Mobile security from the experts
Avast is no stranger to the security game - it’s made one of Windows’ most famous apps for decades. Has it managed to successfully make the jump to Android phone? Let’s find out.
An antivirus and more for your Android phone
Avast decides to tackle mobile, but does it still come out on top?
If you’ve ever used an antivirus - and let’s be honest, who hasn’t - you’ll be pleased to see a big, orange “scan” button. It’s the center point of the Avast interface, and will be your first step using the app. On the test phone -- untouched by anti-virus scanning until now -- the scan proved acceptably fast (around 25 seconds) despite a slight lag of 3 - 5 seconds before starting.
Once the scan was performed, a list of issues that Avast considered as problematic appeared. None of them were worrying, especially as 2 of the 3 “problems” were simply that an Avast feature was not enabled. Less experienced users might feel that such warnings could be indicative of mobile security problems but the case is unlikely. If the difference between “problem” and “suggestion” were made clear, it would eliminate this confusion.
Once you’ve taken whatever action you deem appropriate, you’ll find the rest of the features the app offers, either by scrolling down the results page or accessing the list in the menu to the left. Some of these features are mildly interesting: should you choose a premium package (the app is freemium by default), you can remove ads. You can also enable anti-theft measures, scan new files downloaded onto your computer, lock sensitive photos into a vault, and take steps to measure and improve your Wi-Fi speed. Tweak what the app scans when it carries out the general anti-virus scan, and set it to scan on a regular basis of your choosing.
Although many options exist, none of them are groundbreaking. They’re similar to what you’ll find in other apps. By the same token, many of these features are available on your phone (malware scanning, download scanner, app insights, theft controls, etc.). Another problem found with the app is that the features are not of the same type, which some users might find confusing. To give an example, some are standard Avast features (not problematic), others need more permissions before they can run, and some are actually different Avast apps that you’d need to download separately. Offering them all in an undifferentiated list increases the chances that inexperienced (and not-so-inexperienced) users will click through to unwanted product pages and come across annoying permissions decisions.Avast Antivirus for Android is not the nicest of apps to use. Given that it is a freemium product, ads can be expected. However, what’s not acceptable is how intrusive these ads are. There are ads from 3rd parties and for other Avast services and all of them are sneakily designed to look just like the bona fide app features. It would be easy to accidentally click one. It’s hard to take dire warnings about the safety of your phone seriously when there’s a spammy-looking advertisement for second-hand cars just millimeters away!
Where can you run this program?
This version of Avast is for phones running Android. It’s also available for other platforms, including Windows and iPhone.
Is there a better alternative?
Your opinions about antivirus apps are likely to be shaped by how necessary you think they are. If you believe them to be a valuable addition to your security repertoire, then Avast is one option. There are others, like Kaspersky Internet Security for Android but, from a security point of view, they’re all similar in effectiveness. Preferences for one over another are likely to be aesthetic and influenced by what you use - or have used - on other platforms in the past.
Avast was not a pleasant app to use. It was a strange experience - it offered everything you’d expect from an antivirus, comes from a reputable developer, and worked fast and smoothly, but it seems packaged so as to make the user experience so unpleasant, it detracts from its functionality.
Should you download it?
No. Avast Antivirus for Android is ad-ridden, confusing, and potentially unnecessary. If you want a mobile antivirus, check out a competing app like Kaspersky or Bitdefender to see if it offers a better user experience.
- Very easy to use
- Good variety of secondary safety features
- Scores well in antivirus tests
- Ads are intrusive
- Looks cheap
- Dubious risk suggestions