Updated on: May 1, 2022
Short on time? Here’s the best antivirus app for Android in 2022:
I downloaded, installed, and tested all of the most popular Android antivirus apps in the Google Play Store to find the best protection for both my smartphone and my tablet. Unfortunately, I quickly learned that most Android antivirus apps are really bad — failing to detect sophisticated or new malware, significantly reducing battery life, or even harvesting user data for advertisers.
But, there are also some really good internet security apps in the Google Play Store that offer a broad range of useful features, such as:
- Real-time malware protection.
- Anti-phishing & web attack protection.
- Virtual private network (VPN).
- Anti-theft protection.
- Parental controls.
After weeks of testing, I’m confident in saying that these 5 apps are the best of the best, and they can be downloaded and installed onto almost all Android smartphones and tablets (Chromebook users can look here for my favorite Chromebook-compatible apps in the Google Play Store).
Quick summary of the best Android antivirus apps in 2022:
- 1.🥇 Norton — Best Android antivirus of 2022.
- 2.🥈 Bitdefender — Best for lightweight scanning (with an excellent VPN).
- 3.🥉 McAfee — Best for web protection (with a good Wi-Fi scanner).
- 4. TotalAV — Best for device optimization.
- 5. Avira — Good privacy protection.
- Comparison of the best Android antivirus apps.
- How to choose the best Android antivirus app for you.
- Top brands that didn’t make the cut.
- Frequently asked questions about Android antiviruses.
1. 🥇Norton — #1 Overall Pick for Best Android Antivirus of 2022
Norton Mobile Security is a comprehensive internet security app with a reliable anti-malware scanner and a lot of additional features. During my tests, I ran Norton’s malware scanner against a wide range of Android malware files, including viruses, worms, spyware, and ransomware, and it removed 100% of the malware files from my Android device after a scan that took just a couple of minutes. Norton was installed on my phone for more than 2 weeks, and during all that time, it ran quietly in the background without draining my battery or slowing down my device.
In addition to malware scanning, Norton also includes more security features than almost any competitor. Norton has:
- App advisor.
- Anti-phishing protection.
- Wi-Fi monitoring.
- Identity theft protection (US only).
I really like Norton’s app advisor feature that scans apps in the Google Play Store and warns you about malicious apps before you download them to your Android device. Norton’s anti-phishing protection is also very good — it blocked the vast majority of the phishing and risky sites I tried opening, including some very sketchy shopping sites.
US users will also appreciate Norton’s built-in identity theft monitor, which can track a wide variety of personally identifying information (PII) — such as emails, social security numbers, credit card numbers, ID numbers, and addresses.
Norton’s Android VPN is ok, but it could be better. It maintained fast speeds in my tests, allowing me to browse the internet without issues, but there was some buffering when I watched video content. When it comes to streaming, the VPN is hit or miss — I could access Netflix and Amazon Prime, but Hulu and Disney+ detected I was using a VPN and blocked me from accessing their libraries. Overall, Norton’s VPN isn’t bad, but if you want a really good Android VPN that maintains blazing-fast speeds and works with all streaming sites, I recommend standalone providers like ExpressVPN.
Norton Mobile Security covers one Android device, but if you also need protection for PC, Mac, or iOS, then Norton’s premium bundles are a great option. Norton’s internet security suites start at $29.99 / year and are all covered by a generous 60-day money-back guarantee.
Norton Mobile Security is a reliable Android antivirus with tons of additional security features. Its antivirus scanner is one of the best on the market, detecting 100% of the malware during testing. I’m also a big fan of Norton’s anti-phishing protection and US-only identity theft monitor, but I think its VPN could be better. Norton 360 is available for mobile users as a standalone app or bundled with Norton’s desktop antivirus packages, and there’s a generous 60-day money-back guarantee on all of Norton’s plans.
2.🥈 Bitdefender — Lightweight Malware Scanner with a Fast VPN
Bitdefender Mobile Security provides a lightweight antivirus app for Androids with tons of helpful features. Bitdefender’s cloud-based scanning engine uses machine learning to detect the latest malware threats — when I tested the scanner, it removed all of the malware from my phone and tablet in just a few minutes. And the real-time protection blocked every piece of malware I tried downloading to my devices.
Bitdefender also comes with really good anti-phishing protection. It was able to detect a handful of phishing sites that browsers like Chrome and Firefox failed to flag in my testing. Bitdefender’s anti-phishing protection is also more accurate than most competitors.
One of my favorite things about Bitdefender’s Android app is the VPN. During my tests, I was able to stream HD video with no interruptions when I was connected to a local server in the US, and I experienced only minor lag when I connected to a distant server in Europe.
While the free version of the VPN only offers 200 MB of daily data, and automatically selects the closest server to you, upgrading to Bitdefender’s paid VPN gives you unlimited data and access to 30 servers around the world. Unfortunately, Bitdefender’s VPN was unable to access popular streaming sites like Netflix in my testing.
Bitdefender Mobile Security also comes with good anti-theft features, an app lock, and data breach scanning, and it’s a good choice for users that just need protection for one Android device. If you’re looking for PC, Mac, or iOS coverage as well, Bitdefender’s Total Security ($36.00 / year) package covers up to 5 devices, whereas Premium Security ($69.99 / year) covers up to 10 devices and adds a VPN without data limitations.
Bitdefender Mobile Security provides lightweight and effective antivirus protection for Androids, along with some great extra features. Bitdefender’s malware scanner scored 100% in my device scanning and real-time protection testing. I also really like Bitdefender’s VPN, which provides 200 MB of daily data usage (however, most users will need to upgrade to the paid VPN, which provides unlimited data). You can buy Bitdefender as a standalone Android app, or get it as part of the Bitdefender Total Security or Premium Security bundles. There’s a 30-day money-back guarantee on all of Bitdefender’s subscriptions.
🥇3. McAfee — Best Android Web Protections
McAfee Mobile Security provides excellent malware protection, along with some of the best web protections on the market today. McAfee’s scanner was able to detect all of the malware files I downloaded to my Android tablet, but the scanning process affected my battery life much more than Norton or Bitdefender.
McAfee’s Android app also comes with excellent anti-phishing protection that blocks risky or malicious sites and downloads. It also has a Wi-Fi scanner that analyzes networks for security issues and alerts you if you connect to an unsecured hotspot. There’s also dark web monitoring and/or identity theft protection, depending on the region, as well as a secure VPN that keeps your online traffic private (and is able to access Netflix).
McAfee Mobile Security is a good but somewhat pricey option for users looking to protect only their Android device, but if you want coverage for 5 or 10 devices across all operating systems, I recommend you take a look at McAfee’s low-cost internet security suites, which start at $49.99 / year and come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
McAfee is a secure antivirus app for Android with an excellent set of web protections. McAfee’s malware scanner is excellent at detecting and removing malware, the anti-phishing protection blocks all risky sites, and the dark web monitoring notifies you in case your sensitive data is leaked in a data breach. There’s a 30-day money-back guarantee on all of McAfee’s plans.
4. TotalAV — Best Device Optimization for Old or Slow Androids
TotalAV’s Android antivirus provides secure anti-malware protection, good additional features, and excellent device optimization tools. TotalAV detected 99% of the spyware, ransomware, viruses, and worms on my Android device during testing, but the real-time scanner did affect my phone’s battery more than Norton.
TotalAV’s device optimization tools scanned my tablet for duplicates, junk, and cache files — the app cleaned up over 5 GB of much-needed disk drive space. It also helped me significantly speed up my processing power by identifying and deleting CPU-draining apps.
TotalAV includes a few more decent security features:
- Anti-phishing protection.
- Secure browser.
- App locker.
- Data breach monitoring.
TotalAV’s VPN provides access to almost 100 servers around the world, comes with a kill switch and a no-logs policy, works with streaming sites, and maintains very fast speeds — it’s better than both Norton and Bitdefender’s VPN, ranking #1 on our list of the best antiviruses with VPNs. The anti-phishing protection and secure browser (which uses DuckDuckGo’s secure search technology) are also very helpful and intuitive additions to TotalAV’s security protections.
TotalAV Mobile Security is available as a standalone purchase, or bundled with any of TotalAV’s internet security suites, which start at $29.00 / year and provide excellent antivirus protection for PC, Mac, Android, and iOS.
TotalAV for Android has good anti-malware protection and excellent device optimization tools. TotalAV’s antivirus scanner detected all of the malware in my testing, but the real-time protection drained my battery. TotalAV’s device cleanup tools removed 5GB of junk files from my devices, improving their speed and performance. There’s a 30-day money-back guarantee on all of TotalAV’s plans.
5. Avira — Good Privacy Protection
Avira Antivirus Security for Android provides a fast cloud-based malware scanner alongside a vast array of features for Android users. Avira’s malware scanner detected all of the malware files in my testing, but I was a bit disappointed with how quickly it drained my battery during scans.
Here are Avira’s additional features:
- Anti-phishing protections.
- Breach monitoring.
- System tune-up tools.
All of Avira’s security features are well-designed, but I like the VPN and system tune-up tools the most. The VPN is very intuitive, and it’s one of my top choices for torrenting, whereas the system tune-up tools are excellent for clearing memory and storage.
Avira’s Android app is a good choice for protecting one Android device, but if you’re looking for cross-platform protection for a lot of different devices (including Android, PC, Mac, & iOS), the Avira Prime package is a much better value — it covers up to 5 devices for $59.99 / year.
Avira Antivirus Security for Android is a full-featured antivirus app for Androids, with more features than most competing brands. Avira detected the majority of the malware in my testing, and its anti-phishing protection, system tune-up tools, and VPN are all good. Avira offers a 60-day money-back guarantee on all of its yearly plans.
Comparison of the Best Android Antivirus Apps
|Android Antivirus||Malware Detection Rate||VPN||Extra Features||Free Version||Money-back Guarantee|
|1.🥇Norton||100%||Yes (unlimited browsing data)||App advisor, Wi-Fi scanning||No||60 days|
|2.🥈Bitdefender||100%||Yes (200 MB/day; upgrade available)||Anti-theft features, an app lock, data breach scanning||Yes||30 days|
|3.🥉 McAfee||100%||Yes (unlimited browsing data)||Wi-Fi scanner, dark web monitoring||Yes||30 days|
|4. TotalAV||99%||Yes (unlimited browsing data)||System optimization tools, app locker, data breach monitoring||Yes||30 days|
|5. Avira||100%||Yes (100 MB/day; upgrade available)||System tune-up tools||Yes||60 days|
How to Choose the Best Android Antivirus App for You
- Malware detection. The Google Play Store is littered with apps containing data-stealing malware. I tested each app on this list to ensure it’s capable of fully protecting Android devices against a wide range of threats — including ransomware, spyware, viruses, and other malware.
- Internet security. In addition to an advanced antivirus scanner, a good Android app should have a wide range of cybersecurity tools, such as web protection, Wi-Fi scanning, or a VPN. All of the brands on this list provide at least one of these tools, and some (like Norton) have all of them.
- Ease of use. You want an Android app that’s easy to set up and use, with intuitive settings and accessible extra features. All of the brands on this list are very user-friendly, but TotalAV is the most intuitive.
- Extra features. Beyond virus scanning and web protection, the apps listed here include additional protections, like system optimization tools, anti-theft protections, and parental controls.
- Value. You should look at the cost of each product and compare it with its included security features to find which apps meet all of your needs and offer the best value.
Top Brands That Didn’t Make the Cut:
- Kaspersky. Kaspersky’s Android app provides comprehensive security features, but it’s more expensive than other Android apps that offer similar features.
- Sophos. Sophos offers decent antivirus tools for many users. And while the Sophos Android app is pretty good in terms of features, the interface isn’t as intuitive and easy to use as the other apps on this list.
- Avast/AVG. Avast (which also owns AVG) has been caught stealing and selling user data. We don’t recommend Avast/AVG on this website anymore. You can read more about the allegations and our decision here.
Frequently Asked Questions — Android Antivirus Apps
Do I need an antivirus on my Android?
Yes! And now that you know you need one, it’s important to understand why you need an antivirus on your Android. Hackers specifically target Android devices for two reasons:
- Android’s built-in security is not nearly as good as iOS’s.
- Android users think they can “get by” without downloading an antivirus.
Android’s open-source, developer-friendly design makes it an exciting platform for both creative coders and malicious hackers. Ransomware, spyware, and crypto-mining attacks have all affected millions of Android users in the last few years, which has resulted in millions of dollars lost, hundreds of thousands of identities stolen, and a shocking amount of computing power given away to hackers.
But now that you know you need an antivirus, you need to choose between potentially losing all of your data or getting a secure antivirus app. My top choice is Norton, but all of the apps on this list offer excellent protection for Android devices.
Which Android antivirus is the best?
It depends on what you need. My favorite is Norton’s Android app — including real-time scanning, phishing protection, an app advisor, Wi-Fi monitoring, a VPN, and identity theft protections for US users.
But all of the other Android antiviruses on this list are good, too. Bitdefender offers a really fast VPN, McAfee has high-end web protections, TotalAV has great device optimization tools and is very easy to use, and Avira offers some pretty good privacy protections.
Will an Android antivirus slow down my device?
It depends on the app. While some are more lightweight than others, all 5 on this list are highly efficient and won’t significantly affect performance.
If you’re running a slow or old Android, TotalAV might help you clean it up and make it run faster. And Bitdefender’s antivirus engine is based on the cloud, so it doesn’t occupy any device CPU during scanning.
What’s the best free Android antivirus app?
Avira and McAfee offer pretty good free Android antiviruses, but their free offerings don’t include all of the protections you need to ensure your device is 100% protected against all Android threats.
There are a few other free Android antivirus apps out there, but most of them are missing some essential security features. Buying all of the necessary protections individually will get expensive, especially when many cybersecurity companies lock their VPNs behind a really expensive paid subscription plan.