Lookout Security & Antivirus, also known as Lookout Personal, has presumably found its niche with its focus on identity protection. The app hasn’t made many changes to its antivirus features since it moved to its current business model before my last review of it in mid-2017.
As a pure antivirus app, Lookout is not competitive against top options like Bitdefender Mobile Security and Norton Mobile Security among the best Android antivirus apps. But Android users who value Lookout’s identity-protection services and the accompanying identity insurance, both of which are competitively priced for that market, may be willing to overlook its shortcomings.
Lookout Security & Antivirus costs and what’s covered
Lookout has three tiers of plans. The Basic free plan delivers a few core features; the Premium plan costs $2.99 per month (or $29.99 per year); and the Premium Plus goes for $9.99 a month (or $99.99 per year).
The Basic plan offers antivirus scanning, simple location tools and a system adviser. Premium bumps up the features considerably, with safe web browsing, Wi-Fi network alerts, anti-theft functions, a privacy adviser and reports of recent security breaches — all common features in other paid Android antivirus apps.
However, Premium Plus, as you would hope given its pricing, brings more to the table than any other Android antivirus app I tested. What you are paying for is the identity-protection service and the $1 million in identity-theft insurance and 24/7 restoration assistance that will be available to you in the event of identity theft or a lost wallet.
At $100 a year, this seems like it would be a lot for an Android antivirus app. But it costs much less than any stand-alone identity-protection service we’ve reviewed. Some of those run to more than $300 a year, and even the cheapest is about $125.
The only added functionality that Lookout Premium Plus brings to the app itself is an identity-monitoring component, which will be covered later in this review.
Lookout Security & Antivirus had by far the longest full scan, at approximately 2 minutes and 20 seconds, of any of the eight Android antivirus apps I tested in early 2019 on a Google Pixel 3 phone. It also performed poorly on the full-scan system-impact test.
Unfortunately, as with most Android antivirus apps, you can’t schedule a scan. It would be nice to have that slow scan fire off only in the middle of the night when it doesn’t matter to you.
If Lookout detects a malicious web link, it flashes a brief notification at the top of the screen that says a malicious link was blocked, but gives you the option to proceed anyway. You can tap the notification or pull down on the notification shade and tap it to see the full pop-up, but it seems odd that this notification does not grab focus entirely.
With that said, the feature did work in blocking known malicious test sites in all six browsers I had installed on the phone.
Lookout Mobile Security no longer submits the Security & Antivirus app for testing by the German independent lab AV-TEST, whose results we rely on to see how well Android antivirus products block malware.
The last time Lookout did so was January 2016, when its app received pretty bad detection rates: 85.2% against real-time online threats and 77.3% against “widespread” malware samples collected in the previous four weeks.
Another lab, AV-Comparatives, conducts less frequent, and less granular, Android antivirus evaluations. Lookout Security & Antivirus was included in AV-Comparatives’ blanket tests in January 2019, in which Lookout managed a respectable 99.6% detection rate.
Five of the other eight apps reviewed for this round got a perfect 100%: Avast Mobile Security, Bitdefender Mobile Security, Kaspersky Mobile Antivirus, McAfee Mobile Security and Norton Mobile Security. The two remaining apps, 360 Security and Google Play Protect, finished behind Lookout, with 99% and 68.8%, respectively.
Skipping back a year to AV-Comparatives’ January 2018 Android blanket evaluations, Lookout didn’t fare quite as well. Its 93.9% detection rate put it ahead only of Google Play Protect, which had 75.3%. 360 Security, aka Qihoo 360, managed a 99.3% that time around, and Avast, Bitdefender, Kaspersky, McAfee and Norton all received perfect marks.
Although this is more data than I had to work with the last time I reviewed Lookout, it still feels fairly inconclusive compared to the wealth of test data I have for most of the other apps. I’m ready to believe that Lookout’s malware detection has improved since 2016, but it would seem fair to say that it is still behind the majority of the apps I tested.
Find My Phone
If you are a free user of Lookout, you can locate the phone and make it “scream” from the web portal at personal.lookout.com. In my testing, it took approximately 2 minutes for Lookout to locate my device, something that happens in a matter of seconds with other apps. The “Scream” command was much more responsive, triggering an alert in just a couple seconds.
The web portal itself is standard, with a full-screen map and an overlay with icons to trigger the various functions. There is one final feature for free users: If the battery on your smartphone is about to die, “Signal Flare” records the phone’s last known location and posts it to the web portal.
This is a behind-the-scenes feature recently introduced to Lookout. It periodically checks your system for root detections to ensure proper functioning of the OS.
There are two aspects to Lookout’s data-breach report. The first identifies breaches of any services connected to the apps that you have installed. The second is a news feed listing all the latest breaches, prepared by Lookout, with instructions regarding what to do if you are affected and a link to the source article for each breach. Depending on how you feel about security news, it can be an interesting curated feed.
This lets you view which apps potentially have access to data or hardware on your device. Tapping on a category will show a full list of the apps with access to your camera, for example. Tapping on an individual app will show all of the permissions it could have and allow you manage those permissions.
My complaint remains the same as the last time: This feature doesn’t know whether an app actually has been granted a permission, only that it might have. It’s a slightly easier way to view the permissions management than Android natively provides, but it’s misleading as far as identifying legitimate privacy concerns.
This is the built-in virtual private network (VPN) service for Lookout, and it can run constantly if you choose to enable it when you upgrade to Premium. It doesn’t offer the customizability of some of the other antivirus apps’ VPN offerings, but it does keep you safer and does so unobtrusively.
This scans your current Wi-Fi network to establish whether anything about it poses a threat. Unfortunately, Lookout was one of the only apps that didn’t flag my local coffee shop’s Wi-Fi as a risk due to its lack of a password.
As a Premium subscriber, you can remotely lock or wipe your device. The lock command lets you add an email address, phone number and a custom message that will display on the lock screen for anyone who finds the device. As with the scream command, this feature worked within a couple of seconds of my sending the command.
You can also set up a number of triggers that will make your phone email you with a photo from your front-facing camera and the location of your device. These triggers include multiple failed passcode attempts, SIM card removal, Airplane Mode being switched on, the device being turned off and Lookout being uninstalled.
Identity Restoration & Insurance
At $99.99 a year, this plan may create a bit of sticker shock for an antivirus shopper, but if you have been looking at identity-theft protection options the pricing feels much more reasonable. Although it’s nice to have all your problems solved by one app, I would still recommend taking a look at dedicated identity-theft solutions.
Lookout does have a decent offering here, though, with 24/7 identity-restoration assistance, lost-wallet recovery and $1 million in identity-theft insurance for any losses related to the theft. From the Insurance tab in the app, the “Contact Us” link is at the bottom of the screen will put you in touch with restoration experts in moments.
According to the on-site legal documentation for the service, the third-party insurance vendor Lookout uses is Interstate Fire and Casualty Co. of Chicago, a subsidiary of German financial-services giant Allianz.
Identity Theft Protection
The other piece of the Premium Plus tier for Lookout is about finding your private information where it shouldn’t be online. You can enter personal information, financial information or your Social Security number, and Lookout will monitor the web for any sign of this data and will notify you if anything is found.
Finally, the Social Media Watch feature scans any connected social-media apps (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram) and will alert you if any private information is found or if you post or are tagged in any potentially offensive content.
To evaluate the impact of running Lookout Security & Antivirus on my device, I conducted multiple tests using the Geekbench 4 Android benchmarking tool on my Google Pixel 3 phone running Android 9.0 Pie.
I first established a baseline performance for the device before installing Lookout, then ran additional tests following installation, and finally ran more tests during full malware scans.
Lookout barely had any background system impact following installation, with just a 0.48% drop-off from the baseline average Geekbench 4 results. The full scan had a much more significant effect, with a 10.6% performance decrease.
This placed Lookout near the top of the pack for the passive results, at No. 3 out of eight. But it was nearly at the bottom in the active-scan testing, although despite finishing seventh out of the eight, it was much closer to the few apps just above it than to 360 Security, which came in dead last.
Setup and support
Lookout does a good job of guiding you through the setup. Already being familiar with the app, I was through it in 3 minutes, but the app doesn’t have enough features to really bog you down during the process.
But it doesn’t do such a good job with tech support. Even Premium customers don’t get chat or phone support for technical or troubleshooting questions. All support communication is by email.
Lookout’s website states that the company doesn’t offer phone support because “there would be no way to verify your identity.” That doesn’t stop rival Android antivirus-app providers Avast, Bitdefender, Kaspersky, McAfee and Norton from offering telephone support for at least their paying customers.
If you tap on “Help” in the main menu for the Lookout app, you will be taken to the FAQs on Lookout’s website. At the bottom of each answer page you will find the option to submit a question via email., which is your best bet if you can’t find a solution in the FAQs.
Lookout has a clean and minimal interface that does a good job of fitting enough features into each screen without overwhelming you or forcing you to scroll down. The only exception is the settings menu, and as you shouldn’t find yourself there too often, that seems like a reasonable trade-off for keeping the rest of the app tidy.
If Lookout’s iIdentity-protection and identity-insurance components are critical to you and you don’t mind sacrificing some thoroughness on the malware-protection side, Lookout is a reasonable option among the best Android antivirus apps.
But I would still recommend pairing a different identity-protection service with Bitdefender Mobile Security or Norton Mobile Security. You should end up with better products and a similar yearly cost.