Android is the most widely used mobile operating system – commanding 72% of the global market share – and most Android devices are supplied with Chrome as their default browser. As the Chrome browser uses the Google password manager to store user credentials securely, why might you need an alternative password manager for Android?
The answer to this question depends on what you use your Android device for, what other devices you use to access online accounts, and whether or not you use your Android device for work – the reason being that the Google password manager has limitations that prevent it auto-filling login credentials on some mobile apps and when you use browsers other than Chrome.
If you are using your Android device solely for personal use, the limitations are inconvenient, but can be overcome. If you are using your Android device for work, the limitations might prevent you from accessing login credentials for corporate accounts or necessitate people sharing login credentials with you via unsecure channels (email, SMS, chat apps, etc.).
Whatever you use your Android device for, the Google password manager lacks an auto-logout option. So, if your Android device is lost or stolen, anybody with the device in their possession can access your passwords, credit card details, and other sensitive data. If you use the device for work, this can create serious security and compliance issues for your business.
Vault-Based Password Managers for Android Devices
As an alternative to the Chrome/Google password manager for Android, you can easily use a vault-based password manager. This have the advantage of being web-based, so you can access them from any browser. Many also come with mobile apps, desktops apps, and browser extensions so you can choose whichever method of securing passwords and other credentials suits you best.
The main difference between the Chrome/Google password manager for Android and vault-based password managers is that you have to sign into vault-based password managers at the start of each session and when you are logged out following a period of inactivity. Most (but not all) alternative password managers for Android devices automatically sync your passwords across all your devices.
If you are looking at an alternative password manager for Android devices because you run a business in which employees use personal mobile devices for work, most corporate vault-based password managers allow one vault per employee that can be used to store both personal and business credentials (some password managers provide two vaults so credentials can be separated).
Corporate vault-based password managers also allow you to group employees together in teams for ease of administration, share passwords securely through encrypted messaging, and apply business-wide password policies to help make the business more resilient to password-related cyberattacks. You can also set up reports to alert you to weak, re-used, and compromised logion credentials.
Which is the Best Password Manager for Android?
Again, this depends on what you are going to use the Android device for. If your mobile is the only device you use, you only use it for personal browsing, Chrome the only browser you use, and you are okay with the inconvenience of manually completing login in credentials for the occasional app, any free vault-based password manager with auto-logout capabilities will be sufficient for your needs.
Beyond the free options, you can get a “freemium” account which provides the core features for free (some password managers charge for cross-platform synchronization, others don´t), and you pay extra for premium features such as multi-factor authentication and emergency access if you ever lose the master password to your vault or want to leave a digital legacy.
Business users might want to think more carefully about which is the best password manager for Android for their needs. Some (i.e., 1Password) don´t support emergency access if an employee is unavailable, others don´t integrate with on-premises directory services (i.e., Microsoft AD), and quite a few are less than transparent about the costs of storage, support, and customization.
Of those that do list their prices for fully-feature enterprise password managers, Bitwarden ($5 per user per month as of August 2021) is more price competitive than LogMeOnce ($7/month) or Dashlane ($8/month). It also has the advantage of being built on open-source software and has a more complete reporting suite that alerts users to compromised passwords, email addresses, credit card details. All three vendors offer free personal accounts and free enterprise trials for businesses to identify which the best password manager for Android is before committing to a subscription.