Why you don’t need an antivirus on your Android phone

Zack Chapepa Avatar


Security is essential. We carry a lot of sensitive data with us on our smartphones, so much it goes without saying that you have to have some kind of protection.

Desktop computers and Notebooks have long been a target for malware and virus creators.  If anything, Windows software has always been a primary target. It lends a bit of credence to its larger market share in both desktops and laptops.Many a time, antivirus software has often been used to detect and clean out any threats on your computer.

Interestingly enough, Android, Google’s mobile operating system, has also taken a larger share of the smartphone market over the years and that alone has made it an easy target. While most people choose to install antivirus software on their smartphones, Google has done its fair share of making sure that you don’t really have to.

Firstly, this only works if you have an official Android OS running on your device. AOSP and other forks of Android do not have support for this feature. All it takes is for you to have Google Play Services installed on your phone. From there, all you have to do is tap on “Verify Apps” and you should be able to activate the toggle as shown in the image below.


That’s just about it. You don’t have to jump through flame hoops or hurdles to get it done.

“Then why exactly shouldn’t I have an antivirus?”
Antivirus software on your smartphone works just about the same way as Google’s verification software. According to Google, “if you attempt to install an app from any source while app verification is turned on, your device may send information identifying the app to Google”.

That means side-loading apps from sources other than the Play Store is literally the best way you can get malware on your smartphone. That’s where the option you’ve selected comes in.

The app will walk you through the whole process in the background, all without getting in the way (unless there’s a major red flag). Google’s anti-malware detector, Bouncer also regularly scans for any app misbehavior or any activity that should be brought to your attention.

Having both antivirus software and the Play Services app installed is like having two of the same app on your phone. This is the same reason why a lot of antivirus apps don’t really want to look like a one trick pony.

The result is an app that crams a lot of features just enough to hopefully stop you from uninstalling it. They usually come with few added features like the anti-theft feature, in a way to ramp up their list of “features”.

The downsides have an effect on the performance of your device and your battery life.

Or maybe you’re not sure just how much you can let go of your antivirus (you really like the anti-theft feature). It’s not a bad thing, far from it, but I’m sure the Google Play Store also has a tonne of standalone apps that can do way better at it.

You could also do a fail safe by keeping your antivirus installed, but you now know who’s duping you how Google does a good job in the backend and by that logic you don’t have to bite the karmic weenie


  1. Khal Drogo

    Is the sending of SMS or MMS messages and making of phones calls and delete or modify your phone book without you knowing is all this talk really just scaremongering designed to panic you into installing antivirus software? For me I use the Antivirus on my Android phone to kill apps running on the background that is causing my battery to drain as well as back up my phone, and it can help me locate my missing phone, and allow web-based phone management too.

  2. Zack Chapepa

    It sounds bogus but some are legit. The one I can think of from the top of my head is Dendroid or this one here (http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/jun/05/simplocker-android-ransomware-malware-virus)

    In both cases, sideloading apps made it possible for the exploit.

  3. juss

    i use my anti virus software to block spam sms from econet. I sleep alot better without being disturbed @12 midnight by good old eco-chinyi

  4. Liza Dcota

    Mobile security threats majorly target Android devices, I have started using Escan Mobile Security for my device and it works great! Here the link for more information: http://escanav.com/english/content/products/escan_mobile/escan_mobile1.asp

  5. Anonymous

    Hi, I have Google Play services installed, but no (apparent) option to verify apps. Am I missing something?

    1. Zack Chapepa

      Not really, it should right along your list. Check just below the ‘Ads’ option

  6. Anon

    The “Verify Apps” setting is in the device settings->security, at least on my phone, NOT in any Google app settings. It took me a fair bit of searching to find it, so I hope this be of use to someone.

  7. Suvashish

    But what about viruses getting through emails or other sources?

    1. Zack Chapepa

      You don’t have to worry about that. I take it when you say other sources you mean side loading apps. Here’s your answer;

      If you have Google Play Services installed, the app is updated every six weeks and by allowing verify apps EVERY app will be scanned by Google (including the mail app.). What this means is you don’t have to worry about anything.

      But I do advise that you check what kind of permissions you allow when installing each app.

  8. Michael Belk

    Very well explained Zack. I pretty much felt the same way, I believe antivirus is pretty much a waste.


    sir, is it necessary to install anti virus for android mobile phone

  10. Zack Chapepa

    The easiest answer is no but there’s a catch.

    You will have to have the latest Google Play Services installed on your phone at all times. This way any new exploits will be thwarted. Also, you will have to ensure that you’ve selected the “verify” option and you will have to minimize sideloading apps on your phone.

  11. Anonymous

    On my Galaxy tab s 10.5, “verify” is under Settings, General, Security. Your article was very helpful, especially the part about email security.