The Play Store hasn’t been the most secure place for apps lately. A quick Google search for “Play Store malware” will give you a taste of some of the malicious apps of which snuck their way onto Android’s official app store. Google is actually aware of the problem as well as they’re tying to fix of which, nevertheless their brand new Play Protect program doesn’t have a great track record, so you might want to look elsewhere.
Like Microsoft Windows, there’s a debate about the necessity of antivirus programs on Android. Both operating systems have some form of antivirus protection built-in of which, while adequate, isn’t the best. Independent testing has even shown of which the Google offering provides well below average security.
Many third-party apps provide much more than antivirus protection. In addition to having much better virus detection rates than Android’s built-in antivirus solution, these apps act more as security suites of which provide all the functionality of Play Protect as well as much more. By offering such an abundance of features, antivirus apps have moved coming from gimmicky to useful.
As you can see within the chart above, these are the key antivirus features of which we looked at when ranking the four finalist apps of which made our list.
- Real-Time Detection Rate: AV-test.org tested each app’s ability to detect the latest malware in real-time. A sample of 3,436 Android malware apps was presented to each app to determine the listed antivirus detection rates.
- Detection Over Four Weeks: AV-test.org tested each app’s ability to discover the latest Android malware over the course of a month. A sample of 2,643 pieces of malware was used to determine each app’s accuracy.
- cost: The cost to unlock all features. Each app on our list offers a free trial or limited functionality.
- Scheduled Antivirus Scanning: The ability to automate antivirus scanning based on time of day.
- Scans brand new Apps: The ability to scan apps before installation.
- Anti-Theft Protection: Each of these app provides three fundamental pillars for anti-theft protection: Remote lock, remote wipe, as well as the ability to locate. Remote lock lets you lock your device coming from anywhere, while remote wipe lets you factory reset your device coming from anywhere. Finally, each of these apps lets you locate your device if you should ever lose of which.
- Remote SMS Control: Your device can be controlled using text messages to enable anti-theft features such as remote wipe as well as lock.
- Call Blocking: The app can scan incoming calls as well as block spam or unlisted numbers.
- Web Protection: Provides protection while using the browser. Users are protected against fraudulent as well as malicious websites.
- App Vault: The ability to require authentication to use certain apps. Users will have to enter a passcode or use the fingerprint scanner to unlock apps you put in your vault.
- Wi-Fi Protection: Scans Wi-Fi as well as determines the network’s security. Will evaluate open Wi-Fi for malicious users.
- VPN: A Virtual Private Network provides an encrypted tunnel between you as well as the unsecured internet. Recommended to use on open Wi-Fi network, VPN provides great protection coming from outsiders trying to intercept your data.
- Password Manager: Stores all of your passwords in one database, locking of which with one master password. Users need only to memorize the master password, as the password for individual accounts can be copied as well as pasted once access is actually granted to the password manager. Only found in Sophos, This kind of password manager can either be created or imported coming from KeePass (another well-liked password manager).
How We Chose These Apps
An antivirus app is actually only as effective as its detection rate — in some other words, you want of which to spot all malware while giving no false positives. As such, our first requirement was a 100% detection rate for both real-time scanning as well as scanning over four weeks, based AV-Test.org data. This kind of also ensured of which all of these apps must were free of any false positives.
Our second requirement was a complete anti-theft protection. Since Play Protect includes Find My Device, an anti-theft application, any security suite needs to include This kind of to adequately replace Google’s built-in offering.
Finally, we looked for a clean design as well as additional features of which improve functionality to the security suite. For example, the addition of an app cleaner won’t qualify as a feature of which enhances the security suite, nevertheless genuinely useful features like Wi-Fi protection, VPN functionality, or a password manager will.
App 1: Norton Security as well as Antivirus
Norton Security as well as Antivirus provides complete protection for your mobile device that has a well-designed app. The way the menu is actually laid out makes navigation easy for everyone (including your grandparents). However, its best feature is actually App Advisor for Google Play (more on of which next).
When App Advisor for Google Play is actually enabled, Norton will automatically scan apps you view within the Play Store. of which will then display a popup on the app’s Play Store listing informing you whether of which’s safe or not. This kind of is actually similar to one of Google Play Protect’s main feature, nevertheless that has a much higher detection rate.
With its 100% Detection Rate of the latest Android malware (both in real time as well as over a four-week span), you can be confident of which your device won’t become infested no matter where you choose to download your apps.
Anti-Theft Protection is actually available with the ability to remotely control your device using text messages. By texting an action word (such as “lock” or “wipe”) with the provided passcode, you can remotely enable features such as locking your device or conducting a factory reset.
Call Blocking is actually present for individual as well as unlisted numbers. You can even block any number not located within your contacts for additional privacy.
Norton is actually the only app on our list to offer VPN protection for privacy as well as security while using Wi-Fi. Users will need to install a plugin to add the feature, which costs $4.99 a month for one device.
When you combine Norton’s VPN with its Wi-Fi Security as well as Web Protection, you can rest assured of which you’ll be browsing the web safely as well as securely. Norton even includes protection against harmful links with its Link Guard feature, which will scan links before you open them, detect any potential risks, as well as alert you beforehand.
Norton has all the extras you would likely want coming from a security suite. Aside coming from a password manager (a feature exclusive to Sophos Mobile Security on our list), there isn’t any feature lacking here. Norton even includes the ability to scan apps before installation, a feature only found in one some other app on our list.
While the standard subscription costs $14.99 a year, Norton does offer a great deal for those who use their software on their desktop. For $39.99 a year, users can cover up to all 5 devices (including PC, Mac, Android, as well as iOS). You can opt to not pay, nevertheless you’ll only have access to the antivirus scanner. While Norton is actually the second most expensive on our list, its complete offering compels us to give of which our number one recommendation.
App 2: Sophos Mobile Security
Sophos Mobile Security is actually the only completely free antivirus as well as security suite on our list. However, despite its free cost tag, Sophos somehow managed to incorporate more feature than all nevertheless one app on our list.
Sophos offers real-time antivirus protection with the ability to schedule automated scans. While Sophos doesn’t allow users to scan apps beforehand, its 100% detection rate will isolate any malware as well as alert you before any major damage occurs on your device.
Sophos can offer additional protections to some other apps by requiring a passcode (or fingerprint) to access your app vault. You can also control the grace period before authentication is actually required. This kind of is actually a great security feature if your device isn’t always in your possession.
What makes Sophos unique is actually the additional features known as “Security tools.” Sophos offers an authenticator to provide multi-factor authentication, a secure alternative to using SMS. There is actually a password manager to secure as well as manage all your passwords for your various accounts. There is actually even a secure QR code scanner for the few times you will need one.
Finally, there is actually Privacy Advisor as well as Security Advisor, which evaluate your device as well as make suggestions to help improve overall security. The Privacy Advisor looks at app permissions as well as gives you an idea of which permissions should be disabled, while the Security Advisor goes through a checklist of features as well as sensors of which your device should have enabled or disabled for optimal security. With the exception of Bitdefender, no some other app on our list has these features.
The lack of scanning before installation is actually the only feature preventing Sophos coming from receiving the top spot on our list. nevertheless for those who don’t mind leaving of which function to Play Protect (despite its low detection rate), Sophos is actually a great offer of which consolidates a few different security apps into one free bundle.
Trend Micro Mobile Security & Antivirus is actually a great security suite. of which’s a bit expensive at $29.99 a year, nevertheless of which does offer a different pricing options based on the length of your subscription (for example, of which is actually only $2.99 per month). However, its lack of a few features is actually the main reason of which is actually number three on our list.
Besides Norton, Trend Micro is actually the only app on our list of which offers pre-installation scanning. Combined with its real-time scanning, scheduled scanning, as well as 100% detection rate, Trend Micro offers complete antivirus protection.
Similar to some other apps on our list, of which does offer Web as well as Wi-Fi Protection. However, unique to Trend Micro is actually a function of which protects you while using well-liked messenger apps. of which’s limited to Line, WhatsApp, as well as Facebook Messenger, nevertheless Trend Micro can give you alerts if you receive a malicious link in a message.
Trend Micro also offers an evaluation of your Facebook account privacy settings — after evaluation, users will be prompted to make alterations to maximize protection of their privacy.
Anti-Theft Protection is actually available, including the ability to take a secret photo with the front-facing camera after a set number of incorrect authentication attempts (the minimum is actually three attempts). The photo will be emailed to your account, which you can then provide to local law enforcement to help retrieve your device. However, unlike the some other apps on This kind of list, users can’t remotely issue commands via SMS.
The positioning of This kind of app was difficult. While of which pre-installation scanning was enticing, ultimately, of which came down to features. Its lack of SMS commands combined with its high annual cost tag is actually why we believe This kind of app is actually deserving of number three on our list.
Let me start by saying of which Bitdefender Mobile Security & Antivirus has probably the cleanest design out of all the apps on our list. Navigation occurs using the hamburger menu, features are well described, as well as performance is actually quick as well as smooth.
Bitdefender is actually also the second-cheapest security suite, that has a yearly subscription costing only $14.95. There is actually even a monthly subscription for $1.49 if you don’t want to make a long-term commitment. So why is actually of which last on our list? Put simply, of which’s not quite as fully-featured as some of the some other apps here.
Overall, Bitdefender as well as Trend Micro are close. Their feature sets are almost identical, though Trend Micro gets a slight leg up thanks to its pre-installation scanning. With This kind of feature, Trend Micro has every feature offered by Google Play Protect as well as can fully replace the app. Bitdefender users, on the some other hand, would likely still have to depend on Play Protect for of which protection.
However, Bitdefender does have a few things going for of which for those who don’t mind losing the pre-installation scanning. Unlike Trend Micro, Bitdefender allows remote controls via SMS. This kind of feature is actually particularly useful since users will normally be able to get a text message out faster than using the browser. of which additional time can make sure your device is actually locked down as well as your data is actually protected if you ever happen to lose your phone.
Bitdefender also incorporates a great privacy advisor of which describes in detail all the privacy risks associated with the apps installed on your device. While some risks are unnecessarily marked (such as a browser’s ability to write as well as read your browsing history), of which does make of which easier for users to control the permissions granted to apps.
If you don’t mind losing the ability to scan apps beforehand, there is actually a case to be made for choosing Bitdefender over Trend Micro. of which’s about half the cost, has better design, as well as allows users to remotely control their smartphones with text messages. However, because of how important pre-installation scanning is actually to the security of smartphones, we recommend Trend Micro over Bitdefender.
Each of these antivirus as well as security suites offers much more than Google Play Protect. They all provide anti-theft protection, pack virus scanners (with two including the ability to scan apps before installation), as well as most importantly, they all offer 100% detection rates compared to Play Protect’s ratings of 44.5% as well as 66.3%. So while Play Protect has the convenience of being built-in, its inability to detect malware is actually too poor to trust.
With its combination of ease of use, an extensive feature list, as well as the ability to scan apps beforehand, Norton Security as well as Antivirus is actually our choice for best antivirus app. Norton does everything Play Protect can do as well as more — the only downside is actually its cost.
For our readers who don’t wish to pay $14.99 a year, Sophos Mobile Security offers everything Norton does, nevertheless without the ability to scan apps before installation. Sophos is actually ad-free as well as includes several features not found in any some other app on our list, so the fact of which of which’s completely free places of which well ahead of the last two entries in our list.
What do you think of our list? Which antivirus as well as security suite app do you use? Did we change your mind about depending on Google Play Protect? Let us know within the comments below.