like Clueful and the one from BitDefener whose name escapes me. They purport to review apps (alreasy installed and/or before install) aand validate permissions/ppotential privacy concerns. That area, to me, is the more potentially nefarious than virus issues.

    • Dan Price
      April 28, 2015 at 5:09 pm

      Re: #2 - I agree. It's a sector that can easily be exploited. I'll mention it to the Android editor!

  23. Ray
    April 28, 2015 at 4:29 am

    AMC free has everything you could possibly need and then some! Excellent AV. I reckoned this to everyone, just check it out. You won't be disappointed!

    • Dan Price
      April 28, 2015 at 5:08 pm

      Cheers Ray!

  24. SRQtech
    April 28, 2015 at 3:00 am

    I think you are extremely remiss for not including CM Security in the list. It consistently has the highest ratings.

    • Dan Price
      April 28, 2015 at 5:08 pm

      The highest ratings based on what? AV-TEST? Or in the app store?

    • SRQtech
      April 28, 2015 at 9:33 pm

      Dan, CM Security ranks at or near the top of both. It, along with Clean Master, have kept my GS3 running great for years. Only annoyance is their in app ads - but it's free.

    • SRQtech
      April 28, 2015 at 9:43 pm

      Here's the latest AV-TEST review:http://www.av-test.org/en/antivirus/mobile-devices/android/march-2015/cheetah-mobile-cm-security-2.4-151018/

      Perfect protection & usability scores!

    • SRQtech
      April 28, 2015 at 9:49 pm

      CM Security received the Oscar of the antivirus world for the 7th time

      CM Security ranked #1 by the AV-TEST again!

      CM Security has 9,780,856 users and a 4.7 rating on Google Play Store.

    • Tana
      May 2, 2015 at 4:41 am

      I use CM security and it is great! Doesn't use Much space ans checksyourphone foreverything! Cheetah Mobile is who makes itSpace

  25. m-p{3}
    April 28, 2015 at 12:33 am

    Commen sense.

    - check app permissions
    - avoid installing from unknown sources
    - read reviews

    • Chinmay S
      April 28, 2015 at 10:52 am

      Try to install Adblock Plus from Google Play if you can.

  26. Sameh
    April 27, 2015 at 9:01 pm

    Rooted Phone Here! I use 360 Security. i think it's better than paid ones

    • Dan Price
      April 28, 2015 at 5:07 pm

      You're the second person to recommend it - what do you like about it?

    • Sameh
      April 29, 2015 at 1:31 pm

      It has extra features like Call Filter, Find My Phone, Privacy Manager.
      Best of all it's completely free from a trusted powerful company (qihoo)

    • Thomas Wright
      April 30, 2015 at 7:30 pm

      I don't like360 I installedit on my phone and it fooled meinto uninstalling another AV app on my phone plus when I tried to uninstall 360I discoveredthat it embedded itself as a factory defaultAV app,so it won't uninstall,so I disabled it but wouldlike very much to remove it

  27. Rev. Forrest Brusoe
    April 27, 2015 at 8:32 pm

    I use Comodo Antivirus... I prefer it to any of the others.

    • Dan Price
      April 28, 2015 at 5:07 pm

      Why do you prefer it, Rev?

  28. Andy
    April 27, 2015 at 6:59 pm

    What about trust go? It's awsome with full security features and totally free.

    • Dan Price
      April 28, 2015 at 5:06 pm

      Thanks Andy :)

  29. William
    April 27, 2015 at 6:27 pm

    I heard the argument (Leo Laporte TWIT) that AV is not necessary on an android. Performance, battery life etc. are appreciated. Of course you need to understand when its OK to install apps not from the play store so keep that switch off.

    • Dan Price
      April 28, 2015 at 5:05 pm

      I think it depends how you use your device. As I said, if you only install apps like BBC, CNN, Angry Birds etc, then you're on safe ground.

    • AJ
      April 30, 2015 at 12:19 am

      Waht is cm? Can you and me link?

  30. Keith
    April 27, 2015 at 6:13 pm

    CM Security is really the only way to go. Doesn't take much space and has outdistanced the rest.

    • Dan Price
      April 28, 2015 at 5:05 pm

      Thanks for the tip, Keith.

    • Frank
      April 28, 2015 at 11:55 pm

      Kaspersky or Bitdefender.

    • Third Oracle
      April 29, 2015 at 9:39 pm

      I agree with Keith. CM is very small but mighty. They offer all their apps for free, & I love free. They give you private safe browsing, have Clean Master which cleans up junk (cache mostly), & of course scan & other grest features. They get some complaints because they offer quite a few smaller apps instead of them all being packaged together. However, you can install the Struts or Heartbleed scanners, scan your phone, & then uninstall both when done. I love Free!!
      I also have Trust Go but find it's a CPU hog, & battery hog. But I use it for a loved ones phone security. I use Avast too . Maybe it's overkill but these keep my phone safe.
      Avast let's you earn the "Pro" version by sending texts, or emails to your friends.
      I received about 90 days of Pro protection thus far.
      CM is my favorite for day to day use.
      Thanks for the articles!

    • Chima
      May 1, 2015 at 7:09 am

      Strange that the highest rated antivirus... CM SECURITY AND ANTIVIRUS isn't on the list.

    • Jason Curtis
      May 18, 2015 at 12:45 pm

      CM Security is excellent, lightweight and effective. No impact on battery or performance on Samsung GS4

  31. likefunbuntot
    April 27, 2015 at 5:49 pm

    I've observed that AV apps on Android have a fairly significant impact on battery life, albeit moreso on low and mid-spec devices than on the high end where there's RAM and CPU cores to spare. I think it's a disservice at the moment to suggest that Android devices overwhelmingly need security software in the first place. Resident scanning is mostly just a waste of resources for the overwhelming majority of Android users.
    I have observed Android devices loaded with malware, but they were owned and used by kids who had actually gone through the trouble of side loading hacked applications in the first place. Ironically, two of those devices did have malware on them. It either wasn't found or was deliberately ignored, leading me to the conclusion that this is not a problem for normal humans and also that the security software doesn't work very well in the first place.

    • Dan Price
      April 28, 2015 at 5:04 pm

      Oh I agree, they don't need it if you're not rooted. It all depends how you interact with your device I think...

    • Frank
      April 28, 2015 at 11:54 pm

      It's always going to be Bitdefender, Kaspersky, and Lookout
      I have paid licenses for kaspersky internet security multi-device 2015 from anti-virus4u.com and really like it. can’t breathe without my Android

  32. Steve green
    April 27, 2015 at 5:30 pm

    I use 360 security....on my phone and now also on my nexus7...I have found it to be very good and have always noticed a big difference in performance when I use its boost button .

    • Dan Price
      April 28, 2015 at 5:03 pm

      I didn't know it had a boost button - what exactly does it do?

    • Steve green
      April 28, 2015 at 5:31 pm

      It boost's memory and extends battery life

    • Dan Price
      April 28, 2015 at 8:56 pm

      Sounds excellent. I'm going to check it out.

  33. Rick
    April 27, 2015 at 4:29 pm

    Android has evolved far enough for me that as long as I use a device with a stock or near-stock OS (so that I don't have to remove pre-installed bloatware) I no longer feel it necessary to root. I do, however still sideload an occasional app that I am not entirely trusting of (Show Box for example) so I am still waiting to be authoritatively convinced I don't really need antivirus software. For now I use and like Avast, which I also used on Windows when I was still using it. Still, I would prefer not to use it because it must impact performance. Right now on my Nexus 7 with Android 5.1, Avast is using 260 MB of RAM (more than anything else) and on my Moto G it is using 26 MB of RAM (in the top 3).

    • Dan Price
      April 27, 2015 at 4:47 pm

      I'm not sure about whether anti-virus apps impact performance too much... I suppose they must, but it's hardly noticeable. I use Avast too - you must be a man of good taste :)

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