10 Best (REALLY FREE) Android Antivirus Apps for 2024

Updated on: March 27, 2024
Fact Checked by Katarina Glamoslija
Hazel Shaw Hazel Shaw
Updated on: March 27, 2024

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

  • 🥇 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 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.🥉 McAfee — Advanced antivirus with a good Wi-Fi + app privacy scanner for your Android device.
  • 4. Bitdefender — Great malware scanner with very low system impact, plus low-cost premium plans.
  • 5. Panda Dome — Good anti-theft protection with location tracking + smartwatch compatibility.
  • Plus 5 more free Android antivirus apps.

🥇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 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 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.

🥇1. Norton Mobile Security — 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. 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 $17.99 / 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.

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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 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.

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

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, malicious app protection, and app locking (adding an extra layer of privacy to apps that include private information).

The premium version of the TotalAV Android mobile app also offers real-time protection. It successfully detected all test malware I introduced to my phone, which is great. However, it quickly depleted my battery life. In contrast, competitors like Norton deliver solid Android protection but are more energy-efficient, not draining battery life as quickly as TotalAV.

TotalAV Mobile Security Premium costs $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.

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Bottom Line:

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

🥉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.

🥉3. McAfee Total Protection — Excellent Antivirus Protection With Wi-Fi Scanning

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 2024. 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.

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Bottom Line:

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

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 vast majority of the malware I’d previously downloaded to my phone. Using cloud-scanning technology, Bitdefender Antivirus Free equips your Android device with cutting-edge virus detection without interfering with your mobile experience or draining your battery. Only the top-rated services like Norton provided a more comprehensive scan and clean on my device.

The on-install scanning feature in Bitdefender Antivirus Free is also really good, providing an automatic scan of any application immediately upon its installation, and thereby 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. For further security assurance, you can perform the scans on demand whenever you like to validate the legitimacy and safety of all applications on your device.

4. Bitdefender — Easy to Use With Excellent Malware Protection

However, this is all that Bitdefender Antivirus Free offers, whereas the premium app unveils a variety of impressive features for comprehensive protection. The industry-first 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, enhancing security awareness.

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 $49.99 / year), or the Bitdefender Premium Security plan (for 10 devices), which costs $79.99 / year. Bitdefender’s plans are covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line:

Bitdefender Antivirus Free offers great malware protection, but the premium app also includes 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 >

5. Panda Dome Free Antivirus for Android — Good Antivirus Scanning With Great Smartwatch Compatibility

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.

5. Panda Dome Free Antivirus for Android — 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 realised and it was easy to just 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 and access to parental controls, you need to upgrade to Panda’s comprehensive Panda Dome Premium antivirus suite ($66.99 / year). All of Panda’s internet security packages include a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.

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 >

6. Avira Antivirus Security for Android — Feature-Rich & Easy to Use

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 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. 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!

6. Avira Antivirus Security for Android — Feature-Rich & Easy to Use

In addition, Avira’s Call Blocker enhances your control over incoming calls, providing a practical solution to mitigate unwanted or nuisance calls. I liked that I could easily create blacklists of unwanted numbers, effectively blocking calls from these numbers from reaching my device. Whether it’s persistent telemarketers, spam calls, or any other unwanted callers, Avira’s Call Blocker provides a mechanism to filter these calls out, ensuring that only the calls you want to receive get through.

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 $36.99 / 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.

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 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 >

7. Kaspersky Free — Intuitive With Decent Virus Scanning

7. Kaspersky Free — Intuitive With Decent Virus Scanning

Kaspersky 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 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.

7. Kaspersky Free — Intuitive With Decent Virus Scanning

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 200 MB of data per day (300 MB if you’re connected to My Kaspersky). That said, this is more than Panda or Avira offer on their free plans. However, features like the kill switch and split-tunneling are not included in Kaspersky Free.

Kaspersky’s stalkerware detection performs impressively — it pinpoints suspicious apps and processes on your device that may monitor your activity or access your data without authorization. I appreciate how it alerts you to any attempts made to access your location data, messages, or other sensitive information. This proactive alert system enables you to stay a step ahead of potential privacy invasions.

Upgrading to Kaspersky’s premium internet security suites brings you anti-phishing and other tools. The premium multi-device plans start at $38.49 / year and offer coverage for up to 20 devices. Kaspersky backs all purchases with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line:

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.

Read the full Kaspersky review >

8. Sophos Intercept X for Mobile — Effective Free Antivirus With Customizable Protections

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.

8. Sophos Intercept X for Mobile — Effective Free Antivirus With Customizable Protections

Along with active malware scanning, Sophos detects potentially unwanted apps (PUAs) and low-reputation apps. For instance, upon downloading an app, Sophos immediately scans it for malicious traits that could lead to data theft, data loss, or excessive network usage costs. 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.

I was quite impressed that Sophos includes both an authenticator and a password safe in its free plan. The authenticator facilitates easy multi-factor authentication for a multitude of sites like Google, Amazon, and Facebook. This, coupled with the password safe which securely stores and organizes your passwords, provides simple account security without any additional cost.

Then there’s the Secure QR Code Scanner that checks the target URLs of QR codes for malicious content, allowing you to scan QR codes without any risks. It even flags security issues with QR codes for Wi-Fi settings, ensuring your network connections remain secure.

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.

Bottom Line:

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.

Read the full Sophos review >

9. Trend Micro — Good Malware Scanner + Strong Web Protection

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 that uses a mix of signature-based detection, heuristic analysis, and behavior monitoring.

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). It also has a number of other security features, including a Wi-Fi Checker.

Trend Micro’s scan is optimized to perform well on mobile, ensuring that security scans are quick and don’t impact on your device’s performance. The cloud-based Smart Protection Network helps in speeding up the scanning process by offloading some of the analysis to the cloud, which is a bonus for Android devices with limited processing power.

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, X, and LinkedIn. This scan is really handy — it will let you know of any risky settings you have enabled and allow you to fix them all in one swoop by tapping the Fix All button.

9. Trend Micro — Good Malware Scanner + Strong Web Protection

Trend Micro offers a number of premium plans (starting from $14.95 / 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 free trial, as well as a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line:

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

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).

10. 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. The Malwarebytes Identity Theft Protection service provides a solid defense for you and your family’s identity with real-time monitoring, stringent credit protection, and live agent-supported identity recovery.

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 get Malwarebytes’s premium Android app as part of Malwarebytes Standard or Malwarebytes Plus, which cover 1–20 devices across all operating systems. 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. The Windows and Mac apps offer a 14-day free trial but the Android and iOS apps only offer a 7-day trial.

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 >

Bonus. Avast Security & Privacy — Basic Security for Android + Encrypted Photo Vault

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.

Bonus. Avast Security & Privacy — 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.

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 ($29.99 / 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 $2.46 / month and come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line:

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

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 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 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.

Bonus. AVG Mobile Security — Simple Security Features & Intuitive App

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.

Bottom Line:

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 >

Quick Comparison Table

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
(150 MB/daily)
30 days
6. Avira App privacy scanner, data breach scanner
(100 MB/daily)
60 days
7. Kaspersky Smartwatch integration
(300 MB/daily if connected to My Kaspersky)
30 days
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 ✅(with Plus subscriptions) 60 days
Bonus. Avast
Photo vault 30 days
Bonus. AVG Photo vault 30 days

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 analyzed the impact on performance and battery life. 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, looking at how much each app used passively and during active scans. 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.

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

I don’t generally recommend relying on free antiviruses for Android devices. 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.

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

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 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.


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.

Google is fairly quick to remove these apps from the Play Store, but it might still be possible to download them from other sources. 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 like TotalAV, as seen in earlier tests, 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.

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.

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. They 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.

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About the Author
Hazel Shaw
Hazel Shaw
Content Manager
Updated on: March 27, 2024

About the Author

Hazel Shaw is a Content Manager 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.