The Android world is overflowing with ad-sponsored antivirus, cleanup and speed-boosting apps, but Antivirus Free 2019 – Scan & Remove Virus, Cleaner still stands out from the crowd, with more than 50 million installs and an impressive 4.8 rating on Google Play.
(There are a lot of similarly-named apps around, and this one seems to have a few variations, itself, but we’re reviewing the app from developer Hyper Speed.)
Antivirus Free 2019 isn’t going to win over experienced users from its malware-hunting abilities alone. It’s one of many mobile apps based on Antiy’s OpenAVL engine, which isn’t bad, but still lags far behind the main competition. (We’ll get into the detection rate details on that, later.)
The app is more about its range of other tools, which cover all the areas you’d expect: real-time protection, URL filtering, junk-file cleaning, memory boosting, CPU cooling, call blocking, an app locker to protect sensitive apps with passwords or patterns, a notification manager, and more.
There are no feature restrictions in the free version, although you will have to live with lots of ads. It’s not just about the numbers, either– some of our ads also had embedded audio, making them even more annoying than usual.
If that’s an issue, then you can pay to remove the ads. Prices are fractionally above average, though, at $1.99 a month, dropping to $0.99 if you pay for a year up-front. If you’re mostly after the security and antivirus features, subscribing to Bitdefender’s Total Security 2019 suite can cover any mix of five devices (Windows, Mac, iOS, Android) for $44.99 in year one, an effective $0.75 per device-month of much better protection.
Antivirus Free 2019 – Scan & Remove Virus, Cleaner arrived as a compact download (under 10MB) and installed quickly on our test device.
The interface is clear and straightforward. The large Scan on the main screen makes it easy to see how you should start, buttons underneath lead you to the main function areas (Memory Boost, Junk Clean, CPU Cooler), and swiping up reveals a long list of tools and extras: Battery Saver, Notification Organizer, App Locker, Call Assistance, Data Thieves, App Manager and Game Booster.
Our first scan took around a minute, perhaps twice as long as usual, but correctly found our test app, and repeat scans were much quicker.
As usual for this kind of apps, scan reports include lots of extra items. Some of these are useful, so for example it suggested we enable real-time protection and scheduled scanning. But mostly they’re just prompts to use other features or install further apps (it also asked us to enable the app locker, the call assistant, the battery ‘charging improver’, and more.) Fortunately, you’re able to dismiss these in a tap or two, and if you’re really not interested, you can tell the app to never show you that suggestion again.
Antivirus Free 2019’s junk cleaner found a minimal 72.6MB of leftovers to clear from our review device, way behind CCleaner’s 1.07GB. But remember that deleting more files won’t always help you very much. There’s a greater chance of wiping something important, your apps may slow down as their cache files have gone, and they’ll soon refill them, anyway.
There’s some cleanup compensation in an App Manager, a simple tool which enables uninstalling apps or deleting leftover APKs in a tap or two. It’s basic, but can be useful, and it’s not a feature you’ll always see elsewhere.
Memory Boost, CPU Cooler and Batter Saver modules are available to reduce the load on your system, apparently by closing idle or the most demanding apps. Android maintenance suites often give you at least some control over these features, for example by listing the most resource-hungry apps and allowing you to decide which to close. Antivirus Free 2019 ditches all that, so all you have to do it tap ‘Memory Boost’ or ‘CPU Cooler’, and wait a few seconds until the app tells you it’s done. That’s a clear plus if you’re looking for speed and simplicity, though more hands-on type might wish they had a little more control.
While most Antivirus Free 2019 functions take the same approach, focusing on ease of use over power, there are a few exceptions. Most maintenance apps include a Notification Cleaner, for instance, which just deletes old notifications without giving you any options. Antivirus Free 2019 has an Organizer which lists notifications, allows you to select and delete them individually, as well as helping you choose to hide notifications from particular apps.
There’s another unusual extra in a Data Thieves function. That’s not as dramatic as it sounds – it’s just looking for apps which are transmitting data while your screen is locked, and alerting you to any which aren’t marked as ‘trusted’ – but it might be useful, sometimes, and it’s another feature you won’t always see elsewhere.
Antivirus Free 2019 has many more common bonus features, including its App Locker to protect sensitive apps with a pattern or PIN code, and a Call Assistant to block unwanted calls, give you call reminders, and so on. These work much as you’d expect, with no major surprises, but are still welcome additions to the suite.
One small issue we noticed was occasional alerts which seemed poorly translated from the original message. ‘Unlocking too frequency?’, one asked: ‘Change settings to make re-lock after screen off?’ You can generally get a good idea what they’re trying to say, but we would prefer not to be left guessing.
Antivirus Free 2019 – Scan & Remove Virus, Cleaner delivered average results in our quick malware tests, but for a more in-depth view, we also check out how apps perform in the latest lab tests.
The best resource as we write, AV-Comparatives’ Android Test 2019, measures the performance of 250 top Android apps against 2,000 of the most common Android threats of 2018.
If there’s one message to take from this test, it’s that most Android antivirus apps are very, very poor. An alarming 170 of the 250 test apps detected less than half of the malware samples, making them virtually useless. (The best commercial apps will block 100% of threats almost all the time, and detection rates should never fall below 99 point something percent.)
Developer Hyper Speed’s detection rate was better than many at 87.8%, then, and not far away from some big commercial names (Panda scored 91.6%, Dr. Web 90.8%.) It was also a close match to many other apps which use the same engine, including IObit and CAP Lab.
This doesn’t offer great protection, though, and even if you don’t want to pay for a full-strength commercial product, many ad-sponsored apps did much better. Qihoo’s 360 Security managed a 99% detection rate, for instance, while Hi Security’s app was only just behind at 98.6%.
Antivirus Free 2019 – Scan & Remove Virus, Cleaner is easy to use and stuffed with security and speedup features, but its antivirus detection rates are disappointing and the other tools don’t have any major standout points. Take a look if you’re a fan of this kind of suite, but you’ll get better protection elsewhere.