If you've been saving yourself for the free Android security suite that does just about everything, then friend, have I got a deal for you. avast! Mobile Security & Antivirus (free, Google Play) is from the familiar name in free PC and Mac antivirus, and packed with a huge array of powerful tools and fine-grained controls. These benefits outweigh its cluttered interface and lockscreen issues to take the Editors' Choice for free Android security apps.It stands next to Bitdefender?Mobile Security and Antivirus, our Editors' Choice for paid subscription Android security apps.
In truth, anti-malware is not where the Android security begins and ends. It's very unlikely that you'll encounter malicious software on your phone, but it is generally foremost on the minds of consumers.
When AV-Test rated avast! in June 2013, they found that the software detected 100% of the 2,545 samples the company used. Even better, AV-Test reports that it had no false-positive detections. This is a marked improvement over the previous test, which rated avast! slightly lower and with only half the sample size.
PC Mag relies on third-party testing labs for information about the accuracy of Android security app malware scans.
In my testing, I noticed that the accuracy came at a price. avast! took 66.06 seconds to scan just the apps on my Samsung Galaxy S III , and a whopping 132.2 seconds to scan apps and files. This is on par with TrustGo Antivirus and Mobile Security, but far longer than TrendMicro Mobile Security & Antivirus. Bitdefender?uses ultra-speedy cloud scanning that completes a scan in just over 10 seconds. Though the scans are long, avast! plays nice with other apps. With a scan running in the background along with 12 other apps, I didn't see any stuttering while playing Minecraft.
Also, though the scan is slower, it can be performed at any time and checks every file on your device. Bitdefender's cloud-based approach only focuses on executable files, and needs an internet connection to scan. Their approach is to only focus on the files that could be a threat, and is far more targeted than avast!'s brute-force approach. That said, avast! is well-positioned to guard against new threats that use novel attack vectors we've yet to imagine. It's also good for the kind of user who roots their device and side-loads everything.
avast! will also keep an ever-vigilant eye on your device, warning you as soon as it detects something it doesn't like. This includes during a malware scan; the app triggers an alert as soon as it detects something, and you can uninstall the offending app and pick up the scan where you left off.
Though many security apps can scan all the files on your device, avast! goes one step further with the File Shield. When active, File Shield will scan every file when used, either read from or written to. It's cool, but totally overkill and turned off by default as it eats into battery life.