Wednesday, April 17, 2024
For men, women, and teens


WhatsApp alternatives

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Written by Vera C. Last updated on .

Person holding a phone with the WhatsApp logo

No matter what your reason for wanting an alternative to WhatsApp, here plenty of options to choose from. Unless otherwise stated, all of these can do messaging, voice calls and video chat worldwide for free using Wi-Fi. These will not incur you any SMS or MMS fees. As is the case for WhatsApp, be aware that all of these alternatives will use data if you’re not on a Wi-Fi connection.

Signal

Signal is a secure and private messaging system. We found it’s great – super-easy to use, no ads. It also supports multiple platforms: in addition to Android and iPhone/iPad, you can also get Signal on your computer for Mac, Windows and Linux.

Why it stands out: Of all of the WhatsApp alternatives, this is the cleanest and simplest. Also it has full end-to-end encryption, something that very few others support. We love the no-mess, no-fuss setup; it’s straightforward to get started. Also, there are Signal "stories" which is a little bit similar to the WhatsApp status update feature - it's unobtrusive and does not get in your conversations.

LINE

LINE is another great option. People in Japan are more familiar with it than in the US, but it's definitely one of the best alternatives to WhatsApp. The only downside is that it can have occasional ads, and these can become annoying.

Why it stands out: Line has a really big fun factor when it comes to usability and customizations such as chat backgrounds. Although most of the other WhatsApp alternatives allow you some limited choices of chap wallpaper, Line has an incredible array of fully themed looks for the app, including icons. Some of these themes are free, others cost money. There are also a ton of fun stickers that cover more of a range of what you might want to say, compared with some of the stickers you never use in other messaging apps.

Stars

The Stars messaging app is a favorite of ours for privacy reasons: it ensures that only people you specifically invite can find you, not everyone on your contact list that has Stars. It does group messaging very well indeed, and you’re able to upload pics. You can send audio or video messages to recipients as well as text or images. Unlike the other similar tools to WhatsApp in this article, Stars does not offer real-time voice calls or real-time video calls. You can just record your voice or video message and send it. However, we found it very useable for all our needs without that, especially since text and image messaging on Stars covered all our day to day needs anyway.

If all you want is super-private messaging that doesn’t require a data plan or mobile, and works between tablets and phones, then this is what you want. It’s by far the most family-friendly of all the options listed here. If you’d like more info, you can read a balanced review of Stars here.

Why it stands out: You don’t need to have a mobile number to use it, so Stars is perfect as a family messaging app for the kids to use on a tablet or other non-phone device without needing a data plan. Wi-Fi access is all you need.

Telegram

Telegram messaging is very similar to Signal - an excellent WhatsApp alternative that needs no learning curve. I've found Telegram and Signal to be largely very similar to each other, so you can just jump in there right away. Telegram is available on Android, iPhone/iPad, Mac, Windows and Linux. There are no ads.

Why it stands out: Telegram is very user-friendly. It's the easiest one to add emoji reactions to and it keeps things together really well. If you're doing a big group chat, I'd recommend Telegram because it's by far the easiest to quickly respond or react to.

Discord

Discord was originally designed as a way for gamers to communicate. But anyone can use Discord. If you simply want to use it as an alternative to WhatsApp, don't bother joining a Discord server or doing anything that connects you to a wider community. Simply sign up on the phone app or the website and find your friend(s) to start chatting. You will need to know their full Discord tag before you can add the person as a friend. Then send the person a friend request. So Discord is a little bit harder to get started with than Signal, Telegram, or Line because Discord requires you to already know your friend's Discord tag before you can message them. By contrast, Signal, Telegram and Line will automatically pull your friends from your contact list into the app.

Why it stands out: If your friends are fairly young and/or have an interest in gaming, they're more likely to already have Discord than any of the other WhatsApp alternatives mentioned here.

Conclusion

There are are several awesome alternatives to WhatsApp to select from. Use any of the options listed above to get in touch with friends and family. Each has its own pros and cons, so there is no right or wrong answer here. It ultimately comes down to what features are important to you and to the people you communicate with.

You may also like to find out how to unblock someone from WhatsApp and how to share Line videos elsewhere.


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