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The 5 Best Antivirus for Android Phones (2023 Update)

By Tibor Moes / Updated: September 2023

Do you need an antivirus app on your Android phone? Yes, but one that includes an unlimited VPN.

  • Apps can be full of malware. Good antivirus apps will tell you which apps are safe and which are not. They can scan the apps on your phone and those you might download from the Google Play Store.
  • Public Wi-Fi networks aren’t safe. When you surf the web on a public Wi-Fi network, hackers can easily see the information you’re sending and receiving. A VPN will encrypt your data and keep it safe.
  • Your data can be traded on the dark web. The best antivirus apps for Android have a Dark Web Monitor. This feature will track whether your data, like credit card details, are sold on the Dark Web.

Don’t take chances online. Android antivirus apps aren’t expensive and can save you a lot of trouble.

Norton is the best antivirus for Android phones of 2023

Norton Antivirus

Ranked #1 of 28 for Android

  • Malware Protection 100% 100%
  • Speed Impact 100% 100%

Norton offers the best protection for your phone, privacy and identity.

  • Malware protection: 100%. In the last 10 tests, Norton removed all malware. It will protect you against all threats.
  • Speed impact: 100%. In the last 10 tests, Norton had no impact on the speed of the test phone. It will not slow you down.
  • Features: 100%. Anti-phishing, app security, unlimited VPN, ad tracker blocking, dark web monitoring, and more.

Try it risk-free, thanks to its 60-day return policy.

Kaspersky - the second best antivirus app for android phones of 2023

Kaspersky Antivirus

Ranked #2 of 28 for Android

  • Malware Protection 100% 100%
  • Speed Impact 100% 100%

Kaspersky offers excellent protection on Android, but lacks Norton’s unlimited VPN.

  • Malware protection: 100%. In the last 10 tests, Kaspersky removed all malware. It will protect you against all threats.
  • Speed impact: 100%. In the last 10 tests, Kaspersky had no impact on the speed of the test phone. It will not slow you down.
  • Features: 90%. Anti-phishing, anti-theft, app lock, safe kids, and more. But the VPN is limited to 300 / MB per day.

Try it risk-free, thanks to its 30-day return policy.

The best antivirus for Android

We have reviewed antivirus since 2014. Based on our in-depth tests of 28 brands, these are the best antivirus for Android:

  1. 🥇 Norton Antivirus – The #1 in 2023
  2. Kaspersky Antivirus
  3. Bitdefender Antivirus
  4. McAfee Antivirus
  5. Panda Antivirus

We have tested their anti-malware protection, security features, speed impact, false positives, and price.

Scroll down to read the in-depth reviews.

Norton Antivirus Review

Norton Review

Ranked #1 out of 28 for Android

Norton Antivirus for Android Test


Norton is the best antivirus for Android.

It includes all essential features:

  • Anti-malware
  • Web protection
  • Identity theft scanner
  • Unlimited VPN

And a range of bonus features:

  • App advisor
  • Wi-Fi scanner
  • Vulnerability scanner
  • Anti-tracker
  • SMS security checker

Most importantly, the VPN doesn’t have a data limit. By contrast, almost all other antivirus apps have a VPN limit of a few hundred MB / day. That’s not enough.

When you frequently surf on public Wi-Fi, Norton’s unlimited VPN will protect your privacy on those unsecured networks.

We highly recommend Norton for anyone who surfs, shops, or banks on their phone.

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Norton Mobile Security for Android Review

There are 4 things you need to know about Norton’s Android antivirus app:

  1. The Security Features
  2. The Privacy Features
  3. The Identity Features
  4. The difference between Norton Mobile Security and Norton 360

Let’s dive in.

Security Features

Norton packs a lot of security features into its Android app. Outside of the big yellow “scan now” button at the top, which scans your mobile phone for malware, there are five security features:

  • App Security: Set up the App Advisor, which tells you which apps are safe to download from the Google Play Store. It also scans your existing apps for suspicious behavior (a classic indicator of malware), privacy risks, and intrusive ads.
  • Internet Security: Install the Safe Web Browser to block fraudulent websites. You can also add Norton Safe Search to your home or notification screen. This is Norton’s custom search engine, in partnership with Ask.com, that filters malicious websites out of the search results.
  • Wi-Fi Security: Scan your Wi-Fi network’s password strength and encryption standard and get notified if the network is unsafe.
  • Device Security: Check your smartphone for multiple security risks, such as untrusted certificates, KRACK vulnerabilities, USB debugging, and whether you have correctly set up your lock screen and fingerprint scan.
  • SMS Security: Allow Norton to check your text messages for phishing links that try to steal your data.


Norton’s Android antivirus app offers you two outstanding privacy features:

  • VPN: A VPN (Virtual Private Network) hides your IP (Internet Protocol) address and encrypts your internet connection. This makes you anonymous online and safe on public Wi-Fi networks. Norton is the only antivirus app that includes an unlimited VPN.
  • Ad Tracker Blocking: By blocking and removing tracking cookies from your devices, Norton ensures that marketing and data companies can’t follow your movements around the web.


Norton’s identity protection feature, Dark Web Monitoring, does what its name suggests: It scans the Dark Web for your data and will inform you if any of it is being traded. It searches for your home address, driver’s license, insurance information, email accounts, credit cards, bank accounts, and phone numbers.

Note that this feature is not part of the actual app. To access it, you can either log in to your account at my.norton.com or download Norton’s separate app called Norton LifeLock Identity.

Norton Mobile Security vs. Norton 360

If you buy Norton’s Android app on their website or in the Google Play Store, you will get Norton Mobile Security. This app allows you to protect a single Android phone or tablet. For most users, this is the perfect solution.

However, there is another version available called Norton 360. This is the Android app you will get if you buy one of Norton’s 360 products; Standard, Deluxe, or Premium.

Norton Mobile Security and Norton 360 are nearly identical, with two exceptions:

  • Norton Mobile Security does not include the password manager, which Norton 360 does.
  • Norton Mobile Security’s VPN automatically selects a VPN server for you; it does not allow you to choose a server location. The VPN included with Norton 360 does offer the sever selection option.

As Norton Mobile Security is cheaper, it is the best option to protect a single Android phone or tablet. If, however, you want to protect multiple devices, we recommend Norton 360 Deluxe. It protects up to 5 gadgets (across Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS) and offers you access to the full-featured VPN and password manager.

Is Norton Mobile Security the best antivirus app for Android?

Yes, Norton is the best antivirus for Android. Although we miss the anti-theft features other brands offer, Norton makes up for it by including an unlimited VPN, which its competitors don’t. The VPN will keep you safe and private on unsecure networks like public WiFi, which is crucial in the modern world.

Kaspersky Antivirus Review

Kaspersky Review

Ranked #2 out of 28 for Android

Kaspersky Antivirus for Android Test


Kaspersky is one of the best Android antivirus apps that we’ve tested. Although its VPN is limited to 300 MB / day, whereas Norton’s VPN is unlimited, Kaspersky compensates by having a complete feature set and a slightly lower price.

It covers all the core features, including anti-malware, web protection, anti-theft tools, an identity theft scanner, a VPN, and a range of bonus features. These include a call filter, safe messaging, app lock, settings scan, parental controls, and app permissions scan.

Still, if you frequently surf on public Wi-Fi networks, we believe Norton is the better security app because its unlimited VPN will protect you on those unsafe networks.

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Kaspersky Internet Security for Android Review

Kaspersky’s security app is one of the best Android antivirus apps. It is both beautifully designed as well as incredibly complete.

Let us talk you through the feature set:

  • Scan: Run a quick, custom, or full scan of your phone or tablet.
  • Update: Manually update the malware database of the antivirus app and directly run a quick scan after.
  • Real-Time Protection: Turn adware detection on or off and get an update on the security status of your device.
  • Call Filter: Block phone numbers so they can’t reach you.
  • Anti-Theft: Lock and locate your phone if it gets stolen. You can also trigger an alarm, take a photo with the front camera, or wipe the device’s hard drive. All remotely from Kaspersky’s website.
  • App Lock: Set a four-digit code to specific apps on your phone, ensuring that no one but you can access them.
  • Safe Messaging: Let Kaspersky scan your text messages for phishing links that try to hijack your data.
  • Internet Protection: You can add a layer of protection to your browser to block dangerous websites known for phishing, spoofing, and other forms of cybercrime.
  • Data Leak Checker: Instruct Kaspersky to scan the Dark Web for your data, such as email addresses, credit cards, and social security numbers.
  • Weak Settings Scan: Check your device for vulnerable settings that can cause security risks.
  • My Apps: Check what apps can access your calendar, camera, contacts, location, microphone, and more.

And if that wasn’t enough, you can install Kaspersky’s other security apps as well:

  • VPN: A VPN will encrypt your internet connection and hide your IP address, making you anonymous online and safe on public Wi-Fi networks. You’ll get 300 MB / day for free.
  • Safe Kids: Monitor and protect your children online with a basic version of Kaspersky’s parental controls.

The unlimited versions of the VPN and Safe Kids apps are available as separate purchases or as part of Kaspersky Security Cloud, which will also include the excellent password manager.

Is Kaspersky Internet Security the best antivirus app for Android?

It depends. If you frequently surf public Wi-Fi networks, Norton beats Kaspersky due to the inclusion of the unlimited VPN. However, we believe Kaspersky is the best Android antivirus app if you prefer anti-theft features over an unlimited VPN.

We highly recommend Kaspersky for Android devices.

Bitdefender Antivirus Review

Bitdefender Review

Ranked #3 out of 28 for Android

Bitdefender Antivirus for Android Test


Bitdefender Mobile Security for Android covers all the core features: Anti-malware, web protection, anti-theft tools, an identity theft scanner, and a VPN. However, it can’t match the Android apps by Norton or Kaspersky.

Norton and Kaspersky have a more comprehensive range of security features, a better design, and a higher data limit on their VPN. While Bitdefender’s VPN is limited to 200 MB / day, Norton’s VPN is unlimited.

Unless you’re a big fan of the Bitdefender brand, we believe Norton and Kaspersky are better Android antivirus apps.

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Bitdefender Mobile Security for Android Review

Bitdefender Mobile Security for Android isn’t a great-looking app. It certainly can’t match the design excellence of its American rivals, Norton and McAfee. This is a shame. Because feature-wise, it checks most boxes.

Let us walk you through each:


Bitdefender’s first menu item, Dashboard, informs you of the security features that must be installed. These include the Scam Alert, App Lock, Web Protection, and Anti-Theft features. Once all of them are installed and active, the sole purpose of the Dashboard is to inform you that you are safe.

Malware Scanner

The second menu item, Malware Scanner, allows you to scan your phone for malicious apps. It checks visible and invisible apps for a wide range of malware, including ransomware, adware, spyware, or crypto miners.

Web Protection

The third menu item, Web Protection, focuses on browser protection. It will scan your online activities and incoming traffic to shield you from malicious intent. What’s excellent about it is that it works with an extensive range of browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Edge, Brave, Samsung Internet, Huawei Browser, and Dolphin.

Scam Alert

The fourth menu item, Scam Alert, looks for malicious text messages containing links to scams and phishing attacks.


The fifth and last menu item, More, includes a wide range of features:

  • VPN: A VPN encrypts your internet connection and hides your device’s IP address. This makes you anonymous online and safe on unsecured Wi-Fi connections. You can use the built-in VPN, but we recommend downloading Bitdefender’s separate VPN app, which is considerably better. Note that Bitdefender’s free VPN is limited to 200 MB / day. By contrast, Norton’s VPN is unlimited, and Kaspersky offers a daily limit of 300 MB.
  • Anti-Theft: Bitdefender’s anti-theft feature lets you remotely locate, lock, and wipe your phone. On top of that, the phone will take a photo with the front camera after three failed login attempts.
  • Account Privacy: Similar to the Dark Web Monitor by Norton, Bitdefender checks whether your data, like email addresses, has been compromised and is traded on the internet.
  • App Lock: Protect sensitive apps with a pin code or your gadget’s biometrics scanner (face or fingerprint).

Is Bitdefender Mobile Security the best antivirus app for Android?

No, it’s not. Although it covers all the features you need from an Android security app, its design is disappointing, and its VPN data limit of 200 MB / day is among the lowest in our test.

We believe that Norton, with its unlimited VPN, is the best antivirus app for Android users who frequently surf on public Wi-Fi networks. And for those who prefer anti-theft features over an unlimited VPN, we think Kaspersky is the best security app, as it’s more complete than Bitdefender.

McAfee Antivirus Review

McAfee Review

Ranked #4 out of 28 for Android

McAfee Antivirus for Android Test


McAfee has a beautiful design and covers most of the features we want in a security app. It includes anti-malware, web protection, an identity theft scanner, and a VPN limited to 500 MB / day. But it lacks anti-theft tools, and its bonus features only include a Wi-Fi security checker.

We prefer Norton for its unlimited VPN for users who frequently use public Wi-Fi networks. And for users who want an affordable yet complete security app with anti-theft tools, we believe Kaspersky is a great option.

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McAfee Mobile Security for Android Review

McAfee’s Mobile Security for Android is a beautifully designed app divided into three tabs, which you can access at the bottom of the screen.

In the most left tab, McAfee aims to educate (“how can unsecured Wi-Fi affect me?”) and inspire action (“Let’s protect you from risky websites – get safe browsing”).

In the second tab, the security elements appear. These include five components:

  • Antivirus Scan: Scan your apps, files, photos, and videos for malware and dangerous apps.
  • Identity Protection: Give McAfee your email addresses, credit card details, and other personal data to scan the Dark Web for these.
  • Secure VPN: Activate the VPN to surf anonymously and privately across the web. McAfee’s VPN is limited to 500 MB / day, which is more generous than Bitdefender’s 200 MB / day and Kaspersky’s 300 MB / day but falls short of the unlimited data provided by Norton.
  • Wi-Fi Security Scanner: Test your Wi-Fi network’s encryption and password strength.
  • Safe Browsing: Add anti-phishing protection and a web advisor to your browser.

Is McAfee Mobile Security the best antivirus app for Android?

No, it’s not. Although the design is excellent, and its VPN data limit of 500 MB / day is generous, there are better options.

For privacy-minded users, we recommend Norton for its unlimited VPN. And for users who worry about theft, we prefer Kaspersky due to its excellent anti-theft features.

Panda Antivirus Review

Panda Review

Ranked #5 out of 28 for Android

Panda Antivirus on Windows 11


Panda covers some security features, including anti-malware, a VPN, and anti-theft features. But it misses web protection and an identity theft scanner.

However, it offers a few bonus features, like a call blocker, app locker, and permissions scan. Especially the last one, the permissions scan, is a rare feature we would like to see more often in other antivirus apps.

On the plus side, the core of Panda’s offering (anti-malware, VPN, anti-theft, and the permissions scanner) is available in the app’s free version. This makes Panda the best free antivirus for android in our test.

However, if you’re willing to part with a few dollars, we believe that Norton offers better protection for users who frequently use public Wi-Fi networks, thanks to its unlimited VPN.

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Panda Dome Antivirus for Android Review

Panda offers two versions of its antivirus app for Android, a free and paid version. And although the paid version offers a few extra handy features, we think most of the value is provided by the free app. So let us talk you through the characteristics of each.

Panda’s free antivirus app includes the following:

  • Antivirus: Scan your apps, files, and SD cards for malware, either manually or automatically, at regular intervals.
  • VPN: Hide your IP address and encrypt your internet connection to restore online anonymity. Panda’s VPN is limited to 150 MB / day, the lowest data limit in our test.
  • Privacy Auditor: Scan the permissions of all apps on your phone to see which can track your location, access your media files, and more. You can delete any overly intrusive apps from within Panda’s app.
  • Anti-Theft: Locate and lock your phone when lost or stolen. You can also remotely erase all the data on your hard drive.

Panda’s paid antivirus app includes everything above and adds the following:

  • Advanced Anti-Theft: Remotely trigger an alarm or take a photo using the front camera of your phone or tablet.
  • Call Blocker: Block specific, unknown, and hidden phone numbers from reaching you.
  • App Lock: Add an extra layer of security to your most sensitive apps in the form of a 4-digit pin code.

Is Panda Dome Antivirus the best antivirus app for Android?

It depends. If you want one a free antivirus app for android, Panda has a compelling offer. For free, you can get the core of its features, including anti-malware, VPN, basic anti-theft, and permissions scan. We, therefore, think that Panda is the best free antivirus for Android in our test.

If, however, you want the best protection, it’s not found in a free Android security app. Instead, the paid options by Norton and Kaspersky are both considerably better. In addition, each offers more security features, such as anti-phishing web protection and a higher VPN data limit.

Specification comparison

Below, we compare the features of the best antivirus for Android. The core features we look for are anti-malware, anti-phishing (web protection), anti-theft, identity theft scanner (dark web monitor), and an unlimited VPN.

The anti-malware scores are based on our own in-house tests and the protection test scores for Android by AV-Test, the independent test lab from Germany. The speed impact scores are based on the performance test scores for Android by AV-Test.

Sadly, Panda does not partake in the trial runs of AV-Test. Therefore, we have no objective data to judge its anti-malware protection and speed impact.

#1 of 20
#2 of 20
#3 of 20
#4 of 20
#5 of 20
Speed impact




Identity theft Scanner

VPN Data Limit
300 MB / day
200 MB / day
Unlimited (if auto-renewal is active)
150 MB / day
Money back guarantee
60 days
60 days
30 days
30 days
30 days

User reviews

We’ve compared the user reviews of all antivirus brands. We’ve used the scores and review count of TrustPilot, a leading user review platform. However, take these results with a grain of salt, as some brands actively attempt to increase their ratings.

Personally, we are wary of exceptionally high scores. Especially those by brands such as TotalAV, known for aggressive marketing and sales tactics.

We consider scores between 4.0 and 4.5 good and realistic. Higher scores are dubious, and lower scores indicate that the brand might have a poor product or customer service. McAfee’s scores, for instance, are worrying.

Review score
Review count

What is antivirus software?

Antivirus software is a type of utility used for scanning and removing viruses from your device. It’s a key tool for maintaining digital health, not just for PCs, but also for mobile devices such as Androids.

Antivirus software is essential because it protects your device from various cyber threats such as malware, ransomware, spyware, and phishing attacks. It acts as a security guard, monitoring and safeguarding your digital environment against any potential risks.

For more, read our blog post on what antivirus software is.

How does antivirus software work?

Antivirus software uses several methods to detect and neutralize threats. These include:

Signature-based detection

This is the most common method used by antivirus software. In essence, it works like a wanted poster for malware. Viruses have unique pieces of code, and antivirus developers catalogue these in virus signature databases. When the software scans a device, it’s looking for these unique signatures. When it finds a match, it knows it has encountered a threat.

Heuristic analysis

While signature-based detection is effective for known threats, heuristic analysis is used to identify new or modified malware that hasn’t been encountered before. It does this by examining the characteristics and behaviors of files and programs, looking for suspicious activities or structures that are commonly associated with malware. It’s a predictive approach that provides an additional layer of defense against evolving cyber threats.

Behavior-based detection

This method, also known as behavioral blocking, monitors the behavior of applications in real time. When it detects abnormal behavior, such as unauthorized attempts to access system files or other unusual operations, it flags or blocks the application. This method can be effective against zero-day threats – threats that exploit vulnerabilities before they’re known to security experts and can be added to signature databases.

Each of these methods plays a crucial role in maintaining the security of your Android device, helping ensure that your personal data stays safely in your hands.

For more, read our blog post on how antivirus software works.

Do Android phones need antivirus software?

Yes, Android phones absolutely need antivirus software. While it’s true that Android systems come with basic built-in security measures, they often aren’t enough to protect against the array of ever-evolving threats lurking in the digital world.

Firstly, Android’s open-source nature, while beneficial for customization, also makes it a prime target for malware attacks. An antivirus software provides additional, and often more advanced, protection against these threats.

Secondly, we increasingly use our smartphones for sensitive tasks, like online banking, shopping, and handling confidential business communications. Antivirus software is necessary to ensure these activities are secure and your personal data is safeguarded.

Lastly, Android users frequently download apps from various sources, not always from Google Play Store. Antivirus software can scan these apps for potential threats, protecting your device from possible infiltrations.

To enhance security even further, it’s wise to choose an antivirus software that includes a Virtual Private Network (VPN) without a data limit. A VPN creates a secure connection for your online activities, effectively hiding your IP address and encrypting data that is sent and received. This makes it exceedingly difficult for cybercriminals to intercept and misuse your information. With a no-data-limit feature, you can maintain this high level of security at all times, regardless of how much you browse or download.

In summary, antivirus software plays an essential role in fortifying Android phones against cyber threats, and those that include an unlimited VPN offer an extra layer of much-needed security in our increasingly interconnected world.

For more, read our blog post on whether Android phones need antivirus.

What are the built-in security features of Android?

Android, Google’s widely adopted mobile operating system, has undergone significant evolution in terms of security. Recognizing the importance of user data protection and the threats in the cyber world, Google has integrated a plethora of security measures to keep its vast user base safe. Let’s delve into the comprehensive security features baked into Android:

Google Play Protect

It’s Android’s in-house malware protection. Play Protect scans millions of apps on Google Play daily, ensuring users only download applications free from harmful software. Additionally, it continuously checks the device for potentially harmful apps and offers removal options if something suspicious is detected.


Each Android application runs in its own user space, a dedicated sandbox. This isolation means that even if an app is compromised, the attacker is confined to that app’s sandbox and cannot freely access other apps or system data.

Secure Boot

Android devices employ a Secure Boot mechanism. This ensures that when the device starts up, it only runs software with a valid signature from the manufacturer. This minimizes the risk of bootkits and rootkits infiltrating the startup process.


From Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) onwards, full-disk encryption has been mandatory for all new Android devices. This ensures data remains confidential even if the device falls into the wrong hands. Newer Android versions use file-based encryption, which offers better isolation and protection between users and profiles.

Biometric Authentication

Fingerprint scanning, face recognition, and other biometric methods offer a higher level of security than traditional passwords. Android provides support for these technologies, adding an extra layer of user verification.

Monthly Security Updates

Google releases monthly security patches addressing vulnerabilities discovered in Android. Manufacturers and carriers are urged to roll out these updates promptly to ensure user devices remain secure against known threats.

Permissions Model

Android employs an app permissions model that requires applications to request access to specific device functions or user data. Users have the power to grant or deny these requests, giving them better control over their data.

Safe Browsing with Google Chrome

Google Chrome, the default browser on many Android devices, comes with a Safe Browsing feature. It warns users when they attempt to visit potentially harmful websites, reducing the risk of phishing attacks and malicious downloads.

Find My Device

Formerly known as Android Device Manager, this feature allows users to locate, lock, or wipe their device remotely. This is especially valuable in case a device is lost or stolen.

Hardware-backed Keystore

Modern Android devices come with a hardware-backed keystore, which securely generates and stores cryptographic keys. These keys are stored in a way that makes extraction difficult, even if the device is compromised.

Network Security Config

Introduced in Android 7.0 (Nougat), this feature allows app developers to customize network security settings in their applications, further promoting safe data transmission.

User Data Restrictions for Apps

Beginning with Android 10, apps are given limited access to device location, camera, and microphone data. Users have finer control over when apps can access this sensitive information.

Scoped Storage

In Android 10 and later versions, apps have restricted access to external storage, reducing the risk of misuse of user data. Apps can only access files in their dedicated directory unless given explicit user permission.

These features collectively make Android a robust and secure mobile platform. While no system can claim absolute immunity from threats, Android’s proactive and layered approach to security ensures that risks are minimized and users are empowered to protect their data.

How do we test antivirus for Android?

When assessing antivirus software for Android, we conduct thorough and robust evaluations based on six critical elements, each with a different weighting. These include:

  • Anti-malware protection (30%)
  • Security and privacy features (30%)
  • Speed impact (10%)
  • False positives (10%)
  • Price (10%)
  • Ownership and reputation (10%)

Let’s delve into the first element – anti-malware protection.

Anti-malware protection (30%)

As one of the most vital aspects of any antivirus software, we place heavy emphasis on anti-malware protection, attributing 30% of the overall score to this factor.

In-house testing

To conduct an exhaustive review, we run our own in-house tests, using an Android test phone as the subject. We subject the phone to dozens of malicious apps, testing whether the antivirus software’s malware scanner can identify and neutralize each one.

In a separate scenario, we simulate malware attacks, executing malware files to examine if the software’s real-time protection can effectively halt these incursions.

Our in-house testing aims to emulate real-world conditions that an average user may encounter, ensuring our reviews are practical, relevant, and reliable.

AV-Test results

Complementing our in-house testing, we also analyze protection test results from AV-Test, an independent organization renowned for its rigorous testing of security software. Their test results provide invaluable third-party verification of an antivirus software’s effectiveness in protecting against malware.

These results are analyzed in the context of various factors, including the volume of malware detected, the software’s response to zero-day attacks, and its ability to remove an infection from the device.

In essence, the combination of our in-house testing and AV-Test results helps us provide a comprehensive and objective evaluation of the anti-malware protection provided by each antivirus software.

Security and privacy features (30%)

We devote 30% of our scoring to an antivirus software’s security and privacy features. A robust antivirus suite should do more than just fend off malware; it should also offer comprehensive tools to protect your online privacy and secure your data. Here’s how we assess these features:

Web protection (anti-phishing)

Anti-phishing features prevent you from falling prey to fraudulent websites that try to steal your personal information. We test this feature by deliberately visiting known phishing sites and observing whether the software effectively blocks them.


While this feature is often not available on Android, we evaluate it on the PC equivalent of the antivirus software. A firewall monitors and controls incoming and outgoing network traffic based on predetermined security rules. We test this by simulating both inbound and outbound attacks to see how effectively the software can block unauthorized access.

Password manager

A password manager securely stores all your passwords in one place, allowing you to use complex, unique passwords without needing to remember them all. We test its effectiveness by looking at encryption levels, ease of use, and additional features like auto-fill and password generation.

Virtual private network (VPN)

A VPN hides your IP address and encrypts your internet connection, enhancing privacy and security. We assess VPNs by checking their speed, reliability, and whether they maintain a no-logs policy.

Parental controls

Parental controls help parents monitor and control their children’s internet usage. We evaluate these controls by examining their flexibility, the ability to filter content, and monitoring features.

Identity theft protection

This feature alerts you to any unauthorized use of your personal information. We test it by checking the types of information monitored, alert sensitivity, and the support provided in case of identity theft.

Secure cloud storage (cloud backup)

Secure cloud storage, or cloud backup, keeps a secure copy of your important files in the cloud. We assess it based on storage capacity, encryption standards, and ease of file recovery.


Anti-ransomware tools prevent malicious software from encrypting your files and demanding a ransom. We test this feature by deploying real-world ransomware samples and observing if the software successfully prevents encryption.

Dark web monitoring

This feature scans the dark web for your personal information to see if it’s been exposed. We test this by checking the depth and breadth of the scanning process and the response when information is found.

By thoroughly testing these features, we can ensure that the antivirus software doesn’t just protect against malware but also provides comprehensive security and privacy protection.

Bonus features

An antivirus program can come with various entry-level functions, such as spam filters and secure browsers, and premium options like online storage with enhanced security. We consider the following bonus features worthy of your consideration:

  • Ad Blocker
  • Anti-theft
  • Email protection
  • File encryption
  • File shredder
  • Gaming mode
  • Microphone protection
  • PC maintenance features
  • Secure browser (hardened browser to protect your online banking)
  • Spam filter
  • Startup optimizer
  • Tune up tools
  • Virtual keyboard
  • Webcam protection

Speed impact (10%)

In our evaluation, we allot 10% of the score to the antivirus software’s impact on device performance. A high-quality antivirus should offer robust protection without significantly slowing down your device.

To measure this, we lean on AV-Test’s performance tests, which assess how a security product affects system speed while visiting websites, downloading apps, installing and running programs, and copying files. By factoring in these results, we aim to ensure the antivirus software offers optimal protection with minimal performance impact.

False positives (10%)

False positives occur when an antivirus incorrectly identifies a safe file or application as malicious. A high rate of false positives can be disruptive and cause users to ignore real threats. Therefore, we allocate 10% of our score to this factor.

We use AV-Test’s usability tests as a guide, which involve scanning over a million files and applications to determine the software’s accuracy and its propensity for false alarms. This helps us ensure that the antivirus software you choose provides precise, reliable threat detection.

Price (10%)

While the efficacy of an antivirus is paramount, cost is a crucial factor for many users. So, we allocate 10% of our score to price, focusing on value for money. Not all antivirus software delivers the same level of protection, features, or user experience, so we consider what you’re getting for your investment.

Also, we note that there are often significant differences between first-year promotional prices and renewal prices. By factoring these elements into our analysis, we strive to recommend software that offers strong protection at a reasonable cost.

Ownership and reputation (10%)

Trustworthiness plays a significant role in choosing antivirus software. Consequently, we attribute 10% of the score to the company’s ownership and reputation. This includes examining the company’s track record in handling user data and their reaction to any controversies.

For instance, Avast faced criticism for selling user data through a subsidiary, Jumpshot. Situations like these affect user trust and reflect on the company’s commitment to privacy.

By considering these factors, we help ensure that the software you choose comes from a reputable source that respects user privacy and operates with integrity.

For more, read our blog post on how we test antivirus software.

How to choose the best antivirus for Android?

Choosing the best antivirus software for your Android device isn’t simply a matter of picking the most popular or expensive option. It involves considering several factors to ensure you’re getting reliable, comprehensive protection that suits your needs and budget. Here are some key elements to consider:

Reliable protection from malware

At its core, antivirus software must effectively detect and neutralize malware. Look for software that excels in real-world malware protection tests, and specifically for Android. It should be adept at guarding against both known and zero-day threats.

Security updates

The digital threat landscape is always evolving, and good antivirus software must keep up. Choose a product that regularly releases security updates to stay on top of new threats. Also, the update process should be smooth and unobtrusive, ideally working in the background without interrupting your device usage.

Security features

The best antivirus solutions offer more than just malware protection. Look for additional security features like anti-phishing protection, secure browsing, VPN, password manager, and identity theft protection. If you have children, consider parental control features. The right mix will depend on your personal needs, so evaluate what each software offers in this regard.

Performance impact

While robust protection is necessary, it shouldn’t compromise your device’s performance. The antivirus software you choose should run efficiently, causing minimal impact on your device’s speed or battery life. Remember, top-notch security doesn’t have to mean sluggish performance.

Customer support

Reliable customer support is crucial. Ideally, the antivirus provider should offer round-the-clock support through multiple channels like live chat, email, or phone. Also, look for the availability of helpful online resources like FAQs, forums, or how-to guides.

First-year and second price

Pricing can be a deciding factor when choosing antivirus software. While many providers offer enticing first-year deals, the cost can increase significantly upon renewal. Always consider the full price, and remember that more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better. Look for software that offers solid protection and features at a price you’re comfortable with, both in the first year and beyond.

By considering these factors, you can choose an antivirus solution for your Android device that provides comprehensive protection, offers good value for money, and suits your specific needs.

Operating system

If you have a specific operating system that you would like to protect, we probably have a dedicated antivirus comparison for it:

Click the links to be taken to your comparison of choice.

What cyber threats can antivirus protect you from?

Antivirus software is designed to shield users from a wide variety of cyber threats. While it may not protect against all forms of cyber-attacks, it serves as a critical defense against many common and destructive ones. Here’s an overview of several threats that good antivirus software can protect you from:


Malware is malicious software intended to harm or exploit any computing device or network. It is an umbrella term that includes various types of threats such as viruses, worms, trojans, and more. Antivirus software can scan for and remove malware, offering real-time protection.

For more, read our blog post on malware or malware examples.


Adware is a type of software that automatically displays or downloads advertising material, often without the user’s consent. Some adware can be harmless, but others can be intrusive and may come bundled with spyware. Antivirus software can help identify and block adware.

For more, read our blog post on adware or adware examples.


Botnets are networks of private computers infected with malicious software and controlled as a group without the owners’ knowledge. They’re often used for launching distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, spamming, and other cybercrimes. Good antivirus software can detect and remove the malware that turns a device into a bot.

For more, read our blog post on botnets or botnet examples.


Keyloggers are a type of surveillance technology used to monitor and log keystrokes. They’re often used by cybercriminals to steal personal data like usernames and passwords. Antivirus software can detect keylogger installations and neutralize them.

For more, read our blog post on keyloggers or keylogger types.


Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts a victim’s files. The attacker then demands a ransom from the victim to restore access to the data upon payment. Antivirus software can provide a robust defense against ransomware attacks.

For more, read our blog post on ransomware or ransomware examples.


Rootkits are a set of software tools that enable an unauthorized user to take control of a computer system without detection. They’re often used to mask the activities of hackers. Antivirus software with rootkit detection can identify and remove these threats.

For more, read our blog post on rootkits or rootkit examples.


Spyware is software that enables a user to obtain covert information about another’s computer activities by transmitting data covertly from their hard drive. Antivirus software can detect, quarantine, and eliminate these privacy-invading threats.

For more, read our blog post on spyware or spyware examples.


Trojans are a type of malicious software that misleads users of its true intent. They’re often disguised as legitimate software and used to gain access to users’ systems. Antivirus software can identify and remove Trojan threats.

For more, read our blog post on trojans or trojan examples.


Viruses are malicious software programs that, when executed, replicate by modifying other computer programs and inserting their own code. They can cause serious damage, like deleting files or accessing personal data. Antivirus software provides primary protection against viruses.

For more, read our blog post on viruses or virus examples.


Worms are malware that replicate themselves to spread to other computers over a network, often causing harm by consuming bandwidth or overloading web servers. Antivirus software can detect and eliminate these threats.

By protecting against these threats, antivirus software plays a pivotal role in safeguarding your devices and personal information from cybercriminals.

For more, read our blog post on worms or worm examples.

What cyber threats can antivirus not protect you from?

While antivirus software is a powerful line of defense against many forms of malware and cyber threats, there are certain risks that it may not fully guard against. These threats primarily involve human factors and require users to exercise caution and awareness. Here’s a look at some of them:


Phishing involves fraudulent attempts to obtain sensitive data, such as usernames, passwords, and credit card numbers, by disguising as a trustworthy entity in electronic communication. Antivirus software can often block known phishing sites, but it can’t prevent you from falling for a cleverly disguised email or text message. Avoiding phishing attacks requires vigilance on the user’s part.

For more, read our blog post on phishing or phishing examples.

Online Scams

Online scams come in various forms, including fraudulent websites, email scams, or social media scams promising incredible deals or monetary rewards. Antivirus software can block known scam sites but cannot stop a user from initiating a transaction on a deceitful page. The best defense against online scams is user education and awareness.

For more, read our blog post on online scams.

Social Engineering

Social engineering involves manipulating individuals into divulging confidential information or performing actions that compromise their security. This could involve impersonation, deception, or exploitation of trust. Antivirus software can’t protect against this since it primarily relies on human judgement. Awareness and skepticism are your best defenses.

For more, read our blog post on social engineering.

Zero-Day Exploits

Zero-day exploits are attacks that take advantage of a software vulnerability on the same day that the vulnerability becomes known. Antivirus software often relies on databases of known threats, and zero-day vulnerabilities are, by definition, unknown at the time of their first exploitation. While some antivirus software can recognize suspicious behavior and block unknown threats, they can’t guarantee protection against all zero-day exploits.

Remember, while antivirus software is crucial, it’s not a cure-all solution. Many of the most dangerous online threats rely on exploiting human behavior rather than software vulnerabilities. Therefore, staying educated about the latest threats and maintaining a high level of awareness when online is just as important.

For more, read our blog post on zero-day exploits.

What antivirus software have we tested?

We have tested 28 antivirus brands, ranging from entry-level free antivirus programs, to mid-range paid antivirus software and full-featured internet security suites.

As a general rule of thumb, even the best free malware removal programs, like Avast One, cannot compete with the comprehensive malware protection offered by paid solutions, like Norton 360 Deluxe or Bitdefender Total Protection.

Below is the list of the 20 most important brands:

The best antivirus programs are Norton 360 Deluxe, Norton 360 Advanced, and Bitdefender Total Security. By comparison, the other antivirus software cost too much, offer less capable protection from malware threats, or have no unlimited VPN access.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are the most frequently asked questions.

What is the best antivirus software for Android?

Norton and Kaspersky offer comprehensive protection at a fair price. Check our website for exclusive discounts!

Do you need antivirus software on Android?

Yes, absolutely! It’s vital to protect your device from a variety of cyber threats.

How does antivirus software work?

Antivirus software identifies, blocks, and removes malicious software through signature-based detection, heuristic analysis, and behavior-based detection.

Will antivirus software slow down your Android device?

High-quality antivirus software won’t slow down your device. However, lesser quality options might have an impact.

Is a free antivirus app for Android safe?

Free antivirus apps often provide less protection and may include intrusive ads. They’re typically not as safe as premium versions.

Is Kaspersky still safe?

Yes, despite its Russian origin, Kaspersky has not been proven to be unsafe and remains a reliable antivirus choice.

Languages and sources

Similar pages in other languages on SoftwareLab.org:

Below are the sources and tools we’ve used to test the antivirus software:


Author: Tibor Moes

Author: Tibor Moes

Founder & Chief Editor at SoftwareLab

Tibor is a Dutch engineer and entrepreneur. He has tested security software since 2014.

Over the years, he has tested most of the best antivirus software for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, as well as many VPN providers.

He uses Norton to protect his devices, CyberGhost for his privacy, and Dashlane for his passwords.

This website is hosted on a Digital Ocean server via Cloudways and is built with DIVI on WordPress.

You can find him on LinkedIn or contact him here.