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Judging by the download figures, Avast Mobile Security is one of the most popular Android antivirus apps on Google Play, and its average user rating has gone up slightly – to an impressive 4.6 out of 5 – since we last reviewed it in 2017.
The company has stuck to the same business model and design for the past few years, which has served it well.
The app, called both Avast Mobile Security and Avast Antivirus Mobile Security & Virus Cleaner in Google Play, performs solidly in third-party malware evaluations and has lessened its system impact considerably.
With that said, if you are willing to pay for your antivirus solution, I would still lean instead towards Bitdefender Mobile Security or Norton Mobile Security, as both offers more consistent performance across the board among our best Android antivirus apps.
Avast provides many security products for Android-based devices. It offers Mobile Security suite that guarantees risk-free mobile phone use. Avast Mobile Security detects viruses, secure wifi spots, boosts RAM, as well as provides plenty additional features.
Avast also provides Avast Cleanup & Boost, Phone Cleaner, Optimizer for Android devices. This software is primarily used to enhance mobile phone performance by deleting junk files, enhancing power usage, and boosting memory.
Avast Passwords saves all your passwords in one highly secured application that can be accessed by only a master password.
Avast Wi-Fi Finder searches for nearby public wi-fi networks and connects your device to one of them securely. Avast Battery Saver optimizes power usage and extends the mobile phone battery life. Finally, Avast offers a VPN Proxy – a virtual IP address and location. In this review, we critically review Avast for Android products.
Avast Mobile Security
Avast Mobile Security is a kind of antivirus available at Google Play Store. Currently, it has been downloaded more than 100 million times.
Avast Mobile antivirus provides services to secure Android devices, such as anti-theft, junk cleaner, RAM booster, wi-fi finder, wi-fi security, battery saver, secure VPN for Android, call blocker, data usage manager, and firewall.
Installing Avast Mobile Security
The download process of Avast Mobile Security is simple. All you need to do is to visit Google Play Store, search for Avast Mobile Security, and then click on Install, as you see on the screenshot below
Once you click on Get started, you’ll have to choose between a free version or a premium and ad-free version which has extra features. As you click Continue with ads, the application now runs optimally.
Interface and services
The interface of Mobile Security is well-organized and user friendly, you can configure the position and the role of each service easily. The service provides many high-level security features for Android devices:
- Smart Scan: Searches for any vulnerabilities in your mobile phone.
- RAM Boosting: Kills any background running apps that are not used but taking up space in the device RAM.
- Clean Junk: Gets rid of the system junk files that slow down the device and degrade its performance.
- Wi-Fi Security: Scans the Wi-Fi connection to detect any suspicious activity within the network.
- Wi-Fi Speed: Estimates the network uploading and downloading speeds.
- Photo Vault: Saves important photos in a secret place with special access.
- Anti-Theft: Has security procedures to enable you to recover your mobile in case it is stolen.
- App Permissions: Analyzes apps installed on your mobile and their priorities and permissions.
- App Locking: Sets a lock on specific apps to prevent any unauthorized persons using them.
- Call Blocker: Puts some numbers into a black list that blocks the calls and SMS messages.
- Last Known Location: information about the last location of the mobile phone before it was turned off.
- SIM Security: Assists lost phone recovery. If the device was stolen or lost and the thief tries to change the SIM card, the phone will be registered as lost.
- Camera Trap: Takes a photo of the thief once the phone is registered as stolen.
- Power Saver: Manages power usage to provide longer life for the mobile battery.
- Firewall: secures your mobile phone against hacking attempts (requires rooting permissions).
- Data Usage Manager: sets the limit for your mobile data usage to enable you to manage your mobile credit.
- Identity: Device accounts, and Account adding & removing.
- Device: Retrieving running apps, Reading log data, and Reading web history and bookmarks.
- Calendar: Add events to calendar, Modify calendar events, and Send emails to event guests automatically.
- Contacts: Find device accounts, Reading contacts, and Modifying contacts.
- SMS: Reading/Retrieving SMS & MMS, and Editing/Receiving SMS & MMS.
- Phone: Making calls, Rerouting calls, Reading call log, Reading the identity and status of the phone, and Writing call log.
- Camera: Taking photos & videos.
- Microphone: Recording audio.
- Wi-Fi Connection Information: Getting Wi-Fi network info.
Avast Mobile Security costs and what's covered
Avast Mobile Security remains a freemium app, with a fairly feature-rich free tier and the option to drop the ads and unlock the premium features in the “Pro” tier for either $2.99 a month or $11.88 a year.
This is a slight price bump from the last time I reviewed the app, but it is still one of the least expensive paid Android antivirus options on the market.
Doing away with the ads is perhaps the most valuable piece of the Pro tier, but the anti-theft tools, app locking and tech support from Avast are all nice to have as well.
Users looking for an integrated VPN solution can bump up to the “Ultimate” tier for $23.88 yearly or $8.49 a month to use Avast’s SecureLine VPN service.
To add PC and macOS support for both the VPN and the antivirus software, you need to opt for the “Ultimate-Multi” plan, which costs $59.99 yearly or $27.99 (yes, that’s right) monthly.
Avast also makes antivirus software for Windows and Mac, both free and paid.
The Avast interface has basically not changed since my last review of this app, which isn’t surprising as it had just undergone a complete redesign in 2017. Screens either feature a simple white background or a color gradient. The app does a solid job with large touch targets for all of the primary functions, which are visible immediately when you launch the app.
Things are a little muddier if you use the free version. I find the ads and prompts to upgrade so irritating that I would definitely spend the yearly $11.99 to get rid of them, but if you can mentally block out the ads, there aren’t really any significant interface differences.
Avast continues to make malware scanning the focus of its app with the big green “Scan” button. While it isn’t going to win any speed records, the full scan took between 26 and 32 seconds, rather than the 45 to 60 that it spent churning away during my last review of the app.
You can still schedule your scans for any time and any day of the week, so there’s no reason for you to ever see an active scan during waking hours.
Avast’s Web Shield held up well in the supported browsers that I had installed – Chrome, Opera, Firefox and Dolphin – and managed to detect and block links from known malicious sites.
Avast Mobile Security achieved perfect results in German independent lab AV-TEST’s evaluations of Android security products conducted in July 2019. The app detected 100% of the 3,347 “real-time” malware threats used, and 100% of the 3,433 samples that had been uncovered in the previous four weeks.
This puts Avast well ahead of the industry averages for this round of testing, which were 96.8% of real-time, and 97.6% of recently uncovered, threats. Those averages were dragged down by the abysmal performance of Google Play Protect. But even with that outlier eliminated, Avast was still ahead of the pack.
Of the seven other Android antivirus apps that I reviewed in 2019, five submitted samples to AV-TEST for its July 2019 round. Bitdefender Mobile Security and Norton Mobile Security also achieved a 100/100 detection rate; right behind them were Kaspersky Mobile Antivirus and McAfee Mobile Security with 99.9%/100% detection.
Google Play Protect brought up the rear, with the lowest scores on both metrics among all apps in the test: 44.1% real-time detection, 54.7% widespread detection.
Looking back over the previous year of AV-TEST results, Avast scored perfect 100/100 twice, and otherwise maintained percentages of 99.7 or above. This is similar to the performances by Kaspersky and Bitdefender, and is a bit ahead of McAfee, but behind Norton, the only brand that consistently achieved a perfect 100/100.
The other two apps I reviewed in 2019, Lookout Mobile Security and Qihoo 360 Security Antivirus, last submitted samples to AV-TEST for evaluation in 2016. Qihoo 360 performed a bit below average, and Lookout performed especially poorly.
In in-depth evaluations of 11 Android antivirus apps carried about by Austrian lab AV-Comparatives in July 2019, Avast Mobile Security scored 99.9% detection of real-time malware, the same as Bitdefender, Kaspersky and McAfee. Google Play Protect detected 83.2%.
Free Security features and Tools
Avast offers an abundance of anti-theft features, but as was the case the last time we reviewed Avast Mobile Security, not all of them worked reliably. In theory, you can locate, mark as lost, trigger a siren, lock the device, get data, remotely wipe, and display a message on a phone or force a phone to call another phone. All these features are accessible via the web portal at my.avast.com.
I had consistent problems with the location feature, which would indicate that it could not connect to the device even when I was on the same Wi-Fi network as the phone. In an actual emergency, trying to get the command to go through would have been incredibly frustrating.
As has been my experience every time I have reviewed Avast Mobile Security, this feature did not work at all. I blacklisted multiple numbers, but they were able to call my smartphone without issue.
This may be because Google has recently limited the ability of third-party apps to block calls or text messages. But as noted above, this didn’t work two years ago either.
This feature allows you to encrypt photos by moving them or sending them directly to the Avast app’s photo library. If you have images that you don’t want in your main photo app, this could certainly be useful. Note that you must then delete each photo from the main photo album on your device.
This feature scans the Wi-Fi networks you connect to and notes any vulnerabilities. If it detects a Wi-Fi network without an access password, the Avast app will recommend that you upgrade your paid plan to include Avast’s VPN service; if you have done so already, you’ll be able to connect to a VPN server with a single tap.
This duplicates native Android features such as those found in Digital Wellbeing, but you may still want to use it if you like Avast as a one-stop shop for all of your device health. You can view the amount of time you have used each app, the amount of data each app used, and the permissions it requires.
Firewall (rooted devices only)
You can restrict internet access on a per-app basis, either to block an app from accessing the internet entirely or limiting it to connectivity when Wi-Fi is present. As I did not have a rooted device at the time, I was unable to test this feature.
Premium built-in features
While free users get most of the anti-theft features, there are three additional options for paid subscribers. I had better luck with two of these, SIM Security and remote recording of audio from my smartphone, both of which worked immediately.
The third, Camera Trap, is meant to take a picture of the individual who has your phone. When I tried to issue this command, I got a message saying it “could not have been processed because there is no face detection available in the device.” I was able to fix it by unchecking a setting in my Avast web portal, but there was no language anywhere indicating this might be a potential problem.
If you find yourself handing your device over to friends or your children at times, you can just toggle any apps that you want to lock, such as social networks, shopping apps or your photo gallery. Other users will be unable to access those without your passcode or fingerprint.
Avast SecureLine VPN
Avast SecureLine now matches the user interface of the rest of the Avast lineup. You can connect to VPN servers in dozens of different locations across the U.S. and around the globe. Almost all the functionality of the dedicated SecureLine app is mirrored in the Avast Mobile Security VPN screen, with the exception of the option to auto-connect to a VPN.
The stand-alone VPN app costs $3 a month or $20 per year, so getting the VPN service for an additional $12 per year as an Avast Mobile Security add-on will save you a bit. Buying the VPN service add-on monthly actually costs an extra $5.50, which doesn’t make much sense.
To evaluate the impact of running Avast Mobile Security on my device, I conducted multiple tests using the Geekbench 4 Android tool on my Google Pixel 3 running Android 9.0 Pie. First, I established a baseline performance for the device, and then ran additional tests following installation and during a full scan by the antivirus app.
After installing Avast Mobile Security on my Pixel 3, my performance dropped by only 3.53%. A full scan had nearly triple the impact, reducing system performance by 9.96% from the baseline score.
This was a dramatic improvement for Avast, which finished dead last in both categories when I tested it in mid-2017. The app still came in at fifth place out of eight this time on the post-installation performance test, but was just a few percentage points behind third-place Lookout. On the full scan, Avast was in sixth place out of eight, but the numbers were far better than the nearly 25% impact from 2017.
Setup and Support
Avast remains one of the least convenient antivirus apps to get up and running, due to the number of features available in the app and the lack of any real guidance following installation.
Fortunately, the app hadn’t changed much since I last reviewed it, so I was able to make it through the setup in about 6 minutes, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a new user would take twice as long, as you are mostly left to tap around the app and find which feature to activate next.
Free users of Avast have to rely on the forums and support documents on Avast.com for tech support. The ability to actually call or email customer service 24/7 in the event of a problem is definitely one of the perks of a paid subscription.
Avast Mobile Security always teeters right on the edge of being a compelling option for me, but the inconsistent performance of some features, coupled with my frustration with the placement and frequency of the ads in the free version, always makes me shy away from unreservedly recommending Avast among our best Android antivirus apps.
If you can ignore the ads and don’t need the flakier features, then you might be happy with Avast. The app has unquestionably solid malware protection, so you aren’t giving up much there. If, however, stability and other forms of security and privacy are your primary goals, you should opt for Bitdefender Mobile Security or Norton Mobile Security.