What Is The Best Android Antivirus (March)?

Updated 14th March – latest results from AV-Test included

A few months ago the AV-Test IT Security Institute released a preliminary report on the effectiveness of free Android antivirus scanners. It concluded that popularity appears to offer no reliable indication of a product’s usefulness – many of the free products gave as much protection as a paper bag in a hurricane.

However, the tests only covered 7 free products so missed out popular apps like Lookout Security – and many of the traditional big boys have since released new products.

So it is timely that AV-Test have now released a new report which tested 41 Android antivirus products – including free and paid apps. However, testing for Android malware is still in its infancy and is technically more difficult due to the relative scarcity of malware (compared to the Windows market).

Note also that some apps offer extra features (e.g. anti-theft and recovery) which may be even more important to some mobile users than the actual level of antivirus protection.

Results

AV-Test grouped the 41 products tested into 5 categories based on the percentage of malware they detected:

> 90% of malware – 10 products. Detailed below. Only 3 of these were paid products, the rest were free
> 65% – 13 products. Including apps from AVG, BitDefender, Comodo, ESET, Norton, Trend Micro and Vipre
> 40% – 3 products
> 0% – 13 products. Including the popular (up to 1 million installs) Android Antivirus which crashed several times during the tests. With consummate irony, AV-Test noted that the advertisements worked properly
0% – 2 products

Best Android Antivirus Products

The top products achieving 90%+ detection were (in alphabetical order):

Avast Free Mobile Security

FREE – Available here. Antivirus and Anti-Theft security. User ratings of 4.4 and excellent user interface

Dr Web anti-virus Light

FREE – Available here. Antivirus security. User ratings of 4.5

F-Secure Mobile Security

$39.99 – Available here. For smartphones and tablets. Protect the contents of devices, safe mobile web browsing, assist if device is lost or stolen. 1 of only 2 products (the other was Kaspersky) to achieve > 90% detection for every malware family

IKARUS mobile security Lite

FREE – Available here. Antivirus security. User ratings of 4.3

Kaspersky Mobile Security Lite

FREE – Available here. Antivirus security and Anti-Theft security. 1 of only 2 products (the other was F-Secure) to achieve > 90% detection for every malware family. User ratings of 4.6

Lookout Security & Antivirus

FREE – Available here. Antivirus security, data backup and Find Your Phone security. User ratings of 4.5 – Good result from a mobile specialist

McAfee Mobile Security

$29.99 – Available here. For smartphones and tablets. Security and antivirus, anti loss/theft, data backup and restore, locates and tracks your device. User ratings of 4.3

NQ Mobile Security

FREE – Available here. Antivirus security, backup, privacy and Find Your Phone. User ratings of 4.3

Zoner Antivirus Free

FREE – Available here. Antivirus, phone filtering, Anti-theft. User ratings of 4.4 – Good result from a mobile specialist

Full Report

The full report is available for download from AV-Test here.

Conclusion

It is difficult to say which is the best Android antivirus app – whilst all the top 10 may offer excellent protection, the clincher for many people will vary depending which added features each app supports and how reliable / lightweight they are. My own preferences are for Avast and Lookout but I have not tried all 10 personally and your own requirements may differ.

The fact that only three paid apps made it into the top 10 is great for hard pressed Android consumers. Certainly their pricing looks difficult to justify compared to the best free products.

The major desktop players have a lot of catching up to do – mobile specialists who were first to see the potential of Android security apps have gained huge traction e.g. Lookout has 10-50m installs. Of the top 10 only Avast comes anywhere close to Lookout’s popularity with 5-10m installs for its free app.

It may be difficult for traditional AV vendors to make further inroads into this market unless their paid apps offer better protection with more added features.

10 Responses to: "What Is The Best Android Antivirus (March)?"

  1. Shreela says:

    I initially chose Lookout based on number of users + ratings.But between the size being bigger than the other high-rated MAVP’s, plus reading the text below, I’m thinking of going with Dr Web anti-virus Light, as it has a decent amount of users with as high a ratings as the others, but it’s about half the size of the others. App-size matters to me because either I went nuts on apps, or my “frugal” phone has less space.

    “Due to the restricted backup functions and because Lookout Mobile Security only works when internet connection is assured we’re giving this app a 3 star rating—too bad, the app definitely has a lot of potential!”
    http://www.androidpit.com/en/android/tests/test/392075/Lookout-Mobile-Security-The-Security-Suite

    The reason the above is important to me is because I’m still connected via WiFi only, and am considering just using a 3g voice+text plan. My WiFi isn’t 24/7 either.

  2. pepoluan says:

    Thanks for an excellent, up-to-date article! With the recently found drive-by malware download, I am much more concerned than before of my phone’s security. I also like Avast, but I wonder if there’s any antivirus at least as good as Avast, but lighter (in terms of memory & CPU used)?

    (For my needs, I’ll be willing to pay. If course, free is preferred, but if I have to pay for additional peace of mind, so be it.)

    • Roy says:

      Hi, it’s difficult to judge CPU and RAM usage with Android antivirus apps as, unlike desktop AV programs, they’re not widely tested for impact on resources – only recently started to be tested at all.

      Avast’s desktop AV has a well deserved reputation for being light on system resources and the small size of its Android install suggests it is light on Android too whilst still having anti-theft features etc. However Zoner install size is even smaller whilst still including similar features.

      Without having tested all 10 personally, perhaps try Zoner if you find Avast a little bloated? Of course added protection is to only ever download apps from the official Google Play market (and scan the reviews) and not to root your phone.

  3. ben says:

    thanks.. p.s. all android users. watch out for a app called n64 emulator… VERY DANGEROUS… ( deletes android operating system

    • Roy says:

      Can you give any link to/evidence of this app being a problem? There are a couple on Google Play or are you talking about a non-market app (in which case all bets are off as they are not vetted by Google)

  4. Thomas says:

    How does Sophos Mobile Security compares against the mobile AV apps listed above. I use it on my phone and it works well. Free, no light version (no ads or nag-screens) and uses little memory.

    • Roy says:

      Unfortunately Sophos wasn’t included in these tests so it’s difficult to assess how well it compares in absolute security.

      However, they’re a well respected AV company that have been around the desktop market for years so it’s unlikely their Mobile security is poor – it also has good feedback like yours.

      If you’re happy with the features there’s probably no reason to change unless future tests prove otherwise. The Android AV test market is still young – hopefully Sophos will be included in future

  5. Ron says:

    good research/reports by AV-Test…avast actually have the right features to be on top

  6. AndyUS says:

    Thanks for a nice review.

    Tried AVG. Stuck with it for now.
    Seems OK. I am open to try other options, if need be.

    http://www.avg.com/eu-en/for-mobile

  7. David says:

    I’am using Avast on my home computer for years but now also using on my low cost android,its running & working perfectly and also its UI is Very NICE. Thanks!