Free Android antivirus apps can help you protect your smartphone from the most popular types of malware, like adware, spyware, and other cyber threats. Yet, are those free antivirus actually free? We bet you have seen apps which claim to be free of charge and then ask to pay for every single feature once you install it.
In this article, we aim to show you that malware protection doesn’t have to cost a fortune or in fact, anything.
Check our list of the best free antivirus for Android to find out which one has the most suitable protection features for you.
Top 5 best free Android antivirus apps
- TotalAV – best free Android antivirus suite
- Bitdefender – best lightweight free Android antivirus
- Surfshark Antivirus – secure Android antivirus with a free trial
- Norton Antivirus – strong protection antivirus for Android devices
- NordVPN Threat Protection – powerful VPN with a free Android antivirus
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Is it worth having a free Android antivirus?
One fact is very clear that you need protection. The only way to get it is to use malware protection tools. So, is a free Android antivirus worth it? Any antivirus is better than no protection at all.
While you might say that Android already has an in-built antivirus – the Google Play Protect – unfortunately, it fails to detect 70% of spyware and only has an 81.7% overall malware protection rate, according to AV-Comparatives. So, experts highly recommend getting a third-party antivirus that could effectively help you protect your device.
That being said, free Android antivirus applications are totally worth it since they can give you a basic protection from various potentially unwanted programs and intrusive ads. You get quick and full scan options to check all apps and files for malicious components with minimal impact on the phone’s battery. Some of them even offer a free VPN to secure your browsing.
The best free antivirus for Android in 2023 – detailed list:
We made sure to select applications that offer solid protection solutions, whether in the form of a free plan or a powerful free trial. Below, you will find the list of the best free antivirus apps for Android in 2023.
1. TotalAV – best free Android antivirus overall
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TotalAV is the perfect free antivirus for Android devices if you want a lot of extra features.
Independent laboratory test: Independent lab tests constantly mark TotalAV as the top antivirus product. It constantly catches 100% of malware threats, including known malware and zero-day. It is marked with top scores throughout the tests.
In-house tests: We’ve tested out TotalAV’s virus scan abilities, and the system scan was very successful, finding all 100% of malware, including the zero-day threats.
User interface: TotalAV Android app is very easy to use for both beginners and experienced antivirus users. All features are grouped clearly and are very accessible. Also, you get the main information about your security level right on the dashboard.
Features: The free app includes a data breach checker, to see if any of your information has been leaked. The application will also greatly improve your device performance by freeing up your device memory and deleting cached files and duplicate photos. Meanwhile, the wifi checker feature will assess whether the wifi you’re currently using is secure. This can be of great help when you want to use public wifi.
Pricing: The free TotalAV version is one of the best on the market, but the premium one has practically no competition. The most basic subscription of TotalAV costs $19.00/month, and it covers three devices in total, which means that you’ll be able to protect not only your Android but also other smartphones and PCs you own.
Find out more about this antivirus in the TotalAV review.
- Free version
- Data breach checker
- Improves device performance
- Secure wifi checker
- Easy to set up and use
- Includes a VPN
- Have to pay for malware protection
2. Bitdefender – best lightweight Android antivirus solution
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Bitdefender Antivirus Free for Android provides robust protection solutions for devices. It has a dedicated and easy-to-use application that you can safely download from the Play Store.
Independent laboratory tests: The independent tests rate this antivirus as the top product. It employs high-detection engines to catch 99% of all malware actively targeting Android operating systems, so it’s definitely a top choice for those seeking powerful protection for their devices.
In-house tests: We’ve tested out Bitdefender’s ability to detect and remove malware and the results were impressive. During the full system scan, it managed to catch 100% of malware threats, but the test did have a harsh impact on the device’s performance.
User interface: The dedicated Android app is extremely user-friendly and requires zero configurations. Unlike others, it doesn’t put you through multiple steps and settings to simply make a quick check-up.
Features: Bitdefender utilizes the cloud-based threat detection system which scans apps and files online instead of downloading virus signatures on the device. So, this suite doesn’t have a negative impact on Android’s battery life. Additionally, Bitdefender antivirus performs automatic on-install scanning whenever you get a new app on your smartphone.
Pricing: What’s worth mentioning is that Bitdefender antivirus is completely free. Although the free version is pretty compelling, you can get even more security features, such as a VPN, anti-theft technology, and protection against link-based scams from $14.99/year with the Bitdefender Mobile Security for Android plan.
Find out more about this antivirus in the Bitdefender review.
- Free version
- Scans both apps and files
- Low battery impact
- Catches 99% of Android viruses
- On-install and on-demand scanning
- Cloud-based threat detection
- Have to pay for additional features
3. Surfshark AV – secure Android antivirus with a free trial
|Free version:||Free trial|
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Another great free antivirus for Android devices is Surfshark Antivirus. It offers a free 7-day free trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee – it’s a great premium option to secure your device free of charge for more than a month.
Independent laboratory test: During the testing, Surfshark Antivirus scored really well in independent lab tests. Like the most market-leading providers, it scored a 100% at malware detection rates for Android.
In-house tests: While doing our own testing, Surfshark Antivirus managed to find 80% of malicious threats, which is an outstanding result. Since Surfshark Antivirus is lightweight, it doesn’t affect your Android device performance.
User interface: The user interface and experience is smoothless, as Surfshark has clear and easy design. You won’t have any hurdles and will definitely enjoy the main features in a few clicks.
Features: With full Surfshark Antivirus package, you will get real-time protection and a powerful VPN. This enhances your online security, anonymity, and takes your privacy to another level. Additionally, there’s the Search, Alert, and other antivirus tools for Android devices.
Pricing: You can use Surfshark Antivirus free of charge for over a month with a 7-day free trial and a 30-day money back guarantee. For a full-on security, you can get Surfshark One starting form $41.88/year.
For more information, visit our Surfshark Antivirus review.
- 7-day free trial
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Excellent test results
- Advanced security features
- Real-time protection
- Free version is limited
4. Norton Antivirus – strong protection antivirus for Android
|Free version:||Free trial|
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Norton Antivirus – the following protection option for Android devices. It doesn’t have a free version. Luckily, it offers a free trial and a 60-day money-back guarantee. This is more than enough to secure your devices with one of the leading providers in the market.
Independent laboratory tests: As a antivirus market leader, Norton managed to block 100% of threats during the lab tests. During the testing, it also detected zero false positives for Android devices.
In-house tests: Our thorough testing showed that Norton’s quick scan function works seamlessly, however, it couldn’t find the well-hidden malware. Fortunately, it managed to find all the malicious files, which is a great score still.
User interface: Norton’s user experience is overall great, it takes more time to set it up on your Android device but the functionality and the design works just perfect. All the features are very organized and easy-to-use.
Features: You’re getting a free trial of Norton’s premium version, which means you’ll be able to test all the advanced features. Real-time protection will prevent your Android devices from malicious threats, dark web monitor will check through whether any of your data has been compromised. There’s also a VPN included, which lets you stay connected to the Internet via encrypted tunnel – this enhances your security and privacy even more. Plus, you’ll get a password manager to store your credentials safely.
Pricing: Besides a 60-day money-back guarantee, you can get a free trial and test Norton for free. Alternatively, its premium prices start from $14.99/year.
For more information, visit our Norton Antivirus review.
- 60-day money-back guarantee
- Great independent lab test results
- Good in-house test results
- Real-time protection
- Dark Web Monitoring
- No unlimited free version
5. NordVPN Threat Protection – powerful VPN with a free Android antivirus
|Free version:||Free trial|
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NordVPN Threat Protection is a NordVPN’s feature that you get for free with the app. You can get it with a 7-day free trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee for your Android devices. It’s a great choice for malware, trackers, and malicious ads prevention.
In-house tests: With our thorough testing, NordVPN’s Threat protection managed to blocked 90% of access to infected websites and stopped downloading malicious files. Basic scan scored great results as well. Additionally, it blocked intrusive ads and trackers.
User interface: NordVPN’s Threat Protection comes with an intuitive and user-friendly Android apps. What you need to do is to only enable the Threat Protection features that runs smoothly in the background while you’re using a VPN.
Features: Besides protecting your Android from various threats, you will be secured by the market-leading VPN with next-gen encryption, fast speeds, ability to bypass geo-restrictions, and more.
Pricing: If you already have a NordVPN subscription – Threat Protection is included in the plan. Alternatively, you can enjoy a 7-day free trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you’d like to get a premium subscription, the prices start at $3.49/month.
For more information, visit our NordVPN Threat Protection review.
- 7-day free trial
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Powerful VPN included
- Automatic download scanner
- Great in-house tests results
- No real-time virus protection
- Limited advanced features
6. Avira – performs fastest Android malware scans
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You can get security, privacy, and boost your device’s performance with just one dedicated app – Avira Free Antivirus for Android. This is a truly all-in-one antivirus solution for Android users and it comes free of charge.
Independent laboratory tests: Avira’s independent testing shows very impressive results. This antivirus software catches 99% of malware threats and marks no false positives.
In-house tests: During our own tests, the results were pretty much the same. The full scan also caught 99% of threats and was very easy on the system resources.
User interface: The app is very intuitive. The scan option and security status are shown on the main screen. The security features are all grouped and easily accessible at the bottom of the dashboard.
Features: Avira antivirus scans apps and files for malware, spyware, and other cyber threats that target Android devices. Also, it is capable of identifying privacy vulnerabilities to help you improve your security. It also provides identity protection which checks the dark web for potential data leaks. In addition, you also get a VPN for secure browsing, a call blocker to avoid scammers, and an app lock for privacy.
Pricing: If you want to get camera and microphone protection, as well as anti-phishing technology, the paid Avira Security Pro for Android subscriptions starts from $11.99/year.
Find out more about this malware protection software in the Avira antivirus review.
- Free version
- Identity protection
- Includes a VPN
- App lock and Call blocker features
- Solid protection from malware
- Doesn’t allow to select VPN servers
- Paid firewall
7. PC Protect – detects malware and adware on Android devices
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PC Protect is a basic antivirus suite that is also compatible with Android devices. You can install its dedicated app free of charge and enjoy simple, yet effective malware protection features.
Independent laboratory tests: During the independent testing, this antivirus successfully blocked 98.7% of malware threats.
In-house tests: Our own testing showed results pretty close to the independent ones. It blocked 99% of malware threats, including zero-day malware.
User interface: The Android app feels outdated and laggy. It is a bit of a limited version, but the most important features are included and they work.
Features: This antivirus’ full scan function is great for catching malware and adware which exclusively target Android operating systems. Additionally, you can clear your device from the cache, junk, and duplicate files with its Cleaner feature. Also, access the incognito browser via the app’s dashboard to hide your online activities and avoid tracking cookies.
Pricing: If you want to try all PC Protect features, you can get it for $19.00/year. Its paid version includes real-time protection, a secure VPN, anti-phishing technology, and a browser cleaner.
You can read more about this security tool in the PC Protect review.
- Free version
- Detects malware and adware
- Simple report of the scan results
- Incognito browser
- Cleaner feature
- Doesn’t check files for malware, only apps
- Very limited features available
- Long scanning time
How we selected and tested these free Android antivirus apps
It’s not a secret that most of the free security tools for Android have a highly limited functionality. For that reason, our experts aimed to find antivirus programs for Android that would provide the best protection possible. Of course, free of charge. These are the criteria that helped to pick our list:
- Brand. Unfortunately, small-scale brands neither have the financial capabilities, nor the resources to provide robust and free antivirus solutions. We have selected applications that are developed by the industry leaders which have years of experience and necessary resources to deliver effective Android malware protection suites free of charge.
- Malware detection scores. Each application we’ve listed is examined by the independent testing labs, like AV-Test and AV-comparatives. All of them show an outstanding performance in malware protection, identifying from 100% to 98.1% of the latest Android viruses.
- Android app. The free Android antivirus programs we’ve picked have dedicated apps which are user-friendly and easy to use. The best apps allow you to get a full system scan in just one click and doesn’t have a negative impact on the phone battery.
- Security features. Many of the free security tools merely allow you to download the app and then require in-app purchases to use anything on them. We’ve made sure that our selected Android antivirus programs would include as many free security features as possible.
Best free antivirus apps for Android compared
|TotalAV||Bitdefender||SurfsharkAV||Norton 360||NordVPN TP||Avira||PC Protect|
|Dedicated Android app||✅||✅||✅||✅||✅||✅||✅|
|Price||from $19.00/year||from $23.99/year||from $41.88/year||from $19.99/year||from $2.99/month||from $30.99/year||from $19.00/year|
|Review||TotalAV review||Bitdefender review||Surfshark AV review||Norton 360 review||NordVPN review||Avira review||PC Protect review|
Are all free Android antivirus apps safe?
Yes, free Android antivirus apps are safe if they come from well-known and trustworthy service providers. The majority of top antivirus developers always provide solutions for users who either seek to test their services free of charge or want to get completely free options to use indefinitely. Even though the apps might not give access to all malware protection features, they are safe to use.
However, I wouldn’t say the same about free antivirus solutions which come from unknown developers. You can find numerous so-called security tools on the Google Play Store which claim to be free of charge and effective.
Yet, there’s a reason why they’re free. Most of those fake apps are designed to collect private information and make profits from selling it to third-parties. Therefore, you should avoid using such ‘free’ tools as they are definitely not safe to use.
Keep in mind that if you’re concerned about the safety of the free antivirus, you always have an option to get a free trial of a paid Android antivirus program which is recommended by the experts. Similarly, you can purchase a subscription and try the software risk-free with the 30-day money-back guarantee.
Disadvantages of using a free antivirus for Android
Free Android antivirus programs which are not approved by the experts might not only cause you problems, but also have a negative impact on your device. These are only a few disadvantages of using them:
- Fake scan results. The majority of untested Android antivirus software are not even capable of detecting real malware. Instead, these apps display fraudulent scan results to trick you into thinking that your device is infected. Consequently, they immediately offer to remove all identified threats but obviously, for a price. Many people fall for the scam and agree to pay although their smartphones are malware-free.
- Phishing attempts. While you are getting an Android antivirus to protect your device, you might end up getting malware or adware if you choose a fake app. One of the real-life examples is the secret network of app developers on Google Play Store which managed to gain access to dangerous permissions on users’ devices before they were removed from the platform. So, installing a questionable app which is highly promoted as a free tool can easily put your smartphone’s security at risk.
- Privacy risks. Keep in mind that dubious applications, including free Android antivirus programs can collect your sensitive information. Just like the infamous app-based Android SMS scam, these ‘free’ malware protection tools might ask you to enter your phone number to confirm your account, yet charge substantial amounts of money without your permission to make illegal profits.
- System slowdown. All applications installed on your device use a portion of its resources. If you get a useless free antivirus on your Android, it will be using them for no reason and might slow down your device’s performance. Therefore, save the smartphone’s memory and resources for applications that serve a purpose.
Free Android antivirus to avoid
If you are wondering which free Android antivirus to avoid, AV-Comparatives has conducted a thorough research of Android antivirus apps to determine whether they are effective as promised by the developers.
The independent testing lab examined 250 malware protection applications available on the Google Play Store and found that 138 of them detect less than 30% of malware and/or have a high false positive rate.
While many of the ineffective antivirus programs are already removed from the Play Store, we found that some of them are still there.
These are the free antivirus for Android that you should avoid:
- CHOMAR Antivirus Security
- Shield Antivirus by ShieldApps
- Anti-Virus Scan Apps by SkyMobileTeam
- Mobile Security Master by Utilitarian Tools
Can free antivirus detect and remove Android malware?
Yes, free antivirus can find and remove adware which is the most popular Android virus. This type of malicious program is designed to gain unauthorized access to permissions and start displaying various ads in the form of pop-ups, banners and redirects.
Adware not only makes the browsing experience unbearable, but can also lead to suspicious websites where cyber criminals distribute malware or aim to steal personal information. Luckily, even the free version of a reliable antivirus can help you block pop-ups.
However, there are less common but still highly dangerous Android malware types which are not so easy to remove, like spyware or ransomware. If your phone is infected with an advanced cyber threat, you will need to purchase an antivirus subscription with the full set of security features for successful elimination.
Nowadays, malware is no longer targeting computers only. So, at least the basic protection for your smartphone is essential to keep your private information and valuable data secure. Luckily, there are truly useful antivirus solutions for Android that you can use without paying for a subscription first.
Free Android antivirus apps can easily help you to detect the most popular viruses with great scanning features or perform automatic on-install scannings for you. So, you would always have that extra layer of security. Some, like TotalAV, can even provide you with extra security features.
Although the free tools are truly powerful, their paid versions offer even more advanced malware protection features that are definitely worth the price if you want to forget that Android viruses exist at all.
That being said, we strongly suggest using a free Android antivirus in case you currently don’t have any protection. But switching to a robust security tool with a wallet-friendly subscription should still be the end goal.
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Which free Android antivirus is best?
The best free antivirus for Android is TotalAV. It offers a bunch of useful features like a data breach scanner and Wi-Fi Checker. It will also help you declutter your phone, thus making it run more smoothly.
Are free Android antivirus any good?
Yes, free Android antivirus programs can provide useful features for malware protection. However, they are usually used as short-term solutions as not all of their features are free of charge. So, you can test the software and its capabilities by using the free version and consider purchasing the premium version later.
Is Bitdefender really free?
Yes, Bitdefender antivirus is totally free. If you decide to install it, you won’t be charged as it doesn’t even require credit card information. You can get it from the Google Play store or its official website.