Malware, adware, fake applications, scams: these are just some of the dangers that your Android device can find every time you install something new.
The solution is simple, at least in theory. Independent tests show that the best antivirus applications do a great job to keep you safe and regularly block 100% of test threats.
The problem is to decide which application to use, because although there are hundreds, many are very inaccurate and some can be malicious.
The AV Comparatives 2018 safety report gives an idea of the extent of this problem. The company tested more than 200 applications, and although many had a good performance, 79 detected less than 30% of the same malware, or regularly generated false alarms with popular clean files. That suggests that about four out of ten of the antivirus products you find on the Play Store are so poor that AV Comparatives found them unsafe or even deceptive.
It is important to choose your security applications with extreme care, then. To help you, this article will highlight five of Android’s best and most trusted free antivirus applications, as evaluated by our own experience and the results of AV-Comparatives and AV-Test evaluations.
Top 5 best free antivirus for Android:
1. Avast Mobile Security
Top-level protection for your Android device
Avast Mobile Security is one of the most popular Android security solutions, with more than 100 million installations registered on Google Play and an impressive rating of 4.5 applications.
Avast has always had a good track record of accuracy, but it’s even better since the company acquired AVG in 2016 and the applications have been updated to include the best of both product ranges. As a result, both AV Test and AV Comparatives regularly show that Avast Mobile Security detects 100% of its test threats.
Avast Mobile Security has a robust set of features that cover mostly the basics, with scanning of applications and files, a web shield to detect and block dangerous links, and Wi-Fi monitoring to verify the security of a network while connecting .
Additional security and optimization tools include a call blocker, a vault to protect access to personal photos, cleanup of junk files to free up storage space and an energy-saving feature that adjusts system settings to extend the duration of Battery.
The free application has ads, but you can update to remove them and add premium extras like anti-theft, blocking applications and the ability to contact support directly from the application.
- Excellent results in independent tests
- Many functions
- Ad supported
2. Avira Antivirus Security 2018
Protect your device with this precise application
Avira may be best known for its free PC antivirus software, but the company also offers products on Android, with Avira Antivirus Security 2018 offering excellent malware removal performance for millions of users around the world.
A comprehensive antivirus engine scans applications in the installation, as well as their updates and your external storage to look for threats. Independent tests show that Avira regularly detects 100% of malware samples.
Avira also claims that its specialized anti-ransomware protection blocks millions of ransomware attacks every month.
An identity protection feature scans the web for clues that your email address has been leaked in a data breach, generating an alert if it detects a problem. It is a welcome extra that you will not normally see in other free antivirus applications.
The bonus features include anti-theft tools and some practical reports on the privacy risks of your installed applications, while a web management console allows you to configure settings remotely or manage multiple devices equipped with Avira from one place.
Put it all together and Avira Antivirus Security 2018 offers complete and versatile protection for a free application, although there are a couple of problems that can persuade you to upgrade to the paid version. The free application does not block infected or phishing websites at the browser level, and updates are not as frequent as with the commercial edition, leaving you fractionally more exposed to zero-day threats.
- Excellent detection rates
- Remote device management
- No blocking of browser-level sites
3. Bitdefender Antivirus Free
Reliable malware detection from a market leader
The Bitdefender antivirus engine is one of the most accurate and reliable, and regularly tops the detection rate lists of independent testing labs.
For example, the company achieved a second place in the Real-World Protection tests of AV Comparatives from July to November 2017, just behind Panda, but surpassing big names like Kaspersky, Avira and Avast.
Normally, you can expect to pay a price premium for this level of security, but Bitdefender Antivirus Free gives you free and uncomplicated access to the same industrial-strength antivirus engine as your commercial cousins.
Bitdefender’s autopilot technology ensures that the application is extremely easy to use, since most security decisions are handled automatically. New applications are scanned as they are downloaded, for example, they detect any threat before they can damage your device.
Detection takes place in the cloud, an intelligent design decision that reduces CPU usage, avoids the need to download and store bulky antivirus definitions and ensures that the application will detect the latest threats as soon as they appear.
Bitdefender Antivirus Free has some limits, as expected. In particular, it does not include real-time scanning of Bitdefender Mobile Security websites to detect and block phishing and other malicious sites. However, you can always install another application to handle the navigation protection, and as a pure antivirus application, Bitdefender Antivirus Free is hard to beat.
- Precise antivirus engine
- Block threats automatically
- Real-time web pages are not scanned
4. Norton Security and Antivirus
Latest generation malware detection
Norton from Symantec is probably best known for its Windows security software, but the brand also has some quality mobile applications, and Norton Security and Antivirus for Android do a great job of keeping it free of malware.
The heart of the application is based on Norton’s Mobile Insight, a powerful service that has analyzed millions of applications and adds thousands of new applications every day. Mobile Insight not only searches for known malware, but uses multiple scanning techniques to detect new threats and possible privacy risks in legitimate applications, and Norton uses this information to warn you about dangerous applications before they can cause problems.
The results are often impressive, with Norton detecting 100% of the sample threats in the recent AV Comparatives test of more than 200 Android security applications.
Norton Security and Antivirus also has what appears to be a robust set of anti-theft features, including the ability to block, erase or locate a stolen device remotely via SMS.
The main limitation here is the lack of navigation protection. You can avoid dangerous websites to some extent by using Norton’s secure search tool, but the full SafeWeb filter, the excellent Norton website reputation technology, is only available in the premium paid edition.
- Warns about privacy risks
- Main qualifications of the test laboratories
- No browser filtering at the browser level
5. Sophos Mobile Security
A full-featured security suite, without ads or restrictions
Sophos, based in the United Kingdom, is an experienced security company that has developed antivirus solutions since 1985. It has spent most of its life working on products for companies, but the company has also diversified into the consumer market, which allows you to try many of their technologies for free.
Sophos Mobile Security is a very complete security application that offers everything you need to keep your Android phone safe, without ads, annoying restrictions or constant update demands.
Malware protection includes automatic scanning of applications as they are installed and an option to schedule application scans and storage. The results are as reliable as it will be anywhere, both AV Test and AV Comparatives report a 100% detection rate for Sophos in its latest Android security tests.
The application also has good ratings for navigation protection, with intelligent blocking of malicious URLs and a secure QR code scanner to prevent them from directing you to dangerous sites.
There are enough extra extras to replace a library of security applications: anti-theft and remote control through SMS messages; password protection for sensitive applications; advisors to make smart suggestions of privacy and security; protection against spam to block unwanted calls; a password manager compatible with KeePass and a managed mode that allows all devices equipped with Sophos to be monitored and managed from a central location.
Sophos Mobile Security detects malware based on virus definitions that are updated once a day. That’s not as effective as the free definition products like Bitdefender Free Antivirus, because they detect threats in the cloud, which guarantees that you are protected against the latest dangers as soon as they are discovered.
However, Sophos’ 100% malware detection rate in the tests suggests that you will not see many improvements elsewhere, especially when you take into account their additional layers of security. Well worth trying.
- A complete security suite
- First level malware detection
- It is based on daily definitions updates