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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 :: 54 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.


Well said

From Aaron on December 26, 2020 :: 3:04 pm

Very well said.


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 Mike on June 09, 2021 :: 9:52 am

What an arrogant as*hole. Your reply was just not called for. You need to sort your attitude out.


I do not know why panties are in a bunch

From Rhonda S. on February 26, 2022 :: 3:18 pm

Really I am wondering why so many people have their panties in a bunch. The guy took his time to share knowledge he had learned on his own. Michael i appreciate your effort and knowledge. I find it refreshing there are people out there that say it like it is. Good job Michael I found your info to be very helpful, easy to understand and apply. This is three years later but hey I am a late bloomer it takes me more time.


Why be such an arrogant

From No on June 01, 2022 :: 11:26 am

Why be such an arrogant ass with your reply?



From Cathy on July 13, 2023 :: 2:36 pm

You sound just like my scammer ex.
Bet your rude to the young person at the Wendy’s drive thru too.
What a maroon.


Cannot remove malware

From Kelly on July 31, 2023 :: 4:13 am


I have downloaded multiple malware security apps, tried to remove its permission and delete the app itself and factory reset my phone but the app which is a pdf ai add on has taken away all my permissions to do this. Can anyone help me override this app? The virus protection I have finds the malware but when I hit uninstall the phone shuts down … desperate for more help please


Can you confirm what exact

From Josh Kirschner on July 31, 2023 :: 10:23 pm

Can you confirm what exact app is being flagged as malware and which antimalware program you’re using?

I would also be very surprised if any app you downloaded from Google Play, even potential malware, would be able to prevent a factory reset of your device. This usually requires a deeper rootkit exploit. It may be best to take your phone to your carrier store and see if they can assist with the factory reset, if necessary. If they are unable to do it, they should be able to offer a secondary level of support to reinstall the operating system.



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?


Virus disturbing

From Eshetu Wakene on June 30, 2022 :: 1:38 am

This phone highly disturbing by virus.Always it asked me to clean. But it is endless.So I can’t use the phone properly because of this endless disturbance. So can I get any solutions which stop this disturbance


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.


From Dipankar Biswas on November 06, 2020 :: 9:18 am

I don’t know what is adware or what.But whenever I turn on the launchs my Chrome browser and open…


That's not good

From Josh Kirschner on November 09, 2020 :: 2:44 pm

It sounds like you might have some sort of adware installed on your device. I would definitely recommend doing scans with one or more of our recommended solutions and if that doesn’t find anything, consider a factory reset.


I won't to get rid

From Tracey Torr on November 15, 2020 :: 6:30 pm

I won’t to get rid of my virus please
2 13th


Internal memory eating virus.

From Rodolfo G. Lara Jr. on November 30, 2020 :: 8:51 am

What can i do from this kind of virus? I’ve scanned so many tim
es, and no virus have been found, still it’s eating my celfones internal memory. Please help!


thanks for NOTHING!

From Inge Klein on December 23, 2020 :: 5:58 am

your advice is rubbish


Thanks for the feedback

From Josh Kirschner on December 23, 2020 :: 5:33 pm

Care to provide any details on why you think our advice is “rubbish” or are you here just to cast ad hominem attacks? Because I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that Natasha’s expertise in this area may be the better advice to follow.


From Bionic7urd on January 05, 2021 :: 5:28 pm

Hidden (without icon) inside my phones memory repeatedly morphs and changes states broadcasting entire unlabelled pages of advertising. I’ve uninstalled it however many times and even resorted to malwarebytes and Kaspersky and other such legitimate software installation and that’s done sweet fanny all. I’ve gone into the phones memory and uncovered the bug but cannot force stop it.
When searching the web for all the leading results (not ads.) are about Tower holidays, hotels and resorts. Is there a connection?


Ex using camera on Android to spy.Tried to kill me before.

From Mary on January 29, 2021 :: 4:50 pm

Hi there.I am a woman who left an abusive relationship.My ex spy’s on my Android phone camera,I noticed my webcam blinking out of 16 hours a day! I need to stop this,it upsets me.I have disabled my camera from the settings on my Android phone, and installed both Bitdefender and AV .It’s still happening! I don’t know what to do! I was hoping that you could tell me what you can suggest as nothing I am doing is working.


Zombie cellphone

From Rene Perez on March 24, 2021 :: 1:20 pm

Hi there , i think my cellphone is infected and hacked,when it comes to synptoms my phone just tick all the boxes battery depleting,slow functioning , etc and more , days ago i noticed WiFi was off , i tried to turn it on only to inmediately seen it setting off again on its own , advertising pop up on any app i find myself in ,  apps got installed by themselves. I have factory reset the device twice to no avail , i even wentrought it to a technician to have it fixed i end up paying 20 bucks to have my cell functioning only 2 days , i just dont know what to do


Lab 5 - Vulnerabilities.PDF - Malicious Attachement?

From Enrque on March 27, 2021 :: 3:08 pm

I was going through my mail on my phone using the yahoo app when I clicked on a message from a Joe Gallardo <> with a PDF attachment called, Sacn and Investigate Lab 5 - Vulnerabilities.PDF. Put in my pocket and later on realized my phone had rebooted but never could start completely back on again. I grabbed my old phone which worked perfectly fine until I installed Yahoo mail in it which made my old phone reboot as it happened with my other phone.

I have been searching on the web but haven’t seen anything that relates to my problem. Anyone knows anything about this kind of issue?


Lab 5 - Scan and Investigate Vulnerabilities.PDF

From Enrque on March 27, 2021 :: 3:22 pm

Apologies, the name of the file is: Lab 5 - Scan and Investigate Vulnerabilities.PDF and it opens up an IBM document which seems legit.


That definitely sounds fishy

From Josh Kirschner on April 02, 2021 :: 9:42 am

From what you describe, it sounds like this was quite possibly a malicious attachment of some sort. What it did or does, if anything, is impossible to say without a detailed analysis.

If you can’t get your phone to boot again after shutting it down and restarting, you may have no choice but to do a full factory reset. Here is how to reset each model of Android phone.

FWIW, based on purely anecdotal evidence, I have found Yahoo Mail to be worse at screening at out scams than Gmail and my experiences with the Yahoo Mail app have been mixed, as well. You may want to consider switching your email address..


DHL....seems that my phone is

From Ham on April 26, 2021 :: 4:50 am

DHL….seems that my phone is infected with a dhl malware and i cant delete it. Anti viruses cant also delete it


I got a very bad

From EDWARD ANTHONY GYE on May 01, 2021 :: 2:09 pm

I got a very bad virus in my phone and it caused the blue Remus and the screen not to look very good on my oppo phone I took it to a Telstra technician. And he could not even fix it at all he reckons I don’t know if he was being lazy or he just couldn’t be bothered that’s what it felt like so could anyone help me out there


take it to a pro

From Dan on December 13, 2022 :: 5:01 am

Telstra doesn’t have any phone technicians of it’s own that deal with the public, you are likely thinking of phone sales… anyhoo dont be stingy and pay a pro, or you’ll end up paying the other way


My husband is up to something 🥺

From Hailey on June 28, 2021 :: 3:46 am

How do I get, see everything-from text messages, apps, duckduckgo web activity, etc….....need to do this without being able to get into his phone. Need to come to my phone secretly. Pleas help I wouldn’t do this , I don’t want too, but I need to know the truth. He has access to my things but I don’t his. You know those gut feelings an I found somethings on his phone. So help plz



From Nick kenestrick on July 24, 2022 :: 8:25 pm

Either the feds my girlfriend or my boss has uninstalled Google Chrome Facebook at least those three I have undocumented photo copies I had printed out that I got from my internal storage they was revised and reinstalled back into my phone with different permissions and different actions there’s some real serious s*** I don’t know what to do to did did you ever get any advice?


Buggy Phone

From Kelly O'Brien on July 25, 2021 :: 11:25 am

I have numerous issues.  I have Malware Fox Antimalware as well as the one that came with the phone, so kinda’ redundant.  Scans never flag any threats.  However, for quite some time I have had problems with the keyboard displaying the wrong characters, Progressive problems with the Google Assistant, which started with irrelevant answers and searches, Easter egg responses, not sure if I was talking to it, sorry, I don’t understand, going directly to Feedback.  It now just says, “Can’t reach Google at the moment.”  That started occasionally, now it only does this.  It progressively got worse, even when I tried all the fixes.  The Play Store has the Stuck in Pending/Stuck in #% Downloading Updates.  Also the Android System Webview/Google apps not updating.  When I do get them to update(or any app, for that matter, within a few days the same updates become available again, so I think nothing really updates.  Gives me problems trying to access certain websites, such as my EIP Card Accounts, Social Security and my Work’s website(although, just now the company split in two and it’s under maintenance). The keyboard hesitates and the phone sometimes freezes, when scrolling.  I do get popups, and on your site, that was happening too.  Battery does seem to drain faster than it seems it should.  Also, I have various glitches with Face Book.  I have, like, 30 updates waiting, but they get stuck in pending or stop at a certain percentage, so updating Google is a joke.  I am not using WI-FI.  I am using cellular data.  I also notice I no longer get all the signal strength bars, like I used to.  Are these malware symptoms or is it time for a new phone?  Asking, because it’s a Samsung A20e, running on Android and I heard phones, for all their sophistication, are only designed to last 1 or 2 years.  I’ve had this one for about a year and a quarter.
I tried to be as detailed as I can, ad nauseam.  Thank you for your advice, if any.


Those don't sound like malware issues

From Josh Kirschner on July 27, 2021 :: 3:47 pm

It’s very hard to diagnose specific issues without more details and/or access to the phone. However, what you describe doesn’t sound like typical malware problems - more device hardware or operating system glitches. Your best bet is to back up your data and factory reset the phone to see if that resolves most of your problems.


I have so many issues

From Jameschristian on July 26, 2021 :: 3:47 am

I have so many issues whenever my keeps on popping ads even without my data on and launches chrome,Facebook,opera mini,and my browser without me even clicking any of those and i noticed when listening to music it always paused my music for me and when i on my data it loads different types of site on chrome,opera mini and my browser and Facebook just keep on popping up i have factory reset it many times but the problem still there


I have a cheap telstra

From Unknown user on August 28, 2021 :: 9:54 pm

I have a cheap telstra phone and i installed an update today, and now its saying that my device is corrupted and not trustworthy so it wont boot. Ive tried everything and it wont even reset. what do i do?


my phone virice damage

From MD;JUMMAN SHADEK JHABLEN on September 30, 2021 :: 10:14 pm

my smartphone may be severely damaged!

my phone could be severely
DAMAGED by a Malicious Apps


I can’t access my other apps to delete the virus

From Laura on December 31, 2021 :: 4:18 am

What if the virus prevents you from accessing other apps in the settings what should you do


You can reset other ways

From Josh Kirschner on December 31, 2021 :: 10:43 am

if you have malware that is preventing you from accessing certain settings, the best things to do is a factory reset of your device through the hardware, itself. Follow the steps in this article for how to reset your phone when you can’t login. Make sure to back up any important photos beforehand. After the reset, you will need to log back in using your Google account credentials.


Messenger app won't install on my android phone

From Leslie on April 18, 2023 :: 4:32 pm

Each time I try to install the messenger app I keep getting the same message to free up space but I need all the apps I have installed I had it on my android phone but it’s disappeared and now it won’t install


Have you checked you media storage?

From Josh Kirschner on April 18, 2023 :: 5:13 pm

Apps usually aren’t that big. Have you checked how much space is being taken up by movies and photos? Movies, especially if you’re shooting in HD or 4K, can take up quite a bit of storage on your device. Look to delete any movies you don’t need and backup any you want to keep then delete them from your device.

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