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Last Updated: November 29th, 2011

In the past couple of months, I've covered more than a dozen mobile security apps, carefully weighing the pros and cons of each, and determining their relative values. I've spent time with 17 apps in all, and it's about time to wrap up the series, and tell you, the end user, which apps are your best bet for protecting your Android device(s).

Before I get to the nitty-gritty of which app is best, I think it'd be helpful to review what we've covered so far, to get a clear grasp on each of the solutions we've covered. To save your eyes from pages upon pages of analysis, I've made the following handy table, outlining the various features we've covered, and which apps have what you need.

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Taking all of this information into account, it becomes clear that certain mobile security apps are best suited for certain users, and each app works best for its own purposes. That being said, we should take a look at which apps are best for whom. To do this, we'll walk through a set of categories average consumers might be concerned about, and wrap things up with an overall winner.

Which Is Best?

For The Budget-Conscious - Cerberus

See original review here.

hi-124-16_thumbLuckily for the budget-minded Android user, there are plenty of security options available completely for free, or at very slim price points.
In my mind, the best budget-friendly security app is Cerberus, by LSDroid. While it may cost about $4.00, you only need to pay once. Considering the number of apps that require yearly (or monthly) subscriptions, a one-time fee that low is a steal, especially taking into account the incredible number of features Cerberus includes, and its quick, reliable performance. Additionally, Cerberus allows you to manage up to five devices at once, and offers other licensing options for businesses.

For The Security-Minded – McAfee's Wave Secure

See original review here.

hi-256-7-208af6630f40e6094c30313d22006a40a8edc471_thumbMcAfee is one of the top names in electronic security, and its Wave Secure app for Android lives up to the company's existing reputation.

One of the key factors that makes Wave Secure the best for security-minded users, is its root support. Additionally, the app can be controlled via SMS, and even has the ability to back up and restore your personal data and media.

On top of all that, Wave Secure performs consistently and is relatively easy to use. When thinking of mobile security, ease of use and reliable performance are critical, and McAfee's solution deftly provides both.

For Enterprise Deployment – Prey Anti-Theft

See original review here.

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While a hand full of the apps we've covered have support for multiple devices, Prey has the capability to be deployed to hundreds of devices, making it easy to keep all your company mobiles safe and secure, even if they fall into the wrong hands.

Additionally, Prey runs on a system of reports, meaning that individual summaries of device information are sent to one email address on a predetermined schedule, keeping you abreast of your device's status. Buying a pro account also enables on-demand reports, meaning you can check on your device(s) at any time.

Despite Prey's minor shortcomings, its potential for mass deployment over a network is impressive enough to earn it a place in this roundup, and it is definitely worth looking into if you need to protect multiple devices.

For Those Who Want More Than Security - AVG Mobilation Antivirus

See original review here.

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Very few of the apps in our Shootout go the extra mile, providing more than just theft protection. Out of those few, AVG has, by far, the best blend of antivirus, antimalware, and powerful antitheft tools of any of the apps I've covered.

AVG Mobilation certainly lives up to the AVG name in terms of security features. Not only can the app locate and lock your device, but it can scan incoming apps, back up data, and function as a task manager, making it a hugely powerful solution for those seeking total security for their Android devices.

Overall - Cerberus

hi-124-16_thumbIn my mind, Cerberus is the clear winner of the shootout. It has a ton of features, and really functions where it counts. Its price point is reasonable, its SMS support ensures that your phone can be located and controlled at all times, its root support keeps your phone secure, even in the hands of a crafty burglar who knows how to perform a factory reset, and it has licensing options to handle 6+ devices at once, making it an all-around stellar solution for keeping your handset out of the wrong hands, and securing your data if your device is stolen.
Besides all of its features, Cerberus has a clean, intuitive online interface that makes it easy to find and control your lost device. Among all the apps we've covered, Cerberus is outstanding, and makes a great solution for just about anyone.

Final Thoughts

We've seen a lot of security apps over the past few months, and while some clearly stand out from the crowd as winners, it's important to remember that there may not be one solution that works best for every user. Hopefully this roundup has provided you with a more informed understanding of the various security options available for Android, and a good idea of what to look for when choosing an app to keep your device(s) safe, even when in the wrong hands.

Liam Spradlin
Liam loves Android, design, user experience, and travel. He doesn't love ill-proportioned letter forms, advertisements made entirely of stock photography, and writing biographical snippets.

  • Welph

    What about Theft Aware 2.0? I know you guys have tested it.

    • Marshall

      My thoughts exactly.

    • martin

      Yeah, I was missing this throughout the entire roundup. Especially strange considering that the app was featured on AP a while back.

    • NuLL.n.VoiD

      Theft Aware was bought by AVG. Much of their code is incorporated in the newest version of AVG. AP and several other blogs mentioned it over teh summer.

      • bathmat

        Actually they were bought out by Avast .. which is a different company, and also not listed above.

      • Paul

        Theftaware also had excellent root support and deep integration. I wonder how it stacks against Cerberus or Wave Secure. Anybody know?

        Also, what is "Uninstall Protection" and why doesn't Cerberus have it? Is it important to note?

    • http://www.liamspradlin.com Liam Spradlin

      We were unable to include Theft Aware in this roundup for reasons I can't go into right now, but we plan to post up a review as soon as possible.

      • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

        Correction: we're planning to re-review it once the new (or updated) product and new features are live. In fact, I'm flying to Prague in about 2 weeks to visit Avast offices.

        • http://www.focuszonedevelopment.com Aaron

          You have the best job ever.

    • JD

      Ditto. Thumbs-up. Me gusta. Seconded.

      Apparently just saying "Ditto" was too short a comment.

  • PCGeek

    Good review, but I would rather like this review to be written in another perspective, detection rate is what I care most in terms of Antivirus/security apps. Of course, a security app with a lot of functions would be pretty useful, but I would still like to know how well it performs in detecting malware.

    • Me

      These apps aren't even marketed with the intention of detecting malware. They're for scenarios where you're phone goes missing/is stolen and you need to act on that.

  • Dave

    Seekdriod has been updated and has sms support now. I think its pretty good also

  • Ion

    Yep, detection rate is most important for me too!
    I really don't want all those bloatware functions, i want the best protection meaning no malware on my droid.
    If i want task managers and other...cr..ap.. i most definitely find some standalone apps which do a better job than this suites.

    Detection rate, heuristic scan, this is what I want!
    Which android app is better in this?

    • DrMacinyasha

      What you want then is a brain: Don't install any pirated apps, something off a Chinese site, something that needs way too many permissions, or a free version of an app that's normally paid and isn't from the original developer. 100% detection rate right there.

  • NoLmt60243

    I am a bitDefender fan myself. Wishing that was on the list of tested security apps! Maybe next year...

  • Vassilis

    As i am a phonelocator pro user i must say that Phonelocator Pro app DOES have an online interface and DOES have almost (if not) all of the features listed...I hope that the it's not the same case with the other apps ;)
    Except for this, it was a really nice roundup!

  • Van

    What about "MyAntiVirus Pro"?

  • Aditya Gulia

    Come on guys! Seriously, where is "Theft Aware"?!
    its amazing Root Integration, and being totally SMS based service make it, imho, the best app to help you in case your phone actually gets stolen...

    • http://www.liamspradlin.com Liam Spradlin

      Personally I love Theft Aware, but we were unable to include it in this roundup, for reasons which I'm not sure I'm at liberty to talk about. We'll be posting a review as soon as possible though!

  • bhupatib

    Whatever Cerberus gives, 'Android Lost' gives and then some, for FREE and with app size of <200KB! It was the first one you reviewed & it has become much better since then. Of all the apps, it gave the most accurate pinpoint of my location and the extensive SMS commands worked real well.
    Killer feature - Remote install support and the ability to send PIN protected SMS commands to your phone (you get notified on SIM change), then remote activating ''Data/Wifi/GPS'' and doing all sorts of sleuthing via the website.

    And I repeat, with zero limitation and zero bloat.

  • http://www.shortruncards.com Rogerebert

    I think you missed several features on Kaspersky. They do have tablet support as well as custom message and call & SMS black/whitelisting. I do think it may slow my phone down somewhat, so I was hoping to read how they compare on performance, but their does not seem to be an easy way to test that.

  • aryndar

    No mention of Zoner antivirus....

    • NuLL.n.VoiD

      I too would like to see how Zoner stacks up based on the earlier blogs about how it detected 8 out of 10 viruses where the others only detected 1 or 2. I know it found the Gingerbread Exploit right away. I had to write to the dev and ask for a way to innoculate that so that rooted users didn't loose their root accidentally. The dev replied the next day saying that they were working on including that ability for a near future release.

  • Novicia

    No Lookout? What am I missing?

    • NuLL.n.VoiD

      That was in Part 9 but Lookout isn't that great and it's getting more and more bloated. It can really drag a phone down.

  • fdf

    Anyone running "antivirus" software in android are plain stupid.Android doesnt need that because the applications are sandboxed.

    • John

      Anyone that believes applications in Android are sandboxed is stupid.

  • Gary

    What about Ultimate Mobile Armor?

  • jb

    Many mistakes for android lost :

    Email reports are supported

    Uninstall protection is kind of available (if the app is given admin rights it cannot be uninstalled until those right are removed)

    It is possible to retrieve the call log and sms logs

    Also to wipe the sd card

    And to enable GPS

    • http://www.liamspradlin.com Liam Spradlin

      To my understanding, Android Lost has gone through significant updates since my initial review. I'll take another look at it and update the table as necessary, thanks.

      • Aman Y

        Also, the fact that it can be 'activated' _after_ the phone has been lost with the help of Android Lost JumpStarter. I think this is really essential. I had an experience with the phone getting lost without any security app on it. Pushed AL and started it remotely with JumpStarter (by the same dev)
        Device got registered and we were able to track down the thief.

  • Joshp9690

    AVG is more of a blacklist than anything

  • Jon

    This really look like a rather poor comparison. It just looks like the writer just checked the features of each app on the website and proclaimed a winner merely based on that. "Which one gives more ticked boxes? Ahh, we have a winner!".
    I'm sad, since I believe prey is actually becoming bloated, and I'd like to change, but this review didn't convince me at all.

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      It's rather impossible to keep up with every app update with 20 apps.

    • http://www.liamspradlin.com Liam Spradlin

      Actually, the roundup is based entirely on my series of 17 in-depth reviews, covering each of the apps in the table. The graphic itself is meant solely as a reference for readers who wish to do a quick comparison.

      • CJ

        Indeed, this is exactly what I (being a tyro in geeky stuff) was looking for.

        Many thanks.

        CJ.

  • TKL

    I would suggest another review in about one month that would include the missing applications and the updated ones. This could then be repeated every few months. Something similar to VB100 tests if not as ambitious.

    • http://www.liamspradlin.com Liam Spradlin

      Thanks for the suggestion, we'll take it under consideration. I'd love to keep covering these apps if there is reader interest!

  • http://smonkey.site.co.il Guy

    I currently have AndroidLost and Lookout installed on my SGSII, but I'd like to try one good security app.
    After reviewing your list above, I'd like to check out Cerberus as well, but there's one thing that bugs me: What is "Uninstall Protection" and why doesn't Cerberus have it? Is it important to note?
    Thanks!

    • Me

      From the previous reviews, I think uninstall protection is hiding the app from the app drawer so unless someone goes explicitly looking for the app manually, they won't know it's on the device.

  • Me

    I actually hate the people that have come here thinking this is either about anti-virus or haven't read the 17 (or whatever it is now) MASSIVELY COMPLETE reviews that have been done since June, if memory serves correct.

    I've actually had all the reviews open the last month trying to do this myself on a piece of paper, so thanks for posting! :)

  • Giancarlo

    And what about Guardroid? Didn't you test it?

  • Jai Bar

    One additional feature for "Cerberus"- in rooted phones, it is possible to install as a system app (flashing a zip file or through CWM/Ext4 etc etc), making a little more difficult to remove. For that matter, as difficult (or easy) to remove as "theft aware/Avast" and similar apps.

    They also have a "disguised" version with some phony name.

  • http://www.marklaflamme.com LaFlamme

    Wow. Talk about your exhaustive review. I spent all night trying to compare the leading contenders on my own and then stumbled on the shootout. One-stop shopping, my friend. Thanks for that. Helped me narrow my decision down to just a couple and I'm leaning toward Cerebus. I'm not hauling around secrets vital to the security of the nation or any of that, but I'd like to have a little piece of mind about what's on my phone. Thanks for this unbelievable piece of research and analysis.

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      Check out Avast too, since it came out since. It kind of rocks.

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