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Best Android antivirus of 2021

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Our electronic devices are often the target of malicious attacks, be it with viruses, trojans, phishing, ransomware, spyware, and all other sorts of malware and unwelcome content. Android devices are no exception.

They are exposed to threats coming from diverse sources - unsecured public networks, malicious apps, or infected websites. For this reason, it is highly recommended that you have a good antivirus installed on your Android device(s). Read on to find out which are the best.

(Image credit: Future)

1. Avast Mobile Security

Superior protection for free

Reasons to buy
+ Has a free version + Advanced options in both versions 
Reasons to avoid
- Free version has ads 

Avast has been around for quite some time, keeping our PCs safe from outside threats, but it has also developed an excellent product to protect your Android device(s), as well. The best part? It’s available for free. The free version is supported by ads but you can remove them for a small monthly or yearly fee.

The free Android version not only provides scanning (including system apps) and monitoring against malware and vulnerabilities, but it also offers a bunch of other useful features. For instance, you can filter out unwanted calls and verify your Wi-Fi’s security. There’s also an anti-theft toolkit that you can use to lock your device or erase its content if you lose it or it gets stolen. Stalkerware detection is there as well.

Paying for a premium version will not only remove ads, but will also add some extra features to make it worth your while. One of these is in-app locking which places a PIN/pattern/fingerprint block on certain apps, effectively preventing malware from launching them automatically. Another one is secretly taking photos or audio from your phone when it goes missing.

If you’re willing to pay the extra cost, you can even go for the premium ‘Ultimate’ bundle option, which is accompanied by a VPN, password management tool, and a system cleanup option.

(Image credit: Future)

2. Bitdefender Antivirus Free

The established brand’s take on Android security

Reasons to buy
+ Doesn’t require additional setup + Low battery impact 
Reasons to avoid
- No real-time protection 

Bitdefender is another established player in the Internet security field, with tons of products for various security requirements. One of them is the free antivirus app for Android devices. 

This handy app will provide malware protection and cloud scanning capabilities that parallel those of Bitdefender Mobile Security. Apps are automatically scanned upon installation and it doesn’t require any special configuration.

It’s main selling point is its light weight - the fact that it doesn’t encumber your system resources as it doesn’t run in the background all the time. In other words, you only run it when you need it or schedule the scans yourself.

If this offering isn’t enough, Bitdefender Mobile Security might be the one for you. And we have good news - there’s a 14-day free trial to see if you like it. Do note that this version provides anti-theft tools, privacy advisor, real-time protection for Chrome, and WearON technology that sends alerts to your smartwatch when you leave your phone behind.

(Image credit: Future)

3. AVG AntiVirus for Android

Complete security with a bunch of great options

Reasons to buy
+ Plenty of basic and extra features + Superior phone tracking tools 
Reasons to avoid
- Free version is very limited 

AVG’s Antivirus for Android offers excellent antivirus protection, anti-theft tools, app and device lock capabilities, a camera trap option, and more, and you can try it out for free for 14 days.

In addition, there's a scanner feature for the Wi-FI network you’re trying to connect to, as well as performance enhancement for your battery that kills off processes that are hampering your resources. There's also stalkerware detection.

You can block unwanted calls and there’s even a VPN if you’d like to have additional privacy when browsing.

The anti-theft tools include phone tracking via Google Maps, remote locking and wiping of your data, taking a selfie photo or recording audio of the thief and emailing it to you, as well as activating a loud siren if you think your phone has been stolen.

(Image credit: Future)

4. McAfee Mobile Security

Quite a lot of handy features for a free antivirus

Reasons to buy
+ Keeps your data hogging apps in line + Various smart features in the free version 
Reasons to avoid
- Free version has ads 

McAfee’s Android product, McAfee Mobile Security, is an antivirus platform that holds some serious power, available in free and paid version. 

The free tier provides antivirus scanning for your network, apps, and files, a privacy check tool which allows you to see how much personal info your apps access and share, as well as the anti-theft measures that include locating and locking down your device. It does, however, have in-app ads.

The battery and memory boosters and storage cleaner are there to make your device more efficient, while the safe Wi-Fi option instantly warns you if you’re connecting to an unsafe or unprotected Wi-Fi network. Additionally, you can keep track of apps that waste your data.

As for the paid Standard version, it offers all this and more - protection against suspicious websites, media backup, secure app lock, guest mode that hides your private apps when you share your device, 24/7 phone support, as well as no annoying in-app ads.

(Image credit: Kapersky Lab)

5. Kaspersky Mobile Antivirus

99.9 percent detection rate, even for free users

Reasons to buy
+ Outstanding malware detection rate + Excellent security mechanisms 
Reasons to avoid
- Full functionality is only available for paying users 

Kaspersky’s Android app also comes in free and premium versions, with the main difference being the included features. 

The free option offers enough for most users - malware detection rate of 99.9%, on-demand scans, as well as anti-theft features such as locating and locking your Android device if it goes missing or wiping any data from the device to keep it from getting into the wrong hands. This version also supports Android Wear.

On the other hand, the premium version comes with plenty more. Opting for it will get you anti phishing protection, the app lock feature which also hides calls, texts, and logs from everyone who isn’t you, automatic real-time scanning, safe messaging, blocking malicious URLs before you even click through to them, as well as call/text filtering. 

(Image credit: Future)

6. Sophos Intercept X for Mobile

Premium protection for free, no ads

Reasons to buy
+ Totally free + No ads + Plenty of features 
Reasons to avoid
- A bit heavy on the battery 

Sophos Intercept X for Mobile is an entirely free antivirus service that, unlike the competition, doesn’t condition its free use with ads. 

You can schedule it to periodically scan your apps, storage media, and folders for viruses and inappropriate content, and it can also scan apps for malware during their installation. The malware database is updated every day.

The product will also block any websites that contain malicious, illegal, or undesirable content, as well as checking the links you tap in non-browser apps. Speaking of your apps, Sophos Intercept X will allow you to protect them with a password. The privacy advisor tells you which apps are accessing your personal data or could incur additional costs.

Another useful option is the QR code scanner that allows you to check your contacts, Wi-Fi connections and URLs you visit. The app is also accompanied by an authenticator that creates one-time passwords for 2FA. Your passwords can all be stored in a KeePass-compatible passwords database.

(Image credit: Future)

7. Norton 360

Powerful mobile antivirus

Reasons to buy
+ 100 percent malware detection rate + 30-day free trial 
Reasons to avoid
- No free version anymore 

With years of experience in providing antivirus protection on PCs, it should be no surprise that Norton has a worthy contender for this game as well - the Norton 360.

The app prides itself with a 100 percent detection rate for all malware targeting Android devices and has plenty of professional features besides the antivirus scanning. Powered by Norton Mobile Insight, it also checks the apps for intrusive behavior, high battery and data usage, even before they’re downloaded.

It also protects against man-in-the-middle attacks when you’re connecting to public Wi-Fi and keeps you safe from visiting malicious and phishing websites. Even better, thanks to its in-app search engine that connects to NortonLifeLock’s global threat database, it can flag unsafe websites in your search results. The app also scans the dark web for your information and notifies you if something is found, although it's not available in every country.

Additional features include call blocking from specific, unknown, or hidden phone numbers, system advisor that scans your device’s OS for vulnerable areas, as well as privacy report interactive map with locations where apps send personal information and photographs.

(Image credit: Future)

8. Trend Micro Mobile Security & Antivirus

High-level protection for everyone, especially concerned parents

Reasons to buy
+ Built-in Facebook scanner + Parental control features 
Reasons to avoid
- No free option 

Trend Micro Mobile Security & Antivirus comes with a performance booster that optimizes your device and apps while simultaneously guarding you against viruses, malicious apps, ransomware, crypto-miners, and identity theft.

The role of the platform’s Web Guard is to protect you from harmful websites, be it in terms of fraud, phishing, or other malicious content, regardless of the browser. In an event that your Android device goes missing, the app will help you locate it, lock access to it, erase its content, or snap a picture of whoever tries to use it.

This app can also monitor the URLs you receive in text messages, Facebook, WhatsApp and Line, warning you of risks before you even click on them. New apps are scanned before installing and Wi-Fi networks are scanned to alert you if they’re unsecured. There’s also an integrated Facebook privacy scanner to alert you if your profile settings are revealing too much to outsiders.

Additionally, Pay Guard MobileTM keeps you safe from fake financial, banking, and shopping apps that could be stealing your sensitive information. Parental control measures can be used so that your kids never see content unsuitable for them, based on the level of protection you choose.

(Image credit: Future)

9. AhnLab V3 Mobile Security

Keeps even older devices safe from threats

Reasons to buy
+Teeming with excellent features +Excellent detection rates +Works with older Android models 
Reasons to avoid
-No content filtering from messages or emails 

AhnLab is a South Korean Internet security company that has an outstanding Android protection product called V3 Mobile Security. According to AV-Test, it has shown exceptional detection rates - 99.6%, guaranteeing you won’t be sorry if you choose to download it. You can get the app for free on the Google Play Store, just know that there are ads.

In addition to real-time monitoring and scanning of your apps, OS, rooting, and permissions, V3 enables you to do more. With it, you can create a hidden gallery for personal photographs, prevent phishing websites from opening, as well as securely delete all your browsing history and app cache with its privacy cleaner.

Users can also lock apps, scan QR codes, filter out calls from unwanted or unknown numbers, check which apps are leaking your sensitive information, and prevent malware from erasing the V3 Mobile Security app. Your device’s speed and performance can be increased by optimizing memory usage.

Those with older Android models will be happy to learn that V3 runs smoothly on them as well.

(Image credit: Future)

10. Avira Antivirus Security for Android

VPN-accompanied antivirus that scans your smart home setup

Reasons to buy
+ Includes a free VPN + Scans smart devices in your home network 
Reasons to avoid
- Malicious website blocking only in the premium version 

Avira Antivirus Security is a free all-in-one security app that provides strong protection for your Android device and even throws in a free VPN with a traffic limit of 100MB/day (if you wish, you can pay for unlimited VPN traffic and extra server access). 

It blocks all sorts of threats, including ransomware, and alerts you if your email is leaked in a data breach. Interestingly, it even detects all smart devices in your home network and scans them for vulnerabilities.

Beyond these scanning, blocking, and alerting capabilities, Avira’s mobile app can also help you optimize your memory, system, and app usage, increase your browsing speed, as well as clear cache, junk, and duplicate files.

If your phone gets stolen or misplaced, tools like location tracking, triggering a loud yell, remote locking and content wiping, can help you find it or at least mitigate the consequences.

Expectedly, the Premium version of the app - Avira Antivirus Security Pro - includes more advanced options, like camera and microphone protection, as well as blocking of infected or phishing websites.

Sead Fadilpašić

Sead is a freelance journalist with more than 15 years of experience in writing various types of content, from blogs, whitepapers, and reviews to ebooks, and many more, across sites including Al Jazeera Balkans, TechRadar Pro, IT Pro Portal, and CryptoNews.