360 Security – Free Antivirus, Booster, Cleaner review

Secure and optimize your Android device with this one-stop freebie

360 Security – Free Antivirus, Booster, Cleaner
Image credit: 360 Security

Our Verdict

360 Security can't match the protection of the best commercial antivirus apps, but it's not far behind, and amongst the best of the ad-sponsored crop. Take a look.

For

  • Loads of features
  • Decent antivirus protection
  • Lifetime payment option for ad-free version

Against

  • Annoying ads
  • Some modules are underpowered
  • Expensive to go ad-free

360 Security – Free Antivirus, Booster, Cleaner is a comprehensive Android app with tools to handle all your malware hunting, privacy and device management needs. That includes antivirus, call and SMS filtering, memory management, system clean-up, a custom lock screen, notification management, protection from insecure Wi-Fi, and antitheft features to help you find a lost or stolen device.

Most of this functionality is available for free. Or, at least, you'll pay for it by viewing ads. Lots of ads. But there's nothing you've not seen before, and if you've been able to live with other heavily ad-sponsored apps, you'll manage to do so here, too.

Upgrading to 360 Premium drops the ads and gets you a few bonus features: automated device cleaning, a privacy analyzer to highlight apps which might be abusing permissions, and priority support if you run into problems.

Costs are above average at £3.49 ($4.55) every three months, or a one-off £31.99 ($42) lifetime payment. If you're not quite sure it's worth the cash, a 3-day trial allows you to sample the full app before you buy.

360 Security – Free Antivirus, Booster, Cleaner

Image credit: 360 Security

Setup

360 Security – Free Antivirus, Booster, Cleaner installed easily and with minimal hassle. Real-time antivirus protection aims to detect and block threats as they are encountered, while the app also handles some basic device clean-up tasks on its own.

After we installed 360 Security, it spent a few minutes scanning our device for junk files, eventually alerting us to 1.32GB of leftovers, and we were able to remove all of these with a tap.

360 Security's straightforward interface has four tiles representing its core features: Boost, Clean, Antivirus and Super Power Saver. Most of these are quick and easy to use, so for example tapping Boost frees up RAM, choosing Antivirus runs an on-demand antivirus scan and privacy check, while Clean gives you a more detailed breakdown of junk you can remove (caches, empty folders, useless APKs). These are all easy to use, although the full screen ads you'll get after using a feature can be annoying.

360 Security – Free Antivirus, Booster, Cleaner

Image credit: 360 Security

Swiping up or heading off to the Tools menu reveals a host of other functions. Some of these are more focused system clean-up and management tools (Photo Cleaner can help free space by removing duplicate, blurry or other surplus photos), but others can help you in entirely new ways (App Lock password protects individual apps to prevent snoopers accessing your details).

There's a lot of power here, and although it'll take a while, it's worth exploring every option to find out just what 360 Security can do.

Features

360 Security comes with real-time antivirus protection enabled by default, and can check newly installed apps for danger. Built-in web filtering aims to prevent you accessing dangerous websites, although for some reason this is turned off by default.

We ran some small tests on the engine by installing F-Secure's EICAR-based AV-Test app, and attempting to view several malicious web pages. The results were poor, with 360 Security allowing us to install and launch the app, although it was flagged as malicious when we ran an on-demand antivirus scan. Web protection was even less effective, with 360 Security failing on all our test pages.

360 Security – Free Antivirus, Booster, Cleaner

Image credit: 360 Security

Other apps have done much better – Lookout Security and Antivirus warned us as soon as the app was installed, and blocked all the malicious pages – but as our tests are relatively small-scale, we can't draw any definitive conclusions from the results.

AV-Comparatives' Android Test 2019 is a far more in-depth and reliable test of Android antivirus apps, pitting 250 of the biggest names against a range of the latest threats.

Qihoo's 360 Mobile Security engine scored a reasonable 99.0% protection rate and had zero false alarms. That puts the app 37th out of 250, so plainly there's a lot of more reliable protection out there, mostly from the big antivirus names (Avast, Avira, Bitdefender, BullGuard, ESET, Kaspersky and so on). But 360 Security does well for a free app, and it scored better than products from some very well-known developers: Webroot (97.4%), Panda (91.6%), Dr. Web (90.8%), IObit (87.8%), Comodo (77.6%), and more. It's not the best, but it is doing a better than average job of keeping you safe.

Elsewhere, 360 Security's Clean-up tools did better than most at finding and removing the junk from our test device. After installing, using and removing a few apps, 360 Security uncovered 1.6GB it could safely clean, presenting our options in a clear and readable list which enabled choosing what to keep, and what to remove. For comparison, we tried CCleaner on the same device, and found it checked fewer system areas and discovered just 1.1GB of junk.

360 Security – Free Antivirus, Booster, Cleaner

Image credit: 360 Security

We're less convinced by the smart Boost tool. Our device was using 83% of RAM, 360 Security warned, but after using Boost it claimed our system was now 'optimal'. There was no explanation of what had happened, or any indication of the new level of RAM usage, and our device didn't seem significantly faster.

Some of the other system maintenance modules give you far more control over what's happening. The Super Power Saver doesn't just close the most battery-hungry apps, for instance – it brings together multiple energy-saving options to help deliver the results you need (screen brightness, timeout, enable or disable mobile data, Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth and more).

The Notification Manager is relatively basic, simply deciding on its own which notifications are to be deleted, without giving you any input on that decision.

The File Manager is also little more than filler. It provides an easy way to view files by type (Images, Music, Videos, Downloads, Docs, APKs), but not much else, and any time that the tool might save you is negated by having to deal with the ads that appear whenever you use it.

Other functions are more capable, but still missing a few common features. The App Locker can protect apps with an unlock pattern, for instance, but there's no PIN code. And the Call Blocker can block unknown and private numbers, but there's no option to block everything but your own whitelisted numbers. (You'll probably be able to do that in other ways, but 'block all' and whitelisting are features we've commonly seen in some competing apps).

Still, 360 Security is capable enough, and does have one or two unusual features of its own (a Private Album to encrypt personal media files, for instance). There's a lot to like here, and it's well worth exploring every part of the app to understand what it can do.

Final verdict

360 Security doesn't have the best device speed-up and management features, but if you're more interested in security, its antivirus engine is a highlight, trampling all over most of the ad-sponsored competition. Give it a try.