Don’t be fooled by the appealing green interface and non-alarmist vibe. Lookout Premium for Android ($2.99/month, direct) offers powerful, triple-threat protection against almost anything that can go wrong with your Android device, which currently means malware, device theft or loss, and apps that access more personal information than you realize. Traditional security companies with their own mobile products, such as Norton Mobile Security, Trend Micro Mobile Security for Android, F-Secure Mobile Security, and McAfee Mobile Security 2.0, have quickly caught up feature-wise. However, Lookout has a better grasp of its user, and it shows in this simple, fuss-free app where the only “work” you have to do is install it.
There are two versions of Lookout for Android. The free, ad-supported version includes malware scans, a Find My Phone feature that locates your missing phone on a Google map, and cloud-backup of your contacts.
Lookout Premium (the version I tested) adds four more features: Safe Browsing to block phishing and malicious websites located in text messages or when browsing, remote wipe and lock, a privacy advisor for your apps, and cloud backup for photos and call history, which you can restore on a new device. No more pop-up ads, either.
Getting started with Lookout is super easy. After installing the app from the Android Market, you’re asked to register with a valid email address, to which you’ll be sent weekly newsletters about the status of your smartphone’s security. You’ll also use this address to log into Lookout’s Web-based admin portal, Mylookout.com.
From there, Lookout performs a full scan of your device and SD card for malware and spyware; 95 percent of you will pass this bill of health, given that Android malware is still very low in real numbers . By default, scans are performed every day and any time you’re about to download an app or file (checked as File System Monitoring in your Settings). You can reschedule daily or weekly scans for a specific day and time of the week, or stick to on-demand scans only. I set mine to run daily at 4 AM for minimal interference with my normal use. On a Nexus with 137 apps installed, the scan took about two minutes, and didn’t slow down my usage of other apps appreciably.
Anti-virus That Doesn’t Hog Resources
Unfortunately here at PCMag, we don’t have the capabilities to test with live android malware, so I can’t attest to Lookout’s ability to detect or remove viruses and spyware. I’m told that if the app does detect anything harmful it is removed automatically. None of the major labs have tested Lookout (or much of its competition), either, but, when they do, rest assured that we’ll update this review.
Security applications aren’t the popular kids in school. We expect them to interfere with our device’s processing speeds and battery life, making it a no brainer when it comes to cleaning out our app library. You won’t feel that need with Lookout. On a cold boot up—where I powered off the phone and timed how long it took to reboot, averaging three tests—the Nexus took 54.5 seconds to restart with Lookout and 51.7 seconds without. The GS2 took 37.9 seconds to load with Lookout and 36.2 seconds to load without. Impressive. Lookout also claims that running its app for one day only consumes as much juice as a 30-second phone call.
After setup, Lookout only turns on when your device connects to a server. You’ll notice pop up alerts fade in and out with updates; it tells you that the file you’ve just downloaded is malware/spyware-free, or that Safe Browsing has been enabled when you launch a new browser for the first time. Because you don’t have to tap to close an alert, I found the alerts reassuring rather than excessive and annoying.