10 Free Messaging Apps to Use if You’re Tired of Facebook Messenger

IMAGE Unsplash/Przemyslaw Marczynski

Among the various free messaging apps available, Facebook Messenger looks to be the app of choice in the Philippines. According to the report Digital in 2019, 89 percent of the country’s internet population uses Messenger. That translates to around 67.6 million internet users on the free messaging platform. The same report that said Filipinos spent the longest amount of time online in the world

While Messenger has constantly updated its app with new features to provide a fresh experience—in the past couple of months it added an undo feature, a reply button, and dark mode—it’s not the be-all and end-all of free messaging apps. Here, we list 10 other free messaging apps you can check out if you’re looking for a change of pace.

IMAGE: Wikipedia

1| WhatsApp

Turns out, Messenger isn’t the most popular free messaging app in the world—that honor goes to WhatsApp. Digital in 2019 said that WhatsApp is the dominant messaging platform in 133 countries all around the world, almost double Messenger’s 75. The same report also revealed that WhatsApp is already used by 27 percent of Filipino internet users.


However, the two aren’t rivals in any sense of the word—WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook back in 2014 for $19 billion. Still, that similarity means that Messenger users can expect the same ease of use with WhatsApp, as the app supports text, audio, and video messaging. However, unlike Messenger (but similar to various other free messaging apps on this list), your WhatsApp account is tied to your phone number instead of your Facebook profile.

IMAGE: Wikipedia

2| Viber

You’ve probably already heard of Viber, what with the free messaging app being used by many large companies, media organizations, and even some government agencies in the country. In fact, more than one out of three people in the country uses Viber, according to Digital in 2019, making it the third most-used free messaging app in the country.

If you haven’t heard of Viber, then it features everything you’d expect from other free messaging apps such as instant messaging, video calls, and group chats. But one of its claims to fame, and one of its sources of revenue, is its endless collection of stickers.

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IMAGE: Wikipedia

3| Telegram

While Telegram has everything you’d expect from a free messaging app, it takes pride in its efforts to ensure the app’s security. From secret chats to self-destructing messages, Telegram allows its users to control how private they want their experiences to be.

Telegram also has various customization options to spice up its interface such as customizable themes and changeable backgrounds. Like Viber, it also has various sticker packs for its users to enjoy, many of which are user-created.

IMAGE: Wikipedia

4| WeChat

A majority of WeChat’s over one billion users worldwide come from China, its home country, though Digital in 2019 says that 23 percent of Filipino internet users have also used it. While it’s a messaging app at its core, WeChat also has a social media component to it as the app enables users to meet and discover new people online.

But grouping WeChat with other free messaging apps betrays the huge variety of services it offers on its platform. Aside from instant messaging, WeChat also has a digital payments feature, an extensive gaming platform, a booking feature for various services around the city, and many more.

IMAGE: Wikipedia

5| Line

If WeChat is the dominant free messaging app in China, Line is the preferred free messaging app in Japan. Originating from the needs of a disaster-struck company, Line has grown into one of the main modes of communication in Japan, functioning as an instant messaging app, a social media platform, and even a mobile wallet.

Similar to Viber, Line also has an extensive sticker market for its users to enjoy. However, the Japanese messaging app differs from its competitors in that it has its own set of characters called Line Friends.

IMAGE: Wikipedia

6| KakaoTalk

Completing the trifecta of free messaging apps dominant in East Asia is KakaoTalk, which is the messaging platform of choice for South Koreans. Part of the various mobile and internet services offered by Kakao Corp., KakaoTalk supports instant messaging, voice calls, file sharing, and mobile gaming.

Just like Line, KakaoTalk also has a cast of original characters called Kakao Friends, which are based on various emoticons in the app. KakaoTalk also has a Plus Friend feature where users can directly connect with Korean celebrities and brands.

IMAGE: Wikipedia

7| Slack

The seamless communication provided by free messaging apps isn’t only useful for connecting with friends and family, but it’s also helpful for businesses and entrepreneurs. One of those platforms focusing on providing communication tools for companies is Slack, which has features tailored to help companies and teams be as productive as possible.

Unlike the free messaging apps listed above, Slack’s conversations are divided across channels, which enable organizations to easily keep track of different parts of their businesses. Slack also has paid versions that provide additional and expanded features for its clients.

IMAGE: Wikipedia

8| Discord

If Slack is meant for businesses, Discord is meant for gamers. And it’s a fair comparison—just like Slack, Discord divides conversations into servers and channels, allowing for more seamless communication.

But what sets Discord apart from other free messaging apps is how it integrates with various video game communities. A majority of Discord’s users are gamers coming together to chat while playing or discussing the game.

IMAGE: Wikipedia

9| Skype

The oldest free messaging app on this list, Skype started out as an online video chat platform enabling users to communicate via video conference calls. Today, it’s evolved into a full-fledged messaging platform, enabling instant messaging and file sharing on top of its video call features.

According to Digital in 2019, Skype is already used by 44 percent of Filipino internet users. That makes it the second most-used free messaging app in the country, behind only Facebook Messenger.

Posted by imo.im on Tuesday, September 1, 2015

10| imo

Another free messaging app that focuses on video chatting is imo, which allows for high-quality video calls and video sharing within its app. Many users also praise imo for its simple and easy-to-use interface.

Of the various free messaging apps listed here, imo comes up as the one with the least amount of information on it available online. That doesn’t mean it’s unusable, though, as Digital in 2019 cites it as the most popular messaging platform in three countries, and the Google Play Store has it in its list of top five free apps as of the time of writing.


Why use messaging apps?

The appeal of free messaging apps such as the 10 options above is exactly that—it’s a free way to connect with other people. Unlike texting and calling which requires mobile credits, these messaging apps only require an internet connection and the presence of the recipient in the same messaging app. Many of these apps have also expanded their platforms to provide various services beyond messaging such as mobile payments, video gaming, and communication with established brands.

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Lorenzo Kyle Subido
Lorenzo Kyle Subido is a staff writer for Esquire Philippines.
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