Girl texting on phone in cafe

The days of paying per text have gone the way of the dodo, and if you’re still dishing out moolah by the character, then it just might be time to find a new phone plan. Nowadays, most major carriers include unlimited texting, including no contract, pay-as-you-go phones. So there’s really no excuse for not expressing yourself in vivid, monochromatic symbols. And if you’ve got time to spare, you can even get creative and send old school smileys or ASCII art.

Business Insider claims that messaging apps are poised to overtake social networking as the dominant force in the app world, and sharing music one to one via messaging will soon top standalone music apps. With over 80 percent global reach, messaging apps are where it’s at, so why are you still using that same old, same old SMS app?

Sure, your fancy smartphone already comes with a default text messaging app and you could be missing out on all the cool stuff standalone apps have to offer. But with so many messaging apps to choose from, how do you decipher which one is the best for you? Easy, just read this article and all will become clear, or at least we’ll point you in the right direction; hey, we can’t do everything.

In no particular order, here’s the top 5 messaging apps you should consider:


WhatsAppiOS | Android – this is one of the easier text messaging apps to setup and use; just verify your phone number by typing in a unique code that’s texted to you. The app automatically syncs with your phone’s contacts so you’re ready to start messaging right from the word go. WhatsApp can send texts, photos, voice messages, short video messages, and yes, even make calls.

WhatsApp uses your cell phone’s internet connection, or WiFi when available, to call and message your contacts anywhere in the world, all without using your plan’s monthly minutes. The only downside, is both parties must have WhatsApp installed to send and receive calls. But with over 700 million users worldwide, you shouldn’t have a problem finding someone to talk to. What’sApp no longer charge fees as of January 2016, so it certainly won’t break the bank.

WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook in 2014 for a mere $16 billion. The app is also completely ad free, which is always a bonus.

Additional features include:

  • Group chats
  • PC web browser integration
  • No extra usernames or PINs to remember
  • Seamless integration with iOS, Android and Windows Phone
  • Push notifications
  • Automatic login
  • Location sharing
  • Custom wallpapers
  • Chat history
  • Broadcast messages


Facebook MessengeriOS | Android – yup, that Facebook. I’m not sure why they even have their own messaging app after shelling out $16 billion to buy WhatsApp, but when you’re poor they call it being stubborn, and when you’re flush, it’s called being prudent. Facebook bought WhatsApp to kill the competition through ownership, which is an expensive but effective way of sheltering your brand. Very Starbucks-like. So if you’re an ‘all Facebook all the time’ sorta purist, then this messaging app is for you.

Like all the good ones, this messaging app uses your phone’s data connection to circumvent pay per text fees. Sure, it cuts into your monthly data plan, but you’d have to make sending texts your life’s work before it made a dent in your monthly limits. The strongest asset Messenger has going for it, is its seamless integration with your Facebook activity and friends, though frankly, I’m not sure why they needed a standalone app to offer messaging. It just creates a needlessly cumbersome juggling act between your Facebook and Messenger apps, but the move likely has something to do with Facebook’s plan to branch out into mobile devices.

Messenger isn’t just for Facebook friends, you can also use it to message any contact in your phone book, or just enter a new number to add it to your contact list.

Additional features include:

  • Group chats – create lists and label them with a photo for easy return access.
  • Photo and video messaging – shoot and send pics and flicks directly within the app.
  • Free WiFi calling – gab and gab until you got nothing left to talk about; its’ free worldwide.
  • Stickers – when emojis just aren’t enough.
  • Gifs – to make you feel extra witty.
  • Voice messages – when you have more to say, but are still too antisocial for voicemail.
  • Know when your message was read – so you can stew over how long it’s taking to get a reply.
  • Watch the bouncing dots – it means your friend is typing a message back to you; then wonder what happened when they just stop bouncing and the message never comes through.
  • Location services – so your stalker always knows where you are.
  • See who’s online – hey, wait a sec, maybe you’re the stalker.


LineiOS | Android –boasts 700 million plus users worldwide and is part messaging app, part social networking app. You can send pictures, videos and custom stickers to friends or contacts, and even post them all to a personal timeline. It’s gained huge popularity in Japan, Indonesia, Taiwan, India and Spain. The app is free to use and you can make Line to Line calls worldwide, including free international calls and messages, provided both parties have the app installed.

With Line, you can chat one-on-one via voice, video, or text, or chat with an entire group of friends or coworkers, all at the same time. And in case you’re feeling generous, you can even send money to any of your contacts with Line Pay. The app also works with Android and Apple Watches, so you can get push notifications, send messages and initiate calls, all from your wrist.

Additional features include:

  • The Sticker Shop – boasts a myriad of ways to express yourself with goofy characters and funny images to send and share.
  • Official Line Accounts – stay in touch with your favourite celebrity or corporate brand. Just follow their official Line account to keep up on their latest news or activities.
  • Social networking – post and share via your own personal timeline, and comment on your contact’s timeline too.
  • Send GPS coordinates to share your location with your contacts.
  • Make calls to non-Line mobile phones and land lines for a small fee.
  • PC integration – monitor and send messages from a computer.
  • Shake-It – easily add new contacts by tapping phones with a new friend, or just scan their QR code.

Line also released Line Taxi, as a competitor to Uber in Japan. The Japanese know how to invent cool (and often wacky) things, so we’re down to give it a go next time we’re visiting vibrant Tokyo!


ViberiOS | Android – this messaging app boasts over 800 million users and not only sends pictures and texts, but full HD video calls too, all for free, via your phone’s data plan. Free calls need to be placed Viber to Viber, meaning, both parties need to have this app installed and you have to use the app’s calling interface, not your mobile phone’s default dialer. But all that is a small price to pay for virtually free worldwide calling. You can also call with Viber to any cell or landline, but it requires a nominal fee.

Viber works with mobile phones and tablets and can even be used simultaneously, in case messaging one person at a time is just too dull for you. It also boasts companion apps for Windows and Mac computers, so now virtually anyone can enjoy free calling while managing their messages and sending off some cool pics and flicks. The app uses your mobile phone as your user ID, making it easy for the app to identify fellow Vibers from your contact list.

Additional features include:

  • Location services
  • A vast collection of stickers
  • Share links and contact info
  • Follow celebrity chats
  • Social networking integration
  • Fun games
  • Android Wear and Apple Watch companion apps
  • Push notifications


WeChatiOS | Android – with over 700 million active users and cool ways to make new friends, you’ll never run out of people to talk to on WeChat. Like all the other heavy hitters, this app offers free messaging, photo sharing, and app to app voice and video calls, free worldwide, all via your phone’s data connection.   You can even play some cool games too.

WeChat offers companion apps for Windows and Mac computers, along with a web based chat client that uses a nifty QR code login. It’s also the only messaging app to gain TRUSTe certification for added security and peace of mind. You can even turn your cell phone into a Walkie-Talkie style chat device, so now there’s really no excuse for not calling your mother.

Additional features include:

  • No subscription fees
  • Group chats with up to 500 people (!?!)
  • Free sticker galleries with a vast collection of animations, cartoons and movie clips
  • Social networking via your own personal photo stream
  • GPS services, location sharing and friend radar, or just shake your phone to meet a new friend
  • Fun and addictive games you can play with friends
  • Language translator
  • Custom wallpapers and notifications
  • Official celebrity accounts
  • Broadcast messages
  • Android Wear and Apple Watch support
  • In China, it can also be used to pay bills, transfer money and order goods and services


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