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Best instant messenger apps for Android: 13 of the top ways to chat with friends and family

Kris Carlon
11

It's not all about WhatsApp you know, there are tons of instant messengers out there, we’ve got a roundup of the ten best the Android platform has to offer, along with screenshots and feature lists so you can best choose which one suits your individual tastes and needs. So, here are the best instant messenger apps for Android.

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What is the best instant messenger out there? / © ANDROIDPIT

WhatsApp: because everybody has it

It's not all about WhatsApp... but WhatsApp sure is a big part of it. While it doesn’t have the same feature-rich content as many of the other apps on this list, WhatsApp can’t be beat for sheer numbers of contacts using it. Chances are, if you know someone with an Android, they’ve got WhatsApp. WhatsApp uses your existing contacts’ phone numbers, so you don’t need to add contacts manually. You can send written and recorded voice messages, stickers, emojis and media, as well as broadcast and group messages.

AndroidPIT WhatsApp Example
Everyone, and I mean everyone, is on WhatsApp. Trust me. / © ANDROIDPIT/WhatsApp

Messenger: because everybody has Facebook

Facebook’s official instant messaging app has recently been made over to deliver a faster, cleaner service and interface. It’s much like WhatsApp (as are most of the apps on this list), but Messenger obviously connects to all of your Facebook contacts. As of recently, however, you can also message non-Facebook friends by using their phone number. Messenger allows you to access all of your Facebook messages without using the main app or website. It’s also got stickers and emojis, groups, voice recordings, location data, free calls, photo sharing and more.

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The unmistakable clean interface of Facebook Messenger. / © Facebook

Skype: for voice and video calls too

The granddaddy of video messaging, Skype has been around for forever and is still kicking on strong. Skype is primarily a video messaging service, but the IM component is just as popular. In fact we use it at AndroidPIT as our daily office messaging tool. Skype requires Skype ID’s though, so you’ll only be able to add friends if you know their Skype contact name. But once you do, and basically everyone is on Skype too, you can have video chats anytime you want for free. You can also add Skype credit and make cheap international calls to landlines and mobile phones. The chat section offers group chat, media sharing, emojis and more. Plus you can have one account on several devices (WhatsApp doesn’t allow this).

AndroidPIT Skype Example
The original but not necessarily the best, Skype still offers reliable messaging. / © ANDROIDPIT/Skype

Viber: for sticker enthusiasts

Viber is really pushing the Sticker Market, where you can get tons of free and paid sticker packs, but the core business of Viber is instant messages. You can, of course, also send recorded voice messages like WhatsApp (but not video calls like Skype) and you now have the option to call any phone number anywhere with Viber Out – much like adding Skype credit to call people not on the service. Check out my tips and tricks for Viber article for more info.

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The new look Viber is feature packed and looks great! / © ANDROIDPIT/Viber

Line: if you want the younger, cooler Skype

Line is becoming more and more popular, and for good reason. With the recently added video calling functionality, it is now as fully featured as Skype, but has a younger, sexier feel to it than the tried and true Skype. It’s jam packed full of stickers and other fun stuff, and is immensely popular throughout large parts of Asia. But it’s also feature filled with group chats, multi-platform capabilities (phone, tablet, PC), timeline, recorded voice messages, media sharing and much, much more, including official account messages from celebrities you like. Line is kind of like Twitter, Facebook and Skype all rolled into one.

AndroidPIT Line Example
I'm pretty new to Line, but I'm liking it a lot already. / © ANDROIDPIT/Line

Hangouts: because it's Google 

Google set up Hangouts as the standard (but interchangeable) messaging app in Android 4.4 KitKat, and thanks to this it picked up a lot more users. Hangouts is a combined SMS and IM app, that separates the two types of messages, but can be used to automatically place calls from your phone via Hangouts rather than traditional carriers. Because it handles both SMS and IM, it cuts down on the number of apps you need to be working with, although some more streamlined features, like combined chats with contacts regardless of message type, would help its usability improve. The same features are on offer otherwise: media sharing, location sharing, video calling, and more.

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Hangouts still has a way to go, but with Google behind it, it's coming. / © ANDROIDPIT/Google

Tango: for networking 

It takes two to Tango, but there’s plenty more than that using the service. Tango does much the same as the rest: instant messaging, media sharing, stickers, in-call games, video calling, group chat and more. Tango will automatically find your friends based on your contact list, but they must be using the service to show up (or you can invite them). Tango can be used to place calls, find like-minded friends or people in the vicinity using the service, which adds a bit more social networking to the mix than some other providers. The mid-call mini-games also help Tango stand out from the rest.

AndroidPIT Tango Example
Tango follows similar design lines to other IM apps, but offers a lot more than most. / © ANDROIDPIT/Tango

KakaoTalk: because WhatsApp is taking over the world

KakaoTalk is right there in the middle, offering up all the same features as many more on this list, but not catching on in quite the same way as WhatsApp (even if it performs better). KakaoTalk features group chat, free chats and calls, media sharing, recorded voice messages, location sharing, stickers, themes and emojis. You can even connect with brands you like or friends on BBM, use the service on multiple devices and multitask while talking to someone (by writing chats to someone else). KakaoTalk really is feature packed and deserves more attention than it currently gets.

AndroidPIT KakaoTalk Example
Ok, I don't have many friends, but I'll use the Shake feature when I find more! / © ANDROIDPIT/Kakao

WeChat: so you can say you used it before it was cool

WeLove, WeShare, WeChat. WeChat is huge in China and is only getting bigger internationally as well. A new update just came out today, and brings games to the instant messaging service. You’ve got video calling, voice messaging, texting, stickers, games, group chats, media sharing, walkie talkie mode, always-on, and the same social networking with those nearby as Tango. As more and more people start using WeChat, expect to hear more about it soon.

AndroidPIT WeChat Example
The newly updated WeChat adds games, bigger groups and sticker animation previews. / © ANDRIODPIT/TenCent

BBM: for the important

After a substantial waiting period, BlackBerry's messaging service finally made it to the Android platform last year. BBM is not as Androidy as the rest of the apps on this list, but it does offer some very cool features including: always-on service (you don’t need to open the app to use it), timed and retractable messages, 2-way opt-in (nobody can message you until you specifically allow them), delivery reporting, groups, emoticons, broadcast messages and more. The ability to choose who can message you, rather than it being available to anybody with your number, makes this an attractive messaging option. 

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One of BBM's standout features is its ability to schedule messages. / © ANDROIDPIT / BlackBerry Limited

Razer Comms: for gamers

Though Razer Comms is a fantastic instant messenger in its own right, it's first and foremost known for its popularity in the gaming community. With an accompanying PC version too, Razer Comms allows to you to group conversations, free VoIP chat, and it makes it quick and easy to connect with other gamers around the world. Think of it as Xfire for the smartphone era.  

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Razer Comms - Gaming Messenger puts a serious focus on gamers. / © ANDROIDPIT / Razer

Telegram - for the paranoid

Telegram made a name for itself for being a "secure" instant messaging service: messages sent via Telegram are heavily encrypted. This was a major selling point in comparison to WhatsApp's flimsy security, but recent changes to WhatsApp mean that it is going to have encryption going forward, so where this leaves Telegram users we aren't sure. It is free, though.

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Telegram is fast and secure. / © ANDROIDPIT / Telegram Messenger LLP

Kik - for fun

"185 million people love Kik!" Says its Play Store description, proving there is more to messaging than just WhatsApp. Kik is a little more playful than the likes of WhatsApp, with more color and sticker options. Kik also houses its own built-in browser, to make video and image sharing between friends simple. It's a fast growing and friendly messenger with users from all over the planet, give it a try. 

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Kik Messenger continues to grow its userbase. / © ANDROIDPIT / Kik Interactive

What is your favorite IM service? What do you use the most: stickers? Voice messages? Text? Voice calls?

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Comments

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  • Diptangshu M. 6 months ago Link

    My favourite IM service would be Hike. I specially like the free messaging service to non-hike users. Plus, it's way faster than the Facebook Messenger app, which I also use heavily.

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  • Kelly T 5 months ago Link

    Whatsapp, Viber, Skype are well settled in market. I use Whatsapp and Skype. I am happy to have them.

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  • Robert 3 months ago Link

    You are missing Telegram, which is very fast.

    1
    • Georgian Stanescu 2 weeks ago Link

      Actualy Robert, Its the blog post is above. It menetioned that Telegram used to be the only "Secure" IM App out there, but since WhatsApp included the Secure feature, they ain't sure about Telegram. But its free.

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  • parth 2 weeks ago Link

    my favorite is hike😘😘😘😘

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  • Sean Stockemer 2 weeks ago Link

    I was hoping for an update about WhatsApp's encryption that's supposedly coming, and also Google messaging or whatever is missing...the new sms hangouts redundancy

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    John F. 2 weeks ago Link

    My favourite one is whatsapp as everyone is available over their, BBM is also good choice but the problem is people don't use it, for some user of BBM like me it keeps sitting over our device but actuallly I never ever use it and at the same time I don't want to uninstall it too ! Skype it has just weird problem of not working by the time you want it to ! I would say Hangouts is way more better than Skype.

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  • S4BB Limited 2 weeks ago Link

    BBM is by far the best.

    WhatsApp is good too because everyone has it.

    Skype has seen better days, but is still around.

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  • Sathish 2 weeks ago Link

    Hike messenger s best... @ India

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  • Raoul Bhatia 2 weeks ago Link

    What about using an XMPP server you trust and "Conversations (Jabber / XMPP)"?

    0