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10 Best Chat Apps for Android and iOS (2019 Update)

Adam Warner
Adam Warner
44
August 06, 2019

While chat apps make it easier than ever to stay connected, the number of available choices can be a bit overwhelming. Before you download an app, you want to know it will match your needs instead of just adding more clutter to your mobile device. Ask yourself these important questions:

  • Does this app allow me to video and voice chat?
  • Can I use it on my desktop?
  • Will it be loaded with annoying ads?
  • Can I create group chats?
  • Will I be able to send and accept files?
  • How secure will my discussions be?
  • Is it free to use?

As a freelancer and a digital nomad, I’ve had to keep in touch with clients, friends, and family from all across the world. And as you can imagine, I’ve used just about every major chat app available. While your needs may be different than mine, the ability to stay connected to those important to you is essentially the same.

So, let’s take a look at the best chat apps for this year.

1. WhatsApp – The Most Users Across the Globe

10 Best Chat Apps for Android and iOS (2019 Update)

Most of you have probably already heard of WhatsApp, and for good reason. WhatsApp lets you make free voice calls, video calls, and send instant messages, all via an intuitive interface on iOS and Android devices.

You can use WhatsApp Web on any browser, or even download a desktop version for both Windows and Mac operating systems.

Since more people use WhatsApp than any other chat app, there’s a good chance that your friends and business associates already have the app installed. If someone is saved as a contact on your phone, you’ll automatically be connected to them on via the app—so long as they also have an account.

Choose WhatsApp When…

  • You have a special someone who you enjoy talking with often. If you’re using an Android device, WhatsApp allows you to create a shortcut to a conversation with the person or group of your choice directly from your home screen.

10 Best Chat Apps for Android and iOS (2019 Update)

  • You need to connect with a large group of people. With the broadcast feature, you can send a message to up to 256 people simultaneously.
  • You’re a fan of group chats, but not of constantly being disturbed by them. WhatsApp allows you to mute these chats for either eight hours, one week, or even up to a year.
  • You’re living or doing business in Saudi Arabia, where WhatsApp is used by 73% of the population!
Supported PlatformsAndroid, iOS, Windows, MacOS
Associated CostsFree, other than the cost of using data when not connected to WiFi
Popular in…Mexico, Brazil, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Peru, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Uruguay, Paraguay, Saudi Arabia, India, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Finland, Spain, United Kingdom, Morocco, Indonesia, Germany, Yemen, Oman, Israel, Chad, South Africa, Nigeria, Niger, Tanzania
Voice ChatYes
Video ChatYes
Group ChatYes
End-to-End EncryptionYes
Send/Accept FilesYes

2. Facebook Messenger – Used by More Americans

10 Best Chat Apps for Android and iOS (2019 Update)

Facebook is not only the largest social network in the world—it’s also the second biggest messaging app in terms of monthly active users. In the United States, Facebook Messenger’s 105 million users make it the most used chat app.

With Messenger, you can connect for free with anyone who has a Facebook account. You don’t even have to be a Facebook user to use the app – just download it and create a Messenger account.

Just like WhatsApp, Messenger lets you text message, voice call, or video call anyone on the same messaging system. You can also call someone’s PC from your phone and vice versa, so you can stay in touch regardless of which device you’re using.

Choose Facebook Messenger When…

  • You’re looking for a fun way to connect with your contacts. There are many games available through Messenger. You can challenge your friends, or play solo if you’re more of the loner type.
  • You want to share recipes, flight details, news updates, or other details. This is made easy through Messenger’s many integrated third-party app extensions.
  • You like cool new technology. With Facebook’s code scanning feature, you can add other Messenger users by scanning their unique codes.

10 Best Chat Apps for Android and iOS (2019 Update)

Supported PlatformsAndroid, iOS, Windows 10, there’s also an unofficial version for macOS named Messenger for Mac
Associated CostsFree, other than the cost of using data when not connected to WiFi
Popular in…United States, Canada, Algeria, Greenland, Norway, Sweden, Australia, Madagascar, Mongolia, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Portugal, Ireland
Voice ChatYes
Video ChatYes
Group ChatYes
End-to-End EncryptionYes
Send/Accept FilesYes

3. Line – A Wide Range of Features

10 Best Chat Apps for Android and iOS (2019 Update)

Line has made quite the name for itself in East Asia. With more than 200 million users, this is the chat app of choice in Thailand, Taiwan, and Japan.

While not as popular as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, this feature-packed chat app includes several value-adding functions. These include Line Games, which you can play with your friends; Line Pay, for sending and receiving money; Line Taxi, to call a cab; and Line Today, with today’s top news.

Choose Line When…

  • You’re an emoticon junkie. Line has wide array of stickers that just aren’t available through other chat apps.
  • You like sending high-quality photos. Line allows you to share your photos in full resolution. If that’s not important to you and you’d rather save data, you can choose to send your images in a lower resolution version as well.
  • You want a chat app with some social media functionality. Line offers you a dedicated timeline where you can post updates and share posts for all your contacts to see.
Supported PlatformsAndroid, iOS, Windows, macOS
Associated CostsFree to voice or video message other Line users, other than the cost of using data when not connected to WiFi. There are costs associated with some of Line’s premium features, such as dialing a landline and non-Line members (costs depend on location)
Popular in…Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, Turkmenistan
Voice ChatYes
Video ChatYes
Group ChatYes
End-to-End EncryptionYes
Send/Accept FilesYes

4. Snapchat – Loads of Fun Filters

10 Best Chat Apps for Android and iOS (2019 Update)

Another incredibly useful–and fun—messenger for Android and iOS is the Snapchat app. What makes this app different from others is that you can send multimedia “snaps” that are stored for a limited time before they disappear forever.

Snaps can be sent privately to a particular recipient, or viewed by a select group of followers. Alternatively, you can use this app for live video and voice chatting.

Snapchat was one of the first apps to allow augmented reality filters to be placed over the images you send. These fun filters can make you look like an alien, put you in a silly animated outfit, or place storm clouds in the sky behind you.

Choose Snapchat When…

  • You’re a business and would like to create a sponsored lens to market your brand. This has successfully been used by brands like Taco Bell, Kraft, and Gatorade, and has proven to be a great way to engage younger audiences

10 Best Chat Apps for Android and iOS (2019 Update)

  • You want to send out your personalized Bitmoji avatars, as Snapchat allows you to include them within your multimedia messages.
  • You’d like to share your day’s events with your friends, family, or customers using Snapchat’s Stories. This feature uses a collection of snaps that will cover your last 24 hours and can be shared with your followers.
Supported PlatformsAndroid, iOS
Associated CostsFree, other than the cost of using data when not connected to WiFi
Popular in…United States, France, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, India, Mexico, Germany, Brazil, Canada, Australia
Voice ChatYes
Video Chat Yes
Group Chat Yes
End-to-End Encryption Yes
Send/Accept Files Yes

5. WeChat – The Most Popular in China

10 Best Chat Apps for Android and iOS (2019 Update)

With more than a billion users, WeChat is China’s most-used messaging app, and the third most popular in the world. As many other popular chat apps are blocked throughout China, this may be one of your best options if you need to contact people in the country.

WeChat has been referred to as “the app for everything.” Its many features go far beyond simple chat capabilities. These include social media functions, location sharing, broadcasting to multiple recipients, as well as mobile payment features.

The mobile payment capabilities of WeChat are so powerful in fact, that the app has been referred to as a top potential competitor to Mastercard, Visa, and American Express.

10 Best Chat Apps for Android and iOS (2019 Update)

Choose WeChat When…

  • You’re a marketer who’s trying to reach people living in China. As many other major chat apps and social networks simply aren’t available in China (e.g. Facebook, Google, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Line, and more), WeChat’s ads and websites help brands reach this massive market.

10 Best Chat Apps for Android and iOS (2019 Update)

  • You want to send out customizable ecards. WeChat allows you to send out these personalized messages for just about any occasion, including birthdays, valentines day, or Chinese New Year.
Supported PlatformsAndroid, iOS, Windows, macOS
Associated CostsFree, other than the cost of using data when not connected to WiFi. There are some fees associated with premium features, such as games and sticker packs
Popular in…China, Mongolia
Voice ChatYes
Video ChatYes
Group ChatYes
End-to-End EncryptionYes
Send/Accept FilesYes

6. Skype – Great for Calling Landlines

10 Best Chat Apps for Android and iOS (2019 Update)

Skype, as one of the older and more well-known chat apps on the market, is another great option. Again, this app allows you to text message, video chat, and voice call other users, and you can do it all for free.

In addition to the free features offered by Skype, there are some premium options as well. You can make traditional phone calls to regular phone numbers (both to cell phones and landlines). However, this feature isn’t free, and the costs can vary depending on the location you’re calling.

Want to talk to more than one person at a time? The free version allows you to conference call with up to 25 people at once.

Choose Skype When…

  • You would like to expand your business’s reach using one of Skype’s digital international numbers. While this feature isn’t free, it will make it easy for customers to get ahold of you from one of the 27 countries in which this feature is available (it can also be great for keeping in touch with friends and family who live abroad).

10 Best Chat Apps for Android and iOS (2019 Update)

  • You would like to share your screen with a friend, family member, or business associate. You can use Skype’s screen sharing feature to walk someone else through a process or show them what you’re working on.
Supported PlatformsAndroid, iOS, Windows, macOS, Linux
Associated CostsFree to voice or video message other Skype users, other than the cost of using data when not connected to WiFi. There are costs associated with some of Skype’s premium features, such as dialing a landline and non-Skype members (costs depend on location)
Popular in…Iceland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Moldova
Voice ChatYes
Video ChatYes
Group ChatYes
End-to-End EncryptionYes
Send/Accept FilesYes

7. Google Hangouts – Interesting New Enterprise Focused Apps

10 Best Chat Apps for Android and iOS (2019 Update)

Google recently announced that for its G Suite customers (businesses that pay for Google’s apps), Google Hangouts will be retiring by October 2019. For regular users, the retirement timeline has yet to be announced—although many speculate that it’ll occur sometime in the year 2020.

While this may seem like an end to “classic” Google Hangouts, this isn’t exactly the case. Rather, Google is more or less rebranding Hangouts into two different business-focused apps—Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat.

These two apps are currently only available to Google Suite users. Google has announced that once these users are fully switched to the new apps, free versions of both Meet and Chat will be made available to the general public—but the new iterations of hangouts are primarily enterprise-focused.

In addition, Google is keeping the text-based chatting app, Google Messages, and the video-based chatting app, Google Duo, for staying in contact with friends and family. However, until the migration is complete, Google has assured users that they will continue to support Google Hangouts. So, for the time being, “classic” Google Hangouts is still a perfectly viable option.

10 Best Chat Apps for Android and iOS (2019 Update)

Choose Google Hangouts When…

  • You’re an organization and would like to conduct business meetings with up to 100 participants, as this is a new function of the recently released Hangouts Meet.
  • You want to keep in touch with customers that aren’t using the new Hangouts Chat app. Google has announced that with the new version of Hangouts Chat, you’ll be able to invite users who don’t use Hangouts into your chats. This means that you can soon communicate with partners, clients, vendors, and anyone else who isn’t a Hangouts user all from one place.
  • You want to message friends, family, and business associates directly from your Gmail inbox. Using “classic” Hangouts you can easily message, video chat, or voice chat with other Gmail or Hangouts users from your browser, all while checking your email.
  • You want to video chat with up to ten friends at the same time. Using the “classic” Hangouts app, you can video message up to ten users simultaneously.
Supported PlatformsAndroid, iOS, Google Chrome Extension
Associated CostsFree for “classic” Hangouts users. For Hangouts Meet or Hangouts Chat you currently need to be a G Suite user, which will cost you anywhere from $5 to $25 per month (although free consumer versions are promised to be released once “classic” Hangouts is officially retired)
Popular in…United States
Voice ChatYes
Video ChatYes
Group ChatYes
End-to-End EncryptionNo, at least not with the current “classic” Hangouts
Send/Accept FilesYes

8. Viber – Widely Used Across Eastern Europe

10 Best Chat Apps for Android and iOS (2019 Update)

Viber, while not as popular in the west, is one of the most used chat apps within the Eastern European market. Like others on this list, Viber specializes in free voice chat, video chat, and instant messaging when using a WiFi connection.

However, Viber does offer some paid premium features, such as Viber Out. This allows you to call people on their landline or cellular phone number using Viber credit, which has to be purchased.

Choose Viber When…

  • You’re a marketer who would like to crowdsource information within your group chats. With Viber’s polling feature, you can gather the opinions of your group members by building custom polls.
  • You would like to send holiday wishes to friends and family using specialized holiday stickers. In Viber’s Sticker Market you can download fun holiday greetings to send to those who matter most in your life.

10 Best Chat Apps for Android and iOS (2019 Update)

Supported PlatformsAndroid, iOS, Windows, macOS, Linux
Associated CostsFree to voice or video message other Viber users, other than the cost of using data when not connected to WiFi. There are costs associated with some of Viber’s premium features, such as Viber Out, which allows you to dial a landline and non-Viber users
Popular in…Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Ethiopia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Tajikistan, Moldova, Armenia
Voice ChatYes
Video ChatYes
Group ChatYes
End-to-End EncryptionYes
Send/Accept FilesYes

9. Telegram – The Ad-Free Chat App

10 Best Chat Apps for Android and iOS (2019 Update)

With 200 million users worldwide, this lesser-known app has quite a few fans. It’s also one of the most popular chat apps in Iran and Uzbekistan.

Telegram is another free app that allows users to send voice, video, and text messages to other users around the world. The app touts itself for sending secure messages, although only it’s “Secret Chat” function utilizes end-to-end encryption. Other chat functions, while not end-to-end encrypted, use other encryption measures and are said to be fairly secure.

Choose Telegram When…

  • You want to connect with thousands of people at the same time. Telegram allows its users to create massive groups of up to 200,000 members, far more than most other chat apps.
  • You want to avoid all ads and fees that are associated with some other apps. Telegram’s website claims that the app will remain free of ads and free of cost for the foreseeable future.
  • You’re looking for an app that’s supported by nearly every possible platform. Unlike many other chat apps, Telegram has a native app for most platforms.
Supported PlatformsAndroid, iOS, Windows, macOS, Linux
Associated CostsFree, other than the cost of using data when not connected to WiFi
Popular in…Iran, Uzbekistan
Voice ChatYes
Video ChatYes
Group ChatYes
End-to-End EncryptionYes
Send/Accept FilesYes

10. KakaoTalk – The Most Fun for KPop Fans

10 Best Chat Apps for Android and iOS (2019 Update)

This chat app isn’t widely used outside of South Korea, but it still offers many of the same great functions as other chat apps. This includes free voice, video, and messaging capabilities.

KakaoTalk also has some exclusive functions, such as KakaoTV, which allows you to connect directly with your favorite KakaoTV stars. You can also watch the live broadcasts of these celebrities, making this app great for anyone who loves Korean culture. The app also has similar features to Line, such as KakaoFriends, which is a line of cute emoticons you can share with your friends.

Choose KakaoTalk When…

  • You’re traveling or doing business within South Korea where it’s installed on an incredible 93% of smartphone devices!
  • You love Korean pop music and want to talk with other Kpop fans. There are plenty of groups available through this app where you can discuss any exciting news regarding this popular style of music.
Supported PlatformsAndroid, iOS, Windows, macOS
Associated CostsFree, other than the cost of using data when not connected to WiFi
Popular in…South Korea
Voice ChatYes
Video ChatYes
Group ChatYes
End-to-End EncryptionYes
Send/Accept FilesYes

My Top Picks

There’s something to be said for all of these top chat apps. But which would I choose, based on my personal experiences?

I have to admit that I had never used Line before spending a significant amount of time in East Asia, where it’s one of the most commonly used messaging apps. Now, when traveling in this part of the world, it’s a necessity for contacting businesses, tour guides, and friends I’ve met along the way.

For talking to the folks back home in North America, however, Facebook Messenger is still my favorite. I wouldn’t be able to go without WhatsApp, either, as I still have friends in Latin America where this app is incredibly popular. Although, what works best for me may not be right for you.

And, if I were ever traveling in China, there’s a good chance I’d be using WeChat (but I have spoken to friends in China using WhatsApp, as the country’s infamous firewall can be bypassed pretty easily using a VPN).

To make your chat app choice even easier, I’ve compiled this handy table of factors you should take into account:

AppAvailabilityUsers (in millions)Main AdvantageMain Disadvantage
WhatsApp
  • iOS
  • Android
  • MacOS
1,500Easy-to-use interface, and popular in many countriesBoth parties must have the app installed
Facebook Messenger
  • Android
  • iOS
  • Windows 10
  • MacOS (named Messenger for Mac)
1,300Message anyone on Facebook, even if they don’t have Messenger. You can also message those who don’t have a Facebook account as long as they have Messenger as wellIncludes annoying adverts
Line
  • iOS
  • Android
  • MacOS
  • Windows
203You can use it to check the news, order a taxi, or many other functions not offered by other appsHardly known outside of East Asia
Snapchat
  • iOS
  • Android
291Short-lived messages for greater securityOnly available on mobile devices
WeChat
  • iOS
  • Android
  • MacOS
  • Windows
1,058One of the few chat apps that’s not blocked in ChinaMany features are not usable outside China
Skype
  • iOS
  • Android
  • MacOS
  • Windows
  • Linux
300Call non-Skype users on traditional phonesSome features cost extra, and international landline calls can be expensive
Google Hangouts
  • iOS
  • Android
14.8 (Within the US; doesn’t rank globally)Great for enterprise-related chat functions, such as holding meetingsGoing through major changes, adding much uncertainty to this apps future
Viber
  • iOS
  • Android
  • MacOS
  • Windows
  • Linux
260Create polls in group chats to crowdsource informationNot all of its features are free
Telegram
  • iOS
  • Android
  • MacOS
  • Windows
  • Linux
200Always free and doesn’t include any adsNot used by many people outside certain countries
KakaoTalk
  • iOS
  • Android
  • MacOS
  • Windows
49Great for anyone who is a fan of Korean culture, especially Kpop musicOnly available in 15 languages, so many people may not be able to use it
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