20 Fake Android System Apps In 2024

Fake Android apps have the potential to wreak havoc. These fake apps often go undetected by unsuspecting victims, who think they are real apps.

Some of these apps masquerade as system apps, enjoying advanced access permissions to your mobile operating system while going undetected. They may or may not have app icons visible from your app list.

Also Read: Best Unknown Android Apps

Quick Summary

Some of the fake Android apps to look out for include AppLock X FREE, Colorful Call Screen & Phone Flash, and Wi-Fi Secret Master.

In general, though, here are some ways to spot a fake Android system app:

  • It comes from a dubious download site.
  • A new system app icon suddenly appears in your app tray.
  • A new system app appears in your regular app list in your Android settings.
  • You notice excessive mobile data and/or battery usage.

To protect yourself from fake Android system apps, always download apps from trustworthy sources, in particular the Google Play Store.

Read reviews of apps you want to download, and use an antivirus tool like Avast to scan your phone for hidden fake system apps.

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Fake Android System Apps

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In this section, I will go over some apps that have been flagged by Avast to be fake.

Of course, this is only a small list. It is impossible to list all the fake apps out there, especially fake system apps, which often have similar names to legitimate system apps.

That’s why we will talk about tips for spotting fake apps in this article as well. We want to arm you with the knowledge and tools you will need to detect fake Android apps yourself.

With that said, here are some fake Android apps that may be mistaken for system apps by unknowing individuals.

  1. AppLock X FREE
  2. Colorful Call Screen & Phone Flash
  3. Wi-Fi Secret Master
  4. Calls ID Unlocker
  5. Free Launcher X Pro
  6. LED Border
  7. Video Saver and Private Browser
  8. WhoCall Caller ID and Spam Blocker
  9. Wallpaper XYZ Pro
  10. Ultra Camera HD
  11. iOS Launcher X
  12. SecVPN: Fast and Secure VPN
  13. CosmosVPN
  14. Easy iOS Launcher
  15. XCall
  16. Wi-Fi Security and VPN
  17. AppLocker X Pro
  18. DiskRecover: Photo and Files Recovery
  19. Wi-Fi Unlock Password
  20. TrueCaller ID: Caller ID, Spam Block and Chat

Note that the last app on the list is not to be confused with “TrueCaller: Caller ID & Block,” which is a legitimate app that allows you to check who has called you. The app on our list has a similar name that is designed to confuse people and get them to download the illegitimate version.

Also Read: Bad Android Apps You Should Delete

How Do Fake Apps End Up on Your Phone?

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You might be wondering how a fake app might end up on your phone in the first place. That’s an excellent question, so let me explain how it happens.

Most of the time, fake system apps get bundled into other apps. For example, if you tend to download apps from third-party play stores and APK (Android Application Package) download sites, you might unwittingly download additional apps bundled into the app you thought you were downloading.

These extra apps are known as bloatware, which is sometimes harmless, but in our case, they can be extremely malicious. They often look like system apps, so you might not suspect you have just downloaded them.

Instead, you might not pay attention to such an app at all, thinking that it was always on your phone.

Fake apps might also masquerade as legitimate apps on the Google Play Store or third-party app stores. Like it or not, Google’s security measures are lacking in many ways, and some fake apps do fall through the cracks from time to time.

We will talk about how to spot a fake app next.

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How to Spot a Fake App?

So, how can you spot a fake app? What are some telltale signs that an app is fake and not to be trusted?

Dubious Source

Trusted apps on Aptoide are mostly safe, but some illegitimate apps can slip through the cracks and end up on the site as well.

If the app comes from a dubious source, you should automatically be suspicious. Dubious sources are anything other than the Google Play Store and official developer sites.

Most apps, if legitimate, will be on the Google Play Store. Illegitimate apps instead wind up on third-party app stores, APK download sites, and other sketchy sites.

Not all of them are fake apps. There are a few reasons why a developer might not upload a site to the Google Play Store.

Often, it’s because the app provides pirated content, such as movies and TV series, for free.

Other than that, though, you have to ask yourself why the app is not on the Google Play Store. Google isn’t as strict as Apple when it comes to allowing apps on the app store, so why would a developer’s app be banned?

Occasionally, the developer just doesn’t have the money for the small fee involved in opening up a developer account (although it’s only $25). That may apply to open-source projects, for example.

In such cases, the developer might instead provide an APK file on their own website, but only download it if you trust the developer.

Otherwise, avoid third-party app stores, as they don’t always have adequate security measures in place.

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Lack of Reviews

If you are downloading an app from the Google Play Store, be wary of apps with no reviews. A lack of reviews is a red flag.

It suggests that the app is new. Now, that’s not always a bad thing; sometimes, the app just needs more marketing.

At other times, though, the app is fake and was recently published to lure unsuspecting individuals to download it.

Once people catch onto it and report it, the developer will create another account and upload the app once again. They might even rename the app as something else!

You shouldn’t just look at how many reviews an app has or its overall rating. An app with too many good reviews that look like they were written by bots or don’t mention anything specific to the app are also causes for concern.

Legitimate reviews will often mention specific features of the app. If an app only has reviews that say things like “this is the best app” or “I love this app, and it is really wonderful,” it should raise your suspicions.

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Excessive Permission Requests

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One of the biggest red flags of any app is requesting too many permissions. Why would a photo editing app need access to your call logs, for example?

Why would a camera app require access to your contact list and the ability to send SMS messages? One possible reason would be to send spam messages to your contacts.

While that’s not the only reason, and while there can be non-malicious reasons for an app to request excessive permissions, it’s a good idea to have your guard up about such permissions.

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Symptoms of Fake Apps

So far, we’ve talked about how to spot fake apps to avoid downloading them. But how can you tell if a fake app is already installed on your device?

Are there any symptoms that may point to the fact you have unknowingly installed a malicious app?

Absolutely. Let’s see what they are in this section.

Excessive Battery Usage

Pxyaeq, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One of the first things you will notice if you installed a fake system app is excessive battery usage. Apps that are running malware often do a lot of work in the background.

This uses up your battery quickly. If your battery is suddenly draining, and you can’t figure out why, check the battery usage data in your battery settings.

Check for system apps that are eating up your battery. Typically, the largest apps using your battery will be non-system apps like Spotify, YouTube, Instagram, WhatsApp, Netflix, and TikTok, depending on which social media and entertainment apps you use most.

System apps, on the other hand, shouldn’t be taking up too much of your battery.

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Excessive Data Usage

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Another red flag is excessive data usage. Malicious system apps that are infected with malware might be communicating with external servers and transmitting your private data over the internet.

That can result in excessive data usage. Some phones show you which apps are using the most data.

If your mobile data plan is suddenly being depleted too early, run an antivirus scan.

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Unknown Charges

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Another common symptom of an illegitimate app is unknown charges on your credit cards, especially cards you have linked to your Google Play Store account.

Sometimes, fake apps can trick you into allowing charges, including recurring charges.

Unknown SMS Messages

Fake apps can also send SMS messages to people in your contacts list. These messages may contain links or ask the recipients to send money to a certain account through Zelle or PayPal, claiming you are in trouble and need help.

There are so many ways scammers can take advantage of SMS permissions. That’s why it’s important to be careful with the permissions you grant apps.

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Weird App Icons on Your Phone

One of the most important things to know about real system apps is that they don’t usually show up in your app tray. Instead, they only show up in your list of apps in your Android settings, and typically only if you enable the “Show System Apps” settings.

Apps that masquerade as system apps but are fake may have names that are very similar or identical to real system apps.

However, if you notice a new system app icon appearing in your app tray or list of regular (non-system) apps in your Android settings, it’s a red flag.

In addition, fake apps often have poorly designed icons. The reverse is not necessarily true, though; a well-designed icon doesn’t mean that the app is legitimate, as some scammers may put in effort in the design.

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Dangers of Fake Apps

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What are the dangers of having fake apps on your phone? Fake apps may contain:

  • Spyware: Spyware is a type of malware that spies on what you do. It can read your text messages and access your pictures. It can even read your passwords, thus allowing attackers to gain access to your financial accounts.
  • Ransomware: Mobile ransomware is one of the most terrifying forms of malware. It allows attackers to take control of your device and prevent you from accessing it unless you pay a ransom fee.
  • Adware: Adware shows you ads you don’t want, often through browser redirects to gambling sites.

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How to Avoid Fake Apps?

So, how can you avoid fake apps? What should you do if you aren’t sure whether there are fake system apps on your phone?

Here are some tips to avoid fake system apps on Android.

Use Legitimate Sources

Only download apps from legitimate sources. There are plenty of third-party app stores out there, and while some of them are safe, many of them carry risks.

To stay on the safe side, it’s a good idea to only download apps from the Google Play Store.

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Check Reviews

Before downloading an app, check its reviews.

A bad rating doesn’t mean the app contains malware; it might just be a poorly designed app. However, if people in the reviews mention malware, stay away.

However, having no ratings is cause for concern, as it shows not many people have used the app yet.

Pay for What Should Be Paid For

There are many apps, mostly available from third-party app stores and APK download sites, that let you “hack” YouTube, Spotify, and other paid apps.

These apps aim to provide you with YouTube Premium or Spotify Premium features for free. For example, a hacked version of YouTube might remove ads and allow background play for free.

Remember, though, that there is nothing free in this world. Anything that is free should be treated with suspicion: What might be the true cost of getting this thing for free?

As a general rule, if you want to play it safe, pay for premium versions of popular apps instead of looking for hacked versions online.

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Use an Antivirus

Everyone should have an antivirus program installed on their phone. I recommend Malwarebytes or Avast.

Both are excellent programs that allow you to scan for malicious apps and files. If there are any fake system apps that you aren’t aware about, these antivirus programs will scan for them and find them.

Why should you use an antivirus program?

A lot of the time, fake system apps are difficult to detect because they are hidden from the app tray. The developers of these malicious apps often prevent these apps from showing up in the app tray, so people aren’t aware of them.

However, an antivirus program will scan your files and find these apps anyway.

I recommend scanning your phone at least once a week.

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Listing all the fake system apps is near to impossible. However, we’ve provided you with the tools and knowledge you need to spot fake system apps.

Fake system apps may or may not appear in your regular app list in your app tray or in your list of apps in your settings. They might have poorly designed icons, and they will usually get picked up by an antivirus program.

To avoid fake system apps, avoid downloading apps from third-party app stores and APK download sites, as they may be bundled with fake system apps that you are unaware of.

Also, install antivirus software on your phone and conduct regular scans for illegitimate and fake system apps.

About Author

Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing. I started my first e-commerce company in college, designing and selling t-shirts for my campus bar crawl using print-on-demand. Having successfully established multiple 6 & 7-figure e-commerce businesses (in women’s fashion and hiking gear), I think I can share a tip or 2 to help you succeed.