Android Phones

Do I need antivirus for my Android phone?

Spoiler: probably not

We hear a lot about the security of Apple’s iPhone, but just under 75% of us don’t have one. Does that mean we Android users are more open to malware? Are our devices secretly harvesting our data and posting it all on the Dark Web? Nope. Here’s why you probably don’t need antivirus for your Android phone.

Although iOS gets the plaudits for its impressive major virus-free record, Android is also really quite secure. Here’s why…

Antivirus for Android phone: Google Play Protect

You may not realise that every Android handset comes equipped with a preinstalled tool called Google Play Protect (“Securing 2 billion users daily” its website triumphantly announces). This automatically checks for malware by scanning your data and apps – and even helps you steer clear of dodgy websites by bringing up a bright-red warning. But, instead of announcing itself with bells and whistles, Play Protect just modestly plugs away in the background and quickly informs you if something’s amiss.

If you want to see it in action, go to Settings | Security (sometimes Security & Location or Security & privacy) and tap on Google Play Protect. You’ll be greeted with a simple screen that tells you when your apps were last scanned and offers the option to manually trigger a scan yourself by tapping the green refresh icon.

Google Play Protect

We’d recommend giving it a go – even if it’s just to get some peace of mind.

Antivirus for Android phone: Google Play Store

So the argument can be made that you don’t need Android antivirus because, well, you already have it. However, there’s another behind-the-scenes safety measure in place.

Although there have been high-profile cases of malware being downloaded from the Google Play Store – 85 apps, including the snappily named “Easy Universal TV Remote”, were removed earlier this year – the vast majority of apps and games are vetted by Google way before they ever make it to your mobile.

It’s a case of employing good old common sense: if something looks dodgy on the Google Play Store, and has negative reviews to match, steer well clear. And note that Google Play Protect is always there to keep you safe anyway.

Still not convinced? Carry on reading.

Antivirus for Android phone: Options

If security is of the essence in your job or you’d just rather be safe than sorry, you can install an antivirus app on your Android phone. It’s like wearing that extra jumper in winter – you’ll probably be fine, but there might always be a blizzard… in Leicestershire.

If you do, there’s no point splashing a lot of money when the free options are as good as paid-for apps. But don’t just take my word for it: AV-Comparatives’ latest test of Android antivirus apps found that Avast and Avira both blocked 100% of the malware that was thrown at them.

If I had to choose, I’d recommend Avast, having used it for for a long period of time. You will be bombarded with adverts, though.

Avast Android app

Just remember: you’re far more likely to drop your Android phone down the loo than ever come in contact with malware.

READ NEXT: Do I need to cover my laptop webcam?

About the author

Max Figgett

Max has written for numerous websites and magazines over the years. Whether it’s about ancient hardware or software secrets, no Big Tech Question is too obscure for him to tackle.

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  • Some valid points there! I like the Anti-theft option some providers include. Using Antivirus on your Android is especially important if you use your phone or tablet for business!

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