We talked a little bit about Bitdefender's new antivirus offering earlier today in our giveaway post, but now we want to dive a little deeper into the app and explain what makes it good, how it differs from Bitdefender's paid mobile security service, and how it compares to similar antivirus offerings.

The first question you may have is "since Bitdefender's Mobile Security app was already free(mium), why release this?" That answer is actually pretty simple: as of today, the model for Mobile Security has changed to a trial period-only. Basically, you can try the full suite for two weeks, and after that are presented with the option to buy. If you elect not to buy the full app, it simply stops working. However – you can get Antivirus Free for, well, free. It offers the most basic protection in the Bitdefender family – but that doesn't mean it isn't a useful, powerful application. Basically, if you're worried about viruses on Android, Bitdefender Free is a great way to gain some peace of mind and keep would-be threats at bay.

Screenshot_2013-04-08-12-29-55 Screenshot_2013-04-08-12-27-13 Screenshot_2013-04-08-12-30-45

But what makes it different from other Android antivirus applications? Well, the primary difference is the way it handles scanning. Most antivirus apps download virus signatures and keep them stored directly on the device; AV Free, however, keeps these signatures in the cloud. Basically, this leads to faster scanning, improved accuracy (so snafus like this recent AVG/Nova Launcher one don't happen), and almost zero impact on battery life. Booyah.

It also features a real-time scanner called Autopilot that monitors all installed apps as they come in (as well as an option for internal storage/SD card contents). This takes care of any potential problems before they can become actual problems. In our tests, this worked very well – it detected the test virus within seconds of it hitting the device.

Screenshot_2013-04-08-15-23-51 Screenshot_2013-04-08-15-24-30 Screenshot_2013-04-08-15-24-00

Not everything is done on-the-fly, though – you can also call up the scanner whenever you please and run it on demand. And with the virus signatures in the cloud, it's always up-to-date. Since none of these features require any sort of setup, Bitdefender Antivirus Free is one of the simplest antiviruses we've ever used.

Combine all this with its intuitive color coding system for device status (Green: all is well, Yellow: non-critical issues have been found, Red: critical issues have been found and require immediate attention) and "set and forget" nature, and what you have is a great way to keep your device free from malicious software without negatively affecting performance or battery life. And if you find that additional protection is something you'd like, don't sweat it – the full Mobile Security suite is just a tap away in the settings menu.