Bitdefender Mobile Security for Android

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 is actually more powerful than some of the desktop competition.

It scans your apps for malware, for instance. Protects you from phishing and other malicious sites. Monitors texts and chat messages for dangerous links. Shields your internet activities with a limited VPN. Locks apps to prevent others viewing sensitive data. Raises the alert if your details appear in a data breach. And tracks or remotely locks your device with Mobile Security’s built-in anti-theft tools.

The price is right, too, at only $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 you commit.

If you’ve lots of hardware to protect, you can get Mobile Security bundled with Bitdefender Total Security. This offers full antivirus and many other tools for any mix of five iOS, Android, Windows and Mac devices for only $2.92 a month in year one, $7.92 on renewal.

The only catch here is the VPN, which limits you to 200MB a day, and doesn’t support choosing a location (it automatically selects your nearest server.) But that could be enough for casual use, and it’s more generous than some (Panda’s free VPN allows 150MB a day, Avira’s 100MB.) 

Upgrading to Bitdefender’s unlimited Premium VPN costs $6.99 billed monthly, or $3.33 on the annual plan. These are fair prices, but there are faster and more capable Android VPNs around. If web privacy is a priority for you, check our Best Android VPN Apps  https://www.techradar.com/vpn/best-vpn-for-android-our-5-top-choices   guide for more. 

(Image credit: Bitdefender)

Bitdefender Mobile Security for Android: Getting started

After a hassle-free install, Mobile Security ran its first scan, checking our system and apps for threats in a speedy 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 displays 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 functions individually and you’ll find most are straightforward to use.

(Image credit: Bitdefender)

Bitdefender Mobile Security for Android: Malware Scanner

Mobile Security doesn’t just check your apps for malware when you manually run a scan: it also monitors every app as it’s installed, and raises an alert if it spots anything dangerous.

We tried this with a test app, and Mobile Security popped up an immediate warning.

Results from the big independent testing labs suggest these are very accurate recommendations, too. We checked the most recent AV-Test, AV-Comparatives and MRG Effitas Android reports, and they each found Bitdefender Mobile Security blocked 100% of test threats.

(Image credit: Bitdefender)

Bitdefender Mobile Security for Android: Web Protection

Bitdefender’s Web Protection blocks access to phishing and other malicious sites, reducing the chance that you’ll be caught out by dangerous links in your inbox or social feeds.

It’s a very effective system. We put together a list of 1,033 brand-new phishing links, and Web Protection blocked 88% of them. Avast also has quality anti-phishing, but it couldn’t quite match Bitdefender, only blocking 83%.

AV-Comparatives’ 2022 Anti-Phishing tests found broadly similar results: Bitdefender came equal first with Avira, each blocking 96% of threats, while Avast followed just a little behind with 93%.

(Image credit: Bitdefender)

Bitdefender Mobile Security for Android: Bitdefender VPN

Connecting your device to Bitdefender’s Hotspot Shield-powered VPN is easy. Tap VPN, then Connect, and in a couple of 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’s 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 VPN essentials, this might be acceptable. But if you’re looking for anything even slightly more advanced, it’s likely to leave you disappointed.

Bitdefender clearly realizes the problem, and Mobile Security for Android will soon be updated to use the regular stand-alone Bitdefender VPN app. That’s good news, as it gets you many more VPN features (ad and tracker blocking, choice of protocols, split tunneling, more.) But if the VPN is your priority, it’s a reminder that you could simply ignore Mobile Security and just install the Bitdefender VPN for Android app, instead.

(Image credit: Bitdefender)

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 raises the alarm if your details have been exposed.

We tapped ‘Account Privacy’ to try it out. The app sent a code to the email address to verify that we owned it, then displayed an alarmingly lengthy list of breaches where our address appeared.

This isn’t 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 we do, of course), this isn’t going to tell you much 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 address also appeared in breaches with generic titles such as ‘breachCompilation’, ‘collection1’ and ‘malwaredumps.’ The app prompted us to change our account password, but with no information on which website was the source, that’s just not possible.

There is still value here. Maybe your list will be more relevant, and you can sign up to get alerts when new breaches appear. But the reality is you can do this for free anyway at haveibeenpwned.com, no need to install Bitdefender Mobile Security or anything else.

(Image credit: Bitdefender)

Bitdefender Mobile Security for Android: App Locker

Bitdefender’s App Locker enables protecting others from launching specific apps and perhaps viewing sensitive details. It’s very useful if you’d like to pass your device to a friend or family to use the phone or browser, say, but don’t want them to have full access to everything else.

It’s an effective system, and far more usable than some lockers. Although by default App Locker prompts you to manually unlock every protected app, every time you launch it, for instance, you can also have unlocking one app automatically unlock all the others until your screen turns off. Far more convenient if you’re just worried about someone picking up your device.

There are stacks of surprising bonus features, too. It can use a random numeric keyboard, reducing the chance others can read your pin by watching your finger movements. It’ll snap a photo of the user after three failed PIN entries, and can then upload the pics 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.

(Image credit: Bitdefender)

Bitdefender Mobile Security for Android: Anti-Theft

Bitdefender Mobile Security also includes some Anti-Theft features, which cover 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 instance. And if it doesn’t, the app can snap a photo of the thief after three failed attempts to unlock the device, perhaps giving you more clues.

If your device really has been stolen, you can remotely lock it or even wipe its contents and reset to a factory state. Or if you’ve just mislaid it somewhere, a ‘Scream’ command plays an audio alert to help you track it down.

There’s nothing new here, and if you’ve a number of Android devices, you could get very similar features and more convenient reporting with Google’s Find My Device for free.

We found Bitdefender’s Anti-Theft tools worked as advertised, though, and if you’re planning to install and manage Bitdefender on a number of devices, it could be more convenient to have Anti-Theft available for all your hardware from the same dashboard.

Bitdefender Mobile Security for Android:

Bitdefender Mobile Security for Android is a powerful security tool which gives you rock-solid protection from a host of security threats. Okay, the VPN is very basic, but we wouldn’t expect any better price, and overall Bitdefender Mobile Security is a great Android choice. 

We’ve listed the best internet security suites.

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