Security vendors often save their best features for Windows, leaving mobile users feeling a little short-changed. Fortunately, that’s not the Bitdefender way, and Bitdefender Mobile Security for Android (opens in a new tab) is actually more powerful than some of the desktop competition.
It scans your apps for things like malware. Protects you from phishing and other malicious websites. Monitors texts and chat messages for dangerous links. Protect your internet activities with a restricted VPN. Locks apps to prevent others from seeing sensitive data. Raises the alert if your details appear in a data breach. And track or remotely lock your device with Mobile Security’s built-in anti-theft tool.
The price is right too, at just $1.49 a month billed monthly, or $1.25 on the annual plan. If you’re unsure, a 14-day trial gives you a chance to try the app before committing.
If you have a lot of hardware to protect, you can get Mobile Security together with Bitdefender Total Security (opens in a new tab). This offers full antivirus and many other tools for any mix of five iOS, Android, Windows and Mac devices for just $2.92 a month for year one, $7.92 upon renewal.
The only catch here is the VPN, which limits you to 200MB a day, and doesn’t support location selection (it automatically picks your nearest server.) But it might be enough for casual use, and it’s more generous than some (Panda’s free VPN allows 150 MB a day, Avira’s 100 MB.)
Upgrading to Bitdefender’s Unlimited Premium VPN costs $6.99 billed monthly, or $3.33 for the annual subscription. These are reasonable prices, but there are faster and more capable Android VPNs around. If online privacy is a priority for you, check out our best Android VPN apps guide for more.
Bitdefender Mobile Security for Android: Getting started
After a smooth installation, Mobile Security ran its first scan, checking our system and apps for threats in a quick 30 seconds.
Mobile Security’s dashboard appeared moments later. If you’ve ever used another security suite or app, you’ll recognize the layout: The main area of the screen shows your current device status, while a sidebar gives you quick access to Mobile Security’s many features.
There’s a lot to explore, but work through the various features individually and you’ll find that most are easy to use.
Bitdefender Mobile Security for Android: Malware Scanner
Mobile Security doesn’t just check your apps for malware (opens in a new tab) when you run a scan manually: it also monitors each app while it’s installed and alerts if it detects anything dangerous.
We tried this with a test app, and Mobile Security popped up an immediate warning.
Results from the major independent testing laboratories suggest that these are also very accurate recommendations. We checked the latest AV-Test, AV-Comparatives, and MRG Effita’s Android reports, and they each found Bitdefender Mobile Security blocked 100% of test threats.
Bitdefender Mobile Security for Android: Web protection
Bitdefender’s web protection blocks access to phishing and other malicious websites, reducing the chance of you getting caught by dangerous links in your inbox or social feeds.
It is a very efficient system. We compiled a list of 1,033 brand new phishing links, and Web Protection blocked 88% of them. Avast also has high-quality anti-phishing, but it couldn’t quite match Bitdefender, only blocking 83%.
AV-Comparatives’ 2022 Anti-phishing tests found largely similar results: Bitdefender tied for first with Avira, each blocking 96% of threats, while Avast trailed slightly behind with 93%.
Bitdefender Mobile Security for Android: Bitdefender VPN
Connect your device to Bitdefender’s Hotspot Shield powered VPN (opens in a new tab) It is easy. Tap VPN, then Connect, and within a few seconds it’s up and running, protecting your web traffic from snoopers. Speeds were reasonable in our tests, and connections proved stable, with no unexpected drops.
The problem? It is extremely basic. As we write, you can’t choose a location, switch protocols, adjust settings, or reconfigure how the VPN works in any useful way. If you only need the core of the VPN, this may be acceptable. But if you’re looking for something even a little more advanced, you’ll likely be disappointed.
Bitdefender clearly recognizes the problem and Mobile Security for Android will soon be updated to use the standard standalone Bitdefender VPN app. That’s good news, as it gives you a lot more VPN features (ad and tracking blocking, protocol selection, split tunneling, more.) But if VPN is your priority, it’s a reminder that you can simply ignore Mobile Security and just install the Bitdefender VPN for Android app, instead.
Bitdefender Mobile Security for Android: Account Privacy
Bitdefender’s Account Privacy feature scans a list of data breaches for as many email addresses as you need and sounds an alarm if your details have been exposed.
We clicked on “Account Privacy” to try it out. The app sent a code to the email address to verify we owned it, then displayed an alarmingly long list of violations where our address appeared.
This is not quite as useful as it sounds. Although our list included 19 breaches, only four were dated 2020 or later, and the most recent of those was from February 2021. If you follow the standard advice to change your passwords occasionally (and of course we do), this isn’t . going to tell you a lot at all.
It can also be difficult to identify which accounts have been breached. Although some breach names make this clear (LinkedIn.com, DropBox.com, livejournal), our email also appeared in breaches with generic titles like ‘breachCompilation’, ‘collection1’ and ‘malwaredumps’. The app asked us to change our account password, but without information about which site was the source, it’s just not possible.
There is still value here. Perhaps your list will be more relevant and you can sign up to receive alerts when new breaches appear. But the reality is that you can do this for free anyway on haveibeenpwned.com, you don’t need to install Bitdefender Mobile Security or anything else.
Bitdefender Mobile Security for Android: App Locker
Bitdefender’s App Locker makes it possible to protect others from launching specific apps and perhaps viewing sensitive details. It’s very useful if you want to give your device to a friend or family member to use your phone or browser, for example, but don’t want them to have full access to everything else.
It’s an efficient system, and far more useful than any cabinet. Although by default App Locker asks you to unlock each protected app manually, for example, every time you launch it, you can also unlock one app automatically to unlock all the others until the screen turns off. Far more convenient if you’re just worried about someone picking up your device.
There are also stacks of surprising bonus features. It can use a random numeric keypad, which reduces the chance that others can read your pin by seeing your finger movements. It takes a picture of the user after three failed PIN entries and can then upload the pictures to your Bitdefender account so you can view them from other devices. It’s all very well put together, and adds real value to the app.
Bitdefender Mobile Security for Android: Anti-Theft
Bitdefender Mobile Security also includes some Anti-Theft features, covering most of the ground you’d expect.
Remote location support may allow you to track your device from Bitdefender’s website or other apps, for example. And if it doesn’t, the app can take a picture of the thief after three failed attempts to unlock the device, and maybe give you more clues.
If your device is truly stolen, you can remotely lock it or even wipe its contents and factory reset. Or if you’ve just misplaced it somewhere, a “Scream” command plays an audio alert to help you track it down.
There’s nothing new here, and if you have multiple Android devices, you can get very similar features and more convenient reporting with Google’s Find My Device for free.
However, we found Bitdefender’s Anti-Theft tool to work as advertised, and if you plan to install and manage Bitdefender on a variety of devices, it may be more convenient to have Anti-Theft available to all your hardware from the same dashboard.
Bitdefender Mobile Security for Android:
Bitdefender Mobile Security for Android is a powerful security tool that gives you rock-solid protection against a variety of security threats. Okay, the VPN is very basic, but we wouldn’t expect a better price, and overall Bitdefender Mobile Security is a good Android choice.
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