The 10 Best Mobile Messaging Apps

Say goodbye to email and hello to messaging. Mobile messaging apps are more popular than ever as they add social networking features, improve security and compete to meet the demand for free mobile calling and texting services. Established mobile apps like Facebook Messenger, Apple Messages and  internet calling service Skype still dominate, but they have a bevy of promising competitors. Almost all offer some form of free voice calling and free mobile texting, either over Wi-Fi or the user's smartphone data plan.

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T​he enormously popular WhatsApp is a mobile text messaging app designed for cell phone users to send text messages and make calls over the internet without incurring a charge from their cellular carriers. WhatsApp offers simple chat, group chats, free calls—even to another country—and end-to-end encryption for your security. You can send video and photos instantly, dictate a voice message and send PDFs, documents, spreadsheets and slideshows within the app.

WhatsApp is a cross-platform app. It's available for Android, iOS and Windows phones, and for Windows and Mac computers. It offers a web application for other mobile devices. More »

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Viber encourages you to "Connect. Freely" with its app for Windows 10, Mac and Linux computers, and iOS, Android and Windows phones. The app lets you send free messages and make free calls to other Viber users on any device or network, in any country. 

The Viber app is known for its ease of use. It reads your phone settings and contacts and immediately enables the app. Viper offers HD-quality voice calls, video calls, and messages with text, photos and stickers. 

Make calls to friends without Viber at low rates using the companion ViberOut feature. Public accounts are available for businesses. More »

Young woman texting on her phone in a cafe
Eternity in an Instant/The Image Bank/Getty Images

LINE is a mobile messaging and voice calling app with social networking and gaming features that add a social entertainment aspect to messaging.

Use LINE for free one-on-one and group chats with any of your friends anywhere. Call your friends and family as often as you want with free voice and video calls available domestically and internationally.

The LINE app includes a collection of quirky and charming cartoon characters and stickers designed to make communications more fun. The core communication features are all free, but LINE offers premium stickers, themes and games for a fee. LINE Out purchases let you talk to anyone anywhere. 

LINE is available as a Windows and MacOS desktop app and as a mobile app for iOS, Android and Windows phones along with other platforms.  More »

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Snapchat differs from most mobile communication apps in that it specializes in sending multimedia messages with a particular feature—they disappear. That's right, messages sent with Snapchat self-destruct seconds after all recipients view them. The short-lived nature of Snapchat messages has made the app controversial yet popular.

Snaps can consist of a photo or short video and can include filters, effects and drawings. An optional feature entitled "Memories" allows snaps to be saved in a private storage area.

Snapchat is available for iOS and Android devices. More »

Anyone with a Google account can use Google Hangouts to message, phone or video call family and friends. Send one-on-one messages or start group chats for up to 100 people. Add photos, maps, emoji, stickers and GIFs to your messages. Turn any message into a voice or video call or invite up to 10 friends to a group call.

Google Hangouts is available for Android and iOS devices and across the web. Learn more tips and tricks about Google HangoutsMore »

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Voxer is known as a walkie-talkie or push-to-talk app because it delivers voice messages live. The recipient—an individual or a group—can listen immediately or listen later. 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 is received as a recorded message like voicemail.

Voxer also enables text and photo messaging. It promises military-grade security and encryption, and it uses any cellular or Wi-Fi network around the world.

Voxer is free for individuals and works with Android and iOS devices and Apple Watch and Samsung Gear S2 watch.

A business version also is available with extra features for a fee. More »

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HeyTell is another push-to-talk app that allows instant voice messaging. The app presents you with a "Hold and Speak" button that you click to speak your message to any of your friends. A push notification notifies the recipient when a voice message is received. You don't have to sign up or create an account, and it works across different phone platforms. 

The app is free, but there are in-app premium fees for advanced features like ringtones and a voice changer.

HeyTell available for iOS devices, Android and Windows phones, and Apple Watch.  More »

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Telegram is a cloud-based messaging service that promises fast and secure messages. It is accessible from all of your devices at the same time. You can send messages, photos, videos and files of any kind with Telegram, and organize groups for up to 5000 people or channels for broadcasting to unlimited audiences. 

Telegram specializes in messages and does not offer calls or video calls.

Telegram is available as a web app, for Windows, MacOS and Linux computers and for Android, iOS and Windows phones. More »

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Talkatone offers free voice calling and text messaging over Wi-Fi or data plans. It's available for iOS and Android devices, and it turns tablets without cellular plans into phones.

The service is free, even if the recipient hasn't installed the Talkatone app—which sets it apart from other similar apps—and it works internationally. More »

Silent Phone offers global encrypted voice, video and messaging. Calls and texts between Silent Phone users are encrypted end-to-end on mobile devices, including Android, iOS and Blackphone. 

 

Silent Phone supports one-to-one video chat, multi-party voice conferencing for up to six participants and voice memos. The built-in “Burn” feature lets you set an auto-destruct time for your text messages, from one minute to three months. More »