Which Cell Phone Is Most Secure in 2024? iPhone vs. Android

Take a look at how iPhone and Android handle privacy and security so you can choose the best cell phone for your needs and comfort level.
We receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

Most of us store all kinds of information on our phones. When you think about what data you have on your mobile phone, consider your photos, bank accounts, and even passwords. With technology advancing, hackers are advancing, too. Cybercriminals are using new methods to break into cell phones to steal your data.

You want to know if the cell phone you choose can keep your data secure. Apple takes pride in its closed-source coding, which makes it harder for hackers to penetrate. Android has open-source coding, which could make finding security issues easier and quicker to fix.

Both systems have strengths and weaknesses, so which phone is the most secure? Keep reading to learn which device might be best for you, as well as how to enhance your phone's security with the best antivirus apps.

In this article
Source code security
App Store and Play Store security
Operating system updates
Data privacy
Third-party security support
Tips for staying safe on mobile
FAQs
Bottom line

Which has better source code security?

Both systems have different techniques for addressing source code security. Android and iPhone use restrictions in opposite ways to keep users safe from viruses and data breaches. That’s not to say that improvements couldn’t be made to each cell phone system.

iPhone code

Apple uses a platform that protects you with secure code execution. It uses an integrated development environment (IDE) to provide you with code signing for your apps. When you use an iPhone, it may be harder for hackers to break into your device due to the closed-source code installed.

Apple won’t release its source code to app developers, which means you can’t modify the iPhone’s code easily. If you can’t manipulate the code, you don’t get a chance to change the security settings that are in place to protect your data. 

That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to break through the coding. You can still download a malicious link if you’re using something other than the App Store. Some iPhone users download apps sent through email or go to different websites to get them. Those aren’t guaranteed to be protected by Apple, which is why it's a good idea to still use antivirus software with your iPhone.

Android code

Android handles code source security exactly the opposite of how iOS does. Android relies on open-source code. That allows you to modify your phone’s operating system. 

When you don’t know what you’re doing, you could create security vulnerabilities for your Android phone. (On the other hand, an open-source operating system can also help improve security since community members help test for security flaws.)

If you decide to change your settings, be sure you have the best antivirus software for Android available to help keep your device secure.

Android does use an Application Sandbox that enforces security between apps and the Android operating system. That is part of the Linux user-based protection it uses to keep hackers from gaining entry to your data.

Find out which is more secure, Mac or PC, in our head-to-head comparison of each operating system's security features.

App Store and Google Play Store security

Both devices have ways to protect your apps, thereby securing your device. As with the source code, the ecosystems work differently. They both look for harmful behavior, and both have restrictions implemented in various forms.

Apple App Store

Apple admits to millions of fraudulent attempts against the App Store every year. In 2021, Apple blocked fraudulent transactions amounting to $1.5 billion. 

But cybercriminals are getting more sophisticated and attempting to smuggle malicious software into the App Store. One of their techniques is to hide in the cloud among legitimate applications. Hackers are also using the public internet to find vulnerable systems to crack.

To prevent hackers from gaining your personal information, Apple ensures that apps come from known sources and don’t contain malware. Before it can get launched, the app is screened for malicious code. Apple also has system-level protections in place, keeping apps from accessing data from other apps without your permission.

Google Play Store

Google Play is the official app store of Google. It has safeguards in place to protect your Android phone from malware. One of the primary security functions of Google Play is you can only download known apps from the store. Google will scan for viruses before an app reaches users. 

One of the best built-in protection features Android uses is Google Play Protect. It uses algorithms that can adapt to new malware threats, and Play Protect gets updated routinely to shield you from new viruses. It also uses the Application Sandbox we mentioned to create more safety between apps. The feature keeps apps from interacting with each other, keeping your Android more secure.

Still, Google Play isn’t without flaws. Malware can find ways to breach the app store security and get onto your device. Since Android uses the open-source coding platform, you can manually change your security settings. That may leave you more vulnerable when downloading apps you may assume are safe.

The Google Play Store is also attractive to hackers because of the large number of apps it contains. If a hacker can get through, that can mean malware on a high volume of Android devices.

Operating system updates

You’ll get notifications from Android and iPhone services when updates are ready for your phone. You should install the updates, as they help patch security gaps for your device. 

Operating system updates can also improve your phone’s performance, so it's crucial to take advantage of those opportunities.

iPhone updates

When you use an iPhone, you’ll notice that iOS updates get scheduled frequently. That means Apple looks for and patches security issues routinely. With the constant updates Apple provides, you’ll get the latest features and bug fixes. Apple users should receive updates for 4 to 5 years for their iPhones.

Recently, Apple directed users to update their software when it found an operating system vulnerability. The threat could’ve given hackers the leverage to get control of iPhones and some Mac operating systems to install malware. Although the iPhone is known for being a secure device, this goes to show that hackers are getting better at infiltrating cell phones.

Android updates

Android provides users with updates, as Apple does. One striking difference is that Android usually sends 1 to 3 updates within 18 months. After that, you may not get any more. That could mean if new malware comes out between those times, you may not get a patch that keeps your device secure.

It may also depend on the brand of Android you use. Different manufacturers may release updates at separate times, leading to an Android fragmentation issue. That’s when Android users don’t all have access to the same features.

For example, Samsung phones tend to receive monthly updates, while Motorola phones usually see 100+ days until they get an update.

Data privacy

Data privacy is one of the biggest concerns digital users have today. Most mobile phones weren’t designed for data privacy and can expose you to all kinds of data risks. Our phones even have location tracking on them, and apps can gain access to our exact locations at any moment. 

With data privacy being a security threat, you want to know if your cell phone platform does the job of keeping your information safe.

iPhone privacy

Your iPhone comes with built-in features that help prevent outsiders from seeing your data. These privacy features can minimize what information is available to others, and you have the power to adjust what data you want to share.

Apple takes data privacy seriously, with security features like Face ID, Touch ID, and two-factor authentication. You can also turn your location services on or off for different apps, so you can alter them as you wish. Here's how to update your iPhone privacy settings for better device security.

Android privacy

Google makes a profit from advertisements. Some of those ads may stem from your data so that it can direct the ads as needed. To help with that, Google has given users authority over Android-associated data sharing. You can also use two-factor authentication with your Google account.

Many Android privacy features are included by default when you power on your device. It has a built-in app scanner to protect against spyware and stalkerware. 

Still, it’s worth noting that you can give up many personal details when you browse online with your Android device. You’ll need to adjust your Android privacy settings if you want to opt out of Google’s personalization options.

Third-party security support

When you use any device that takes advantage of the internet or different apps, you may want to consider a third-party security system. That could mean using antivirus software or a virtual private network (VPN) to create a private internet connection. 

Let’s see how these two industry giants stack up when comparing third-party security support.

iPhone

Many iPhone security breaches happened when users pirated software or decided to jailbreak their phone settings. Apple is known to be a secure platform, but a third-party security suite could enhance that safety.

Apple lets you use various third-party apps, but you may not need to use many. Since the iPhone is already extremely diligent about security, you may only benefit from using two security apps. One is a VPN to protect you when using public Wi-Fi, and the other is a password manager to boost online security.

Best password managers for iOS

While Apple's iCloud keychain is a good starting point, many iPhone password managers come with extras that make creating, saving, and sharing passwords easier. After testing, these three stood out from the rest:

  • 1Password: This password manager comes stacked with unique features like Travel Mode, which allows you to hide certain passwords on your device in case it gets stolen or misplaced while you're on vacation. It also supports password sharing and works with Safari.

    Get 1 Password | Read Our 1Password Review
  • Dashlane: If you only need a password manager for one iPhone, Dashlane is a great choice. It comes with extra customizations to help you create truly unique and uncrackable passwords. Dashlane is also compatible with Safari.

    Get Dashlane | Read Our Dashlane Review
  • Bitwarden: While it has a free plan with few limitations, we also like Bitwarden for its ability to organize family members or coworkers into groups. This allows you to pick and choose who you share which passwords with — an extra level of customization that sets Bitwarden apart. It also works with Safari.

    Get Bitwarden | Read Our Bitwarden Review

4.5
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On 1Password's website
1Password
  • Password manager with no history of being hacked
  • Unique features, like Travel Mode
  • No free version

Best VPNs for iOS

Another layer of protection you should add to your Apple device is a VPN. These apps encrypt your internet connection, making your data difficult for hackers to target. We found these three to be the best VPNs for iPhone, offering user-friendly interfaces, a 30-day money-back guarantee, and unlimited bandwidth:

  • NordVPN: Considered one of, if not the top VPN, NordVPN unblocks streaming services like Netflix. It also boasts zippy connection speeds and a strict no-logs policy, meaning your internet activity won't ever be logged by Nord — or anyone else.

    Get NordVPN | Read Our NordVPN Review
  • ExpressVPN: Another secure and private VPN option is ExpressVPN. It's a reliable way to unblock streaming services and encrypt your connection to avoid trackers and malicious sites. While it is a tad more expensive than other VPN apps, ExpressVPN is steadfast in delivering quality service, making it a worthwhile investment.

    Get ExpressVPN | Read Our ExpressVPN Review
  • Surfshark: This is one of our favorite VPN apps thanks to its strong security and variety of features. It comes with CleanWeb, which you can toggle on to block ads, trackers, and malicious sites while the VPN is connected. And its NoBorders mode works to ensure you can connect to the internet even in countries where access is restricted.

    Get Surfshark | Read Our Surfshark Review

Customizable Coverage That is Simple to Use
4.9
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On NordVPN's website
VPN
NordVPN
Up to 66% off 2-year plans + 3 months extra
  • Ultra-secure, high-speed VPN complete with malware protection and automatic blocking of intrusive ads and third-party trackers
  • Other benefits include a premium password manager, dark web monitoring, and access to IP-restricted content
  • 3 plans to choose from for custom protection on up to 10 devices
  • Too many confusing plans

Android

With Androids having fragmentation issues, you may want to use third-party security support when possible. You may not receive timely security updates, leaving your Android vulnerable to malware.

With third-party apps, you can get VPNs, password managers, antivirus software, and the best malware removal tools. There are apps that protect your phone from viruses, protect your privacy, and even block suspicious calls.

Best password managers for Android

It's highly recommended to avoid using Google Password Manager to save your logins since all this data could be accessed if your Google account is hacked. With that being said, the best Android password managers come with bonus features to help you keep your device secured:

  • Dashlane: Along with a free version, Dashlane offers paid plans that come with security features like encrypted cloud storage and the Hotspot Shield VPN. While Hotspot Shield doesn't quite make our top three due to it logging some data and struggling to unblock some streaming services, it still uses strong AES-256 encryption and secure protocols. Along with Dashlane's password features, this is a strong security combo for your Android.

    Get Dashlane | Read Our Dashlane Review
  • 1Password: This is our pick for families with young children and teens. Along with secure encryption for your logins, 1Password includes parental controls that help you keep tabs on your kid's passwords. You'll also get admin powers to recover accounts, create and share password vaults, and limit certain family members' permissions.

    Get 1 Password | Read Our 1Password Review
  • Bitwarden: If you need a free password manager for your Android device and don't want to place all your eggs in Google's basket, check out Bitwarden. Its free plan comes with no limitations — you can save as many passwords on as many devices as you want. The paid plans do come with encrypted storage and emergency access, but cost less than other password managers.

    Get Bitwarden | Read Our Bitwarden Review

4.1
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On Dashlane's website
Dashlane
  • Extra features boost security
  • Paid plans come with Hotspot Shield VPN
  • Free plan is limited to one device

Best VPNs for Android

Whether you connect to public Wi-Fi or use your mobile connection, the best Android VPNs help keep your device safe from hackers by encrypting your connection. Here are the top three we recommend based on our testing:

  • NordVPN: Providing great value for its price, NordVPN offers tons of security features for your Android. These include a tracker and ad blocker, a no-logs policy, and an easy-to-use Android app. It also unblocks Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and other streaming services.

    Get NordVPN | Read Our NordVPN Review
  • IPVanish: If you've got a large family or multiple connected devices you want to lock down with a VPN, IPVanish is worth a look with its unlimited device support. It also comes with a sleek Android app and automatically connects you to the fastest VPN server near you with the click of a button. 

    Get IPVanish | Read Our IPVanish Review
  • Private Internet Access: Also called PIA, this VPN app is one of the most affordable. In fact, it's almost shocking that it costs about $2 per month at its lowest price and still offers as many features as it does. This includes the ability to get past geo-restrictions and watch foreign Netflix libraries, BBC iPlayer, and more.

    Get PIA | Read Our PIA Review

Save 82% on a 2-year subscription + 2 months free
5.0
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On Private Internet Access's website
Private Internet Access
  • VPN offering fast internet speeds and strict no-logs policy
  • Unblocks Netflix and other streaming services
  • Antivirus and dedicated IP address cost extra

Tips for staying safe on mobile

No matter what cell phone you choose, there are some ways you can stay safer when using your mobile device. Remember, your phone contains a host of personal information, so you should keep it secure.

  • Always download the latest operating system update. Those are there for your protection and may contain patches you need.
  • Implement a VPN for a safer internet experience, especially when using public Wi-Fi.
  • Use password managers that will create strong combinations for logins.
  • If you get a text message from someone you don’t know, it’s likely a scam. Block the number and don’t respond.

FAQs


+

Which phone is the most secure and private?

If you’re looking for well-known brands, the Apple iPhone and Google Pixel are two of the most secure smartphones available. Otherwise, look for the Blackphone PRIVY or Sirin Labs Finney U1 for advanced cybersecurity and privacy features like a cold-storage cryptocurrency wallet.


+

What’s the hardest phone to hack?

Android phones are generally considered less secure than iPhones thanks to Apple's focus on encryption.

But both are more susceptible to hackers thanks to their popularity. The more people who use a phone, the more high value a target it presents to hackers.


+

What gets hacked more, iPhone or Android?

Based on interest, it’s likely Android phones get hacked more than iPhones. The two-factor authentication platform Rublon reported that there was 13 times more interest in hacking Android phones than iPhones in 2021. The platform analyzed global web searches and found 266,400 searches related to Android hacking compared to 19,200 searches related to iOS hacking throughout the year.

Bottom line

We think both the iPhone and Android have done tremendous jobs with creating a secure platform. When it comes to the best security, though, we believe the iPhone wins this round because of iOS’s closed-source code. When it’s harder to download malicious apps, it creates more security for you, the user.

We also appreciate Apple’s continuity with the system updates. iPhone users don’t have the fragmentation that Android users deal with, so every iPhone user gets security patches all at once.

You can take mobile security into your hands by taking precautions to keep your data and device safe. Your cell phone preference is as unique as you are, so choose the one that suits your personality and needs. In the meantime, you can read more tips on how to stay safe online with any device, including using the best antivirus apps to shield your devices from malware.

Online Protection With VPN Access and Identity Monitoring
5.0
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On McAfee's website
All-In-One
McAfee
Save $90 on a 2-year plan
  • Inclusive antivirus, scam, and web protection with the added privacy of a VPN, identity monitoring, and secure password manager
  • Get a real-time Protection Score that measures your online safety and offers guidance to improve security
  • Added peace of mind with 24/7 expert online support and McAfee’s Virus Protection Pledge
  • Multiple pop-ups for text notifications can be annoying

Author Details
Patti Croft is a seasoned writer who specializes in all things technology. She holds a B.S. in Computer Science and carries a wealth of hands-on experience thanks to her background as a technical analyst and security specialist.