10 Best Mobile Messaging Apps of 2020

Text, call, and video chat with anyone for free

Mobile messaging apps offer a superior alternative to email and text messaging thanks to built-in social networking features, enhanced security, and free video calling over Wi-Fi or data plans. Aside from established apps like Facebook Messenger, Apple's FaceTime, and Skype, here are some of the best messaging apps for desktop and mobile devices.

These messaging apps are available for various platforms. Make sure you choose an app that supports your operating system.

An illustration of a person using a mobile messaging app on a smartphone.
Leslie Walker / Lifewire

What Are Messaging Apps For?

There are a few reasons why you may want to use a messaging app instead of traditional text messaging. For example, you don't have to pay extra fees to chat with people in other countries, and you don't even have to give out your phone number in most cases. Messaging apps are especially helpful for contacting co-workers outside of regular work hours since you can send documents and make video calls. For distributed workforces, messaging apps provide a way for employees in different time zones to conduct meetings and keep in touch throughout the workday.

01
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Most Popular Messaging App: WhatsApp

WhatsApp for Android
What We Like
  • Group messaging supports up to 250 people.

  • Supports end-to-end encryption.

  • Send files as large as 100 MB.

  • No ads.

What We Don't Like
  • No built-in GIF gallery.

  • Voice calls are not available in all countries.

WhatsApp is a mobile text messaging app designed for smartphones and tablets that lets you send text messages, make VoIP calls, and share files from your phone or computer. WhatsApp also lets you share your GPS location, and you can view the other person's location without leaving the app thanks to a built-in map. You can even set a status message for all of your contacts to see without having to individually message everyone.

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02
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Unlimited Group Conversations: Viber

Viber for Android
What We Like
  • Extensions allow sharing video and music via chat.

  • Send money through the app.

  • Includes stickers and GIFs.

What We Don't Like
  • May have more features than you need.

  • Features ads.

Viber and WhatsApp are very similar, but Viber supports additional features like stickers and GIFs, video messaging, and a built-in QR code scanner. Viber users can text and call each other for free regardless of their location. In addition to public chat channels that you can join, Viber also supports Communities, which are group conversations that can contain unlimited members.

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03
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Send Self-Destructing Photos: Snapchat

Snapchat for Android
What We Like
  • Easily send photos and short videos.

  • Add filters, effects, and drawings to images.

  • Massive user base.

What We Don't Like
  • Overwhelming interface.

  • No easy way to save incoming images.

Snapchat differs from most mobile communication apps in that it specializes in sending multimedia messages that self-destruct after a predetermined amount of time. You can also send messages without pictures and use Snapcash to send and receive money from your phone. Snapchat even supports a variety of Bitmojis.

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04
of 10

Best Cross-Platform Messager: Telegram

Telegram for Android
What We Like
  • Change the app's appearance with themes.

  • Includes lots of stickers with more as free downloads.

  • Reply to specific messages in a thread.

What We Don't Like
  • Seems to attract lots of spam messages.

  • No longer supports voice calls.

Telegram is a cloud-based messaging service that is accessible from all of your devices. Unlike most messaging apps, Telegram allows you to edit and delete messages even after you've sent them. Additionally, you can mute notifications for specific durations, send files, and share your location. Telegram also lets you send messages that are automatically deleted after a designated time.

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05
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Best Paid Features: LINE

LINE for Android
What We Like
  • Send and receive money.

  • Huge user base.

  • Group calls support 200 people.

  • Safely store photos and other content.

What We Don't Like
  • It's a bit much if you just need a mobile messaging solution.

  • Calls to land lines are not free.

Use LINE for free one-on-one and group chats with your friends from anywhere in the world. Call your friends and family as often as you want with free domestic and international voice and video calls. The core communication features are all free, but LINE offers premium stickers, themes, and games for a fee. The LINE Out feature lets you talk to anyone anywhere, even if they don't use the LINE app.

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06
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Best App for Video Calls: Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts for Android
What We Like
  • Voice and video calls support up to 10 people.

  • Integrates with your Google account.

  • Google Voice users can send texts to non-Hangouts users.

What We Don't Like
  • Alert sounds cannot be customized per contact.

  • No built-in GIF gallery.

Google Hangouts supports text messages, phone calls, and video calls between Google accounts users. You can have private, one-on-one conversations as well as group chats with up to 150 people. The app lets you share videos, photos, stickers, and emojis. Google Hangouts also lets you share your location with others directly from the app, suppress all notifications for any conversation, favorite conversations, and archive messages to declutter the conversation view.

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07
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Best Walkie Talkie App: Voxer

Voxer Android app
What We Like
  • Share files from Dropbox.

  • Built-in GIFs available through GIPHY.

  • Post status updates on your profile.

What We Don't Like
  • Many features require a paid account.

  • No video calls or group messages.

Voxer is a walkie-talkie, or push-to-talk, app that delivers live voice messages. The message is either instantly played through your friend's phone speakers if the phone is turned on and the app is running, or it's stored as a recorded message like voicemail. Voxer also supports texting, photo messaging, and emoticons, as well as military-grade security and encryption.

You can also make notes to yourself, star and share messages, and enable what's called Extreme notifications to get repeated alerts and louder sounds. Voxer Pro is the only way to get some features, like unlimited message storage, admin controlled chats, message recall, Extreme notifications, chat broadcasting, hands-free walkie-talkie mode, and more.

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08
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No User Account Required: HeyTell

HeyTell Android messaging app
What We Like
  • You don't need to create a user account.

  • All the options and features are self-explanatory.

  • Stores a history of past messages.

  • Messages you've sent can be shared over other apps like email.

What We Don't Like
  • No option to cancel a message while it's in progress.

  • Must pay to unlock extra features.

HeyTell is another push-to-talk app that allows for instant voice messaging. A push notification tells the recipient when a voice message is received, and the message will play when they open the app. If the recipient has the app open at the time of the message, it will play for them automatically.

One thing that sets this messaging app apart from most others is that you don't have to make a user account to get started. Just enter your name and start adding contacts by their phone number or email address. The app is free, but there are in-app premium options for advanced features like ringtones, a voice changer, message expiration, and more.

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09
of 10

Custom Phone Numbers: Talkatone

Talkatone Android messaging app
What We Like
  • Works like a normal phone number.

  • Includes free calling, texting, and picture messaging.

  • Has a GIF gallery built in.

  • Your phone number can be changed at any time.

What We Don't Like
  • Can only get numbers from Canada or the U.S.

  • International calls are not free for non-Talkatone users.

  • Your number will expire if not used within a 30 day period.

  • Includes ads.

Talkatone offers free voice calling and text messaging over Wi-Fi or data plans. It essentially turns your tablet into a phone even if it doesn't have a cellular plan. When you sign up, you get a real phone number for free. You can call not just other Talkatone users but even regular landlines.

This messaging app works much like your regular phone's calling and texting features. You can change ringtones, hide texts from showing in notifications, change your voicemail greeting, block numbers, access your phone's contacts, and more. Talkatone Plus can be purchased to unlock more features like call forwarding and voicemail transcriptions. You can also remove ads and get unlimited international calling for a monthly fee.

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10
of 10

Most Secure Messaging App: Silent Phone

Silent Phone for Android
What We Like
  • Centered around encryption and privacy.

  • Send documents, videos, and images up to 100 MB.

  • A real phone number isn't required.

What We Don't Like
  • Paid subscription required.

  • Quickly drains phone battery.

Silent Phone supports one-on-one video chat, multi-party voice conferencing for up to six participants, voice memos, and more. Calls and texts between Silent Phone users are encrypted end-to-end on mobile devices, making the app ideal for businesses that handle sensitive data. For further security, the built-in Burn feature lets you set an auto-destruct time for messages from one minute to three months. You can subscribe to Silent World to make calls to users without a Silent Phone account.

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