5 Best (REALLY FREE) Antivirus Programs for Android in 2019

Aviva Zacks
Posted: December 12, 2018

If you’re using an Android-based phone, you’re already at high risk of virus infection and breaches of security. 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. When you consider that Android devices make up nearly 85% of the entire mobile market, it should come as no surprise that Android users are a prime target for malicious hackers.

A major problem is misconception. Most people using mobile devices think that tapping a mobile web link is safer than clicking a link on a PC, which is wrong. Android viruses are growing exponentially, so going without an effective antivirus opens you up to major risk of infection. Therefore an antivirus program is a must, and best of all you can install one completely for free.

Here are the top 5 Android antivirus programs we found:

1. Avast Mobile Security

With its exceptionally extensive feature list, it’s clear why Avast is one of the most commonly recommended softwares available. 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.

Main Features:

  • 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

Benefits of Paid Version:

  • 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 We Liked:

  • Very strong malware detection. In an AV test, Avast detected 99.9% of recently discovered 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 We Didn’t Like:

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

The Ideal Use Case:

Avast has the highest number of free features compared to other mobile antivirus software that we’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.

Main Features:

  • 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

Benefits of Paid Version:

  • 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 We 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 We 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.

Main Features:

  • 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 antivirus programs rarely offer
  • Email address scanner indicating whether an address has been leaked via a third-party security breach

Benefits of Paid Version:

  • Camera protection lets 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 We 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 We 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 include 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, then Bitdefender Free is a great choice.

Main Features:

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

Benefits of Paid Version:

Bitdefender’s paid version includes Bitdefender Mobile Security and Antivirus, offering:

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

What We 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 We Didn’t Like:

  • Obviously doesn’t include the 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 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 have to offer. Surprisingly for a free solution, there are no advertisements, and it’s also got a few unique features.

Main Features:

  • 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 code leads to a malicious website

What I Liked:

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

What We Didn’t Like:

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

The Ideal Use Case:

The drawback to 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.