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Smartphone: Best Android Antivirus Apps 2016

Best Android Antivirus Apps

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If you’re not running some kind of anti-malware app on your Android smartphone or tablet, then you’re putting yourself at risk of infection from corrupted apps and other kinds of malware.

The good news is that your options are far from limited. The best mobile antivirus apps offer not only top-notch malware detection and prevention, but also a range of privacy and anti-theft features. These include the ability to back up your contacts and other data, track your phone or tablet using its internal GPS chip, snap a picture of a phone thief with the device’s camera, and even use your Android Wear smartwatch to locate your phone.

Most mobile security apps have both free and paid versions, but not all freemium antivirus products are created equal. We’ve rounded up apps from the biggest names in mobile antivirus protection — Avast, AVG, Bitdefender, Kaspersky, Lookout, McAfee and Norton — and rated their apps based on setup, interface, usability, extra features and, of course, their anti-malware chops.

To gauge security protection, we used data from AV-Test, which rates most major security apps based on their ability to detect zero-day malware and other recent threats. We also used the Geekbench 3 app to measure the impact these security apps have on overall performance.

AVAST! MOBILE SECURITY & ANTIVIRUS

This product’s anti-malware protection is nearly perfect, but it was the breadth and scope of the extra features in Avast! Mobile Security & Antivirus that blew us away. The app’s free version alone is as comprehensive as some other security apps’ paid versions, and Avast’s premium version ($15 per year) includes everything from a privacy adviser to a customizable blacklist, and even has options for rooted phones. The app almost does too much, but the well-organized interface and support keep it user-friendly. Overall, Avast! Mobile Security & Antivirus is our favorite Android security app.

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BITDEFENDER MOBILE SECURITY

Bitdefender isn’t as well-known as some other antivirus companies, but its Android security app is light, powerful, fully featured and easy to use. The app offers flawless malware protection and robust privacy-protection tools while incorporating Android Wear watches into its anti-theft features. However, there are no scheduled malware scans, and no “freemium” options. (The separate Bitdefender Antivirus Free for Android only scans for malware.) But at $15 per year, Bitdefender Mobile Security is well worth the expense.

 

KASPERSKY INTERNET SECURITY FOR ANDROID

A powerhouse in PC security, Kaspersky Lab brings its unbeatable malware-detection engine to Android devices with Kaspersky Internet Security for Android, which costs $14.95 per year for the premium version. But the app’s user interface feels clunky and unfinished, and it lacks the strong privacy-protection features offered by competing products.

 

AVG ANTIVIRUS PRO

AVG is famed for its free Windows antivirus software, and the company’s Android app is similarly easy to use, with excellent anti-theft and privacy-protection features. Yet AVG AntiVirus Pro’s malware-detection rate was far behind other security apps we evaluated, and it slowed down our test smartphone the most. The app’s feature set is boosted by supplementary Android-maintenance apps from AVG that integrate smoothly into the interface, but if malware protection is what you need, it might be best to look elsewhere.

 

 

 

MCAFEE MOBILE SECURITY FOR ANDROID

A well-known name in PC anti-virus software, McAfee impressed us with its wide range of features, which balance functionality with ease of use. We especially liked this product’s anti-theft and privacy-protection features, not to mention its intuitive interface, which is full of helpful notes and keeps complex features simple and understandable. But this product’s malware-detection rate wasn’t quite perfect, and at $29.99 per year for the premium version, McAfee Mobile Security costs twice as much as rival apps that offer better protection.

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LOOKOUT SECURITY & ANTIVIRUS

The sole company on this list that makes only mobile-security products, Lookout’s focus on smartphones and tablets pays off in its app’s smooth performance and beautiful interface design. However, it’s fallen behind the competition in offering diverse privacy-protection features, while the anti-theft features Lookout created are now part of Android itself. Plus, for $3 per month or $30 per year for the premium version, Lookout is twice as expensive as rival apps that offer twice as many features.

Owned by antivirus giant Symantec, Norton is another well-known PC anti-malware company that now also covers the mobile space. But while we can’t argue with Norton’s malware-detection abilities, the mobile app’s limited feature set holds it back. At $29.99 per year for the stand-alone premium app, Norton Mobile Security is worth buying only when it’s bundled into the multi-device, multi-platform Norton Security suite, which covers five computers or mobile devices for $79.99. – TOM’S Guide

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