Bitdefender Mobile Security for iOS Review: Pros & Cons, Features, Ratings, Pricing and more

Your iPhones and iPods aren’t nearly as vulnerable to malware as most devices, but they can’t offer  any safety guarantees. You’ll still face a number of privacy and security risks just about every time you turn your device on.

Bitdefender Mobile Security for iOS offers extra layers of protection for you and your data. The free version includes a limited (200MB per day, can’t choose a location) VPN to shield your web activities from snoopers; a data breach monitor to raise the alarm if your email address shows up on the dark web, and a vulnerability scanner to check for network and device security issues.

Although this didn’t exactly blow us away, it’s a reasonable feature set which is broadly comparable with other free iOS security apps. Panda Dome for iOS has decent parental controls and anti-theft, for instance, but its VPN only gives you 150MB a day. Avira Mobile Security’s VPN allowance is a miserly 100MB a day, but it makes up for that with a call blocker and network scanner. The big name iOS apps all have something to offer, but there’s not a lot between them on the features front.

(Image credit: Bitdefender)

Bitdefender Mobile Security for iOS: Paid extras

Bitdefender Mobile Security for iOS can be upgraded by adding web protection, blocking access to phishing and other malicious sites. It’s a worthwhile feature, and fairly priced at $1.49 a month billed monthly, dropping to $1.25 on the annual plan.

If the limited VPN doesn’t suit your needs, you can upgrade to a Premium Bitdefender VPN account for a low $6.99 billed monthly, or $3.33 on the annual plan. These are decent prices by VPN standards, but if you could use more security and privacy power, the best value comes in Bitdefender’s suites.

For example, Bitdefender Total Security doesn’t include the VPN, but it has full antivirus and other tools to cover any mix of five iOS, Android, Windows and Mac devices for only $2.92 a month in year one, $7.92 on renewal. 

Bitdefender Family Pack protects up to 15 devices for $3.75 a month in year one, $10 on renewal. 

And Premium Security throws in the full unlimited VPN and covers up to ten devices for $5 a month in year one, $15 on renewal.

(Image credit: Bitdefender)

Bitdefender Mobile Security for iOS: Getting started

Bitdefender Mobile Security for iOS installs easily, then prompts you to sign in with your Bitdefender, Facebook, Twitter, Google or Microsoft accounts.

After signing up, the app recommends running a ‘quick scan’. Not for malware, but security vulnerabilities, apparently: an outdated iOS version, device configuration issues (the app doesn’t clearly explain what these are) and Wi-Fi or network problems (we’re unsure about those, too.) It’s a very short list, but that made for a very quick scan (three seconds for us), and Mobile Security successfully identified a missing iOS update on our device.

Scan completed, the app directed us to its Dashboard. This doesn’t do very much – in portrait, more than half the dashboard’s screen space was taken up with the scan verdict and a ‘Scan again’ button – but a simple menu bar does give speedy access to Mobile Security’s other features.

If you run into any technical troubles, then a support section includes a link to Bitdefender’s Community Forum, a small number of FAQs and other items. It’s all very basic, with issues including a manual dated 2020 which didn’t even describe the Quick Scan feature (because it arrived in 2021.) This isn’t a critical issue – the app is simple, you’ll probably never need the manual – but it leaves Mobile Security for iOS looking a little neglected, and suggests it’s not going to see big new features any time soon.

(Image credit: Bitdefender)

Bitdefender Mobile Security for iOS: 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 iOS 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 iOS app, instead.

(Image credit: Bitdefender Mobile Security for iOS)

Bitdefender Mobile Security for iOS: 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 iOS: 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%.

There is one potential problem: Web Protection doesn’t work if the VPN is on (they both require setting their own custom DNS servers, so you must choose one or the other.) NordVPN, Private Internet Access, Mullvad and other VPNs come with built-in blocking of phishing and other malicious sites, and we’d like to see Bitdefender offer the same.

Still, if you’re solely looking for iOS anti-phishing, Web Protection could be a good deal at only $1.49 billed monthly. Anti-phishing specialist NovoShield has more features, but is way more expensive at $6.99 on the monthly plan.

Bitdefender Mobile Security for iOS: Final verdict

Bitdefender Mobile Security for iOS isn’t a bad product – it’s easy to use, there’s effective anti-phishing if you’re willing to pay for it, the 200MB-a-day VPN allowance is better than many – but the lack of features makes it difficult to recommend. Bitdefender Total Security protects iOS and other platforms for only a little more cash. 

We’ve listed the best iPhone antivirus apps.

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