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11 Best free texting apps for Android

Authored by: Kris Carlon — 1 month ago

If you own a Nexus 5 you no doubt quickly discovered that it came with Hangouts as the default SMS/MMS/IM app. And no offense to Google, but not everyone is a fan of Hangouts. So we've gathered our list of the best free texting apps for Android. These apps use your phone signal and texting allowance in your contract, and are not to be confused with the Wi-Fi based instant messenger apps, the best of which you can find by clicking below.

Google Messenger

So we may have been quite harsh on Hangouts, which over-complicates the supposedly simple process of sending texts. But Messenger has many of Hangouts' finer qualities while cutting out the clutter. It has an eye-soothing Material Design interface, and as well as sending texts you can also use take photos and record audio messages from directly within the app. Messenger has all the basic messaging features you need, dressed up in a coveted Lollipop interface.

androidpit google messenger
Messenger is a largely overlooked app from Google, but looks great and is easy to use thanks to the Material Design interface. / © Google
Messenger Install on Google Play

Messaging (stock KitKat SMS app)

We're going to start off with a bit of a wildcard here. The simply-titled Messaging is essentially the stock SMS app from Android 4.4 KitKat. So if you're already on KitKat, then there's nothing to see here. But if you're on an older phone and want to experience a piece of KitKat, or you're finding the default Lollipop texting app a bit too bright and garish, then this could be what you're looking for. It's dark, serious, and contains all the features from Android's former flagship texting app.

androidpit messaging app
Messaging can bring the stock KitKat SMS app back to Lollipop users. / © SoftCoil Development, LLC
Messaging Install on Google Play

chomp SMS

chomp SMS has been around for a long time, and progressed alongside Android to become one of the most popular Android SMS apps. Some of its features include a huge array of emojis, passcode app lock, message locks, more intense privacy options, blacklists, quick reply popups, not to mention a ton of customization options, as well as Pushbullet and Android Wear compatibility.

androidpit chomp sms
chomp SMS has it all: features, customization options and Android Wear support. / © Delicious Inc.
chomp SMS Install on Google Play

Textra SMS

Textra SMS is a great SMS app that makes this list partly because the developer was quick to bring the new Android L Material Design to the app, which makes this already ‘’beautiful’’ texting app even more appealing.

It’s also got many more features than most stock SMS apps, including floating notifications, quick reply popups, a heap load of signature and notification types. It’s also compatible with PushBullet as well as Android Wear in case you’ve bought yourself a Moto 360, LG G Watch R or Samsung Gear Live.

androidpit textra
We love the Material Design look of Textra SMS. / © Delicious Inc.
Textra SMS Install on Google Play

8sms

As opposed to some other frilly SMS apps, 8sms is a text-messaging app which gets straight to the point with a bit more added functionality than the average stock SMS/MMS app, like quick pop-up replies. It's free, although ads will appear after your 14-day 'trial period' until you make a donation. With its ease of use and a nifty energy-saving 'dark theme', we think it's worth a try.

androidpit 8sms
Need just a tiny bit more than what your stock SMS app has to offer? Try 8sms for no fuss texting. © ThinkLeft
8sms (Stock Messaging, KitKat) Install on Google Play

HoverChat

I love HoverChat. It brings the cool pop-up bubble functionality of Facebook's chat heads or Link Bubble to your SMS app. So no matter which screen or app you're currently in, any new SMS will pop up in front of what you're doing so you'll never miss a notification bar message again (although HoverChat previews in the notification bar too). If you're not yet ready to deal with the message, you can dismiss it or drag it out of the way, and you can reply directly from the notification bubble. How's that for multitasking?

HoverChat
HoverChat lets you continue on with whatever you were doing. © AndroidPIT
HoverChat Free (Ninja SMS) Install on Google Play

Handcent SMS

Handcent SMS is a veteran of alternative SMS apps, and has received a modern facelift at the end of 2014 thanks to a recent update in the Play Store. Taking this into consideration, as well as the features and themes galore, Handcent truly is the Android lover's SMS app.

You can customize the way the app handles incoming and outgoing messages as much as you could ever want, including scheduling messages to go out at specific times (only in the Pro version). You can also sign in with your Facebook credentials so you'll see your contacts' Facebook profile pics.

androidpit handcent sms
Handcent SMS used to lack style, but a recent update has really spruced it up. / © handcent_market
Handcent SMS Install on Google Play

hello SMS

hello SMS is one of the best-looking SMS apps around. Slick, clean and minimal, hello SMS is the style guru's SMS app. The app has a super simple tab setup, so you'll get your friends' profile pics and names on the left and you simply swipe out the conversation tab.

You can do all the same things you can with most other SMS apps, of course, but the truly unique thing about hello SMS is just how much it manages to do without looking heavy or bloated. If only all apps looked this clean.  

AndroidPIT hello SMS
hello SMS offers a super-clean, minimal layout with all the basic stuff you need. / © AndroidPIT/hello SMS
hello sms Install on Google Play

TextSecure

If you're someone who errs on the side of security, then it's hard to overlook TextSecure (case in point: I had to take photos of the screens because screenshots are blocked by the app). TextSecure encrypts your personal communications with end-to-end encryption protocols as soon as you register your number.

Custom ROMs like CyanogenMod already use the TextSecure service but you can get it as a stand-alone app as well. As you may recall, the NSA has a habit of intercepting SMS content as it passes through data centers. TextSecure only handles encrypted content so your messages are safe in transit. All of your attachments are also encrypted.

AndroidPIT TextSecure SMS
We had to snap pics of TextSecure because screenshots aren't allowed. / © AndroidPIT/Open Whisper Systems
TextSecure Private Messenger Install on Google Play

EvolveSMS

EvolveSMS is the Google-inspired SMS app we wish Hangouts was. It has been designed to look a lot like Google+ and has a nice clean design with the latest Android style guidelines in mind. While the default orange interface looks great, you can also grab more themes if you're willing to drop a little coin for the customization pack. Swiping between conversations and a navigation drawer make it a breeze to navigate and there are plenty of free customization options pre-loaded on the app.

AndroidPIT Evolve SMS 1
EvolveSMS follows the Android style guidelines and looks very Google+ish. / © AndroidPIT/Klinker Apps
EvolveSMS Install on Google Play

Must-have add-on: MightyText 

MightyText, while not an SMS app itself, is on this list because it is an awesome tool for sending and receiving texts via your computer. MightyText does not have an app component on your Android device, but is an extension for your existing SMS app. So you can pick an app you like the look of from this list and give it the MightyText touch so you can read and reply to incoming messages directly from your computer screen without ever needing to dig your phone out of your bag. Other nice features are built-in SMS backup and restore options.

MightyTexts1
MightyText is an awesome add-on that lets your read and reply to messages from your PC. / © MightyText
SMS Text Messaging & Group MMS Install on Google Play

Do you agree with our list of the best free text message apps for Android?

Updated by Robert Zak on June 4, 2015

Kris Carlon comes to the AndroidPIT Editorial Team via a lengthy period spent traveling and relying on technology to keep him in touch with the outside world. He joined the Android community while resurfacing in civilization back in 2010 and has never looked back, using technology to replace his actual presence in other people's lives ever since. He can usually be found juggling three phones at once and poring over G+ posts, Reddit and RSS feeds.

40 comments

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  • amira wyatt 1 week ago Link to comment

    what happened to handcent it just disappeared from google play?

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    • Trouble Doll 1 week ago Link to comment

      I noticed the same thing. I looked it up on my laptop in the Google Play store this morning and it's under "Handcent Next SMS" now. You should be able to click install from your laptop/desktop and it will install on your phone as long as you're logged into the Google Account you use on your phone. :)

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  • shekhar kadu 4 weeks ago Link to comment

    If we are talking about the "text messaging app " so Google messenger and Cooee Messenger is great apps , Google messenger nicely work and cooee messenger speciality is delivered SMS within 1 sec as compared other messenger takes 10 seconds

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  • Scott Weddington 1 month ago Link to comment

    I never see the mysms app on list like this but it works cross platform it's the first app I put on device be Android, iOS or Windows

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  • Brian Olmstead 1 month ago Link to comment

    I'm digging a new SMS app called YAATA. Very customizable, stable and fast. Check it out.

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  • Nestea80 3 months ago Link to comment

    Everyone should stay away from GO SMS Pro. It contains intrusive adware that they sneak into the app without letting you know. Everytime you install or update an app, you'll get an annoying pop-up that you cannot get rid of that suggests other sponsored apps to download. Even if you paid for premium, you'll still get it.

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  • Greg T 3 months ago Link to comment

    Because I live part of the year outside the USA, I don't consider any of your "best text" reviews truly the best. I've tried them all. And outside the USA they only send through data but can receive over WiFi. I found Facebook Messenger the only one that allows me to send texts over WiFi when outside the USA. The downside is the recipient has to have FB Messenger also installed. I would be thrilled if there was a true texting app that worked over WiFi outside the USA because ATT data fees outside the USA are expensive.

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  • arXanum 5 months ago Link to comment

    Personally I prefer by far arXanum, it allows to manage both public and hidden conversations and all content coming from receivers being defined as "secret" and stored respectively in a watchlist, will be received completely silently, cell phone is not even swichting on, vibrate or play the usual ringtone which will be continued to be triggered for all other "conventional" public receivers / contacts, worth a try as it saves at lot of hassle and guarantees true privacy and it seamlessly works also on KitKat devices and above

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  • Madars 5 months ago Link to comment

    hangouts, but this app taks lot of battery life

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  • Richard Rico 5 months ago Link to comment

    Mighty Text has its own texting app called SimplyText

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  • choetech 6 months ago Link to comment

    I like hello SMS because its too much simple and clean.

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  • Collin Page 6 months ago Link to comment

    Googles new Messenger works nicely

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  • Melissa 6 months ago Link to comment

    Verizon has messaging that I can access and chat via my computer.

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  • Pam O. 6 months ago Link to comment

    I love Google Messenger.

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  • Muhammad Abdullah 6 months ago Link to comment

    Google messenger is also good. :D

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  • Paul Chamberland 8 months ago Link to comment

    I use either the native SMS app or Hangouts while I wait for the changes once L comes to my Moto X (2014).... I also use WhatsApp for those I know who have that app....

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  • Mark Rgs 8 months ago Link to comment

    I used to use evolve SMS but it sent messages as MMS and incurred some extra bills. moved back to chomp as I never had this problem with it

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