In the year 2013 we have listed messenger alternatives to WhatsApp for you for the first time. 2017 there was an update, since the NSA scandal had been two years ago. In the meantime we have 2021 and with the advanced interweaving of all messengers that belong to Facebook (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and, to a certain extent, Instagram), a lot has happened.
Some of the recommendations from that time are now – beginning 2021 – still up-to-date and perhaps even more than ever a real competition to WhatsApp, some others have disappeared and are now at best still diving into our post about messenger flops .
What makes a messenger a real WhatsApp competitor? For some it is the range of functions, for others it is primarily about security. WhatsApp has clearly caught up in this area in recent years and now also offers end-to-end encryption. Nevertheless, messengers like Signal cannot be used in this discipline.
Ultimately, however, the so-called network effect is decisive for the general public. The more often a particular messenger app is used for communication, the more relevant it simply becomes. In practice there is then a semi-conscious effect. It largely determines the usefulness of a messenger.
Here we introduce you to the most important WhatsApp alternatives: messengers that sometimes score more with their security, sometimes more with their range of functions and, in some cases, not even with users are very far behind WhatsApp.
The Facebook Messenger ( here can also be used independently of Facebook) is not by chance very close to WhatsApp in terms of numbers, as both services belong to Facebook. While the chat service with the green logo has now reached 2 billion users, the Facebook Messenger is coming (as of October 2021) to 1.3 billion users.
With these numbers and of course the 2 billion people who generally use Facebook, this messenger is one of the first alternatives when it comes to finding as many contacts as possible. The range of functions is also impressive: In addition to normal messages, you can of course also chat in groups, there is a telephone function as well as video chat and you can also share photos, videos and other files.
I really like the option of sharing locations. This not only tells you where you are currently, you can also find yourself with several people on a single map at the live location. Incidentally, with this function, the Facebook Messenger was also faster than WhatsApp, but this feature is now also available .
You can send voice messages like with WhatsApp, but they are limited to a length of one minute, which is very frustrating because you don’t get it displayed when the minute is full and you sometimes keep chatting senselessly, even though you haven’t recorded it for a long time
In addition to a lot of messenger light, there are of course also shadows: On Facebook, data protection and the use of collected data is always an issue and when it comes to security, the messenger is certainly not the first choice. With the connection of Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp, this has changed again significantly to the detriment of data protection .
End-to-end encryption is now also available here, but so far only mobile and not automatically activated. Facebook is trying to expand the range of functions and to make more than just a chat tool out of the messenger. You can see that in the integration of chatbots, which can provide you with a lot of information, in the USA you can now even order an Uber cart via Messenger.
The size must be WeChat can hardly hide behind WhatsApp: The Messenger from TenCent from China has almost 1.2 billion users, making it one of the largest in the world. A few days ago we presented WeChat in great detail , where you can find out everything you need to know about the service , which practically everyone in China uses.
The usual messenger functions – chatting alone and in groups, sharing videos, photos and locations, voice messages and video chats – are all available here. Even before the big US services, WeChat relied on stickers, of which there are countless free, but also paid ones, with which you can spice up your messages.
But WeChat is much more than just that a messenger. Here you can also order movie tickets or a table in the restaurant, in general you can pay with WeChat Pay almost everywhere in China. Also important for the WeChat concept: The mini-programs up to 1 MB in size – quasi apps within WeChat.
In China, pretty much everyone who is online uses WeChat. But that’s also the catch for all users outside of China: The distribution in Western countries is still extremely manageable, many functions such as the bank connection to WeChat Pay are not yet possible. WeChat shouldn’t be your first alternative when it comes to security either, data is sometimes happily passed on to the Chinese government.
Let’s get to Threema and to the first messenger in this list that is dedicated to the topic of “security”. When Facebook bought WhatsApp at the time, Threema was together with Telegram winner of the hour and was happy about the large number of visitors.
Until the middle of 2016 grew the number of users at Threema to four million . The number has now doubled (as of January 2017) and it can be assumed that the number in the last few weeks 2021 continue is sharply increased. If you consider that the app is mainly used in German-speaking countries, that’s a proud number. Globally, however, only a small fraction of what the messenger giants achieve. Threema, a messenger from Switzerland, only serves a niche audience – but very successfully.
Long before WhatsApp, Threema relied on end-to-end encryption, which also includes phone calls. The data is in Switzerland, i.e. on European servers, and communication between the Threema servers and the end device is secured by transport encryption. In terms of its legal framework, Switzerland is one of the best locations for data protection policy. Among other things, because Switzerland is not part of the 14 – Eyes Association is.
Also privacy Threema has anonymity on its list: every user generates a random Threema ID when setting up the app. Linking with a mobile phone number or email address is optional for you.
You send text messages, pictures, videos, your own location and voice messages via Threema, and there are apps for Android and iOS as well meanwhile also Threema Web , so you you can also use the messenger in the browser on your notebook.
According to their own statements, the best encryption, the prevention of a fat data trail and anonymity – these are advantages that Threema allows its customers to pay for: While the most messengers are free of charge, are here once before the installation 3, 99 Euro due. Absolutely appropriate for a secure messenger that does not collect any data from you.
However, you have no way of knowing how many contacts you have on the messenger before using it. You can assume that you are part of a dedicated circle. The app criticizes the fact that messages sent once cannot be managed.
As mentioned above, also benefited Telegram said that many WhatsApp users were looking for a new, were looking for a more secure messenger. They also found what they were looking for at Telegram, a service that is currently at least proud of 400 Millions of users (as of October 2020) worldwide. At the last update 2017 it was still 100 Millions of users. It is therefore clearly visible that the network effect is slowly coming to fruition with Telegram. The tendency is still increasing.
Telegram proudly announces that a combination of 256 – bit symmetrical AES encryption, 2048 – bit RSA Encryption and the Diffie-Hellman key exchange method. There is also end-to-end encryption here, but beware: This only applies to the so-called “secret chats”, which you have to initiate yourself.
The range of functions is also very good. Telegram has the special F function that channels can be created. Only creators and administrators of the channel have rights to post something in these. This is used for marketing, alternative news, conspiracy theories and all kinds of communities.
There are also group chats, up to 100. 000 People can be gathered in such groups and channels. Pictures, videos etc. can of course also be sent here and because everything is stored in the Telegram Cloud, these files do not take up any storage space.
If you like, you can also send any files (documents, MP3s etc.) up to a size of 1.5 GB. You can also reveal locations in real time, voice messages can also be sent.
However, we have to point out that there are some experts who do not believe that Telegram is as secure as it tells the service about itself. So it says on Wikipedia:
A safety analysis from May 2017 confirmed that Telegram has “serious and simple issues”. There are problems in Diffie-Hellman key exchange and it was shown that the command line client can be used to find out when contacts are communicating with other contacts
Telegram is financed from different sources. The public cannot see how sustainable this model is for the app. It is therefore believed that monetization could come sooner or later. With its own cryptocurrency there has been an attempt in recent years to solve this more or less compatible with data protection. Similar to Facebook, there was regulatory pressure here too, so the project fell through.
Telegram is of course available for iOS and Android, but also for many other platforms and also in one
Web view . Telegram is both free and ad-free.
If you post about Signal – the next messenger candidate with a focus on security – reads, you can usually not ignore the name Edward Snowden. The colleague strongly recommends Signal as the safest messenger:
– Edward Snowden (@Snowden)
Elon Musk is now one of the followers of Signal. Authorities, companies that have to protect important internal data, government agencies, etc. also use Signal, as can be read in many reports.
Open Whisper Systems has created a messenger here, which is very secure, but is easy to use. Signal was previously known as TextSecure, then became 2015 renamed to Signal. The fun is financed by donations and grants, so that Signal does not depend on advertising income and can still offer the app for free.
Signal is open source, so that the code can be viewed publicly and checked for loopholes can. The code has also already passed professional audits. The encryption protocol from Open Whisper Systems is not only used here with Signal, but also with other messengers, including WhatsApp. Telephone calls and video chats are also encrypted, and voice messages are now also available.
In general, the range of functions with Signal is more manageable. The group chats are still partially bugged. Signal is very safe, but also simple and rudimentary. The number of users is currently still fairly manageable, on Google Play alone there is talk of 10 + million downloads. If you want to text safely and safely, you can hardly ignore Signal.
Viber was now called Rakuten Viber. Rakuten is already on duty 2014, but has recently started to focus more on the “Rakuten” brand. Today Viber is officially called Viber Messenger. The service has been around for a few years and was one of the first to have a voice function in addition to normal messaging. According to Statista, Viber has 1, 168 Billion
Of course, the messenger supports voice messages as well as calls and video chats, you can also chat groups with up to to 250 found members. Viber also offers end-to-end encryption, but has gotten into talk several times because of the amount of data collected.
There are some very nice features with Viber: You can also send video messages send, there is the possibility of deleting sent messages afterwards and you can even hide selected chats from prying eyes. Viber lets you call landlines and send SMS.
Similar to WeChat, Viber also has public profiles so that you can keep an eye on brands and companies via the messenger. As an advertising partner, Viber has recently been able to win big names such as FC Barcelona, Olympique Marseille and Shakira.
Wire exists since 2014 and has its roots in Berlin and Switzerland. As a unique selling point, Wire can be assigned the group calls that are made possible thanks to Voice-over-IP technology. This is not entirely by chance, the Wire founder already helped launch Skype.
End-to-end encryption from Open Whisper Systems is also used at Wire . As far as security is concerned, we would like to point out that – as with Telegram – metadata is also saved, but this can be deactivated with Wire. Both group calls and video chats are end-to-end encrypted, and Wire calls are secure against eavesdropping. Wire also stores its data on European servers, security friends should also have fun with Wire for this reason.
YouTube, Soundcloud, Spotify and Vimeo content can be shared in the chats, Otherwise, Wire naturally also masters all the basics that the other messengers have to offer. The messenger looks nice and is easy and intuitive to use. Apps are available for both Android and iOS, web versions are also available for different browsers.
BBM is the BlackBerry Messenger, also a chat veteran and probably one of the last n Success stories that Canadians can claim for themselves. This part was once reserved for BlackBerry or previously RIM customers, but now it is a project that is offered for every popular system.
Functionally, it can sometimes not keep up with other services or offers different ones Features only for BlackBerry devices. On the other hand, there are some very interesting ideas, such as the ability to create topics within group chats. You will also see when a message was delivered and when it was read. You can take back messages you have sent, limit the time of photos and messages you have sent and use private chats, and thanks to PayPal integration within BBM you can send money to friends free of charge.
End-to-end encryption Unfortunately, you will not be offered, which means that you have to use the BBM Enterprise version for this feature. It offers significantly less functionally, as it targets business customers, but it comes with end-to-end encryption.
Unfortunately, I cannot provide you with current user numbers for the BBM, but I can was the number already 2014 for over 100 Millions of users . So we’re definitely dealing with one of the larger messengers in terms of downloads. Nevertheless, it seems to me that the BBM is not used that much in this country.
Skype is a service where I am never sure whether I even want to list it among the usual messengers. The Microsoft offer has grown because of the possibility of Internet telephony and video chats and not because chatting is so great there. Skype is repeatedly referred to by users as a necessary evil, because there are always contacts that can only or at least best be reached via Skype.
You have to use end-to-end encryption also do without Skype. In addition to individual and group chats, you can send any type of file and for several years this has also been used synchronously via different end devices. For money you can also call landline numbers and mobile phones.
This year, Skype will break the 1.3 billion user mark and would be basically as big as WhatsApp. But as I said: Basically, you are comparing apples with pears, so Skype is probably used actively by significantly fewer users or only very sporadically by many users.