Choosing the best antivirus for your Android phone

Antivirus for Android is a must. Here’s how to choose the best antivirus app, either paid or free, for your Android phone.

Do I need antivirus on my phone? About five years ago that may have been a question, but with a rapid increase in the number of mobile malware attacks in recent years, it’s now more like a statement: Yes, antivirus on an Android phone is a must. The question is, how do you choose the best antivirus for Android phones?

How to choose an antivirus app for your Android phone or tablet

Nowadays, mobile security suites have a lot of features, and their functionality goes far beyond just antivirus. But still, antivirus is a very important part of each and every Internet security suite.

What makes antivirus good or bad? There are multiple parameters by which you can rank antivirus apps for Android. And quite fortunately, there are independent test labs that test security solutions and give them marks based on those parameters. Let’s first discuss what those parameters are.

Detection rate

Antivirus has to catch every threat trying to penetrate your phone, so in independent tests a good app has to have a very high detection rate, meaning that it detects and blocks as many threats in the test set as possible. For example, according to independent lab AV-TEST, Kaspersky Internet Security for Android detects 99.9% of Android malware in real time and 100% of the latest Android threats discovered in the past four weeks. Just to compare, the industry average is 98%, and that means Kaspersky Internet Security for Android has quite a decent detection rate.

False positives

Another parameter is the number of false positives, meaning how often your antivirus cries wolf when there’s actually no threat. According to the same test by AV-TEST, Kaspersky Internet Security for Android had only one false positive per 2,385 nonmalicious apps from Google Play — and none at all when facing legitimate software from third-party stores. That means it won’t bother you with false alarms.

Performance

The third parameter is how fast the antivirus is and how much it affects the performance and battery life of your Android phone. Testing boils down that concept to performance. Of course, the faster and lighter a security solution is, the better, because ideally, an antivirus app for Android should be barely noticeable when nothing malicious is going on.

Feature set

As we’ve said before, security solutions for Android are not just antiviruses; they include a lot of other features, and these features are also important when choosing a proper security solution for Android. Here is a list of features that you can expect to find in a mobile security solution (as well as what AV-TEST expects to find there):

  • Antitheft — the ability to remotely block or wipe the device if it’s lost or stolen.
  • Call-blocker — a feature that doesn’t let spammers or other malefactors call you.
  • Message filter — does the same for text messages.
  • Safe browsing — a plugin that prevents your browser from loading malicious pages.
  • Parental control — a feature that allows parents to limit the time their kids spend on the device, as well as block access to certain apps and filter the content that can be accessed from the device on the Internet.
  • Backup — an ability to create backups of your photos and other useful data on your device.
  • Encryption — either the option to encrypt the contents of the device or the ability to establish a VPN tunnel to secure your Internet connection.

Kaspersky Internet Security for Android’s feature list includes antitheft, call blocking, message filter, and safe browsing, as well as additional features such as a text antiphishing module that filters out phishing attempts and privacy protection to help you avoid the omnipresent tracking on the Internet.

Parental control, backup, and encryption are not present in Kaspersky Internet Security for Android, basically because we offer standalone apps for that. First, Kaspersky Secure Connection provides you with a VPN service. Second, Kaspersky Safe Kids is an advanced parental control system with a lot of features, including some unique ones.

Ultimately, the best antivirus for your Android phone should have the highest detection rate, low impact on performance and battery life, and a very small number of false positives. So, where can you find the data that enables you to compare antivirus solutions based on those parameters? The answer is: Independent test labs, which frequently publish that information on their websites. For example, here you can find independent tests by AV-TEST, AV Comparatives, and PCMag. Using the data in those tests and looking into the list of additional features you can choose the antivirus solution for your Android phone that is the best for you.

Last but not least, antivirus solutions tend to have a price tag, but free antivirus exists for Android too. Let’s take a look at how free differs from paid.

Do I need a paid antivirus on my Android phone or is a free version enough?

Whether you need to pay for antivirus for your Android device really depends on how you use it. For example, the key difference between the paid and the free versions of Kaspersky Internet Security for Android is that the paid version scans everything automatically, whereas with the free version you need to initiate the scan.

That means that the usage patterns of the two solutions are completely different. With the paid version, you can basically install it and forget it; the app does everything for you, scanning every new file and every new site that you open. But to stay safe with the free version of Kaspersky Internet Security for Android, you need to manually start a scan every time you install a new app or download a new file.

If you think you have the discipline to do that, then the free version should be enough — you can download our free antivirus for Android here. However, if you don’t want to bother with manually scanning your Android devices for viruses every now and then, the better solution is to use the paid version, which does it on its own.

If you want to use the paid version of our mobile antivirus, first use the same link as above to download Kaspersky Internet Security for Android, and then make an in-app purchase.

And remember that nowadays, an antivirus for Android is an absolutely necessary app — which one is up to you, but each and every Android phone absolutely needs the protection, just as every computer does.

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