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Safe and secure alternatives to WhatsApp

Authored by: Kris Carlon — Feb 20, 2014

The news last night that Facebook has agreed to buy WhatsApp has sent many scrambling to find an alternative instant messenger to WhatsApp. Whether Facebook will kill WhatsApp with ads and data mining or simply let it float along on its merry way until it perhaps surpasses and replaces Facebook’s Messenger, or you just want a more secure instant messenger, there’s a lot of reasons to check out alternatives. Here are three worthwhile instant messenger apps with a focus on security.

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There's plenty of reasons to get excited about WhatsApp alternatives. / © Whatsapp + / AndroidPIT

Telegram

We reviewed Telegram recently and called it a safer alternative to WhatsApp because of its end to end encryption, self-destructing messages and Secure Chats. Telegram looks and feels a lot like WhatsApp and it features all the same stuff you’d know and love from WhatsApp like emojis and file sharing but with some excellent additions. Telegram is super-fast, allows encryption of messages, unlimited cloud storage, transferring files (including videos) of up to a gigabyte in size and huge group chats of up to 200 participants. Plus you can use it on multiple devices at once including a computer. Oh, and it’s ad-free and doesn’t cost anything, just like WhatsApp. If you’re looking for an alternative to WhatsApp and you actually care about the security of your communications, you could do much worse than Telegram. The only missing feature right now is voice messages.

AndroidPIT Telegram
Telegram is safe, secure, and offers plenty more options than WhatsApp. / © AndroidPIT/Telegram LLC
Telegram Install on Google Play

Surespot

Surespot is another great secure instant messenger that also features voice messaging and secure end to end encryption. The best part is that even your voice messages are sent encrypted, just like instant messages sent with Surespot. Surespot even lets you delete content from your friends’ phones. Say you send a photo but don’t want your friend to be able to download it, you simply lock it. Then if you unlock it, they can download or share it. You can also delete messages or media from your friends’ devices. Surespot also offers multiple profiles so you can use the one service for different purposes. Unlike Telegram, which also uses your phone number as an account identifier, Surespot does not need your phone number or even your email address. If WhatsApp scams involving scraping user’s phone numbers from the service worry you, then Surespot could just be your next instant messenger. It’s also free and ad-free.

AndroidPIT Surespot
Surespot doesn't look exactly like WhatsApp, but it has lots of great features added on. / © AndroidPIT/2fours
surespot encrypted messenger Install on Google Play

Kontalk

Kontalk is another WhatsApp lookalike that offers encryption. Unlike Telegram and Surespot, it doesn’t add multiple features to the core WhatsApp service. Kontalk, like WhatsApp, is slow to introduce new features though, so there’s limited support for media attachments and no group chat function (but there is emojis). If you just need a slim, secure instant messenger for sending pictures and chats one-to-one, then Kontalk is a good option. If you want more functionality though, keep an eye on it because Kontalk will surely be adding more features over time.

AndroidPIT Kontalk
Kontalk is a fantastic pared-down WhatsApp replacement. / © AndroidPIT/Kontalk
Kontalk Messenger Install on Google Play

Once you try out these secure messaging apps you’ll probably wonder why you stuck with WhatsApp for so long. The only trick is getting 450 million of your friends to use these apps. Still, if everyone is looking for an alternative and you have a good suggestion up your sleeve, you might just be able to convince all of your friends to get on board with your preferred alternative instant messenger. If you want some more mainstream options, check out my list of the ten best instant messenger apps on Android.

Are you looking for an alternative messenger to WhatsApp? What’s your favorite?

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.

18 comments

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  • Amirasen 6 months ago Link to comment

    You forgot U&Me Messenger for the above list.

  • pravin kumar 10 months ago Link to comment

    what about line, u&me, wechat

    as i went with omgtop5.com

  • Geoff C. 11 months ago Link to comment

    You can export past Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp chat messages so that you can read the entire history off line. Can any of the apps using end to end encryption do this?

    • 2
      Mark 11 months ago Link to comment

      I believe in Surespot, if you back up your identity, it wil back up your entire profile, including past conversations. If you have the backup file (which obviously you should keep on your home computer or whereever for safekeeping) and your password, then you can restore all of this info on a new phone in case of theft or damage. However, an export to email or the like is not possible as far as I know.

      • Geoff C. 11 months ago Link to comment

        Thank you Mark, unfortunately I discovered that Surespot will store a maximum of 1,000 messages, after which it discards the oldest. This makes it unsuitable for me, so I haven't gone any further with it.

  • 2
    Mark Mar 5, 2014 Link to comment

    Hi Arjen, my thinking is that open-source projects generally attract little commercial interest, though there are exceptions. In this case, however, it is evident from the news that more playful messengers such as Line or Kakaotalk are attracting a lot more business interest than rather geeky tools like Surespot or Kontalk. I'd say its similar to the difference between an operating system such as Windows or Apple OSX vs Linux or BSD.

  • Arjen Zijlstra Mar 4, 2014 Link to comment

    Hi Mark, no PR :) Just wanted to share my good experiences with Tango.
    But, to be true, I really don't know wether it is secure or anything.
    BTW, who says Kontalk or Surespot will never be eaten by Facebook?

  • 2
    Mark Mar 4, 2014 Link to comment

    Honestly, this smells of PR. Is Tango even secure, as in end-to-end encrypted? Don't think so. Tango is a commercial project, unlike Surespot, Kontalk and Telegram. So it's much more likely that it would one day be swallowed by a web giant.

  • Arjen Zijlstra Mar 3, 2014 Link to comment

    Yeah, Telegram is hot right now, but you know what that means... Soon they are big enough to be eaten-by-Facebook, and you will have to search another great app!
    My advice would be Tango Messenger, which also comes with a handy PC version.
    You can check it out at http://tangomessenger.com

  • 2
    Mark Mar 1, 2014 Link to comment

    This is by far the best presentation of secure Whatsapp alternatives I have found on the web: Kontalk, Surespot and Telegram are indeed the most trustworthy alternatives. I currently use Telegram because it's the easiest to convince others to switch to. However, Kontalk and Surespot basically deserve more attention, because they are fully open source and encrypted by default. Those two are really the best. I have both installed, but unfortunately, most people have barely heard of them

  • cezar Feb 26, 2014 Link to comment

    Telegram

  • Geekoversity.com Feb 24, 2014 Link to comment

    What about Line and Kakaotalk? And Hike is good too.

    http://www.geekoversity.com

  • Ace Shadow Feb 22, 2014 Link to comment

    The article described alternatives to a Facebook infested app so Google or Skype are out (whether they pretend to have encryption or not).

  • Manish Kumar Feb 20, 2014 Link to comment

    i prefer HIKE

  • 20
    Enton J. Feb 20, 2014 Link to comment

    I go with Kontalk.

  • thomas hoffmann Feb 20, 2014 Link to comment

    what about Google Hangout? And Skype? And BBM?

    • Kris Carlon
      • Admin
      • Staff
      Feb 20, 2014 Link to comment

      Hey @Thomas - they're all listed in my top ten article linked at the bottom. I wanted to talk about some new apps this time around with a focus on security.

  • Anders Bagger Feb 20, 2014 Link to comment

    I go for telegram.