5 Best (REALLY FREE) Antivirus Programs for Android in 2018

Aviva Zacks
Posted: October 9, 2018

If you’re using an Android-based phone, you’re fighting an uphill battle when it comes to your security. Here’s the deal.

Modern smartphones are essentially tiny pocket computers, and like normal computers, they run operating systems and programs, require maintenance, and are just as susceptible to viruses and malware.

And when you consider that Android devices make up nearly 85% of the entire mobile market share, it should come as no surprise that Android users are at risk.

As an Android user, you are using the most popular platform in the world. Whether you like it or not, this makes you a target, unfortunately.

I’m going to help you fix that.

You see, many people make the mistake of thinking that tapping on mobile web links is safer than clicking on them on a computer. This isn’t true at all.

If you’re an avid Android user, I can’t emphasize enough how important installing an effective antivirus solution is. Best of all, you can do it without spending a dime.

I’ve personally tested many of the best antivirus options available for Android so you don’t have to. These are the top 5 Android antivirus programs I recommend:

1. Avast Mobile Security

With its exceptionally extensive feature list, it’s clear why Avast is one of the most commonly recommended options out there. If you want an antivirus solution that covers as many aspects of smartphone security and maintenance as possible, Avast Mobile Security is the free antivirus for most of the general Android audience.

The Features You’ll Get

  • A website URL scanner that shields you from malware-ridden sites
  • Call blocker for blacklisting problematic phone numbers
  • A firewall if you wish to prevent particular apps from accessing your mobile data or Wi-Fi
  • Ability to monitor your mobile data usage to make sure you aren’t going over your plan’s limits
  • SMS Shield to weed out malicious URLs from text messages
  • A Wi-Fi optimizer to improve the speed and security of your connection
  • A storage cleaner to remove any unnecessary files that clog your space, such as temporary app files, old installation files, and advertisement caches
  • Power Saver tool to adjust the settings that can reduce battery life, such as brightness and Bluetooth
  • The App permissions tracker to check how much personal data your apps are accessing
  • Built-in VPN service

What You Get If You Decide to Pay

  • No advertisements
  • Priority technical support
  • App locker to protect your most private apps with a PIN
  • Additional anti-theft features, including:
    • Ability to take an image of a thief with the front-facing camera whenever an incorrect PIN is entered
    • The option to lock the device whenever the SIM card is changed
    • Option to secretly record your phone’s surroundings at any time

What I Liked

  • Very strong malware detection. In an AV-Test, Avast detected 99.9% of recently tested malware and 100% of malware released in the last 4 weeks.
  • Accurate scanning with no false positives
  • No major battery drain or impact on performance

What I Didn’t Like

  • The advertisements in the free version are distracting
  • Popup overload
  • Complex UI due to the many features being built-in

The Ideal Use Case

Avast has the highest number of free features compared to other mobile antivirus software that I’ve tried so far, making it the perfect all-in-one solution for mobile protection.

See Avast Deals>>


2. AVG Antivirus Free

AVG’s desktop antivirus program is well-regarded and that reputation carries over to Android, with some exceptions. With AVG, you can expect comprehensive malware detection with an emphasis on anti-theft protection. You won’t find much else in web browser protection, however.

The Features You’ll Get

  • Anti-theft technology. If you accidentally lose or have your Android device stolen, you can:
    • See where your phone is physically located on a separate device
    • Remotely lock it
    • Blast a full-volume alarm
    • As a last resort, wipe the data off the phone remotely to prevent stolen data
  • A phone number blocker
  • Photo Vault, or password protection for sensitive photos

What You Get If You Decide to Pay

  • Camera trap that takes an image of the thief should multiple incorrect passwords are entered
  • App Lock to prevent access to certain apps without the PIN
  • Device Lock which automatically locks the device should the SIM card be tampered with
  • App Backup to backup your apps to an SD card

What I Liked

  • Strong malware detection rates, comparable to Avast
  • No false positives
  • No major impact on battery life, performance, and network usage
  • Option to try premium features for 30 days before buying

What I Didn’t Like

  • Constant pop-ups advertising other AVG apps

The Ideal Use Case

AVG is a solid option if you have sensitive data on your device and want the best anti-theft, data protection, and antivirus scanning.

See AVG Deals>> 


3. Avira Antivirus Security 2018

Avira’s developers clearly wanted an easy-to-use antivirus that still contained the many security features offered by more complicated solutions. You won’t find everything, but the simple UI and a couple of unique features exclusive to Avira make it the top pick for a certain niche of Android users.

The Features You’ll Get

  • Anti-theft features that track your phone’s location and let you lock or wipe your phone remotely.
  • App permissions tracker to let you control the personal data collection of any apps
  • Phone number blocker
  • Ransomware protection that Android antiviruses rarely offer
  • Email address scanner, indicating whether an address has been leaked in a third-party security breach

What You Get If You Decide to Pay

  • Camera protection, letting you check whenever an app is accessing your camera
  • Better browser security through phishing protection
  • Protection from zero-day attacks with constant updates
  • Premium technical support

What I Liked

  • Strong malware detection (one false positive notwithstanding)
  • No noticeable battery life or performance impact
  • Simple and easy-to-use UI
  • Pretty light on the pop-ups. The only ones that showed up occurred when a threat was detected.

What I Didn’t Like

  • A little lacking in features compared to other solutions. There weren’t too many browser-level safety features, for example.

The Ideal Use Case

As mentioned, Avira’s UI most likely appeals to Android users who want ease of use. While it doesn’t have every feature, a couple unique ones like email address scanning and ransomware protection are offered if you’re interested in those.

See Avira Deals>>


4. Bitdefender Antivirus Free

Lots of antivirus apps advertise themselves as being the all-encompassing, single solution for phone security. They usually have tons of features, some of which not everyone will use. If you just want a basic, easy-to-use antivirus tool without the bells and whistles, Bitdefender Free was built for you.

The Features You’ll Get

  • Antivirus protection
  • Scanning new apps as soon as they’re installed

What You Get If You Decide to Pay

Bitdefender’s paid version comes in the form of a separate app, Bitdefender Mobile Security and Antivirus. In there, you’ll get, among a few other things,

  • Web browser protection
  • Anti-theft features like locking and wiping a stolen phone

What I Liked

  • The simplicity helps as Bitdefender is incredibly light on your phone’s resources
  • No configuration necessary since the initial installation and startup are almost instant
  • Uses fully cloud-based protection so no data is used on your device
  • The paid version comes with a 14-day free trial

What I Didn’t Like

  • Of course, you’ll miss out on more advanced features
  • No ability to schedule scans
  • Requires internet connection for proper scanning

The Ideal Use Case

Sometimes, less is more. Bitdefender is the ideal app for Android users desiring little clutter and nothing more than the antivirus protection.

See Bitdefender Deals>>


5. Sophos Mobile Security

Sophos is quite different from the competition. For one, it doesn’t have a paid version, so what you’re getting is everything the developers offer. In fact, there aren’t any advertisements either. It’s also got a couple unique features that you might be interested in.

The Features You’ll Get

  • Anti-theft features
    • Track the location of your phone
    • Lock and wipe data remotely
    • Trigger the alarm remotely
    • Alert you whenever a SIM card change occurs
  • Text message filter for malicious URLs
  • Phone number blocker
  • App permissions monitoring
  • Multi-factor authentication
  • QR code scanning that warns you whenever a code leads to a malicious website

What I Liked

  • All features are free. No paid option exists.
  • Exceptionally strong malware protection. Sophos is one of the top performers, scoring a 100% detection rate according to AV-Test

What I Didn’t Like

  • Despite its strong detection, quite a few false positives pop up now and again
  • Rather amateur UI design
  • Definition updates must be downloaded every day

The Ideal Use Case

The problem with free software is that it’s usually riddled with advertisements. While not a big-name brand like those other options, Sophos still offers a hefty feature set and strong malware detection without the annoying ads.

See Sophos Deals>>

About the Author

Aviva Zacks
Aviva Zacks

Aviva Zacks is a content manager, writer, editor, and really good baker. When she's not working, she enjoys reading on her porch swing with a cup of decaf.