One of the most common questions newcomers to Android have is do I really need an antivirus? While there are varying answers to this question depending on who you ask, it's hard to deny the demand for such apps. Of course, most AVs have other, far more useful features than just the AV scan – like anti-theft, device location features, and more. For that reason alone, I always have one installed on all my devices.

If you've never used an antivirus on your device before, there's a huge question that needs an answer before you install one: which is the best? Of course, it's hard to give a definitive answer to that question, but AV-test.org has done the legwork comparing 22 different AV apps for Android, using basic metrics in categories for both virus detection and usability.


In a nutshell, the company found TrustGo: Mobile Security 1.3 to be the all-around best of the bunch, with it being the only app to score 6/6 in both protection and usability. Following close behind is Antiy: AVL 2.2, with a 6/6 in protection and 5.5/6 in usability; Lookout, with 5.5/6 in protection and 6/6 in usability; BitDefender, with 5.5/6 in protection and 5/6 in usability; and Trend Micro with 5/6 in protection and 6/6 in usability. Symantec, Avast, Tencent, Dr. Web, and Sphos rounded out the rest of the top 10, with most scoring at least a 4.5/6 in overall protection.

While "protection" is pretty cut-and-dry, what exactly does the company test in the "usability" category? Basic things like the app's effects on battery life, whether or not it takes a hit on the system during "normal use," how much web traffic it generates, and the number of false positives it flags during installation of legitimate software.

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Each comparison also lists the features of each app. Does it have a call blocker? How about a message filter, safe browsing, or parental controls? Does it offer a backup system or encryption? Is anti-theft part of the package? No need to dig through apps in the Play Store to find those answers – they're all laid out very clearly on AV-test's results page.

Ultimately, Android AVs are a part of life on the platform. Whether or not you elect to have one installed based purely on its malware detection is entirely up to you – but it's at least worth considering the value of other aspects of each app. Simply put, AV-test makes that part easy to parse. Is it a definitive guide? Not really, but it's an excellent place to start looking for a good AV app, or to see how the one you're currently using compares to the competition. While these tests were conducted in January of 2013, the company has already stated it will do another round of testing (presumably with different apps) in March, and publish the results in April; so don't sweat it if you don't see your favorite in the list right now.

Hit the link below to check out the full comparison.


Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, musician, and cyclist. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6-string, spinning on the streets, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • http://twitter.com/pertzepzioa Aditya Krishnan

    Trust GO is the best?? I doubt

  • Ryuuie

    I'm with Android Central on this one. If you download apps from the Play Store, then you do not need an anti-virus app. If you like to download apps from god knows where because you're too much of a cheap ass to pay $1 - $6 for an app that you use daily, then you should get an anti-virus app and you should expect crazy shit like that to happen.

    Simple as that.

    However, if you're looking at an anti-virus app just for the abilities such as tracking your phone, look into apps such as Cerberus. Of course, if you're too cheap to buy it, well too bad for you.

    • John

      Just use AndroidLost if you want a good free alt to Cerberus

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      While I agree with the first part, I use Avast for my anti-theft needs. It's free, powerful, and the web portal is awesome. I actually think it's better than Cerberus.

      • Ryuuie

        Personally, I haven't used an anti-virus for anti-theft, I've used Cerberus. Can you turn off the "anti-virus" part or something? I will admit to trying out Lookout but all it did was lag things down when I'd install apps.

      • RichA

        I use Cerberus as Cerberus can take photos/videos where Avast cannot, that is the only thing holding me back for using Avast fully. I have seen "rumors' on their board stating they are working on this feature.

      • pierx

        They also had more root feature such as Firewall, Network Meter, Call/SMS filter and hard reset protection..
        Basically, any antivirus might useless for now, but Avast offers more than just antivirus. yes the anti virus can be switched off.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

          Exactly. The root features acquired when Avast bought Theft Aware are incredible.

      • Paul_Werner

        100% agree here and why I use Avast over Cerberus. I hope the rumors are true that they will be adding the photo/video features soon

    • Sorian

      It has been stated before that Play store is not active in all countries for one reason or another, these people would have to get apps from the "god knows where" sites you state. It isn't because they don't want to pay for the app, it is they can't.

      • http://twitter.com/jasgalda Taffer

        So how are they downloading the AV apps from Play?

        • Sorian

          Who said anything about downloading an AV has to come just from the Play Store?

      • Ryuuie

        Well, that's where those viruses and malware everyone keeps talking about are coming from and as I said, still no excuse. There are better places to get things from and easier ways to get access such as VPNs and whatnot.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/keriyn-theph-di-xan-limited/100000964831199 เกรียนเทพ ดี อันลิมิเตด

      Some game publisher just don't sell their game in my country. Side download is the only way to go. This app is not compatible with your country is the most ridiculous thing on Play Store. They feed the pirates themselves, can't help it.

      • Ryuuie

        Not really, it's not the fault of Google or the developers but the fault of the other country's laws. The world simply doesn't agree on everything such as digital rights.

        There is never an excuse for piracy, to be perfectly honest. Are a lot of things being charged for that simply should not be? Yes. But there is never an excuse to steal something. You can e-mail game publishers and try to work something out if you must.