5 Best iOS Antivirus Apps for iPhone and iPad (Updated 2021)
I thought I didn’t need a dedicated antivirus for my iOS device because it’s such a secure system. However, I discovered that Apple’s devices are vulnerable to phishing, spyware, and other web-based threats. A high-quality antivirus app will protect your iOS devices from malicious websites and unsecured public WiFi networks — preventing these cyberthreats from infecting your device.
I looked at 20 antivirus services available on the App Store and put together this list of the best 5 options. Of these, Norton Mobile Security takes the top spot for its advanced web protection and privacy tools. Even better, you get 60 days to test Norton’s iOS antivirus app risk-free with its money-back guarantee.
Quick Guide: Best iOS Antivirus Apps in 2021
- Norton Mobile Security — #1 iOS antivirus protects your device from cyberattacks (plus you can try Norton risk-free with its 60-day money-back guarantee).
- TotalAV Mobile Security — Optimization tools boost iOS performance, but it’s more expensive.
- Bitdefender Mobile Security — Includes unlimited VPN good for streaming and browsing, but doesn’t offer many other features.
- McAfee Mobile Security — Loaded with features like a media vault, WiFi protection, and safe web browsing, but costs a lot to get full-coverage security.
- Avira Prime Security — Secures your network, but very slow customer support response times.
How I Tested & Ranked the Top Free Antivirus Apps for iOS
I looked at more than 20 antivirus packages to find the best apps for iOS devices. I tested them using my iPhone XS and iPad, both running on iOS 14. Here are the criteria I checked them against:
- Online and Web Protection — The biggest threats to your iOS device are web-based attacks — phishing scams, fake websites, public WiFi connections, and activity trackers. I tested each antivirus for features like safe browsing, WiFi security scans, and tracker blockers to ensure protection from these threats.
- Ease of Use — I looked at how long it took to set up the antivirus, plus how well they integrated into the operating system. I also checked that the apps didn’t take up too much space or excessively drain battery life.
- Anti-Theft and Device Security — Another big risk to your iOS device is theft. I tested the anti-theft capabilities of each antivirus to check for remote access, theft alarms, and the ability to wipe all data.
- Value for Money — I looked at the range of features each antivirus offers and examined how well they perform, to see which offers the best value.
- Customer Support Options — It’s important to get fast responses to issues you might have with your antivirus. I tested all available customer support options to find out which is the quickest.
5 Best Antivirus Apps for iPhone and iPad (Tested October 2021)
- Protects against online threats with Web Protection and WiFi security
- Also offers a VPN, device security, and Dark Web Monitoring to secure your data
- Works on iOS 12+ (iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch)
- Customer support available 24/7 through live chat, phone assistance, and forums
- 60-day money-back guarantee
Norton’s Mobile Security is the best for iOS because of its top-tier protection against online threats. Its highly-accurate Web Protection feature blocks dangerous websites and stops malicious downloads and phishing scams. I tried connecting to multiple test sites and Norton blocked every one.
Norton even blocked sites that Safari allowed — proving that Apple’s built-in security isn’t enough to protect your iOS device.
Norton’s WiFi Security is one of the best I’ve tried, as it automatically scans every network you connect to and gives it a security rating. This is especially useful for mobile iOS devices as you run the risk of connecting to an unsafe public WiFi network. Norton will auto-connect the included VPN if a network is not secure. This meant I didn’t have to worry about security — and as soon as I got home to my safe network, Norton automatically switched off the VPN.
Norton’s VPN has 30 global servers you can use to get around content blocks for services like Netflix and Hulu. I could stream Netflix US from my home in the UK easily and with minimal buffering. It also has unrestricted bandwidth and no data caps so I could browse as much as I wanted.
There was little impact on my battery or device performance with Norton running in the background. Norton Mobile Security is also very small at just over 62MB, so it doesn’t take up much device space.
Norton’s mobile app is available as a standalone purchase that covers 1 to 3 iOS devices, depending on the subscription. If you have more devices (iOS, Mac, Windows, or Android) I found it’s a better value to choose the Norton 360 Deluxe plan. It covers up to 5 devices on multiple platforms and gives you access to more features like parental controls and a password manager.
All of Norton’s subscriptions come with a 60-day money-back guarantee so you can try the service risk-free. I tested the refund policy and it took less than 5 minutes to have my request approved through the 24/7 live chat. Even better, I had my money back in 5 days!
- Protects against web-based attacks with WebShield
- Offers system security scan, data breach check, anti-theft, and photo manager
- Supports iOS 9.0+ (iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch)
- Customer support available through live chat, email, and online guides
- 30-day money-back guarantee
TotalAV Mobile Security’s app has an intuitive interface for iOS devices. All features (like running scans or checking device security) are easy to access with a single tap. It’s a great option for users who are new to antivirus.
I’m particularly impressed by TotalAV’s Photo Manager, an optimization tool that frees space on your device. It checks your images for duplicates, filtered photos, burst photos, and more — then lets you delete them immediately. When I ran the Photo Manager it took less than 10 seconds to check over 5GB of photos on my iPhone. It found more than 500 photos I could delete, creating over 1.2GB of space on my device.
I’m glad that TotalAV created so much space as it’s one of the larger iOS apps at 131.5MB — twice as big as Norton Mobile Security. However, it didn’t make any negative impact on my device performance or rapidly drain my battery life. TotalAV even has a Battery Monitor feature that shows you how long your battery will last based on what apps you’re using.
TotalAV uses both its WebShield and VPN features to secure your online activity. WebShield blocks sites that aren’t secure or have suspicious links. I particularly like that TotalAV’s VPN has unlimited data and that it auto-connects when I use Safari’s private browsing. As the VPN is powered by Windscribe, you’ll find that your browsing speeds stay consistently fast — my speeds only dropped 13% when I connected to a distant US server from the UK.
TotalAV’s Mobile Security plan is one of the more expensive standalone options. If you invest in the Total Security package instead, you can cover up to 6 devices on multiple platforms (including iOS) for the same price. Plus, you can use TotalAV’s 30-day money-back guarantee to test the service risk-free. I called customer support to request a refund and had it processed in 5 minutes, getting my money back in less than a week.
- Secures your browsing with its Web Protection feature
- Unlimited VPN provides fast, secure connections to global servers
- Supports iOS 12.0+ (iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch)
- 24/7 customer support through live chat, phone support, and community forums
- 30-day money-back guarantee
Bitdefender’s VPN on its iOS app is a great way to constantly secure your online connections. Its unlimited data means you can have the VPN connected all the time. This meant I didn’t have to worry about my data being traced when I took my iPhone out with me — the VPN encrypted my connection on all networks, including unsecured public WiFi. I ran multiple leak tests connected to different servers and found Bitdefender kept me secure at all times.
Having the VPN running did impact my battery life, but Bitdefender is a tiny iOS app (only 23Mb) so this balances out the drain on resources significantly.
Bitdefender also offers Web Protection and Account Privacy features. Web Protection detects suspicious websites and phishing links and blocks access to prevent your data from being stolen. Account Privacy checks to see if your data has been found in any data breaches so you can restore security.
However, Bitdefender’s iOS app is lacking some of the features I’d expect from a top-tier antivirus. There are no anti-theft or device tracking options, optimization tools, or network monitoring features. While this makes Bitdefender more lightweight, it feels like these features would provide more well-rounded coverage.
To get all of Bitdefender’s Mobile Security features, you have to purchase Web Protection and the VPN separately. I found this a hassle as I’d hoped everything would be included in one subscription. It’s considerably more cost-effective to get Bitdefender’s Total Security plan — you get coverage for up to 5 devices, plus all Mobile Security tools are included.
- Secures your iOS device with safe web browsing and WiFi network protection
- Includes media vault, contact backup, and anti-theft tools
- Supports iOS 11.0+ (iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch) and watchOS 4.3+
- 24/7 customer support — live chat, email ticketing, and community forums
- 60-day money-back guarantee
McAfee’s iOS app is packed with security features, such as Safe Web, and privacy and anti-theft tools. All of these features are easily accessible — a single tap instantly takes you to your chosen option.
For security, McAfee’s Safe Web tool scans websites for suspicious content and blocks you from clicking on risky links. It also has a WiFi Guard that encrypts your connection with VPN technology, protecting you on public networks. Both tools were easy to set up and worked well with my iPhone XS.
McAfee’s privacy tools will keep personal documents and photos safe. You can secure your items in a locked Media Vault, set a PIN code, and even snap a picture of anyone who tries to break in. I also like that I can back up my contacts in McAfee’s cloud storage, in case I lose my phone or tablet. McAfee also protects your devices if they’re stolen — you can remotely trigger a loud alarm and wipe your data to keep your information safe.
While McAfee’s iOS app is only 75MB, it’s larger than some other options. It’s also more resource-intensive and takes longer to get set up. That being said, I found McAfee’s iOS app very simple to navigate — so it’s perfect for new antivirus users.
Unfortunately, McAfee’s Mobile Security is one of the most expensive single-device subscriptions. However, if you go for McAfee’s Total Protection plan, you get coverage for 10 devices on multiple platforms for half the price — and you get 60 days to test McAfee risk-free with its money-back guarantee!
- Provides Web Protection (premium only), anti-theft, and vulnerability scan
- Also offers VPN, Privacy Manager, Call Blocker, and more to protect your data
- Supports iOS 12+ (iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch)
- Email response is slow, phone support is non-existent — no live chat
- 30-day money-back guarantee
Avira is well-known for having a free iOS app — but the free version isn’t as protective as I’d like. Avira’s Mobile Security is a much better option because it includes Web Protection, essential for protecting your device from online threats. Web Protection effectively blocked access to malicious test sites in my tests.
I’m impressed by Avira’s Privacy Manager feature — it stops your Siri conversation data being logged and sent for analysis. This is a feature I haven’t seen on other antiviruses and I like that it gives a greater level of control over how data is used.
I also like Avira’s extra features like identity protection, a password manager, unwanted call blocker, and anti-theft settings that track your device location. These extra layers of protection improved how well my iOS device worked — the password manager simplified logging into sites and apps and the call blocker stopped spam phone calls.
One major con is that Avira’s customer support is extremely slow; there’s no live chat option. Email support takes several days and I had no luck connecting to phone support. This is disappointing as it’s important to have help on hand if you have urgent queries — I wouldn’t recommend Avira to new antivirus users for this reason.
Avira’s Mobile Security package only protects a single iOS device with its yearly subscription. The Prime plan provides better coverage for up to 5 devices on multiple platforms and includes Mobile Security — plus, you can try Avira Prime risk-free for 30 days with its money-back guarantee.
Free vs Paid: Do You Really Need to Pay For an iOS Antivirus App?
Apple “sandboxes” its apps, which is a security measure that ensures every app runs separately. Even if 1 app is infected with a virus, this virus can’t leave the app and infect the rest of the iOS device. This makes it virtually impossible for viruses to take over your iPhone or iPad. However, iOS is still vulnerable to other cyberthreats (that aren’t malware). For example, phishing scams and unsecured WiFi networks are popular ways hackers steal data.
There are some effective free antivirus apps for iOS. However, a free app only provides a basic level of protection. It’s best to invest in an antivirus subscription if you save sensitive photos, messages, and files onto your iPhone or iPad. A reliable antivirus company will leverage its resources and technology into defending your iOS device from all types of cyberattacks.
An antivirus like Norton Mobile Security has all the necessary tools to protect your iPhone or iPad — plus extras like anti-theft settings, a VPN, and identity theft protection. I also like Norton because you’re given a 60-day money-back guarantee period. This is a generous amount of time to test the antivirus on your iOS device. If you’re not satisfied or you change your mind, you can easily get a full refund.
Top Antivirus Brands That Didn’t Make the List
Here are a couple of antiviruses you should avoid if you’re looking for the best protection for your iOS device.
Avast and AVG
Avast and AVG are popular antivirus apps with millions of users — but unfortunately, most people don’t realize that Avast (and its subsidiary AVG) were caught in a huge privacy scandal. It turns out that Avast had been secretly selling its users’ personal data to make extra profit on the side. This is a serious breach of ethics and trust, so I can’t recommend either Avast or AVG as a reliable antivirus app.
This is a great antivirus with excellent malware protection and a Game Booster feature that optimizes your PC while you play. Unfortunately, BullGuard does not have an iOS app so you can’t use it to secure your iPhone or iPad.
Intego is designed with a focus on Macs, making it the best antivirus for Mac users. I thought it would also be a great choice for iOS, so I was surprised to find Intego doesn’t have any mobile apps at all.
Comparison Table: 2021’s Top Antivirus Apps for Any iOS Device
|Web Protection||VPN||Anti-Theft||WiFi Network Protection||Money-Back Guarantee|
|1. Norton||✔||✔||✔||✔||60 days|
|2. TotalAV||✔||✔||✔||✘||30 days|
|3. Bitdefender||✔||✔||✘||✘||30 days|
|4. McAfee||✔||✘||✔||✔||60 days|
|5. Avira||✔||✔||✔||✔||30 days|
How to Use an Antivirus on iOS
- Sign up for your chosen antivirus and download it to your iOS device. I recommend Norton for its full-coverage protection and range of extra security features.
- Sign in and follow the on-screen prompts. You’ll be asked to run a device scan to check for vulnerabilities or activate security features.
- That’s it — your antivirus app is protecting your iOS device. You’ll be able to schedule scans, access the web safely, and use features like anti-theft and parental controls to secure your iPhone and iPad.
FAQ: Antivirus Apps for Apple’s iPhone and iPad
Do I really need virus protection for my iPhone or iPad?
Yes. While iOS has excellent security it’s not immune from online threats. Apple’s “sandbox” approach to apps means that an app can only execute in its designated space — it can’t infiltrate other apps to deploy viruses. This is top-tier security from Apple against viruses, but they are only 1 kind of online attack. Threats to iOS come from spam or phishing websites, hackers, adware and spyware, dodgy WiFi networks, and more.
A high-quality antivirus app for iOS lets you block potentially dangerous connections and online attacks designed to compromise your data. A service like Norton protects your iOS device from web threats, theft, and keeps your apps updated to avoid vulnerabilities — plus you can use it on multiple platforms to protect all of your devices.
Can I scan my iPhone or iPad for malware?
No — because of “sandboxing” an antivirus app can’t scan your iOS device as apps are unable to interact with other apps in that way. Instead, the best antivirus apps for iOS protect your device and data from external threats like phishing scams and loss or theft.
The scans that antivirus apps perform aren’t looking for viruses but for vulnerabilities and security gaps. For example, the antivirus can detect if your operating system has an available update and prompts you to download it. Your antivirus can also scan your network connection for any security issues and recommend steps you can take to rectify the issue.
What’s the best iOS antivirus app?
The best antivirus app for iOS is Norton Mobile Security. It has the essential antivirus features to protect your iPhone from web-based attacks, hackers, and unsecured WiFi networks. You also get a secure VPN to keep your activity and location anonymous. Plus you can take advantage of Norton’s Dark Web Monitoring to check data breaches for your personal information.
Every subscription plan from Norton has a 60-day money-back guarantee. I like that I had so long to test Norton risk-free and make sure it was a good fit for me. Best of all, it took less than 5 minutes to approve a refund and I had my money back in 5 days!
Protect Your iOS Devices With a Premium Antivirus App
Apple’s software is secure against viruses, but going without extra protection puts your iPhone and iPad at risk of online attacks. Even with a free antivirus, you still can’t protect your iOS devices from phishing scams and hackers.
The best way to secure your devices and your data is by using a premium antivirus. An app like Norton Mobile Security protects your device from threats and offers extra features that improve your privacy. Plus, all of the antiviruses on this list have a money-back guarantee you can use to test the service before you subscribe. Norton gives you a full 60 days to test its Mobile Security risk-free!