Which is the best mobile antivirus

Test: The best antivirus programs for Android in 2021

Frank Ziemann

The AV-Test Institut has tested 15 protection solutions for Android, which are intended for privately used devices. Almost all security apps got full marks, Google Play Protect is still not competitive.

EnlargeAntivirus software also makes sense on a mobile device

In March, the Magdeburg AV-Test Institute tested 14 mobile protection solutions for Android devices that their manufacturers had submitted for certification. For comparison, the Magdeburg-based company again tested Google Play Protect, which, however, still does not even serve as a lower benchmark. The test field has remained the same compared to the previous test, except for version changes. Since the beginning of 2020, AV-Test has been distinguishing between apps for private use and protection solutions for companies. The latter is covered in a separate article.

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This is how it is tested

The tests are divided into three categories: protection, performance and usability. On the one hand, protection against malware is checked with more than 3000 malware samples that are not older than four weeks. On the other hand, in the so-called real-time tests, all apps are confronted simultaneously on identical smartphones with over 3,150 copies of daily malware. Any impairments to the battery life, the braking effect on the system and the data traffic generated by the protection apps are included in the evaluation of the performance. For usability, the false alarms that the protection solutions produce in over 3400 harmless apps are determined.

Protection programs that achieve a total of ten of the possible 18 points and at least one point in each category receive a certificate. The tests are always carried out on real hardware (no emulator) under Android 8.0.0. The test candidates can access the latest updates and cloud services at any time.

The test results
With the exception of Google Play Protect, all tested apps met the minimum requirements for a certificate. 13 test candidates achieved the full 18 points, almost all of them. Apart from Google Play Protect, all products achieved a full six points for malware detection. Google's automatic app scan clearly missed the class target in both protection tests. Play Protect only detected 65 percent of the malware that was up to four weeks old, and only a good 70 percent in the real-time test. This is a step backwards from the previous test.

Apart from Google Play Protect, almost all apps achieved more than 99.9 percent malware detection in both sub-tests. Only securiON OnAV achieved a little less in the real-time test with 99.7 percent, i.e. it did not recognize ten malicious apps as such. The average malware detection rate in the real-time test is 98.0 percent, without Google Play Protect it would be 99.94 percent. In the second test phase with malware up to four weeks old, the average was 97.7 percent, without Google Play Protect even 99.99 percent. So it is better not to rely on Google Play Protect alone - the protective effect is hardly enough for a “better than nothing”.

EnlargeAnti-malware for Android: graph of test results from March 2021


In the category power all candidates pass the tests flawlessly. The data traffic generated by the protection apps, their battery load and their braking effect during normal use of the devices are equally inconspicuous for all of them.

False alarm
Overall, there were hardly any misdiagnoses. Here, too, Google Play Protect is the exception and clearly the rear. His total of 21 false positives affect both Play Store apps (3) and those that do not come from the Google Play Store (18). Ikarus mobile.security was wrong once. All other security apps passed all tests without triggering a false alarm.

Range of functions
There are significant differences in the functionality of the security apps, which is no longer evaluated. The range of equipment with additional functions ranges from securiON OnAV, which only offers rooting detection, to Avast and AVG, which, apart from a backup function, bring almost everything your heart desires. Many apps have anti-theft functions on board, so if the device is lost, they can locate it, lock it and / or delete all data. Also quite often there is a web filter that blocks access to dubious or dangerous websites or at least warns against it.

Some of the free installable apps that you can find on Google Play are scaled-down versions of the respective paid solution and advertise them. If you want to use one or the other additional function permanently, you can usually switch to the premium version via in-app purchase. The detailed test results with information on the range of functions can be found on the website of the AV-Test Institute. You can also get the results of previous tests there.

As in the Windows tests, we weighted the points from the individual categories differently in the results table. The protective effect makes up 50 percent of the total number of points, the other two categories each with 25 percent (2: 1: 1). You can find these scores in the last column, according to which the table is also sorted. In the penultimate column are the points without this weighting (1: 1: 1), as calculated by AV-Test. In this case, this has no effect on the order, as almost all apps achieved the full number of points.

Points

total with weighting

Manufacturer, product, program version

protection

power

Usability

1:1:1

2:1:1

AhnLab V3 Mobile Security 3.2

6,0

6,0

6,0

18,0

18,0

Avast Mobile Security 6.37

6,0

6,0

6,0

18,0

18,0

AVG AntiVirus FREE 6.36

6,0

6,0