8 Best (REALLY FREE) Android Antivirus Apps for 2024

Hazel Shaw
Hazel Shaw Managing Cybersecurity Editor
Updated on: July 12, 2024
Fact Checked by Katarina Glamoslija
Hazel Shaw Hazel Shaw
Updated on: July 12, 2024 Managing Cybersecurity Editor

Short on time? Here’s the best free Android antivirus in 2024:

  • 🥇 Norton : It doesn’t have a free plan, but Norton is 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. While it’s not 100% free, 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 dozens of free antivirus apps in the Google Play Store — after weeks of testing, I found a few products which I’m confident can keep Androids well-protected against malware.

However, most of the free Android antivirus apps I tested were ineffective against malware. What’s more, they were filled with annoying ads and bombarded me with annoying notifications. They also had excessive battery drain and resource usage and lacked regular updates. Worst of all, some apps demanded extra permissions in order to harvest my data.

I did find a few good free apps that didn’t have these problems, but none were as good as the best premium apps. 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 superb 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.

Visit Norton

Quick summary of the best free Android antivirus apps in 2024:

  • 1.🥇 Norton — Best overall Android antivirus in 2024 (advanced malware protection + 60 days risk-free).
  • 2.🥈 TotalAV — Great web protection with a data breach scanner and Wi-Fi checker for Android devices.
  • 3.🥉 Bitdefender — Great malware scanner with very low system impact, plus low-cost premium plans.
  • 4. Panda Dome — Good anti-theft protection with location tracking + smartwatch compatibility.
  • 5. Avira — Excellent virus protection & a good range of free extra features.
  • Plus 3 more free Android antivirus apps.

🥇1. Norton — Advanced Cybersecurity Protections for Android

🥇1. Norton — Advanced Cybersecurity Protections for Android

Norton Mobile Security is hands-down my favorite Android antivirus app in 2024. 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 mobile features for free by using a 14-day trial and 60-day money-back guarantee (depending on which package you go for).

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 apps on your device and flags any that collect too much sensitive information, use too much data or battery, or in any other way present a risk to your device or privacy. Unlike many apps, Norton doesn’t share customer data with third parties.

In my tests, Norton’s Android app detected all of the risky apps I had installed on my Samsung Galaxy. 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.

🥇1. Norton — Advanced Cybersecurity Protections for Android

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 compatible with most streaming sites.

I was very satisfied with my overall experience using Norton. It was able to protect my device without draining its battery or crippling its performance — I could play games like Genshin Impact without any issues. It’s also easy to use and keeps notifications to a minimum.

Norton Mobile Security is available as a standalone purchase (or as part of Norton’s excellent internet security suites). The standalone app costs $19.99 / 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 2024). 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.

Save 58% on Norton 360 Deluxe!
Get Norton 360 Deluxe for only $49.99*!

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. 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.

Read the full Norton review >

🥈2. TotalAV — Great Web Protection & Data Breach Scanning

🥈2. TotalAV — Great Web Protection & Data Breach Scanning

TotalAV Mobile Security 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, has a minimal effect on battery life, and doesn’t bombard you with useless notifications.

The free app comes with a security-first browser backed by Total Search, TotalAV’s search engine. It blocks trackers and dangerous sites and automatically erases your browsing data. If you’re concerned about phishing and other mobile threats (which you should be), it’s much better than your phone’s default browser. The app also comes with WebShield, which brings the same level of protection to every browser on your Android, but you need to upgrade to a paid plan to use it.

Here are the additional features TotalAV offers for free:

  • Wi-Fi checker.
  • Data breach scanning.
  • App locker.

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.

🥈2. TotalAV — Great Web Protection & Data Breach Scanning

I was pleased to discover that TotalAV barely affected my phone’s performance. It isn’t as efficient as Norton when it comes to battery use, and it does generate more notifications than I’d like when using the free version, but it’s much less obtrusive than most free Android apps. It’s great that you don’t need an account to use the free version.

Overall, the free version of TotalAV is decent, but if you’re looking for more advanced protection, it’s definitely worth trying the premium version, which enables access to all features including an unlimited-data VPN, WebShield, duplicate photo finder, and malicious app protection. You can activate a 7-day free trial from within the app.

Upgrade to TotalAV Antivirus Pro, and you’ll get the full version of the mobile app plus the premium desktop version for just $19.00 / year. You can also get a mobile-only subscription, which includes a password manager, optimization tools, an ad blocker, and more. All plans are backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Save 84% on TotalAV Antivirus Pro!
You can save 84% if you act right now.

Bottom Line:

TotalAV offers a great range of free Android protections, including a secure browser and a data breach scanner, both of which work very 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. Bitdefender — Easy to Use With Excellent Malware Protection

🥉3. Bitdefender — Easy to Use With Excellent Malware Protection

Bitdefender Antivirus is an intuitive Android app that comes with excellent malware detection. Its one-tap antivirus scanner performed very well in my tests, identifying and removing the vast majority of the malware I’d previously downloaded to my phone.

Using cloud-scanning technology, Bitdefender’s free Android antivirus equips your Android device with effective virus detection. Only the top-rated services like Norton provided a more comprehensive scan and clean on my device. Also, unlike most free apps, it didn’t interfere with my mobile experience, drain my battery, or upsell me on the premium version.

The scanner examines your files as well as apps, ensuring your Android device is kept clean and safe. This feature offers peace of mind as you try new applications, keeping you informed and protected.

🥉3. Bitdefender — Easy to Use With Excellent Malware Protection

But that’s all Bitdefender’s free app does, really. However, Bitdefender offers greater protection through a premium app called Bitdefender Mobile Security. The app adds a variety of impressive features for comprehensive protection. The App Anomaly Detection monitors app behaviors for any unusual activity. Web Protection and Scam Alert vigilantly guard against phishing and fraudulent sites. WearON extends protection notifications to your smartwatch, giving you easier access to alerts. Other features include a limited VPN (200 MB daily unless you upgrade to Bitdefender’s top-tier plan), anti-theft protections, and an app locker.

That may sound like a lot, but despite the numerous features, the app is very streamlined. Most notifications are actually useful, and the app doesn’t affect performance very much. Unlike Norton, Bitdefender does share some information with third parties, but only your user ID, which I don’t see as a big issue.

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 through the Play Store, but you can also get it as part of the Bitdefender Total Security package (which covers Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac devices for $49.99 / year), or the Bitdefender Premium Security plan (for 10 devices), which costs $79.99 / year. I recommend getting one of these as you’ll be covered by Bitdefender’s 30-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line:

Bitdefender’s free Android app offers great malware protection, but that’s it. You’ll need the premium app to get web security, anti-theft tools, and the App Anomaly Detection feature. 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 >

4. Panda Dome — Good Antivirus Scanning With Great Smartwatch Compatibility

4. Panda Dome — Good Antivirus Scanning With Great Smartwatch Compatibility

Panda Dome has a decent free antivirus for Android. It offers good 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! The big downside is that it’s supported by ads. These take the form of annoying video ads, but you won’t encounter them very often. On the plus side, unlike most free competitors, Panda doesn’t sell any user data.

Panda’s real-time scanner detected most malware samples, but not as many as Norton or TotalAV. 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. And even the paid version of Panda’s Android app is missing features that Norton has, like spam SMS filtering.

4. Panda Dome — Good Antivirus Scanning With Great Smartwatch Compatibility

The privacy auditing feature in Panda Dome also works really well. It meticulously analyzes the permissions requested by apps on your Android device, providing a clear insight into what data each app is accessing. It could be your contacts, location, photos, or other sensitive information. This way you can make informed decisions on whether to keep or remove certain apps based on their access requirements. I really liked how easy it was to see exactly which apps were able to track my location, disable my device and apps, access my identity info, etc. There were way more apps with access to my location than I realized and it was easy to remove some of them with just one click.

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, access the parental controls, and get rid of ads, you need to upgrade to Panda’s comprehensive Panda Dome Premium antivirus suite ($63.00 / year). All of Panda’s internet security packages include a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee when you buy through its website.

Bottom Line:

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.

Read the full Panda Dome review >

5. Avira — Feature-Rich & Easy to Use

5. Avira — Feature-Rich & Easy to Use

Avira Free Security 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, a VPN, a scam call blocker, a data breach scanner, and more.

I really like the privacy scanner. It analyzed all of the apps on my device and provided me with a clear and easy-to-understand breakdown of what data and system functionalities each app has access to — it told me which ones had access to my contacts, images, and browsing data, for example.

5. Avira — Feature-Rich & Easy to Use

In addition, Avira’s Call Blocker is effective at mitigating unwanted or nuisance calls. I liked that I could easily create blacklists of unwanted numbers, preventing calls from those numbers from reaching my device.

To name a few other useful features, Avira’s free app has an app locker and a tool that highlights files taking up lots of space. Also, it’s worth noting that the malware scanner checks your device for performance issues. But unlike Norton, it missed a few threats.

Overall, Avira’s free plan is pretty good, with a limited effect on performance and shockingly few notifications and upselling attempts. However, it does share user activity data with third parties, which is a shame. Also, 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. However, even the paid app’s web protections aren’t as good as Norton’s, and its location tracking isn’t as good either.

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. Buy Avira Prime through the official site, and you’ll get a generous 60-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line:

Avira provides lots of features given that it’s a free Android antivirus — and they’re all very good, easy to use, and work as promised. In addition to malware protection, Avira comes with 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.

Read the full Avira review >

6. Malwarebytes — Intuitive Antivirus With a Few Extras

6. 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).

6. Malwarebytes — Intuitive Antivirus With a Few Extras

Upgrading to the premium version brings you additional features, like real-time protection, spyware and ransomware protection, Identity Theft Protection, and web protection. But even the premium app is missing anything like Norton’s spam call and SMS blocker. You get enrolled into a 14-day free trial of this version when you first download Malwarebytes, and both this version and the free plan don’t sell your data, which is good.

The identity theft service is further strengthened by up to $2 million in identity theft insurance (US only), offering a significant safety net against potential identity threats. I like that while the insurance coverage is only available in the US, the rest of the features are available in more places around the world, but I would still like to see it expanded to include the UK, Canada, and more countries in Europe.

You can access Malwarebytes’s premium Android app through either Malwarebytes Standard or Malwarebytes Plus. These plans initially cover 1 device, but you have the option to add up to 20 devices across all operating systems for an additional fee. The only difference between the plans is that Plus adds a VPN. Malwarebytes starts at $59.99 / year and is covered by a 60-day money-back guarantee when purchased through the site.

Bottom Line:

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 >

7. Avast — Basic Security for Android + Encrypted Photo Vault

7. Avast — Basic Security for Android + Encrypted Photo Vault

Avast One Basic offers a good range of free features for Android, including a malware scanner, a Wi-Fi network scanner, data breach alerts, excellent web protection, 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. Unfortunately, the free version is supported by ads, and these can be rather annoying. On top of this, it isn’t ashamed of upselling and issues too many notifications.

7. Avast — Basic Security for Android + Encrypted Photo Vault

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. It works, but it’s a far cry from Norton’s mobile identity protection tools.

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, including a VPN. Premium Security at $29.99 / year includes an unlimited photo vault, automatic malware scans, and app locking. You can also get Avast’s Android app as part of one of its multi-device plans, which start at $23.40 / year and come with a 30-day money-back guarantee when you sign up through the website.

Bottom Line:

Avast 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, web protection, 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 >

8. AVG — Simple Security Features & Intuitive App

8. AVG — Simple Security Features & Intuitive App

AVG’s free mobile app 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. Unfortunately, the free version comes with a fair amount of ads.

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 10 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 Samsung 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.

8. AVG — Simple Security Features & Intuitive App

AVG Antivirus & Security Premium, at $39.99 / year, includes more comprehensive breach monitoring, unlimited photo vault storage, automated scans, and app locking. 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 — Ultimate offers the best value at $55.99 / year and adds a VPN. All bundles come with a 30-day money-back guarantee, while some plans also include a 30-day free trial.

Bottom Line:

AVG Antivirus & 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 >

Quick Comparison Table

Android App 100% Free Version On-Demand Malware Scanner Real-Time Protection Web Protection Wi-Fi Scanner Anti-Theft Tools Extra Features VPN
1.🥇 Norton
(60-day money-back guarantee)
App privacy monitor, data breach monitoring, ad and tracker blocker
2.🥈 TotalAV
(Premium plan only)
✅ (Secure Browser) Data breach scanner
3. 🥉Bitdefender
4. Panda Smartwatch compatibility, app privacy scanner
(150 MB/daily)
5. Avira App privacy scanner, data breach scanner
(100 MB/daily)
6. Malwarebytes Security auditing, privacy scanner, spam filter
(Premium plan only)
7. Avast Photo vault
8. AVG Photo vault

Testing Methodology: Comparison & Ranking Criteria

I used our time-tested testing methodology to assess the qualities of different antiviruses. This process is a little bit different with mobile apps, but it basically involves testing the antivirus in real-world situations by downloading malware, exploring the app’s settings, and more. Every free Android app that made this list did well by these metrics, outshining the competition. Here’s a look at the different criteria I tested:

  • I looked into each product’s malware-beating capabilities. More specifically, I downloaded a large sample of malicious apps, dangerous .APK files, and other threats onto my Samsung Galaxy, then ran a scan with each antivirus to see what it would find. While each product detected and removed most threats, those with higher scores, like Norton, earned a better ranking.
  • I made sure that each app was easy to use. To make my list, a free Android antivirus app had to be simple to set up and use, and have intuitive settings and customization options. Each antivirus on this list performed really well by these standards.Testing Methodology: Comparison & Ranking Criteria
  • I accounted for bonus features. Most free Android antiviruses are pretty limited in terms of features, so any product with nice extras earned more weight in my ranking. TotalAV got second place in part due to its useful data breach scanning tool. I also gave extra marks for features like Wi-Fi checkers and app privacy scanners.
  • I considered the impact each app had on my phone. Keeping your phone secure shouldn’t turn it into a brick that can’t hold a charge. I analyzed the battery drain and resource use of different antivirus apps, looking for apps that didn’t have a big effect on either. I also looked at other issues that can affect user experience, like excessive notifications and upselling. I confirmed that each didn’t have too big of an impact so as to cause frustrating problems.Testing Methodology: Comparison & Ranking Criteria
  • I reviewed all relevant web security tools. Not every app on this list comes with web protections, but those with strong measures against phishing and other web-based threats earned extra points. I tested each by trying to visit dozens of dangerous sites, noting which were blocked and how many got through.

Risks and Disadvantages of Using a Free Android Antivirus

Most Android devices don’t use sandboxing like iOS does, so they’re more susceptible to malware and security breaches. Without a comprehensive antivirus program, you’re at risk of falling victim to phishing attacks, ransomware, spyware, potentially unwanted apps, unsafe Wi-Fi connections, and more.

That’s why I advise against relying solely on a free antivirus app on your Android device. I’ve found that free antivirus apps for Android often lack essential security features. While they do have basic tools like malware and app privacy scanners, many miss out on key features like web protection and anti-theft tools. Others mine your data and bombard you with useless notifications. In fact, Android users have recently faced threats like the ‘Trojan:Android/Fakeinst,’ which specifically bypassed common free security tools.

Furthermore, the VPN services included with free antivirus programs are often restricted — which significantly impacts how frequently you can use them. For example, Avira‘s free VPN limits users to 100 MB of data per day. This cap is insufficient for more substantial browsing, streaming, or downloading, so you can’t always protect your privacy or secure your data (especially on public Wi-Fi networks).

Honestly, I always recommend paid antivirus software — the best premium antiviruses on the market offer a comprehensive set of internet security tools, including a firewall, phishing protection, Wi-Fi monitoring, web protection, parental controls, a VPN, a password manager, and lots more. Paid options typically offer superior customer service, too, including 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

The best free Android antiviruses come equipped with excellent tools to safeguard against the newest online threats. Typically, they provide a malware scanner, Wi-Fi scanner, and app privacy options. However, the downside is that they often reserve many essential features for their premium subscribers. For example, the free plan from Avira excludes anti-phishing protection and microphone and camera security.

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 select countries) adds up to $1 million in identity theft reimbursement and credit monitoring from top credit bureaus.

One frustration with free antiviruses is their reliance on ads and frequent upsells. These can interrupt your experience and give the impression that the app is more concerned with sales than security. Even if you don’t see any ads, there’s a good chance that the free app you’re using is selling your data.

Paid antivirus programs, like Norton, also offer frequent updates to protect against new threats whereas free antiviruses may update less frequently — leaving your device vulnerable for longer periods. Additionally, paid services provide comprehensive customer support, including 24/7 access via live chat or phone, essential for resolving issues quickly and maintaining your device’s security.

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.

Features and User Experience Free Antiviruses Premium Antiviruses
Real-time protection

Often not included.

Frequently updated and fully integrated across all device types.

Web protection

Available through separate apps and extensions, if offered.

Advanced web protection typically integrated within the app.

VPNs

Limited data and server options if available.

Unlimited data, multiple server choices, and additional privacy features included.

Compatible devices

Primarily supports Android, but features may be limited compared to other platforms.

Comprehensive coverage and optimization for Android and other devices.

Password managers

Rarely included; features are basic if available.

Extensive features with less restrictions than free versions.

Data protection

Fairly weak, with developers collecting and often selling data to others.

Limited data collection.

Customer support

Basic, often restricted to FAQs and community forums.

Full support with phone, email, and live chat options.

Free Android Antiviruses to Avoid

Free antivirus apps may seem like an attractive option to protect your Android from malware, but there are certain free products you should avoid. There are even fake antivirus apps that are actually malicious files themselves!

The most dangerous fake antiviruses tend to offer free features beyond scanning your phone for viruses. For instance, they may claim to speed up your device, clean useless files, and promise unachievable results (such as making your device 100% faster). These apps actually contain malicious code and can put your data and privacy at risk by stealing your personal information or installing ransomware.In less extreme cases, these apps will spy on you while providing nothing in return.

Google does try to remove malicious apps from the Play Store, but its record is far from perfect. And if you’re downloading apps from any other source, the risks are much greater. You should watch out for these fake apps in particular:

  • Antivirus, Super Cleaner.
  • Powerful Cleaner, Antivirus.
  • Center Security – Antivirus.
  • Mister Phone Cleaner.
  • Kylhavy Mobile Security.
  • Atom Clean-Booster, Antivirus.
  • Alpha Antivirus, Cleaner.

However, there are bound to be others on the market, so a bit of caution is needed — only download antiviruses from trusted sources like the Google Play Store and always check app ratings and reviews before downloading. It’s also a good idea to use a reliable security solution that can protect your device from threats, such as Norton Mobile Security for Android.

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.
  • PCProtect. PCProtect offers a free antivirus app for Android, but its features are pretty lacking, and it doesn’t have any real-time protection.

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.

Will an Android antivirus drain my battery?

The impact of an Android antivirus on battery life can vary widely based on the antivirus software itself and how it’s configured. Some antivirus apps such as Norton and Bitdefender are known for being energy-efficient and have a minimal impact on battery life, while others can be more resource-intensive and may drain the battery quicker. Features like real-time scanning, cloud-based scanning, and frequent updates can contribute to higher battery usage.

It’s advisable to look for antivirus software that balances strong protection with energy efficiency. For instance, Norton has optimized its scanning processes to reduce battery consumption, and Bitdefender offers a Battery & Performance Saver feature.

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. If you can’t afford a premium app, you should at least protect yourself with an effective free tool, like Bitdefender.

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.

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 taking advantage of Norton Mobile Security, which has a 60-day money-back guarantee).
  • 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 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.

Are free Android antiviruses good?

Some are, but most aren’t. There are lots of free Android apps that you definitely don’t want on your phone. Lots of them will sell your personal data while doing little to enhance your security. Some are just straight-up spyware. But there are a few which have genuinely effective features and don’t share any significant user data, like Bitdefender.

How can I check my Android for viruses for free?

You can download a reputable free Android antivirus that includes antivirus scanning, or use the money-back guarantee to try products like 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.

Can I use a free Android antivirus on a Chromebook?

Yes, you can use a free Android antivirus on a Chromebook. Thanks to the Google Play Store access on most Chromebooks, Android antivirus apps like TotalAV can be installed and used for basic protection. Most can scan your downloaded apps and files for any potential threats, offering an extra layer of security. However, remember that while they add a level of protection, these free versions may not provide comprehensive coverage against all types of malware or advanced threats.

Can a free antivirus detect and remove malware?

A free antivirus can detect and remove many types of malware. Apps such as Bitdefender had strong malware detection and removal capabilities in my tests. That said, it’s important to note that while free antivirus apps can provide a decent level of protection, they typically offer fewer features and less comprehensive protection than their paid counterparts. For complete peace of mind, a premium antivirus app is the wiser choice.

Does Android have a built-in antivirus?

Yes, Android does have a built-in system for detecting and dealing with threats known as Google Play Protect. It scans apps on the Google Play Store for any signs of malware before you download them and periodically checks your device for potentially harmful apps. However, Google Play Protect doesn’t provide the same level of protection as dedicated antivirus apps like Norton. Its malware detection rates are generally lower, and it lacks important features that dedicated apps provide, such as real-time protection, phishing protection, and extra security tools. For these reasons, I’d recommend supplementing it with a reliable antivirus app.

Quick Overview of My Top Recommendations:

Our Rank
Our Score
Best Deal
1
9.8
save 58%
2
9.4
save 84%
3
9.6
save 50%
4
8.6
save 55%
5
9.0
save 43%
*1st year, terms apply
The listings featured on this site are from companies from which this site receives compensation and some are co-owned by our parent company. This influence: Rank and manner in which listings are presented. 
Learn more
About the Author
Hazel Shaw
Hazel Shaw
Managing Cybersecurity Editor
Updated on: July 12, 2024

About the Author

Hazel Shaw is a Managing Cybersecurity Editor at SafetyDetectives. She has 8+ years of experience in writing, editing, and fact-checking content for both print and digital media. Prior to joining the SafetyDetectives team, she trained writers and editors on cybersecurity tools like VPNs, password managers, and antiviruses. Hazel has also worked as a communications consultant for a number of companies, advising on SEO, content strategies, web design, and internal communications. When she’s not working, you can find her cooking, reading, visiting art galleries, or taking her dog on hikes around Portugal.

Leave a Comment