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How to Remove Any Virus from an Android Phone in 4 Steps

by on August 29, 2019
in Android Apps, Phones and Mobile, Mobile Apps, Tips & How-Tos, Privacy, Tech 101 :: 18 comments

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This week, Google removed the popular CamScanner PDF creator app, which has been downloaded more than one million times, from the Google Play store because the app recently started delivering malware. Unfortunately, when it comes to mobile malware, Android phones have the dubious distinction of attracting more than their fair share, and that malware can range anywhere from annoying popup ad delivery services to sophisticated mobile spyware that allows a hacker to spy on your every action. So if you think you have a virus on your phone (see the 5 Signs below), you definitely want to take these steps to remove it. 

1. Uninstall any suspicious apps

Spotting an app you don’t remember downloading can be a red flag. And other apps, especially free apps from small developers, may contain adware. So if you see apps you don't need, uninstall them, just to be safe.

To uninstall apps, head into Settings > Apps and Notifications > All Apps then click on the app in question. This should bring up its dedicated screen with an uninstall button, which might be enough to remove the malware. However, if the uninstall button is greyed out, the app may have gained admin access, making it trickier to remove.

In this case, head to Settings > Security & location > Advanced > Device admin apps, and check if any apps are in that list that shouldn’t have such deep access. If so, you can tap on the app to deactivate it, which should allow you to uninstall it from the Apps & notifications menu.

2. Run an antivirus scan

The most certain means of confirming malware on a device is to run an antivirus scan. Mobile antivirus can automatically scan downloads and warn about apps that might leak personal information, allow pop-up ads on your device, or drain your phone battery.

Major security software providers such as Kaspersky, Avast, Norton and AVG also have Android apps, some of which are paid-for, but all offer a free option. There are also well-regarded mobile-only providers, such as Lookout Security. Whatever you do, don't just download some random security app from Google Play, many of these apps do nothing and some can even create security issues of their own. 

Head into your antivirus app and select a scan, which should then flag the exact apps that are presenting a threat to your device. You may be able to remove the malware directly from the app, or you may need to manually uninstall it from Settings > Apps & notifications. If the first scan doesn't find anything, you may want to download a second antimalware app, since we have found that security programs can vary in which virus apps they detect.

(It’s worth noting that antivirus apps can also eat up a lot of phone battery, especially if you enable a continuous scan feature.)

3. Factory reset the phone

If uninstalling the suspicious app(s) doesn’t stop your phone from popping up annoying messages or worse, you may need to take the nuclear option of performing a factory reset, which will clear your phone of all data.Make sure you have your photos and media backed up, and any messages you may want to save, then head to Settings > System > Advanced > Reset options > Erase all data.

4. Stop the malware from being re-installed

Once your phone is clear of malware, it’s a good idea to be wary of what you download and where you download from. Always download apps from Google Play or other trusted sources and only download apps you really need and know are safe – even then, keep a sharp eye on whether you’re really downloading that popular game you keep reading about, or only a clever fake.

Signs your Android phone is infected with malware

While your phone may display clear symptoms of a malware infection, often, malicious apps lay dormant on the phone. Instead, the damage shows up as a charge on your bank card or a phone bill with unusually high data charges.

“Everyday users don't usually discover something's wrong until it’s too late, as it’s difficult to detect malware with a non-armed eye, especially in the case of sophisticated malware that might, for instance, hide SMS notifications or work only when the device is charging [so that the user doesn’t notice],” says Alexey Firsh, malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

That said, many forms of less sophisticated malware will produce symptoms in an infected phone. 

  1. Decreased battery life. If you’ve inadvertently downloaded a cryptocurrency miner, it’s likely your phone’s battery life will drop far quicker than normal, Firsh says. Though there can be many other causes of Android battery drain.

  2. Phone functions more slowly. Malware that is constantly sending information back to a mothership may hog your phone’s processing power, resulting in its general performance slowing down.

  3. Higher data usage. Similarly, information-stealing apps as well as data miners can use up a lot of data – so check your settings to see how your monthly allowance is doing. Other malware that might reveal themselves in bandwidth usage include apps that secretly harness your device for use in distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks to freeze other sites, Firsh notes.

  4. Suspicious notifications from banks and unknown services. If banking malware steals your details, it might result in your bank – or another financial institution – notifying you of charges or even new accounts opened in your name. SMS malware might also reveal itself in premium text services sending you notifications of the fees you’ve just paid.

  5. Pop up ads. Seeing a lot of pop-ups while you browse the mobile web? You may have been infected with adware. “Popups can mean that malware has installed itself within the OS and has a trigger for a popup based on common ways that users would operate their phones,” Galindo says. The idea is to engage users when they’re most likely to click on an ad or offer, thereby downloading another bit of malware that has the potential to cause greater damage to their device or data.

And even if you phone doesn't have malware, keep in mind that there are other ways your phone can be hacked

[Image credit: infected phone concept via BigStockPhoto]

Discussion loading


My mobile phone virus

From Vikasrawat on March 14, 2019 :: 10:59 am

My mobile phone virus delated z50



My mobile phone virus delated

From Vikasrawat on March 14, 2019 :: 11:05 am

My mobile phone virus delated please


Hey buddy, read the Info before posting "pls remove virus my fone plz"

From Michael Pandora on April 16, 2019 :: 11:05 pm

This is a board or forum or whatever you want to call it. It’s simple users like yourself asking questions and trying to get them answered. There’s no one here that’s going to magically fix your phone for you especially when they don’t have it in their hands and you might be thousands of miles away. Apparently you don’t have a grip on the fundamentals of how technology works. That’s unfortunate but it is completely within your power to find out. Go online. Do a little bit of research. Read something. Besides Facebook I mean. Put some effort in don’t be such a victim. I don’t know how to do much with my phone but what I do know I learned by figuring it out on my own. Same way I learned how to fix cars and build houses. You start to try to find out some stuff and other people help you but people can’t help you if you’re not making an effort




From Shannon on January 16, 2020 :: 12:39 am

I found your comment rude and arrogant.  I didn’t write the comment you replied to. But I have written a comment asking for help. 
I have spent hours and hours trying to figure out my issue. Just because I’m not as experienced as yourself I’m not a facebook or social media dumb individual that you implied people in my situation are.  I have a university degree. But I’m not great with computers ect. I hope your comment made you feel better about yourself. Putting people down and being arrogant is a true gift and you have nailed it.  Well done to you.



Nasty Person

From Helen Waite on July 23, 2020 :: 8:54 pm

If you are so damn smart why are you on this site???




From J. Paul on June 19, 2019 :: 11:29 am

I have Salvador Dali conglomerate style images of the same 2 people overlapping my photos. It’s getting ridiculous. What can I do?



Not clear what it is you're seeing.

From Josh Kirschner on June 19, 2019 :: 11:54 am

Can you post a link to an image or screenshot showing what you’re talking about?



Xhelper virous

From Shibu on September 19, 2019 :: 8:29 am

It is not working for working for xhelper



Try Malwarebytes to delete Xhelper

From Josh Kirschner on September 19, 2019 :: 2:36 pm

Xhelper looks to be a very recent threat that not all the antimalware companies may have picked up on, yet. Malwarebytes wrote about it a couple of weeks ago, so it is worth giving that a shot to see if it can remove Xhelper for you permanently.

Note that the means Xhelper is using to spread itself is not yet clear. It would be best to delete any apps that aren’t necessary or come from well-known developers and avoid sketchy websites that may be creating a drive-by download.

If Malwarebytes doesn’t get rid of Xhelper, factory resetting the phone surely will. Just be cautious about what apps you reinstall.




From Mohinder on December 01, 2019 :: 10:59 am

In my iPhone 7 sum virus please clean my virus o send me information for cleaning virus



How to remove virus from ur phone 📱

From Ejike on February 23, 2020 :: 1:18 pm

How to remove virus from ur phone 📱




From Ivan saiz on December 14, 2019 :: 2:07 pm

My phone act your frezzes like it dose what it wants



My phone say there is

From Lawrence on January 03, 2020 :: 5:39 am

My phone say there is a virus reducing the battery life. How do I remove it.



That sounds like scareware

From Josh Kirschner on January 03, 2020 :: 1:06 pm

Phones don’t normally give you messages like that. It sounds much more likely to be some sort of scareware that’s popping up when you visit a site or you installed an app that is creating those scareware messages.

Are you able to tell which app is creating the message? If so, it probably should be deleted from your phone. If you’re not sure, or can’t figure out what app it is, try downloading one of our recommended anti-malware apps above and scan your phone for potential bad apps.



Oppo malware

From Shannon on January 16, 2020 :: 12:31 am

Hi I have an oppo phone and I have an adaware malaware infection. I can’t delete oppo and I’ve factory reset. But ita still there. It won’t even let me disable. I can only force it to stop and it turns back on again. 
I don’t know what to do.
Please help



Can you provide more details?

From Josh Kirschner on January 21, 2020 :: 1:35 pm

Hi Shannon,

Can you tell me more about what version of the malware you have and what you have done to do to remove it? Have you used one of the anti-malware apps we recommended, what it detected and what happened when you tried to remove it?




Virus or no virus?

From Anastasia on January 27, 2020 :: 11:39 pm

Within the past 2 days my phone has become drastically slow with data. I used to be able to load a website within what felt like seconds now it takes more then five minutes for a page to load and thats if it does. It also took over 8 hours to charge my phone to 12% battery life. I have removed all new apps and ran an AVG scan(which came up clean). I have cleared all my cache and stopped all apps running in the background and still nothing. Could this be a virus or something else? I also starting having problems with my phone and people being able to hear me and me hear them, it’s just silence on my side and static on theirs. I’m so perplexed on what else I could do without factory resetting my phone… Any guidance would be wonderful..



Try another malware scan

From Josh Kirschner on January 28, 2020 :: 11:55 am

It’s not clear from what you describe whether this is a malware issue or not. Try running a malware scan with Lookout to see if that picks anything up (not every app picks up every threat). If that comes up clean, my advice would be to reset the phone. If your issue still isn’t fixed, there may be a hardware problem, though I’m not sure what hardware issue would be causing that multitude of symptoms except something odd going on with the cellular radio.


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