Apps for Free Text Messaging

Apps for Sending Free SMS on Your iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone

Group Text Messaging

Robberts/Getty Images

Use an app to send and receive free text-based messages on your smartphone, thereby avoiding the often expensive GSM-based SMS. Most apps require either Wi-Fi or a data plan

01
of 09

WhatsApp

Smartphone texting

PeopleImages/GettyImages

What We Like
  • Supports free voice and video messaging.

  • Tied to a phone number, not an account.

What We Don't Like
  • Free services work only with other WhatsApp users.

  • If someone has your number, there’s no way to be “offline.”

Use WhatsApp to communicate for free with other WhatsApp users. The service supports free text messaging using your mobile number as well as voice and video chatting. In addition, you can push your contacts into groups to engage in group-based conversations.

With a large and active user base, WhatsApp is one of the most commonly used alternatives to stock SMS apps.

02
of 09

Facebook Messenger

Facebook Messenger

Facebook

What We Like
  • Both mobile Messenger app and website are very easy to use.

  • Allows voice and video calling.

What We Don't Like
  • Ongoing privacy concerns with Facebook’s approach to marketing data.

  • Must download the Messenger app (separate from the Facebook app) for mobile use.

More than 1 billion people worldwide use Facebook. Facebook's Messenger app supports conversations, stickers, group conversations and rich content. The app integrates with your Facebook account, and you can access Messenger on a mobile app or from within the familiar Facebook website on your desktop PC.

03
of 09

LINE

LINE app logo

Naver Japan Corp/Wikimedia Commons

What We Like
  • Offers extras such as stickers. video games, and merchandise.

  • Integrated social networking.

What We Don't Like
  • Not very well-known outside of Asia.

  • Occasionally crashes.

Line offers a lot of features — more than WhatsApp and Viber. Besides the free messaging service, users can also call on another for free, for any length of time and from any location to any other location in the world.

04
of 09

Kik Messenger

Kik messenger app

 Screenshot

What We Like
  • Support for nearly all platforms.

  • Lots of emoticons, stickers, doodles, gifs, icons, and memes.

What We Don't Like
  • Installation is more involved than other messaging apps.

  • Often used like a dating app to meet people.

Kik is developed by an enthusiastic team and is optimized for being a fast and robust app. It transforms regular texting into a real-time conversation. It works on different platforms and is support on most platforms including Symbian, which is quite rare.

05
of 09

Viber

Viber logo
Viber/Wikimedia Commons
What We Like
  • Widely used.

  • Apps for most mobile devices and computers.

What We Don't Like
  • No web client.

  • Numerous notifications can be bothersome.

Viber works just like KakaoTalk. It also has also a huge user base, nearing 200 million. It offers free text messaging and free voice calls to other Viber users and supports group text messaging. It is available for the iPhone, Android phones and BlackBerry but not for Nokia and Symbian.

06
of 09

Skype

Skype

Screenshot

What We Like
  • Very popular.

  • Offers video calling, voice calling, file sharing, and group messaging.

  • Excellent tool for collaboration.

What We Don't Like
  • Messaging non-Skype users is not free.

  • Mobile app uses lots of memory and may slow phone down.

Skype, one of the original apps for texting and making calls, still boasts a massive userbase. With Skype, you can chat with or call other Skype users and engage in group messaging and file sharing. In addition, Microsoft — the owner of Skype — offers several paid options to support sending and receiving calls to non-Skype users.

07
of 09

Signal

Signal app logo

 Signal

What We Like
  • Solid end-to-end encryption.

  • Open-source, peer-reviewed, and frequently updated.

What We Don't Like
  • Free only among Signal users.

  • Not completely secure without tweaking specific settings.

  • Can't be used on more than one mobile device at a time.

Designed for privacy, Signal encrypts messages end-to-end so that no one, not even Signal employees, can read your messages. The service is intended to be used among Signal users, using an array of methods including text, voice, video and file sharing.

Signal is sponsored by Open Whisper Systems and has received the endorsement of privacy activists including Edward Snowden.

08
of 09

Slack

Slack app
Slack
What We Like
  • Easy file-sharing.

  • Widely used in business.

  • Available for most platforms.

What We Don't Like
  • Following multiple conversations can be difficult.

  • “Channels” premise may be confusing for some.

Originally used by programmers and by people in tech-savvy office environments, Slack is a text-based messaging client that's deeply embedded in the IT/technology space. Slack runs on mobile and desktop, and it hooks deeply with many IT services to provide real-time notifications about automated events.

09
of 09

Discord

Discord app

 Discord

What We Like
  • Doesn’t consume much in the way of resources.

  • Offers voice communication.

  • Optimized for gamers.

What We Don't Like
  • Problems with trolling and harassment.

  • No end-to-end encryption.

Discord, a free app, is optimized for computer gamers. Besides offering smartphone and desktop apps, Discord is designed to use little bandwidth, to avoid affecting streaming gameplay. The service offers free text and voice communication with individuals or groups who are also Discord users.