The Best Antivirus Software (2020) for Android Smartphones and Tablets

There are many malevolent exploits for Android that both tablets and smartphones are susceptible to, so it is important to use antivirus software. The only way to secure your device is to get real time malware protection. If you don’t use an Android antivirus, you could suffer identity theft or financial losses.

In this article, we have pinpointed the very best antivirus apps for Android. These are secure, and they don’t leave a dent in your wallet.

The best Antivirus for Android

A good antivirus for Android provides active scanning. Real-time protection is essential to ensure that no dodgy apps or files get downloaded. You could be infected via email, from a social media message, or because of pop-ups and malevolent sites. Even some apps on the Play Store contain exploits, meaning it is your responsibility to protect yourself.

Trend Micro for Android features real time scanning, keeping your device free of malware

  • Pricing

    From  $24.66

Trend Micro for Android is a staggeringly good antivirus that comes stacked to the rafters with useful features. This antivirus caught 100% of real time and recent malware threats when tested in January of 2020, that is a superb result!


For free, users can get limited malware scanning capabilities, which is great. However, paying for the $29.99 per year premium provides real time scanning, parental controls, app privacy scanning, and other useful features that you may want. As we believe real time scanning is vital, we do recommend that you upgrade to the full version once the 30-day trial expires.


When tested, experts found that Trend Micro does not affect battery life or system performance. In addition, it does not cause unwanted internet traffic (which would use up your data). This app also provides safe browsing, and call and text blocking to give you even more control over your device.

Bitdefender is superb at identifying the latest Android attacks and exploits

  • Pricing

    From  $12.35

Bitdefender is another mind-blowing antivirus that was found to be able to spot 100% of recently discovered exploits and real time malware exploits.


Those tests were performed in January 2020 by the independent testing organization AVTest.org - a well-respected organization that tested a huge number of AV apps using 3,328 malware samples. These results mean that you can trust Bitdefender to be up-to -date and to be extremely effective at successfully quarantining unwanted software, files, and apps.


In addition, this app allows you to locate your device and wipe it remotely to ensure that thieves can’t access its data. Email security monitoring also ensures your account has not been breached. Overall, it’s an excellent antivirus for Android and we consider $14.99 per year a very reasonable price.

Norton is perhaps the best-known on this list, and its reputation is well-earned on Android

  • Pricing

    From  $61.79

Norton for Android is a solid app that scores full marks for protection, performance, and usability.


Tests performed in January 2020 revealed that its Android app was able to catch 100% of real time malware attacks (testing with 3382 known exploits). That beats the industry average of 96% and means that Norton really is good at its job. When tested with newly discovered exploits (discovered within a month of the test) again, Norton had a flawless 100% success rate.


What’s more, these industry standard tests found that Norton does not affect battery life, does not impact smartphone performance, and does not generate unnecessary amounts of internet traffic (which would be costly if you’re using a data plan). It's also easy on the wallet, costing just $14.99 for the year.

F-Secure Total is much more than just an antivirus, packaging everything you need into a security suite

  • Pricing

    From  $67.49

F-Secure Safe is a computer security protection suite that allows users to protect any three devices running Windows, Mac, iOS or Android. The subscription fee will give users access to antivirus, safe browsing, online banking protection, ransomware protection, and parental controls. Not only is this a comprehensive selection of services, it is impressive value for money considering the price.


As for its effectiveness, F-Secure was found to be 100% effective against recently discovered exploits and 99.4% effective against real time malware attacks. Those are impressive stats. So, if you do need protection for more than one device this is a service well worth considering at $34.99.


UK residents should be aware that the price is staggeringly inflated, costing £59.99 ($73.53) in the country. We recommend purchasing it using a VPN to bump costs down to a more reasonable price.

Malwarebytes is a household name nowadays, offering a free option for Android users

  • Free option

    Yes

    Pricing

    From  $39.99 - $59.99

This antivirus is a favorite among people looking for a free option. The problem is that Malwarebytes does not offer real time protection unless you pay for a premium account. For $11.99 you get what you pay for - a service that is very good but not exceptional.


In tests performed earlier this year, Malwarebytes did not perform as well as other antivirus in this list. This is a sign that Malwarebytes is not updating its malware libraries as quickly as the likes of Trend Micro. However, if you want something that will spot most exploits at a very cheap rate, this service is well worth considering.


Just remember not to purchase your subscription on its website. Doing so will cost you $39.99. Instead, download the Android app and upgrade from inside the app to get the much cheaper rate of $11.99.

Do you need Antivirus on Android?

Yes. When you surf the web using an Android phone, it is possible that you will encounter dangerous exploits. Surfing the web can lead to websites infected with malware. Downloading apps from unknown sources can cause you to download malware, spyware, adware, ransomware, or a Trojan.

Even downloading apps from the Google Play Store can result in malevolent apps being downloaded from time to time.

The first thing we recommend that you do is to install Google Play Protect. This will scan your Android device to ensure that you have not downloaded any apps that have been singled out as malevolent. Google Play Protect is available for free on the app store.

Besides this useful security tool, it is essential to install an antivirus if you want to be sure you are not putting yourself at risk. An active antivirus will scan all incoming apps and files to ensure that you do not get infected.

The very best antiviruses on the market update their malware protection regularly to ensure that even newly discovered exploits are secured against.

The advantages of Antivirus software for Android

An antivirus app for Android will give you peace of mind and will allow you to use the internet on your device without putting your data and identity at risk. An Android antivirus will actively detect, disarm, block, and eradicate known exploits. As a result, you ensure that your device is free of malicious software that could negatively affect your life. Failure to use an antivirus could cause:

  • Adware and spyware that prompt unnecessary data use - causing your bill to be higher.
  • Unnecessary battery use that causes your device to run down and the life span to shorten.
  • Data theft leading to financial losses.
  • Data theft leading to identity theft.
  • Infection with ransomware causing you to lose your data unless you pay up.
  • Spyware that allows a hacker to track you, turn on your camera and microphone, and steal your contacts data.
  • Account theft and hacked accounts that could cause your friends and family also to be hacked.

A reliable antivirus will also warn you before you access risky websites and will check the domains you visit against known lists of malevolent websites that are known to contain adware, trackers, malware, or other dangerous exploits.

Are Android Antivirus apps safe?

There is a massive choice of antivirus apps on the market, and not all those apps are safe. Some are purposefully developed to contain adware and spyware, so it is essential that you don’t pick one at random.

If you stick to one of our recommended Android antivirus apps, you will be installing a completely secure program. However, it is essential that you only ever install your antivirus software from the official Google Play app store.

Getting an Android .APK file from an unknown app repository could result in the download of an unofficial version of the application that has been purposefully cloned and infected with malware. To be secure on your Android device, it is essential that you only ever install apps from the official Play Store. Do not accept apps from unknown sources.

Other ways to stay secure on Android

Using a reliable antivirus will massively improve your online health. However, there are a few other things you can do to ensure that your device, your data, and your digital footprint are secure online. Below, we will walk you through some steps you should take to keep yourself safe:

Update your Android OS

An out of date operating system may be vulnerable to previously discovered vulnerabilities. New versions of Android are developed to plug these holes, and it is essential that you always patch your system as soon as a new version is released. If your device asks you to update to a new version of Android, it is essential that you do so at the earliest possible time.

Update your apps

Out of date apps may also harbor known vulnerabilities that could cause your device to be infected or penetrated by a cybercriminal. To ensure device health is at 100%, always patch your apps as soon as an update is made available. For maximum security, set up your device to search for any automatically update your apps:

  1. Open the Google Play Store
  2. Tap Menu > Settings
  3. Tap Auto-update apps

You can even find out more information about the update if you click on the drop-down arrows next to each application.

Avoid unsolicited emails and messages

If you receive an email or social media message out of the blue, treat it with suspicion. Never click the links it contains and do not accept any files or downloads.

Never download apps from untrusted sources

Hackers often create infected versions of official apps. These apps are distributed using unofficial app repositories. For this reason, it is essential that you always stick to downloading apps from an official app store like Google Play. Even using a relatively safe third-party app store, such as F-Droid, does carry some risks, and its developers acknowledge this by explaining that you use it at your own risk.

Monitor your URL bar

Watching your URL bar to ensure that the address does not look suspect is a vital method for ensuring good online health. Many fake and cloned websites of genuine services exist, and it is vital to always check the URL for signs of deception.

Also, always look for the HTTPS prefix and the little padlock symbol. These symbols ensure that you are using websites that are secure against eavesdropping. However, please remember that HTTPS does not guarantee that a site is legitimate. So monitor the address and if in doubt, use an online tool like Google Safe Browsing, or an antivirus with a secure browsing feature to ensure the domain is safe.

Use a VPN

A Virtual Private Network is designed to provide online privacy by encrypting all your data before it leaves your device. This stops your ISP from tracking your web browsing habits and stops government authorities from placing you under constant surveillance. A VPN also stops local network administrators from snooping on you when you use public WiFi.

In addition, a VPN ensures security on public WiFi by stopping hackers from being able to intercept your data. Finally, a VPN stops the websites you visit from tracking your IP address. It also protects your IP address from being discovered by hackers who may potentially attempt to probe your network for vulnerabilities.

Always use strong passwords

A strong password is needed for every single online account you use. Password repetition allows hackers to easily break into multiple accounts, and it is important to ensure that you have a unique password for every single service.

Remembering a truly robust password for every service is too tricky, which is why we recommend you use a password manager.

Written by: Ray Walsh

Digital privacy expert with 5 years experience testing and reviewing VPNs. He's been quoted in The Express, The Times, The Washington Post, The Register, CNET & many more. 

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