The 10 Best Mobile Messaging Apps

Text, call, and video chat free with anyone

Illustration of a messaging app

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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's FaceTime and Messages, and internet calling services like Skype, still dominate, but they have a pack of promising competitors. Almost all mobile messaging apps offer some form of free voice or video calling, and free mobile texting, over both Wi-Fi and the user's data plan.

01
of 10

WhatsApp

Screenshots of the WhatsApp iPhone app
WhatsApp App (iPhone).

What We Like

  • You can start a video or phone call.

  • Group messaging supports up to 250 people.

  • Supports end-to-end encryption.

  • Lets you send files as large as 100 MB.

  • Ad-free.

What We Don't Like

  • No built-in GIF gallery.

T​he enormously popular WhatsApp is a mobile text messaging app designed for smartphone users and tablets that lets you send text messages and make calls over the internet.

WhatsApp is really easy to understand and there isn't lots of "fluff" to make it overwhelming like some apps. You can even set a status for all your contacts to see without having to message everyone.

WhatsApp also lets you share your location with recipients. You can view the other person's location without leaving the app because the map is built-in to WhatsApp.

In addition to having full voice calls, WhatsApp also supports sending voice recordings, which are little snippets of your voice that you can use in place of texting.

File sharing is another component of this messaging app. You can share files from your phone and computer.

02
of 10

Viber

Screenshots of the Viber iPhone app
Viber App (iPhone).

What We Like

  • Short audio and video clips can be sent along with text.

  • You can make both video and audio calls.

  • Implements end-to-end encryption .

  • Includes stickers and GIFs.

  • Extensions let you share things like video and music right in the chat window.

  • You can send money through the app.

What We Don't Like

  • It's a bit much if all you're looking for is a simple messaging application.

is another free messaging app that works between phones, tablets, and computers. Anyone and everyone with the Viber app, regardless of their location, can text and call each other for free.

Some unique features in Viber include the ability to like and reply to messages in group conversations, use built-in stickers and GIFs, and the option to send short video messages.

Viber also has a feature called Communities which are group conversations that can contain unlimited members.

Some other features in this free mobile messaging app include the option to make cheap calls to non-Viber phones, a built-in QR code scanner, the ability to share your GPS location in conversations, and public chat channels that you can join.

03
of 10

Snapchat

Screenshots of the Snapchat iPhone app
Snapchat App (iPhone).

What We Like

  • Makes it easy to send photos and short videos.

  • You can make phone calls and video calls.

  • Regular text messaging is supported.

  • Great for storing private photos.

  • Images can contain filters, effects, and drawings.

  • Huge user-base.

What We Don't Like

  • The overall design of the app can make it confusing to use.

  • No easy option to save regular incoming images.

Snapchat differs from most mobile communication apps in that it specializes in sending multimedia messages with a particular feature: they disappear.

Anything you send will self-destruct after a predetermined (by you) amount of time. The short-lived nature of Snapchat messages has made the app controversial yet popular.

Messages are sent through Snapchat in a variety of ways. You can send a regular picture message with or without text, that expires after so many seconds or when the recipient is finished viewing it.

There's also a way to send text messages without sending pictures. When you do this, the recipient can save the text inside the chat box, else it will disappear after leaving that window. Also within the chat box is a way to send photos so that the other user can save those, too.

Like some of these other mobile messaging apps, Snapchat can also read QR codes. Just tap and hold any QR code from the camera view to open the website or image behind the code.

Snapchat uses what's called Snapcash to send and receive money from your phone.

Personalized cartoon avatars are also available in this messaging app that make it fun for friends to identify you.

04
of 10

Telegram

Screenshot of the Telegram app for iPhone
Telegram App (iPhone).

What We Like

  • Supports not only text messaging but also audio calls.

  • Themes let you change the way the app looks.

  • Includes lots of stickers, with more as free downloads.

  • You can reply to specific messages in a thread.

  • Supports short voice messages.

What We Don't Like

  • Seems to attract lots of spam messages.

Telegram is a cloud-based messaging service that promises fast and secure messages. It's accessible from all of your devices at the same time and supports some killer features.

Unlike most messaging apps, Telegram can both edit and delete messages even after you've sent them.

Telegram also has a Secret Chat feature that lets you send timed messages so that after they're sent, and once the time limit is reached, the messages are automatically deleted.

You can also mute notifications for a specific number of minutes, send files from the app or website, and share your location.

05
of 10

LINE

Screenshot of the LINE iPhone app
LINE App (iPhone).

What We Like

  • Allows for sending and receiving money.

  • Huge user base.

  • Group calling supports 200 people.

  • Safely store content within the app's Keep feature.

What We Don't Like

  • It's a bit much if all you're after is a mobile messaging solution.

is a text messaging and voice calling app that adds a social entertainment layer with its networking and gaming features.

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 also 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, even if they don't use the LINE app.

06
of 10

Google Hangouts

Screenshots of the Google Hangouts iPhone messaging app
Google Hangouts App (iPhone).

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.

is a messaging app from Google. It supports text messages, phone calls, and video calls between any other Google Hangouts user.

You can have private, one-on-one conversations as well as group chats for up to 150 people. The app lets you share videos, photos, stickers, and emoji.

Google Hangouts also lets you share your location with others directly from the app, suppress all notifications for any conversation, favorite a conversation to have easier access to it, and archive messages to declutter the conversation view.

07
of 10

Voxer

Screenshots of the Voxer iPhone messaging app
Voxer App (iPhone).

What We Like

  • Voice messaging is quick and easy.

  • Files can be shared from Dropbox.

  • GIFs are built in, available through GIPHY.

  • Status updates can be posted on your profile.

What We Don't Like

  • Lots of features are only available after payment.

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's stored as a recorded message like voicemail.

Voxer also supports texting, photo messaging, and emoticons, as well as military-grade security and encryption.

Location sharing is another features in Voxer that lets you send your current location, or check in to a nearby location, directly from the chat window.

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.

08
of 10

HeyTell

Screenshot of the HeyTell iPhone messaging app
HeyTell App (iPhone).

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

  • Unable to cancel a message while it's in progress.

HeyTell is another push-to-talk app that allows instant voice messaging. The app presents you with a

button that you tap to speak a message to a recipient.

A push notification tells the recipient when a voice message is received, after which it will play when the open the app. Or, 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; they just have to tap the link to add you as a contact.

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

09
of 10

Talkatone

Screenshots of the Talkatone iPhone messaging app
Talkatone App (iPhone).

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 calling isn't free (however, it is when calling other 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, and lets you use your phone without affecting any texting or calling limitations.

The app can call not only other Talkatone users but even regular phones, like landlines and other cell phones that don't have the app. When you sign up, you get a real phone number for free.

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.

If you want to use Talkatone to call internationally, you can either complete in-app offers to get free calling credits, or purchase credits.

Talkatone Plus can be purchased within the app for $3.99 /month to get more features. With it, you'll get a number that doesn't expire even if you quit using it after 30 days, call forwarding, voicemail transcriptions, and more.

You can also remove ads within the app for $1.99 /month, and get unlimited international calling for $12.99 /month.

10
of 10

Silent Phone

Screenshots of the Silent Phone iPhone messaging app
Silent Phone App (iPhone).

Silent Circle 

What We Like

  • Centered around encryption and privacy.

  • Lets you send documents, videos, and images (up to 100 MB).

  • A real phone number isn't required.

What We Don't Like

  • Isn't free.

Silent Phone is an app that features voice, video, and text messaging. Calls and texts between Silent Phone users are encrypted end-to-end on mobile devices.

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.

To make calls to phones not using the Silent Phone app, you can subscribe to Silent World.