Are you looking for the best WhatsApp alternatives in 2021?
In this article we take a look at the very best WhatsApp alternatives on the market currently out of the thousands of chat apps available.
Messaging and SMS is among the most popular app categories out there. After all, the entire point of a phone is fundamentally about communicating. And instant messaging is one of the easiest ways to communicate.
First, we’ll cover a bit of background on WhatsApp and then get into popular WhatsApp alternatives.
WhatsApp is one of the most popular apps in the world. If you consider WhatsApp as a social media app, it’s the most popular social network in the world.
It has over 2 billion users and allows people to communicate regardless of where they are in the world.
Over 60 billion messages are sent on WhatsApp each day.
As many know, Facebook owns WhatsApp.
Facebook acquired WhatsApp in February 2014 for $16 billion (25% in cash, 75% in stock (Facebook, now Meta, shares)). The eventual price grew to $21.8 billion.
WhatsApp enables you to send texts, images, and video. You can send free voice messages as well as make free voice and video calls.
At the same time, Facebook has had privacy issues in the past and don’t want to be part of Facebook’s overall ecosystem.
As a result, many WhatsApp alternatives have popped up that are also popular. Many, like Telegram, rival WhatsApp in overall use and have greater penetration in certain markets. Some are specific to certain parts of the world, but rarely used outside those markets.
Best WhatsApp Alternatives
Whatever the reason you’re exploring alternatives to WhatsApp, here are 11 great WhatsApp alternatives you can try out in 2021.
Telegram is a close competitor to WhatsApp. When WhatsApp suffered outages in October 2021 (along with other Facebook properties), Telegram gained 70 million users in one day.
Like many communication apps, Telegram provides end-to-end encryption of communications. The app also enables you to send text and other messages in group chats of up to 200k users.
Telegram is based on cloud technology, which enables messages to be received with very little lag. Telegram is open-source and free to use.
Telegram is also available via mobile and desktop.
Instagram is also part of the Facebook family. So if being part of Facebook/Meta is not what you’re looking for, then Instagram may not be a good fit.
However, Instagram is so popular with billions of users that it’s an easy way to connect with people from all over with its built-in chat feature.
We typically think of posting pictures to your account when we think of Instagram but its chat feature makes it a viable alternative to WhatsApp.
You can direct message (DM) people, send images and video, and stay in touch.
Instagram messenger is also available on desktop.
Skype has been popular for years. Before Zoom took over business calls and FaceTime took over a lot of personal face-to-face chats, there was Skype.
The app is still great for messaging and is still popular globally.
You can send SMS/texts, photos, videos, make voice calls, and send files.
Line is one of the most popular apps globally.
To register on Line, you need your phone number. Then you’ll be able to find other users from your contact list, which will allow you to connect with them on Line and contact them.
You’ll be able to send messages and call others for free.
Line is also available on desktop.
Viber is another popular WhatsApp alternative that uses each other’s phone numbers to connect contacts.
You can send text messages, call your contacts, send photos, videos, and stickers.
Signal is growing in popularity as a chat app. It emphasizes security and user privacy. It also enables you to delete messages on a timer, if it’s a feature you wish to use.
Signal has the same features as WhatsApp. You can send texts, make video and voice calls, share photos and videos, create group chats, and share files from user to user.
Discord is built for gamers so they communicate about their gaming adventures, but can be used as a chat app for anyone.
It is secure and has both mobile and desktop applications. Text and voice chat are available.
Rythm bot on Discord servers also enables you to listen to music of your choice.
Google Hangouts can be a viable WhatsApp alternative.
Anyone who has a Gmail account can use Google Hangouts. It can be used inside Gmail or as a separate app on a smartphone. The downside is that not everyone can use it if they don’t have a Gmail account. Many people do, but it’s not quite universal.
In Hangouts, you can text, send photos, videos, and other files, and set up group chats.
WeChat is very popular in China.
You can use your email or Facebook account to find those who also use WeChat.
Like signing up to WhatsApp, you will need to register with your phone number and confirm with a verification code.
WeChat enables you to send messages, make video and voice calls (free), share photos and videos, and your location.
KaKao Talk is most popular in South Korea and most Koreans have KaTalk (as it’s commonly called) on their phones.
KaKao Talk uses your phone number and requires a verification code when you sign up.
Free messaging is available along with voice and video calls. You can also send files, including photo images, videos, and documents. It works with your computer as well.
Good old Snapchat.
Snapchat’s high point is that all you need is a username for people to contact you.
You don’t need to share your phone number, email, or anything else.
It also doubles as a fun place to take pictures, play games, create cool emojis, add 24-hour stories, create private stories, take part in virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) activities, and other features.
KIK is secure and doesn’t use your phone number. Instead, like Snapchat, you just use your username to identify you.
Because of the privacy aspect, KIK has developed somewhat of a reputation over the years of being a place for shady behavior.
But if you’re looking for something that’s Snapchat-like in nature where you just need to share a username for people to get ahold of you, KIK could be worth considering.
Wire was created by Skype co-founder Janus Friis. It has end-to-end encryption and a straightforward design.
You need your phone number and email to sign up, but it won’t be shared.
IM+ is a convenient all-in-one app for messaging in your social media accounts.
This can save you a lot of time instead of having to go through multiple apps to respond to messages.
Currently, it’s available only for iOS.
Zalo is another app like KaKao Talk that is very market-specific.
Zalo is basically the WhatsApp of Vietnam.
It is not popular at all outside the Vietnam market. However, it is a very clean and stable app that ranks right up with the best in terms of interface and overall functionality.
You can chat, talk, send files, and more.
Zalo also has some Instagram-like properties that enable you to share photos and engage with your friends and audience that way.
So in that sense it is more photo-centric and more of an all-around social network relative to WhatsApp.
Threema is a Switzerland-based app available for Android and iOS and the interface looks very similar to WhatsApp. You can send texts, images, and your GPS location.
It is open source and end-to-end encrypted. No phone number or any other personally-identifying information is required, which helps users retain anonymity to some degree.
Threema doesn’t store metadata about who is communicating with whom and when, so it’s often considered more secure than WhatsApp. Not even developers can read your messages on the app, so your chat history is permanently secure.
The lock icon that’s part of its logo is there to emphasize the privacy aspects of the app that developers believe is a key differentiating factor from most other apps on the market.
Threema syncs with your contact list so you can easily find who is using Threema.
It is, however, a paid app, costing anywhere from $1.99-$3.99 to download.
Slack is for work teams so it’s not great for personal use.
However, it allows you to create chats with many different users, share files, communicate over projects, create threads within Slack boards, and more.
It’s not only a text-based message board, but is available to make voice and video calls as well.
Slack is free for small teams. Bigger groups may require their business plan.
In this post, we covered 17 different WhatsApp alternatives.
- Google Hangouts
- Kakao Talk
There are literally thousands of chat apps on the market, so this list of alternatives to WhatsApp is by no means exclusive.
It should, however, give you a pretty good sample of what’s on the market and some of the most popular WhatsApp alternatives available.