New

5 Best Free Messaging Apps for Android

Nowadays, more people communicate through text messages than actual phone calls. I know I do. The “fire and forget” nature of it is more convenient and the message history doubles as a reference in case you need to revisit something someone said.

But SMS messages are passé. Now that Wi-Fi is ubiquitous and cell data usage prevalent, there’s no reason to keep using the antiquated SMS protocol. Looking for a better messaging experience? Check out these nifty apps!

Note: If you actually do prefer to use SMS and MMS even in this day and age, then you’ll be better off reading this article on SMS messaging apps instead.

1. Signal

4.6 rating across 98,000+ reviews.

Online privacy is a hot topic that’s only going to get hotter with every passing year. Did you know that your phone can spy on you in many ways? And sometimes it’s not even about spying — it’s about the consequences of sharing too much information online.

That’s why Signal is such an important app to have. Endorsed by Edward Snowden himself, this encrypted messenger lets you communicate without any fear of eavesdropping or interception. It’s also open source in case you want to audit the code yourself.

Key features:

  • Signal-to-Signal phone calls are free (domestic and international).
  • Signal-to-Signal messages can include text, images, videos.
  • Signal-to-Signal messages can be sent to groups.
  • All messages are end-to-end encrypted.
  • SMS messages can be sent and received but are unencrypted.
  • Uses your existing phone number and address book.
  • Signal servers do not store any messages.
  • Available on Android and iOS.

Signal isn’t the only privacy-centric messaging app, of course — we’ve covered several encrypted alternatives in the past. That being said, Signal is one of the best. If you don’t like it, Telegram is the next best. And don’t forget these other tips for maintaining privacy on Android.

Download: Signal (Free)

2. WhatsApp

4.4 rating across 48,000,000+ reviews.

WhatsApp is arguably the most popular messaging app in the world. With over 1 billion installs, you can be sure that at least one of your friends or family members uses it. Not to mention that it’s constantly being updated with new and exciting features.

WhatsApp truly is the standard by which all other messaging apps are measured. The only real downside used to be that WhatsApp lacked end-to-end encryption, but this feature was introduced in April 2016. Now there’s no reason not to use it.

Key features:

  • WhatsApp-to-WhatsApp phone calls are free (domestic and international).
  • WhatsApp-to-WhatsApp messages can include text, voice, images, videos, documents.
  • WhatsApp-to-WhatsApp messages can be sent to groups (256 limit).
  • All messages are end-to-end encrypted.
  • SMS messages can be sent and received but are unencrypted.
  • Uses your existing phone number and address book.
  • Available on Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, and the web.

Download: WhatsApp (Free)

3. Viber

4.3 rating across 9,600,000+ reviews.

Viber is a cross-platform messaging app, and when they claim to be cross-platform, they mean it. It’s available on Android, iOS, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, Symbian, Windows, Mac, Linux, and more. If you have a smorgasbord of devices, this may be the one for you.

It’s a solid app that does everything well. That’s really what it comes down to with Viber; there’s nothing unique enough about it to warrant extra hype, but it delivers on what it promises to do, and you’ll enjoy it.

Key features:

  • Viber-to-Viber phone calls are free (domestic and international).
  • Viber-to-Viber messages can include text, voice, images, videos, documents, stickers.
  • Viber-to-Viber messages can be sent to groups (200 limit).
  • All messages are end-to-end encrypted.
  • Uses your existing phone number and address book.
  • Contact authentication prevents scams and impersonators.
  • Delete messages after the fact in case you change your mind.
  • Available on Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac.

Download: Viber (Free)

4. Tango

4.3 rating across 3,600,000+ reviews.

Tango’s main focus is video calling, but its text messaging features are more than adequate for most users. Like Viber, there isn’t much to distinguish this one from a powerhouse like WhatsApp, but it’s a formidable alternative if WhatsApp doesn’t fit well with your needs.

One thing to note is that Tango doesn’t appear to have any kind of encryption on messages, so if you have concerns about online privacy (which you should!) then you may want to forego Tango for one of the others.

Key features:

  • Tango-to-Tango phone calls are free (domestic and international).
  • Free non-Tango calls to U.S., Canada, India, and Mexico.
  • Tango-to-Tango messages can include text, voice, images, videos, documents, stickers.
  • Tango-to-Tango messages can be sent to groups.
  • Uses your existing phone number.
  • Requires Tango account creation.
  • Available on Android and iOS.

Download: Tango (Free)

5. KakaoTalk

4.2 rating across 2,300,000+ reviews.

KakaoTalk is used by over 90 percent of smartphone owners in South Korea, but it’s also extremely popular in the U.S. among Korean-Americans.

It has started gaining traction outside of the Korean community over the past few years, partly due to its modern interface, fast performance, and robust feature set. Unfortunately, the lack of encryption is a bummer.

Key features:

  • Kakao-to-Kakao phone calls are free (domestic and international).
  • Kakao-to-Kakao messages can include text, voice, images, videos, stickers.
  • Kakao-to-Kakao messages can be sent to groups (unlimited).
  • Uses your existing phone number and address book.
  • Exclusive deals and coupons for popular brands.
  • Available on Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac.

Download: KakaoTalk (Free)

What’s Your Favorite Messaging App?

There’s one more alternative that didn’t make the list but deserves a mention: Google Hangouts. Not only does it handle SMS and MMS messages as well as group video calls, it lets you make phone calls using a Google-provided number (through Google Voice).

User experiences with Hangouts have been hit or miss over the years. Some love it, others hate it, while most simply prefer one of the other apps in this list for various reasons. Learn more about it in our overview of Google Hangouts for Android.

What messaging app do you use? Which features do you consider as must-haves? Are there any good apps that we missed or overlooked? Share with us in the comments below!

Leave a Reply

x

Check Also

How Can I Override Silent Mode With a Text Message?

You probably change your phone’s volume multiple times per day. When you’re at work, having ...