Do you need an antivirus for iPhone? Here’s our honest answer

Dawna Roberts

Dec 18, 20235 min read

Do you need an antivirus for iPhone? Here's our honest answer: Header image

The debate over whether iPhones need antivirus software is a heated one that has been going on for ages. It’s true that iPhones are explicitly built for privacy and security with an integrated hardware/software system unique to cell phones. But how safe and secure is that system? And do iPhone users need to worry about antivirus software?

Keep reading to learn why you do or do not need antivirus for your iPhone and the 5 best antivirus/security apps for your iPhone.

Do iPhones need virus protection?

An image of an iPhone.
Image by Pexels.

The iOS system is designed differently than other mobile platforms. Each individual app runs in its own space and, therefore, is protected against viruses spilling over and infecting the operating system. The App Store has rigorous standards and won’t allow unsafe programs to be downloaded. 

Keeping your iPhone updated with the latest iOS version will ensure that you have the latest security patches to protect your phone from intrusions. Additionally, if you follow strict cybersecurity best practices, you never need to worry about using an antivirus on your iPhone. You should take the precautions necessary to ensure that your device isn’t infected with anything sinister. 

That said, if you jailbreak your iPhone, you could expose it to being infected with malware, ransomware, or other threats. Jailbreaking disrupts the operating system and removes the built-in security features that prevent you from downloading unsafe material. 

So, what do mobile antivirus apps for iPhone do?

Software companies develop and market antivirus software for iPhones. But if you don’t need it, then what does this software even do? 

Despite the non-existent need for antivirus software on your iPhone, you can always use some beefed-up security, which is precisely what these programs offer. 

Some of the security benefits of an antivirus/security app for iPhone include:

  • Blocking ads and online trackers so you can browse the internet more anonymously without distractions 
  • Block unwanted callers and spam calls
  • Filter out malicious text messages to keep your message box clean
  • Photo vault to keep all your pictures private
  • Protect you from malicious websites and links
  • Block phishing attempts  
  • Protect you from malware or ransomware downloads
  • Reports iOS vulnerabilities so you can install the latest security patch
  • Increased Wi-Fi security to protect you from eavesdropping
  • Identify unsafe public networks 
  • Identify dangerous links in calendar invites, SMS messages, and emails 
  • Install a VPN to hide your IP/location browse the internet privately and safely, so you won’t subject yourself to man-in-the-middle attacks 

As you can see, there are many benefits to installing security software on your iPhone, even if you don’t need virus protection. Let’s explore some free antivirus software for iPhones and some paid options. 

The 5 best antivirus (or, rather, security) apps for iPhone

You can find some great security options on the Apple App Store. You can also find paid software with even more features. Let’s explore our top 5 choices to keep your iPhone secure. 

1. AVG Mobile Security: FREE antivirus protection for iPhone

AVG Mobile Security offers you identity theft protection and monitors the internet for any sign of your private information being leaked or exposed online. It also keeps your photos secure in a locked vault. AGV offers Wi-Fi security features, confidentiality, secure browsing, and a built-in VPN. You can use the basic protection or upgrade to the Premium plan for $20/year.

AVG Mobile Security

2. McAfee Privacy: Best antivirus protection for iPhone

McAfee is a well-known and trusted brand regarding antivirus/anti-malware protection. They also offer powerful mobile device protection software that uses AI to scan text messages to keep you from clicking on unsafe links. The software also provides identity theft protection, a built-in VPN, and safe browsing features to protect you against dangerous websites. You can scan for threats anytime and easily upgrade your protection for even more features.

McAfee Privacy & Security

3. Avast Security & Privacy: One of the top antivirus programs for iPhone

Avast offers full-featured protection for no cost. However, they also have an upgraded plan that includes a VPN and other more robust features. The basic free protection consists of an online threat scanner, a malicious website blocker, identity protection, a photo vault (limited to 40 images with the free version), a smart scan, and free security and privacy tips to keep you safe. If you’re on the fence about upgrading, they offer a 14-day trial version. 

Avast Security & Privacy

4. Norton 360 Security: Best paid antivirus software for iPhone

Norton is another famous brand known for security software. They have a mobile device option for iPhones on the App Store. The product offers malware, spyware, and ransomware protection, in addition to a built-in VPN. Also included are identity theft protection and Wi-Fi protection, and the software even checks to ensure that your iPhone is updated with the latest iOS. You can try Norton 360 for 14 days but must pay for an annual subscription to continue using it.

Norton 360 Security & VPN

5. TotalAV: Privacy and Security for iPhone

TotalAV takes your online privacy and security very seriously. They offer a totally free version, plus a paid Premium version with more features. The free version offers a smart scan, data breach check, photo/video cleanup, duplicate contact finder, and security and privacy tips and suggestions. The Premium plan adds WebShield, QR Code Check, and Private Connection VPN. When using either of these versions, you must create an online account and sign in first. 

TotalAV Mobile Security & Private VPN

The verdict: Do you need an antivirus for iPhone?

If you don’t jailbreak your iPhone, chances are you will never have an issue with viruses or malware. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from upgrading your security. Fortunately, you can choose from dozens of antivirus programs for iPhone. Find one that offers you the added security you want and need to feel safe. 

Cybersecurity is a full-time job with all the threats out there. Thankfully, you have some great options to boost your cybersecurity measures and keep your iPhone safe and sound, so you never have to worry. 

This is an independent publication, and it has not been authorized, sponsored, or otherwise approved by Apple Inc. iPhone is a trademark of Apple Inc.

Dawna Roberts Dawna Roberts
Dawna has spent her entire career in web dev, cybersecurity, and IT. Her work has been featured on Forbes, Adobe, Airtable, Backblaze, Cyberleaf, Lifewire, and other online publications for the past ten years.