Looking for a free mobile security app for Android and iPhone? Avast Mobile Security & Virus Cleaner is the no-cost mobile version of the popular desktop antivirus software. Let’s take a look at what features you get with the free version, whether it meets all your needs, and what might be missing.
When you use Avast, you have the comfort of knowing that you’re working with security provided by an absolute behemoth. In 2015, Avast was worth over $2 billion, making it one of the largest antivirus vendors on the planet. All those satisfied users can’t be wrong, right?
There are questions, of course, when it comes to the free version of any antivirus application. Are you downloading a piece of software with useful, albeit limited features, or are you basically downloading an interactive advertisement for the paid version of the app? That’s what we’re here to find out.
First Impressions of the Avast App
Avast starts wit a clean, tile-based interface comprising five features. The first is a huge, attractive button labeled “Scan,” followed by “Boost RAM,” “Clean Junk,” “Scan WI-FI,” and “VPN Protection.” The fact that it’s a free version is immediately apparent – there’s an upgrade button in the upper right-hand corner and an upsell box on the bottom, but these reminders aren’t necessarily intrusive.
When you scroll down, you’re immediately greeted by an ad – the free version is ad-supported – plus a reminder to use the app’s “phone cleanup” features. Lastly, the hamburger menu on the left shows some features that aren’t highlighted on the main screen. Usefully, there are only two features that are fully locked off by a paywall – the rest are ready to use right away.
So far, so good – the user interface isn’t cluttered by ads, and most important features are ready to use right away. The only drawback is that you can’t find the features hidden in the hamburger menu by scrolling down in the main menu, but this is hardly a deal-breaker.
How Does it Scan?
When it comes to reviewing antivirus, scanning is the make-or-break feature. This goes double for mobile AV – while desktops generally have enough power to run a scan simultaneously with other apps, most smartphones don’t. Therefore, scanning your mobile device needs to be both thorough and fast, which can be a hard act to deliver.
Fortunately, the Avast AV scan is buttery-smooth. It scanned my entire phone – with 36 GB of documents, photos, and installed applications – in just under a minute. While I don’t currently have any malware samples on my computer, other reviewers have reported great success, with Avast catching 100% of malicious files and applications.
In addition to scanning for malware, Avast incorporates a host of well-thought-out features, all for free. For example, the WebShield feature lets Avast monitor your web usage and block phishing sites. Although enabling this feature requires the user to go into their phone’s Accessibility panel, the instructions were still simple and easy to follow. The application also monitors the App Store and prevents users from downloading known malicious apps and warns you if you try to download an app that was reported by other Avast users. Lastly, the application treats potentially unwanted programs as malware.
Outside of the main antivirus protection features, Avast lets you scan your WiFi to make sure it hasn’t been compromised by attackers – and can perform additional scans whenever you connect to a new WiFi network. The application also offers anti-theft protection. After following a few simple steps, you can remotely control and wipe your phone, letting you secure your data from potential thieves.
Finally, Avast gives you some features that are more for quality of life than security. For example, there’s a pin-protected photo vault – similar to the decoy apps we’ve discussed – that lets you remove photos from you main camera roll and hide them where only you can see. There’s also an option that can clean junk and unneeded files – which freed up nearly a gig of space from my phone – plus another one that can improve your phone’s performance by closing running processes.
Avast – The Verdict
For the low price of “free,” Avast offers many more effective features than most other fully-paid apps. Its antivirus scan is both powerful and effective, and its other security features cover every other user behavior – such as browsing the web, or accidentally losing one’s phone – that’s likely to incur risk. Although the application is a little bit cluttered and difficult to navigate, its effectiveness makes this a minor complaint. In short, I highly recommend this product.