Updated on: June 1, 2023
Short on time? Here’s the best free Android antivirus in 2023:
- 🥇 Norton. It’s the best Android antivirus on the market — detecting and removing all Android malware and sketchy apps, blocking phishing sites, and offering extras like Wi-Fi monitoring, a VPN, and identity theft protection. It’s not 100% free, but it has a 14-day free trial, and if you get it as part of Norton’s multi-device plans, you can try it for 60 days risk-free.
I tested all of the free antivirus apps in the Google Play Store — after weeks of testing, I only found a few products which I’m confident can keep Androids well-protected against malware.
Most of the free Android antivirus apps I tested were ineffective against malware, filled with annoying ads, or falsely advertised as free — a lot of “free” apps are really just free trials or very limited versions of the premium apps. Some were even fake apps designed to harvest user data! While I did find a few good free apps, no free app is going to provide all of the security tools you need to keep your Android 100% safe. If you’re looking for an antivirus that can fully protect you and your devices, you’ll need a premium product (I recommend Norton’s fantastic Android app).
But if you only need basic protection, there are a few free Android apps that are pretty good — offering free real-time or on-demand virus scanning, free anti-theft protections, and a handful of good extra features to strengthen your Android’s mobile security.
Quick summary of the best free Android antivirus apps in 2023:
- 1.🥇 Norton — Best overall Android antivirus app (up to 60 days risk-free).
- 2.🥈 TotalAV — Great web protection + data breach scanner.
- 3.🥉 McAfee — Advanced antivirus with a good Wi-Fi scanner.
- 4. Bitdefender — Excellent malware scanner + great low-cost premium plan.
- 5. Panda Dome — Good anti-theft protection + smartwatch compatibility.
- Plus 5 more free Android antivirus apps.
- Comparison of the Best Free Android Antivirus Apps.
🥇1. Norton Mobile Security — Advanced Cybersecurity Protections for Android
Norton Mobile Security is hands-down my favorite Android antivirus app in 2023. It offers advanced malware protection and more internet security protections than almost any competitor — but it’s not free. However, you can try all of Norton’s premium mobile features with a 14-day free trial or 60-day money-back guarantee, depending on whether you get the standalone app or one of Norton’s advanced internet security suites.
To keep your Android safe from malicious apps, Norton scans apps before you download them to your device and alerts you in case the apps in question contain viruses and malware. It also scans all of the existing apps on your device and flags apps that collect too much sensitive data, use too much data or battery, or in any other way present a risk to your device or data.
In my tests, Norton’s Android app detected all of the risky apps I had previously installed on my Samsung Galaxy, and it also notified me which of my apps were a privacy risk. Plus, its anti-phishing protection blocked the vast majority of phishing and malicious links I attempted to open on my phone’s browser (it flagged more risky sites than almost any other competitor). I also really like Norton’s Safe Search feature, which highlights dangerous links before you can access them.
Norton’s Android app also comes with good Wi-Fi protection — it warns you of any unsecured Wi-Fi networks, and includes a secure VPN. Norton’s VPN protects your browsing data with 256-bit AES encryption, maintains fast speeds across most servers, and is able to access most streaming sites. It also has full protection against DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6 leaks. Overall, the VPN is pretty good for an antivirus-bundled VPN, but there are better options out there (if you’re willing to invest in a premium standalone VPN, I recommend ExpressVPN).
Norton Mobile Security is available as a standalone purchase (or as part of Norton’s excellent internet security suites). The standalone app costs $14.99 / year and covers just 1 Android device, whereas Norton 360 Deluxe covers up to 5 devices across all operating systems for only $49.99 / year (and is our #1 antivirus suite in 2023). US users should also consider Norton’s LifeLock plans that add identity theft protection and up to $1 million in insurance. The mobile app comes with a 14-day free trial, and all of Norton’s internet security suites are backed by a generous 60-day money-back guarantee.
Norton provides the most comprehensive cybersecurity app for Android users — it isn’t just capable of removing all Android malware, but it also scans apps in the Google Play Store before download, ensuring your device doesn’t get infected in the first place. Plus, it comes with useful extras like anti-phishing protection, Wi-Fi security, a VPN, and dark web monitoring. Norton’s Android app is available as a standalone purchase or as part of Norton’s 360 Deluxe and LifeLock plans.
🥈2. TotalAV — Great Web Protection & Data Breach Scanning
TotalAV Mobile Security for Android offers very good web protection and a decent range of additional features, even in the free version. The app is also incredibly easy to use, with an intuitive interface that’s perfect for first-time users.
TotalAV’s WebShield feature is very good. I tested it by attempting to access malicious sites, including verified phishing sites, in the Google Chrome browser app. I was very impressed at how TotalAV blocked every single malicious link I clicked on.
Here are the additional features TotalAV offers for free:
- Wi-Fi checker.
- Data breach scanning.
- Secure browser.
The data breach scanner worked well in my tests — I entered my personal email address and found it had been leaked in 19 data breaches — but it’s nowhere near as advanced as Norton’s breach detection, which actively scans for all kinds of leaked data, including email addresses, home addresses, phone numbers, passports and ID cards, and more.
I like TotalAV’s secure browser, which is powered by DuckDuckGo’s secure search technology. It’s a privacy-friendly search engine that lets you avoid cookies and other trackers. I especially like how customizable it is — you can set up your preferred search location and language, filter your results by country and time period, and choose whether or not to use Safe Search filters to block explicit content.
The free version of TotalAV is decent, but if you’re looking for more advanced protections, it’s definitely worth trying the premium version, which enables access to all features including an unlimited-data VPN, real-time malware scanning, malicious app protection, and app locking (adding an extra layer of privacy to apps that include private information).
TotalAV Mobile Security Premium at $19.00 / year, but you can also get Android protection with one of TotalAV’s multi-device packages. TotalAV Total Security covers up to 6 devices, including Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac, for only $49.00 / year. All of TotalAV’s annual plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
TotalAV offers a great range of free Android protections, including advanced web protection, a secure browser, and a data breach scanner. The web protection and secure browser are very effective, and the data breach scanner works well. While TotalAV’s free offering is good, the premium version offers a wider range of features, including a VPN, real-time protection, and malicious app protection.
Read the full TotalAV review >
🥉3. McAfee Total Protection — Excellent Antivirus Protection With Wi-Fi Scanning
McAfee Total Protection offers advanced malware protection, an app privacy scanner, a really good Wi-Fi scanner, and more. While it isn’t free, McAfee offers a free 30-day trial with access to all of its premium plan features and also provides a 30-day money-back guarantee.
The app privacy scanner provides information on all of the apps you have installed on your phone. This is similar to Norton, although McAfee’s privacy scanner is a little less in-depth. The Wi-Fi scanner — which analyzes Wi-Fi networks for security — performed really well in all tests. It alerted me whenever I wanted to connect to an unsecured public network so I could switch to a safe network.
McAfee offers a VPN with unlimited data when you sign up for auto-renewal (you get 500 MB per month without it). The VPN has servers located in 45+ countries, includes a one-click, quick-connect tool, maintains fast speeds, and works with Netflix and Amazon Prime (but not Disney+). It’s powered by top standalone VPN TunnelBear, which has a no-logs policy that’s been independently audited and confirmed. However, McAfee is missing extra features like split-tunneling and an ad blocker (unlike Norton’s VPN).
You also get excellent dark web monitoring, which covers up to 10 email addresses, passwords, credit card numbers, date of birth, and passport number. I like how McAfee will walk you through the steps to resolve any data breaches and show you how to prevent future threats.
McAfee’s paid Android app is a bit more expensive than some competitors’ premium apps, so I recommend getting it with one of McAfee’s Total Protection plans. The premium internet security suites start at $39.99 / year, making McAfee one of the best-value antivirus packages of 2023. Total Protection Plus includes coverage for up to 5 devices, whereas the Premium and Advanced plans cover unlimited devices across all operating systems. All McAfee purchases are backed by a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.
McAfee provides real-time malware scanning, Wi-Fi network monitoring, web protection, dark web monitoring, and a VPN. The scanner detected all malicious files and apps I downloaded to my phone, and the Wi-Fi scanner alerted me every time I wanted to connect to an unsecured network. The dark web monitoring is also excellent, and the VPN is powered by TunnelBear, one of the best standalone VPNs on the market. You can also get the premium Android app as part of McAfee’s Total Protection packages, which provide coverage for either 5 or an unlimited number of devices. All of McAfee’s paid plans have a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read the full McAfee review here >
4. Bitdefender — Easy to Use With Excellent Malware Protection
Bitdefender Antivirus Free is an intuitive app that comes with excellent malware detection. Its one-tap antivirus scanner performed very well in my tests, identifying and removing the majority of the malware I’d previously downloaded to my phone. Only the top-rated services like Norton provided a more comprehensive scan and clean on my device.
However, Bitdefender Antivirus Free only comes with a malware scanner and not much else, whereas the premium app comes with a variety of impressive features, including web and phishing protection, data breach monitoring, and anti-theft protections.
I really like Bitdefender’s premium anti-theft protections — if your phone is stolen, you can remotely lock it, wipe all your data, locate it on a map, and even take a photo of the thief.
Bitdefender’s free app is very good, but the premium app provides a much better value. Mobile Security can be purchased as a standalone app, but you can also get it as part of the Bitdefender Total Security package (which covers Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac devices for $35.99 / year), or the Bitdefender Premium Security plan (for 10 devices), which costs $49.99 / year. Bitdefender’s plans are covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Bitdefender Antivirus Free offers great malware protection, but the premium app also includes web security, anti-theft tools, and more. Bitdefender is very easy to set up and use, making it a really good choice for non-technical users. All premium plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read the full Bitdefender review >
5. Panda Dome Free Antivirus for Android — Good Antivirus Scanning With Great Smartwatch Compatibility
Panda Dome Free Antivirus for Android offers decent antivirus protection, anti-theft features, an app privacy scanner, and a VPN — and most of these features can be operated remotely from an Android Wear smartwatch!
Panda’s real-time scanner detected most malware samples, but not as many as Norton or McAfee. While it missed some samples, I was happy that it identified all ransomware and spyware apps — and I got notifications on my smartwatch every time Panda detected a new piece of malware.
Panda also includes anti-theft features like remote location tracking, data wipe, and device locking. However, its remote selfie camera and alarm features are only available in the paid Android app, which is available as part of Panda’s internet security suites.
Panda Dome also comes with a free VPN, but it only includes 150 MB per day. This is better than Avira, but it’s still barely enough for light browsing.
To get the unlimited version of the VPN, you need to upgrade to Panda’s comprehensive Panda Dome Premium antivirus suite ($53.60 / year). All of Panda’s internet security packages include a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.
Panda’s free Android antivirus app provides real-time malware scanning, anti-theft tools, and convenient compatibility with Android smartwatches. I like that you can perform malware scans, wipe data remotely, and even track your device’s location from a smartwatch. However, you’ll have to upgrade to Panda’s paid Android plan to get remote selfie capture and alarm tools, along with a spam blocker and app-locking tools. Users looking to get a VPN with unlimited data should consider the Panda Dome Premium antivirus package.
TRY PANDA DOME FREE FOR ANDROID NOW
Read the full Panda Dome review >
6. Avira Antivirus Security for Android — Feature-Rich & Easy to Use
Avira Antivirus Security for Android has an excellent virus detection and removal engine. It also comes with a good range of additional security features and is super-easy to use. The free Android app comes with an app privacy scanner, anti-theft protection, a VPN, a data breach scanner, and more.
I really like the privacy scanner. Similar to Norton, it analyzed all of the apps on my device and notified me which ones had access to my contacts, images, and browsing data. I was pretty surprised to find that some free games on my device were actually harvesting my data even when I wasn’t playing them!
Overall, Avira’s free plan is pretty good, but it doesn’t have anti-phishing protection. To get anti-phishing protection as well as microphone and camera protection (not available on Android 10), you need to upgrade to Avira’s premium mobile app.
Avira’s premium mobile protection is also bundled with the Avira Prime antivirus package, which offers coverage for up to 5 devices, including Android, Windows, macOS, and iOS, for $59.99 / year. The Prime package also includes a VPN with no limitations as well as a really good password manager. Avira Prime has a generous 60-day money-back guarantee.
Avira provides the most features of any free Android antivirus — and they’re all very good, easy to use, and work as promised. In addition to malware protection, Avira comes with anti-theft protections, an app privacy scanner, and a Wi-Fi scanner. I also like Avira’s VPN a lot, but 100 MB is a pretty small daily limit. Avira’s paid mobile app adds anti-phishing protection, whereas Avira’s comprehensive Prime package also includes a VPN with no limitations, a password manager, and coverage for multiple devices across all operating systems. Avira’s yearly paid plans all have a risk-free 60-day money-back guarantee.
7. Kaspersky Security & VPN — Intuitive With Decent Virus Scanning
Kaspersky Security & VPN is a decent free internet security app for Android users — and because it only provides a couple of free features, it’s very easy to use. You only need to enable a couple of permissions when you install the app and press the Scan button when you want to check your device for viruses.
Kaspersky provides good malware detection. It caught most of the malware files during my testing, performing just as well as top competitors. It also provides great real-time protection, which was able to stop me from downloading harmful files and suspicious apps. Plus, I really like that you can initiate scans from a smartwatch — but Kaspersky’s smartwatch integration isn’t as good as Panda’s.
It also has free anti-theft protection, which lets you lock your phone and allows you to check its location on the Kaspersky website, your smartwatch, or the Kaspersky desktop app. The anti-theft tools also include remote data wipe, a selfie capture function, and a remote alarm.
The free version of Kaspersky’s VPN works pretty well on Android too. I found the speeds to be decent when I tested it, but it’s a shame it’s limited to 300 MB of data per day. That said, 300 MB is more than Panda or Avira offer on their free plans.
Upgrading to Kaspersky’s premium internet security suites brings you anti-phishing and other tools. The premium multi-device plans start at $41.99 / year and offer coverage for up to 20 devices. Kaspersky backs all purchases with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Kaspersky offers decent free malware detection, anti-theft protections, and a limited VPN, but not much else. To get access to Kaspersky’s good web protections and app locking, plus the unlimited-data VPN, you’ll need to purchase one of Kaspersky’s internet security plans, which all come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
TRY KASPERSKY SECURITY & VPN FOR FREE NOW
Read the full Kaspersky review >
8. Sophos Intercept X for Mobile — Effective Free Antivirus With Customizable Protections
Sophos Intercept X for mobile has a decent malware scanner that offers periodic scheduled scans. The antivirus scanner isn’t quite as effective as some of the top competitors like Norton or Bitdefender, but it works pretty well, and it’s easy to use despite the number of features. That said, Sophos’s web protection is excellent — it detected nearly all of the phishing sites I tried to access.
Along with active malware scanning, Sophos detects potentially unwanted apps (PUAs) and low-reputation apps. It additionally shows scan notifications even for clean apps and monitors your shared storage (SD card, connected USB devices for charges, and all new files). In addition, there’s an app privacy advisor, app protection, a password manager, and a two-factor authenticator code generator.
Sophos Intercept X for Android is completely free, but you can upgrade to Sophos Home Premium ($44.99 / year) to remotely protect all devices connected to your account. Sophos offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on paid plans.
Sophos Intercept X is a good free Android app, and it allows users to keep their devices safe without becoming overwhelmed. Its malware scanner can be set to run periodically, and its various adviser features give you the information needed to keep your phone secure. It also comes with additional features like a two-factor authenticator, a password generator, and an app lock.
TRY SOPHOS INTERCEPT X FOR FREE NOW
9. Trend Micro — Good Malware Scanner + Strong Web Protection
Trend Micro’s free mobile app for Android is pretty limited, but it has a good malware scanner along with a number of other security features, including a Wi-Fi Checker. The malware scanner worked well in my tests, allowing me to find and deal with almost all of the malware I’d downloaded into different folders (its results were about as effective at locating malware as other top brands on this list like Norton and Avira).
The Wi-Fi Checker monitors the safety of your Wi-Fi connection and allows you to choose approved Wi-Fi networks, such as your home network or company’s network. There’s also a Social Network Privacy feature that reviews your privacy settings on sites like Facebook.
Trend Micro offers a number of premium plans (starting from $19.95 / year) that can cover your Android device, including the Maximum Security plan (that will also cover Windows, Mac, iOS, and Chromebook devices). All of its plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Trend Micro’s free Android plan comes with a good malware scanner and Wi-Fi protection. Both features worked well in my tests, detecting all of the malware on my device and alerting me to unsafe Wi-Fi networks, respectively. Upgrading to Trend Micro’s premium internet security plans brings coverage for multiple devices across all operating systems.
Read the full Trend Micro review >
10. Malwarebytes — Intuitive Antivirus With a Few Extras
Malwarebytes’s free Android antivirus has good malware detection rates and a couple of extras. During my tests, the scanner identified more than 95% of malware that I had downloaded to my phone prior to testing, which is great (but competitors like Norton and Avira detected 100% of malware in testing).
Malwarebytes’s scanner works well, but the free version of the app is a bit light on features. It provides security auditing (which analyzes your phone’s system settings), an app manager (which provides info on all of your installed apps), and a privacy checker (which shows the types of access your apps have).
Upgrading to the premium version brings you additional features, like real-time protection, spyware and ransomware protection, and web protection. Users can get Malwarebytes’s premium Android app as part of Malwarebytes Premium or Malwarebytes Premium + Privacy, which cover 1-5 devices across all operating systems. The only difference between the plans is that Premium + Privacy adds a VPN. Malwarebytes starts at $37.49 / year and is covered by a 60-day money-back guarantee.
Malwarebytes is good at detecting malware on Android, and it comes with a couple of additional features that work well. While it’s not as feature-rich as competitors like Avira, it’s very easy to use, and you can get all of its premium features as a standalone purchase or as part of Malwarebytes’s paid internet security packages that are covered by a risk-free 60-day money-back guarantee.
Read the full Malwarebytes review >
Bonus. Avast Security & Privacy — Basic Security for Android + Encrypted Photo Vault
Avast Security & Privacy offers a good range of free features for Android, including a malware scanner, a Wi-Fi network scanner, a junk cleaner, data breach alerts, and a secure vault for your photos. It offers decent protection, but it’s not as feature-rich as top competitors like Norton or TotalAV.
Avast’s free security tools are simple but very effective — the basic system scan only took a few seconds to complete, and it was able to detect all of the malicious apps on my device. I also like the Web Shield feature, which successfully blocked every phishing site I tried to visit; and the Network Inspector tool, which checks Wi-Fi networks for vulnerabilities.
Avast’s Hack Alerts feature provides basic data breach monitoring. It monitors public databases and alerts you if your email is associated with a data breach — but the free version will only monitor one email address.
I like Avast’s Photo Vault feature, which lets you store up to 40 photos that you want to keep private in an encrypted folder. No one can access these images without your PIN or biometric login, so they’re safe even if someone gets hold of your phone or tablet.
Upgrading to premium plans will get you access to more comprehensive features. The Premium plan ($34.68 / year) includes breach monitoring for credit cards and passwords, an unlimited photo vault, automatic malware scans, and app locking. The Ultimate plan ($119.99 / year) adds a VPN. You can also get Avast’s Android app as part of one of its multi-device plans, which start at $31.37 / year and come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Avast Security & Privacy is a decent free option for Android users looking for basic antivirus protection, with a range of features including a malware scanner, Wi-Fi network scanner, junk cleaner, data breach alerts, and photo vault. Avast’s premium plans offer more comprehensive features, and you can get it as a standalone purchase or as part of Avast’s antivirus suites, which are backed by a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read the full Avast review here >
Bonus. AVG Mobile Security — Simple Security Features & Intuitive App
AVG Mobile Security is easy to use and has a good range of free tools, including a malware scanner, Wi-Fi network scanner, data breach alerts, and a photo vault. Both its features and interface are almost identical to Avast because both brands are owned by the same company.
Like Avast, AVG’s free version includes basic but limited protection. The data breach monitoring is limited to one email address, the photo vault is limited to 40 images, and you can’t schedule automatic scans.
AVG’s malware scanner is both fast and thorough — the Deep Scan only took 5 minutes, and it detected every malware sample on my OnePlus device. The only downside is that it detected a few “advanced issues” that I couldn’t fix without upgrading to a premium plan, which is a form of upselling I don’t like.
The premium versions of AVG Mobile Security are also identical to Avast’s — you can upgrade to Premium ($39.99 / year) for more comprehensive breach monitoring, unlimited photo vault storage, automated scans, and app locking; or choose Ultimate ($51.99 / year) if you want to add a VPN. You can get the premium Android app as part of one of AVG’s antivirus packages, which offer all-around protection for multiple devices and operating systems. Prices start at $39.99 / year and all plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee, while some plans also include a 30-day free trial.
AVG Mobile Security offers a good range of free tools for Android, including a malware scanner, Wi-Fi network scanner, data breach alerts, and a secure photo vault. You can try out the premium features risk-free by purchasing one of AVG’s antivirus packages, all of which are backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee, and some of which include a 30-day free trial.
Read the full AVG review here >
Comparison of the Best Free Android Antivirus Apps
|Android App||On-Demand Malware Scanner||Real-Time Protection||Web Protection||Wi-Fi Scanner||Anti-Theft Tools||Extra Features||VPN||Money-Back Guarantee|
|1.🥇 Norton||✅||✅||✅||✅||❌||App privacy monitor, data breach monitoring (premium only)||✅||60 days|
|2.🥈 TotalAV||❌||❌||✅||✅||❌||Data breach scanner||❌||30 days|
|3.🥉 McAfee||✅||✅||✅||✅||✅||App privacy scanner||✅||30 days|
|4. Bitdefender||✅||❌||❌||❌||❌||❌||❌||30 days|
|5. Panda||✅||✅||❌||❌||✅||Smartwatch compatibility, app privacy scanner||✅
|6. Avira||✅||✅||❌||✅||✅||App privacy scanner, data breach scanner||✅
|7. Kaspersky||✅||✅||❌||❌||✅||Smartwatch integration||✅
|8. Sophos Intercept X||❌||✅||✅||✅||❌||Password safe, link checker, app lock, privacy and security adviser||❌||30 days|
|9. Trend Micro||✅||❌||❌||❌||✅||Wi-Fi checker, Social Network Privacy||❌||30 days|
|10. Malwarebytes||✅||❌||❌||❌||❌||Security auditing, privacy scanner||❌||60 days|
||✅||✅||✅||✅||✅||Photo vault||✅||30 days|
|Bonus. AVG||✅||✅||✅||✅||✅||Photo vault||✅||30 days|
How to Choose the Best Free Antivirus App for Your Android
- Check if the app can detect and remove malware. I downloaded hundreds of Android-specific malware files, sketchy apps, and even ransomware files to ensure that the antivirus apps I recommend are able to detect and remove all types of malware. Norton’s malware scanner flagged every single malicious app I tried to download.
- Look for an app with effective internet security features. I also tested internet security features like anti-phishing protection and Wi-Fi scanners to ensure these products can keep Androids safe from the latest web-based threats. Some Android antiviruses (like Norton) include a VPN, which protects your data with bank-grade encryption.
- Assess the app’s impact on device performance. Nothing is worse than a security app that drains your battery and kills your Android’s performance. I made sure all of the apps I recommend can increase your security without crashing your phone or tablet.
- See if the app includes extra features. Android antiviruses don’t just offer protection against Android malware, but they also include useful extras like app advisors, anti-theft protection, and other security features. I tested all of the additional features of each brand on this list to ensure they all work exactly as promised and add real value to the product.
- Find an app that’s easy to use. I tested each feature to ensure that these apps make their features easy to access and understand for all users. All of the apps on this list also provide good integration with Android OS and Chrome OS.
- Try to pick an app that offers full access for free. I only recommend antiviruses that offer a 100% free plan, a free trial, or a 30-day money-back guarantee, as the latter two at least let you test out the software risk-free. I really like TotalAV’s truly free plan, while Norton has a 14-day free trial and backs all purchases with a very generous 60-day money-back guarantee.
- Make sure the app doesn’t store data logs. There are a lot of free antiviruses that store and sell your data to advertisers, which is an easy and quick (but shady) way to help offset their free services. However, I can confirm that all of the antiviruses on this list have policies that ensure they don’t log and sell your data — some of them, like Norton, have a privacy monitor feature that helps you opt-out your personal data from data broker sites.
- Consider trying an affordable premium antivirus app. All free antivirus plans block key features behind a paywall, including useful internet security tools like anti-phishing protection, web protection, app privacy scanners, parental controls, a VPN with unlimited data, and much more. But, you can gain access to all of them by upgrading to a paid plan. I only recommend antiviruses that offer competitive pricing plans, and each of my recommendations covers their plans with at least a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Risks and Disadvantages of Using a Free Android Antivirus
Personally, I don’t recommend relying solely on free antivirus software for Android devices. In my experience, most of these programs lack the security features that I consider essential for top-notch internet security. Even the best free antiviruses for Android usually come with only a basic set of features. While they all include a malware scanner and an app privacy scanner, many are missing key features like web protection, anti-theft tools, and more.
This is why I always recommend paid antivirus software — it offers a comprehensive suite of internet security tools, including a firewall, anti-phishing protection, Wi-Fi monitoring, web protection, parental controls, a VPN, and a password manager. Paid options usually come with better customer service options like phone, email, and live chat support.
Fortunately, quality antivirus suites are available at very affordable prices. For example, Norton 360’s Deluxe package costs $49.99 / year, offers a ton of excellent internet security features, covers up to 5 devices across all operating systems, and has a 60-day money-back guarantee.
Free vs. Paid Antiviruses for Android
Top free Android antiviruses have good tools to help you avoid the latest cyber threats, such as a malware scanner, a Wi-Fi scanner, and app privacy features. However, I don’t like how free antiviruses prevent you from accessing a lot of the key features that are included in their premium plans. For example, Avira’s free plan doesn’t have anti-phishing protection or microphone and camera protection.
The top paid antiviruses give you access to a wide range of internet security features. My favorite Android antivirus, Norton, has an industry-leading malware scanner, a smart firewall, and anti-phishing protection, as well as extras like parental controls, a VPN with unlimited data, and a password manager — and purchasing one of its LifeLock plans (available only in the US) adds up to $1 million in identity theft reimbursement and credit monitoring from top credit bureaus.
Overall, free antivirus plans for Android provide decent protection. They also come with some good features, but the best way to keep your devices safe is with a paid antivirus — there are many good ones out there that offer competitive prices and have a money-back guarantee.
Top Brands That Didn’t Make the Cut:
There are many antivirus apps for Android that didn’t make it into my top 10. Here are a few well-known brands you may have been expecting to see on this list:
- G DATA Mobile Security Lite. G Data offers good malware protection, but it’s missing features such as real-time protection, Wi-Fi scanning, and more.
- Dr.Web Light. Dr.Web Light is a decent antivirus app for Android, but its app is basic and doesn’t offer many extra features.
- Systweak. Systweak Anti-Malware is a free app for Android users, but it’s very limited. It only scans apps, ignoring all other (potentially dangerous) files on your device.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are free Android antivirus apps safe?
The ones on this list are all safe. But it’s important to know that scanning for malware requires deep-level access to the most sensitive parts of your device. Malicious antivirus apps can easily compromise your privacy and security and steal your info.
I’ve thoroughly tested these apps, and they’re all legitimate, safe, and work exactly as promised. Each app comes from a brand with a strong reputation for creating excellent cybersecurity products. My top pick, Norton Mobile Security, is produced by a company with millions of users worldwide and decades of experience in the cybersecurity industry.
Do I need an antivirus on my Android phone?
The short answer is — yes! Your Android phone or tablet probably contains sensitive data like personal information, banking information, social media, personal pictures and files, etc. It’s also a relatively expensive item, thus attracting thieves.
And when compared to other platforms like iOS, Android isn’t all that secure of an operating system. Android OS is notable for having tons of indie developers, coders, and modders around the globe. Unfortunately, this also makes Android a playground for hackers.
Ransomware, spyware, cryptojacking software, surveillance apps, and other malware compromise Android users every single day. Android users also face risks from phishing sites, smishing links, and even pickpockets.
To keep your device safe from all of these threats, you need to have a good Android antivirus with real-time protection, web protection, anti-theft tools, and other additional features. My favorite Android antivirus is Norton, but it’s not free — the mobile app comes with a 14-day free trial, but if you get one of Norton’s multi-device internet security suites, you can use the app for 60 days risk-free.
What kind of features can you get with an Android antivirus app?
In addition to detecting and removing malware, a free Android antivirus app can:
- Keep your personal information private (I recommend Norton Mobile Security).
- Ensure you’re connected to a secure Wi-Fi network (Norton can also do this).
- Prevent loss or theft of your device (Avira’s free Android app has some particularly effective anti-theft tools).
Most antivirus apps also offer additional paid premium features, and for every free app out there, there are dozens more premium apps. If your phone contains sensitive info that you don’t want getting out, it’s always better to go with a low-cost premium option like Norton.
What are the best free antivirus apps for Android?
My top recommendations are Norton Mobile Security (not 100% free, but it has a 60-day money-back guarantee) and TotalAV Mobile Security (good range of free features).
Norton provides excellent antivirus protection along with a number of other useful features, including dark web monitoring (by far the best dark web monitoring of any antivirus app) and a fast VPN with unlimited browsing data, whereas TotalAV has excellent web protection, data breach scanning, and a secure browser.
But there are many great free antivirus apps for Android, all of which either provide strong malware protection, web protection, or additional tools to keep your smartphone or tablet secure.
How can I check my Android for viruses for free?
You can download a reputable free Android antivirus that includes antivirus scanning, such as Norton or TotalAV (both have excellent malware detection rates). The free Android antivirus apps on this list will also be able to identify and stop a range of internet security threats — most apps come with web protection, so you’ll be warned if you’re about to encounter suspicious or potentially dangerous sites online, including phishing sites that are designed to steal your personal information. But to fully protect your device, you’ll need to ensure the Android antivirus you choose includes real-time virus protection (Norton offers real-time protection).
Can Android devices be hacked?
Unfortunately, Android devices are more susceptible to being hacked than other mobile devices. Android firmware is designed to be more flexible and customizable compared to alternative firmware versions, such as iOS, but this also opens the door to hackers and malware — it’s much easier to design and distribute malware to Android devices, partly due to flaws in the operating system, and also because Android app stores are often less regulated, especially when compared to Apple’s App Store (which is notorious for its stringent security tests).
To protect yourself against malicious apps, I recommend using Norton Mobile Security. Not only does it have a powerful malware scanner, but it also alerts you to suspicious apps before you download and install them.