“In 2018 the average monthly infection rate in mobile networks was 0.31%. This means that in any given month, one out of every 300 mobile devices had a high threat level malware infection,” says Nokia’s Threat Intelligence Report 2019.
The report further stated that “Android devices were responsible for 47.15% of the observed malware infections, … and iPhones© for less than 1%.” That said, there is a dire need to secure your smartphone — especially if you’re using Android.
There are mobile security apps that help protect your mobile device — be it running Android or iOS. However, it’s not easy to choose one of them because of their varied features, interface, and support for mobile operating systems.
In this write-up, I’ve compiled the best mobile security apps depending on their interface, security features, and their reputation. Let’s check them out.
Note: Since this post details cross-platform mobile security solutions, you may find a feature missing in your favorite solution on your favorite platform.
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1. Avast Antivirus
Avast Antivirus is an incredible mobile security solution, which is acclaimed for its performance and security features. According to AV-TEST, it surpasses the industry average by having a 99.8% malware detection rate in Android.
The app, despite having a premium tier, boasts an impressive set of free features. For instance, its Junk Cleaner helps clean cache, residual, and trash files to give you more storage space. Then, Power Save — a battery optimization feature — reduces battery drain by managing Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on-the-fly.
The app boasts of useful premium features such as Camera Trap — a tool to capture audio and video of an intruder or thief. Then, its App Lock helps lock apps using a password for safe-keeping messaging or other private apps.
Lastly, its Last Known Location proves helpful if your device is lost or dead.
- Photo Vault encrypts your sensitive photos and videos with fingerprint or password protection, making them secure from prying eyes.
- App Insights gives you comprehensive information about your app usage habits, as it’s provided by Digital Wellbeing in Android 9.
- Wi-Fi Security scans public wireless networks as well as incoming emails to protect you from potential malware or trojan attacks.
- VPN helps you to gain online anonymity by masking your web presence and switch your location to access streaming services.*
*4 is a premium feature.
- Its firewall only works on rooted devices.
- A few users faced battery drain after installing the app.
- A few users reported about many annoying notifications.
2. Kaspersky Antivirus
Kaspersky is another well-known antivirus solution with a superb track record. According to AV-TEST, it handily passes the industry average rate in malware detection — its rate is 100%, which is somewhat better than Avast.
The free edition of Kaspersky boasts a mediocre set of features, unlike Avast. Its Anti-Theft lets you wipe your device if it’s lost or stolen. Then, its Find My Phone helps you locate your phone if it’s lost or stolen. Last but not least, it’s an easy to use the application, thanks to its simple interface and intuitive features.
- Web Filter ensures that your web browsing experience remains safe from malicious links and websites spreading malware.*
- App Lock lets you lock your apps as well as sensitive data, photos, and videos behind a passcode to keep them safe and secure.*
- Find My Phone helps you locate your lost or stolen device and lock it.
*1&2 is a premium feature.
- The app does not provide background virus scanning feature in its free tier, but requires you to manually initiate the scans, unlike Avast.
- App Lock is quite buggy — it even locks a current app when it’s being rotated or quickly switched, per the reviews given by a few users.
- Lacks advanced features like Camera Trap and VPN, unlike Avast.
3. Norton Mobile Security
Norton is one of the original giants in the security market. It provides top-notch malware detection service, which showed a 100% malware detection rate in the tests performed by AV-TEST; and thus, it’s better than the industry average.
It boasts of essential features such as Safe Search, which flags suspicious links and websites in your search results. Then, its anti-theft features help trace lost or stolen devices by showing its last known location and sounding an alarm.
- Call Blocking allows you to block unwanted calls; and auto-blocks and notifies you about the calls from spam numbers, fraud callers, etc.
- Wi-Fi Scanning protects you from potential malware exposed through hotspot networks in public places such as cafes or public libraries.
- App Advisor inspects apps for intrusive behavior, high battery usage, and other potential risks related to the health of your device.*
- Sneak Peek captures pictures of the intruder or thief using your phone’s camera if you report the phone as lost or stolen.*
*3&4 are premium features.
- Its free tier offers just a few features and misses some essential features like App Advisor and Web Protection, like Kaspersky Antivirus.
- A few users reported heavy battery drainage, like Avast Antivirus.
4. McAfee Mobile Security
McAfee is another superb security product, which is known for its antivirus and malware protection. It boasts a slightly lower malware detection rate at 99.1%, per AV-TEST, than a few of its counterparts like Kaspersky and Norton. But, it compensates for the rate difference by providing a host of features.
Its free tier has a long list of features, making it highly competitive with the other solutions on this list. For example, its Anti Theft locks down the device after three failed passcode attempts. Then, its Anti Theft Uninstall Protection prevents intruders from removing it in order to get past its safeguards.
- Its performance features help boost phone’s memory, eliminate junk files, and prohibit resource-hungry apps from hindering performance.
- Safe WiFi Scanner helps protect your data on unsecured hotspots.
- WiFi Guard VPN encrypts your online traffic to prevent prying eyes from accessing your online usage and personal data.*
- App Privacy Check investigates and reports the apps that may harm or misuse your personal data by collecting or leaking crucial data.
- App Lock and Guest Mode help protect your sensitive apps and data from guest users, allowing you to share device worry-free.*
*3&5 are premium features.
- A few users have reported heavy battery drain issue, as it’s also been reported by the users of Avast Antivirus and Norton Mobile Security.
- A few users reported about a bug regarding its paid subscription — when you buy the app, it doesn’t auto upgrade you to the paid subscription.
5. MalwareBytes Security
MalwareBytes is less featureful than the other solutions — a lot less if you compare it with Avast or Kaspersky Antivirus. It prioritizes doing one job well rather than bringing a large set of interesting but half baked features.
MalwareBytes is forever ad-free, which is something that makes it special among all solutions on the list. It does, however, have a premium subscription that offers additional features. Moreover, in its free tier, in addition to malware detection, it includes privacy audit features, which helps protect your privacy.
- Supports detecting and fighting most types of common malware such as adware and ransomware, like the other apps on this list.
- Features privacy audit that checks apps for any unwanted or suspicious activities and reports them to help protect your personal data.
- Provides a safer browsing experience by detecting phishing and other malicious links and notifying you to help avoid them.*
*3 is a premium feature.
- Features the worst anti-malware engine among the apps on this list with a malware detection rate of just 98.4%, according to AV-TEST.
- It isn’t feature-rich in comparison to its competitors. It lacks common features such as an app lock, call blocker, or other such tools.
As it’s told multiple times, Avast Antivirus offers the best free features along with a competitive anti-malware engine offering a 99.8% detection rate. Though a few other apps like Kaspersky and Norton avail a more powerful anti-malware engine, they offer a lot fewer features in their free plans, unlike Avast Antivirus.