We tested 11 chat apps, including their ease of use, various functions and privacy protection.
WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, came out on top. However, some are concerned about giving too much information to the social media giant.
Although some of these issues can be managed, we found many alternatives. We tested Signal, Line, and Telegram. Learn more about the top WhatsApp alternatives. Also check out more Best Alternatives at Venos Tech
WhatsApp is the top-rated app in our tests (but there’s an exception)
Test score on iOS and Android: 88%
Based on our testing, WhatsApp was the top-scoring chat app. It’s easy to use, offers amazing features, and has end-to-end encryption.
These are the reasons it’s loved by billions worldwide, but there are also other concerns about WhatsApp that you cannot test in a lab environment.
WhatsApp and Facebook
Facebook owns WhatsApp, which has raised concerns about how private data is being used.
WhatsApp messages and calls are encrypted from the beginning by default. This means that neither WhatsApp nor Facebook, or anyone else for that matter, can see what your conversations are.
The recent controversy surrounding a WhatsApp change in terms and conditions is something you’ve likely heard about. Facebook bought WhatsApp in 2014 for $16bn. Now, it can track the businesses you talk to on WhatsApp and use this information for marketing.
It cannot do this with businesses within the UK or EU due to data protection laws. However, it can do it elsewhere.
WhatsApp doesn’t require a Facebook account. If you have never used the app to chat with a non-European business, it’s not a problem.
As you can see, WhatsApp has many alternatives if you are still worried.
The Pros : Simple to use, lots of features, group chats, calls, and end-to-end encryption
Cons: Facebook data privacy concerns
Alternatives to WhatsApp
You might be interested in trying another messaging app. Take a look at the high-scoring options from our tests
1. Signal – Good security and a wide range of features
Test score – 84% on Android, 80% on iOS
Signal was among the main beneficiaries of the WhatsApp controversy, which added millions of users.
Signal, just like WhatsApp, offers end-to–end encryption so that all your conversations are hidden from prying eyes. It is however owned and managed by the Signal Foundation in America, which is considered a better option for protecting your data from commercial exploitation.
Signal has received several recent enhancements that allow it to offer functionality similar to WhatsApp. This includes group video calls up to 8 persons.
Although it’s not as great as Facbook’s rival, it is a remarkable app that balances privacy and functionality. Try to convince your friends and contacts that Signal is worth their time.
Pros Secure messaging, good variety of features, operated via a non-profit foundation, so there are fewer privacy concerns
Cons : Not as well-known or used as WhatsApp. Didn’t perform as well on iOS than Android.
2. Line – The surprise contender (if your friends are willing to switch)
Test score 80% for both Android and iOS
Line is a popular Japanese chat app that you may not have heard of.
It performed well in our testing. It is an easy-to-use app that allows you to send messages, make voice or video calls and send them messages. All communication is encrypted by default, just like Signal and WhatsApp.
Line requires only a phone number in order to sign up. If you can convince your friends and colleagues to do the same, Line may be worth looking into over more well-known options.
It is important to remember that Line is not owned by a non-profit foundation like Signal. Instead, the Line Corporation is a consolidated subsidiary for tech investment giant SoftBank Corporation.
Pros – Simple app with lots of options. End-to-end encryption by default. Groupcalling
Cons – Line brand that is not well-known or used but which is owned by a large corporate tech company
3. Telegram – Fewer privacy concerns, but encryption drawbacks
Test score: 77% for both Android and iOS
Similar to Signal, Telegram saw a rise in users after the WhatsApp scandal in early 2021.
The app is easy to set up, use and follow. However, it lacks group calling, which puts it behind Signal and Line.
The app is secure, however it does not have end-to-end encryption for messages. Instead, you will need to initiate a secret chat with another person.
Telegram, like Line, is also privately owned and managed.
Pros – Easy to use and well designed, with no security concerns (except for default encryption options).
Cons : No group calling option and no end-to-end encryption of messages by default
Why encryption is important for messaging apps
Although you might believe that you don’t have anything to hide about your conversations, it doesn’t mean that they should be kept secret with encryption.
Signal, Line, and WhatsApp all use end-to-end encryption as a default. This means that only you and the person you are chatting with can see and hear what’s being said.
Telegram and Skype require you to enable end-to–end encryption manually, while Discord and Google Chat don’t allow it.
Although hackers won’t be able to read your messages, this does not mean that they can. However, an app company could still read what you say if you agree to the terms.
All apps are tested for privacy and security. Viber performed well in our testing (79% iOS, 78% Android), but we discovered a potential flaw that could compromise your privacy.
Viber didn’t respond to our request. We are unable to provide any details or recommendations, so please consider other options.
During our security testing, we found many issues with the Kik app as well as its associated websites. The issues we found were not detailed by Kik, as they didn’t respond to our request for information.
Kik’s test scores don’t look great so it’s not worth your time to use it.