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5 Best (REALLY FREE) Android Antivirus Apps for 2022

Katarina Glamoslija Katarina Glamoslija
Updated on: May 16, 2022
5 Best (REALLY FREE) Android Antivirus Apps for 2022

Short on time? Here’s the best free Android antivirus in 2022:

  • 🥇 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 antivirus 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 2022:


🥇1. Norton Mobile Security — Advanced Cybersecurity Protections for Android

🥇1. Norton Mobile Security — Advanced Cybersecurity Protections for Android

Norton Mobile Security is hands-down my favorite Android antivirus app in 2022. 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. Its anti-phishing protection also blocked the vast majority of phishing and malicious links I attempted to open on my phone’s browser.

Norton’s Android app also comes with good Wi-Fi protection that warns you of any unsecured Wi-Fi networks, as well as with a secure VPN and dark web monitoring. 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. I don’t like that the VPN logs your IP address and that it’s missing DNS and WebRTC leak protection. That said, 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 2022). 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.

Bottom Line:

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. It also 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.

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Read the full Norton review >

🥈2. Avira Antivirus Security for Android — Feature-Rich & Easy to Use (Good for New Users)

🥈2. Avira Antivirus Security for Android — Feature-Rich & Easy to Use (Good for New Users)

Avira Antivirus Security for Android has an excellent virus detection and removal engine along with a good range of additional security features. It’s also super-easy to use, making it one of the top choices for new users.

Avira’s free Android app comes with:

  • App privacy scanner.
  • Anti-theft protection.
  • VPN (100 MB daily limit).
  • Data breach scanner.
  • Wi-Fi scanner.
  • Device optimizer.

Avira’s privacy scanner is really good. 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 some free games on my device were actually harvesting my data even when I wasn’t playing them!

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 protections are also all bundled with the excellent 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.

Bottom Line:

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 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.

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Read the full Avira review >

🥉3. McAfee Security Free — Excellent Antivirus Protection with Wi-Fi Scanning

🥉3. McAfee Security Free — Excellent Antivirus Protection with Wi-Fi Scanning

McAfee Security Free offers advanced malware protection, an app privacy scanner, and a really good Wi-Fi scanner. During my tests, I tried to download both malicious files and apps with spyware and ransomware to my Samsung, and McAfee detected, blocked, and removed all of the malware from my phone.

The app privacy scanner provides information on all of the apps you have installed on your phone. This is similar to Avira and Norton, although McAfee’s privacy scanner is a little less useful.

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.

Unfortunately, McAfee’s free Android plan lacks some important features that are included in its paid plans — including web protection, a VPN, and dark web monitoring/identity theft protection.

And even the premium Android app no longer has anti-theft protection, which is included with Avira. This is a real shame, as McAfee’s anti-theft tools were the best of any other Android app.

While McAfee’s paid Android app is a bit more expensive than some competitors’ premium apps, if you bundle the Android antivirus app with one of McAfee’s 2-year Total Protection plans, it’s one of the best-value antivirus packages of 2022. Starting at $49.99 / year, Total Protection includes coverage for up to 10 devices across all operating systems, and all McAfee purchases are backed by a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line:

McAfee’s free antivirus app provides real-time malware scanning and Wi-Fi network monitoring. The scanner detected all malicious files and apps I downloaded to my phone, and the Wi-Fi scanner altered me every time I wanted to connect to an unsecured network. Upgrading to McAfee’s paid app brings you important features like web protection, dark web monitoring, and a VPN. You can also get the premium Android app as part of McAfee’s Total Protection packages that provide coverage for up to 10 devices. All of McAfee’s paid plans have a 30-day money-back guarantee.

DOWNLOAD MCAFEE FOR FREE NOW

Read the full McAfee review here >

4. Panda Dome Free Antivirus for Android — Good Antivirus Scanning with Great Smartwatch Compatibility

4. 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 didn’t detect as many malicious apps as Norton or McAfee, but it did detect most malware samples, including 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 ($66.99 / year).

Bottom Line:

Panda’s free Android antivirus app provides real-time malware scanning, anti-theft tools, and convenient compatibility with Android smartwatches. I liked being able to perform malware scans, wipe data remotely, and even track my device’s location from my 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.

DOWNLOAD PANDA DOME FREE FOR ANDROID NOW

Read the full Panda Dome review here >

5. Kaspersky Security Free — Easy to Use with Decent On-Demand Virus Scanning

5. Kaspersky Security Free — Easy to Use with Decent On-Demand Virus Scanning

Kaspersky Security Free 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 on-demand malware detection (it caught most of the malware files during my testing), but it doesn’t provide real-time scanning like McAfee.

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.

There’s also the ability to initiate scans from a smartwatch, which is pretty cool — but its smartwatch integration isn’t as good as Panda Dome’s.

To get real-time protection, anti-phishing and web-filter functions, and app locking tools, you need to upgrade to the premium version of the app — which is available as part of Kaspersky’s premium internet security suites that start at $39.99 / year and offer coverage for multiple devices.

Bottom Line:

Kaspersky offers decent free malware detection and anti-theft protections, but not much else. Unlike the other apps on this list, Kaspersky’s free plan doesn’t have real-time malware scanning — this essential feature is reserved for paying users, who also get access to good web protection and app locking.

DOWNLOAD KASPERSKY FREE FOR ANDROID NOW

Read the full Kaspersky review here >

Comparison of the Best Free Android Antivirus Apps

Android App Real-Time Protection Wi-Fi Scanner Anti-Theft Tools Extra Features Money-Back Guarantee
1.🥇 Norton ✅ (premium only) App privacy monitor, VPN, data breach monitoring (premium only) 60 days
2. 🥈 Avira App privacy scanner, data breach scanner, limited VPN 60 days
3. 🥉 McAfee None 30 days
4. Panda Smartwatch compatibility, App privacy scanner, limited VPN 30 days
5. Kaspersky ✅ (premium only) Smartwatch integration 30 days

How to Choose the Best Free Antivirus App for Your Android:

  • Security. 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. 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.
  • 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.
  • Extra features. Android antiviruses don’t just offer protection against Android malware, but they also include useful extras like app advisors, VPNs, 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.
  • Ease of 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.

Top Brands That Didn’t Make the Cut:

There are many antivirus apps for Android that didn’t make it into my top 5. Here are a few well-known brands you may have been expecting to see on this list:

  • TotalAV. TotalAV offers a good set of free features for Android, but it lacks real-time malware protection. However, TotalAV’s paid Android antivirus includes some pretty good features, including real-time protection, app locking, and a secure VPN.
  • Bitdefender. I really love Bitdefender’s full-scale antivirus suite, but its free Android app is only a simple antivirus scanner. While it’s really easy to use, it’s just not better than the rest of the products on this list.
  • Avast/AVG. There are a few review sites that are still recommending Avast and AVG, but SafetyDetectives is not one of them. While Avast and AVG maintain a widespread web presence, they were implicated in some pretty serious privacy violations. You can go here to read more about the full story of how they were secretly selling user data.

Are 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.

Why does Android need an antivirus?

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. If you want a free antivirus, go with Avira or McAfee.

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.

About the Author

Katarina Glamoslija
Updated on: May 16, 2022

About the Author

Katarina is a tech enthusiast specializing in cybersecurity products, data protection, and maintaining strong practices for general online safety. When she's not a "Safety Detective", she likes to play with her two cats, binge watch crime dramas, sample fine wines, and read about the origins of the universe.