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Best mobile antivirus apps for protecting your phone

Best mobile antivirus apps for protecting your phone
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It’s fair to say we live on our smartphones and tablets. They allow us to browse the web, connect with people via social media, capture photos and videos, keep up-to-date with the news, play games, stream movies and music, and much more. 

But despite playing a significant role in our daily lives and offering a wide range of benefits, mobile devices are increasingly vulnerable to online security risks. Without appropriate protection, mobile devices can expose users to viruses, malware, spyware, ransomware, hacking, data breaches, and other cyber threats. Simply clicking on a dangerous link or downloading a malicious app can have disastrous consequences. 

While the thought of your smartphone or tablet being impacted by one of these threats is scary, you can easily boost the security and privacy of your mobile devices by installing an antivirus solution. The best mobile antivirus apps are capable of identifying and tackling a range of online security threats, from malicious software to unauthorized user access.  

Luckily, there are loads of mobile antivirus apps available for both Android and iOS devices today. But, which app should you download? To help you choose the right one for you, we’ve ranked the best mobile antivirus apps of 2021. 

(Image credit: Norton)

Norton Mobile Security

Reasons to buy
+Advanced scanning technology+Wi-Fi, web, and device protection
Reasons to avoid
-Anti-theft protection would be handy

Norton Mobile Security is a popular antivirus app that protects against a range of cyber threats in order to improve the privacy and security of your smartphone or tablet PC.

Available for Android and iOS devices, it offers four main features: an app advisor, Wi-Fi security, web protection, and device security. 

App Advisor uses patented app scanning technology to mitigate malware, ransomware, adware, and privacy threats. The app also employs Wi-Fi protection to identify dangerous or breached networks. In contrast, web protection detects and warns you about any fraudulent or malicious websites you’re about to access from a web browser, text message, email account, social networking site, or mobile app. 

As well as offering protection against external online security threats like malware and dodgy websites, Norton Mobile Security also provides device security for detecting whether your smartphone or tablet is using an outdated operating system. That way, you can update it to the latest version and eradicate any serious security issues affecting your device.

Price: Free to download; $14.99 for a one-year premium subscription

(Image credit: McAfee)

McAfee Mobile Security

Reasons to buy
+Quick and deep security scans+Tools for improving device performance+Anti-theft capabilities
Reasons to avoid
-Some of the premium plans are costly

McAfee Mobile Security, which is available on both Android and iOS, is another comprehensive cybersecurity solution for smartphone users and has been created to mitigate a wide variety of online security threats. 

Designed to discover and warn about malware-ridden apps, dodgy websites, insecure Wi-Fi networks, and many other security risks, the app lets users conduct quick or deep security scans on their mobile devices.

In terms of other capabilities, McAfee Mobile Security includes privacy protection to prevent cybercriminals from accessing and stealing your personal data. And if your phone is ever lost or stolen, you can use McAfee Mobile Security to help find and recover it. 

It can be really annoying when your mobile device suddenly slows down or runs out of battery. Luckily, McAfee Mobile Security also has solutions for this with advanced tools for cleaning up the storage space on your phone, getting rid of junk files, and improving overall battery life. 

Price: Free to download; premium subscriptions start at $14.99

(Image credit: Certo)

Certo Mobile Security

Reasons to buy
+Intruder detection+Privacy protection+Spyware scanner

Certo Mobile Security is an all-in-one antivirus app for Android and iOS that mitigates spyware, prevents intruders from breaking into your device, and improves your online privacy. 

One of its highlight features is a spyware scanner that identifies and removes malicious software used for spying on users. An intruder detection feature can spot when a cybercriminal attempts to access your device for the purpose of abusing user privileges. 

The app also provides privacy protection, which will warn you about apps with access to your geographic location, phone calls, and any other types of personal information. Android adopted similar features in Android 10 and 11, but if you are running an earlier version these privacy enhancements are excellent.

Other great features include auto scanning your device to ensure it is protected from online security threats, a breach checker that can alert you to online data breaches, a system adviser that finds any security holes in your device settings, and lots more.

Price: Free to download; the premium version starts at $1.99 a month

(Image credit: Avira)

Avira Free Security

Reasons to buy
+Free to download and use+Built-in VPN+Network scanner
Reasons to avoid
-100MB of VPN data isn’t a lot

Avira is well known for offering one of the best free PC and Mac antivirus solutions in the form of Avira Free Security. And if you’re looking to secure an Android or iOS device, you can download a mobile-optimized version of Avira Free Security for both operating systems. 

Avira Free Security for Android offers antivirus protection, but it doesn’t stop there. It also includes a free VPN with a daily traffic allowance of 100MB, a network scanner, a permissions manager that rates the privacy of every app installed on your phone, an Android cleaner to improve device performance, the ability to set a pin code for securely accessing sensitive apps, and many other features. 

If you own an iPhone or an iPad, we recommend checking out Avira Free Security for iOS. As is the case with the Avira Free Security Android app, the iOS version sports a free VPN solution that provides 100MB of data to use every day. Other features include a photo cleaner, network protection, a call blocker, a privacy manager, and more. 

Price: Free to download

(Image credit: Trend Micro)

Trend Micro Mobile Security

Reasons to buy
+Protects against a range of threats+Tools that help improve device performance+Protects against a range of threats
Reasons to avoid
-More expensive than the competition

Trend Micro has also developed respected mobile security apps for Android and iOS users. According to the antivirus software maker, it aims to “enhance your mobile life” by providing a plethora of advanced security and privacy tools. 

Using Trend Micro Mobile Security for Android, you can mitigate security threats like malware-infected apps, ransomware, unsafe websites, insecure Wi-Fi networks, and hacking. Additionally, it offers tools for optimizing the performance of your Android device. 

Along with an Android app, the American-Japanese cybersecurity firm also offers an antivirus solution for iOS devices. The app, called Trend Micro Mobile Security for iOS, can block dangerous websites, nuisance adverts, and web trackers to enable you to browse the web safely on your iOS device. It also detects insecure Wi-Fi networks and surplus data usage

Price: Free to download; a one-year premium license costs $18.99

(Image credit: Bitdefender)

Bitdefender Mobile Security

Reasons to buy
+Built-in VPN+Malware and virus protection+Online account privacy
Reasons to avoid
-The VPN’s 200MB daily data limit won’t last long 

Just like many other cybersecurity giants, Bitdefender provides mobile-friendly antivirus apps for Android and iOS devices to complement its desktop software. They offer everything from built-in VPN services to enhanced web protection. 

The Android version of Bitdefender Mobile Security sports a range of features, including malware and virus protection, a VPN with 200MB of free daily data, find your phone, account privacy for alerting you to online data breaches, a battery life and performance saver, and more.

Those with an iPhone or an iPad can enjoy improved security and privacy with Bitdefender Mobile Security for iOS. Its top features include a VPN that offers a free 200MB daily data allowance, web protection, account privacy, and more. 

Price: Free to download; a one-year premium subscription costs $14.99