3 Secure Messaging Alternatives to WhatsApp

3 Secure Messaging Alternatives to WhatsApp
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These days many people have turned to online messaging apps over traditional text messages. For a long time, WhatsApp was a popular choice. But a recent mass exodus over WhatsApp’s proposed privacy policy changes has inspired people to seek out alternatives.

Thankfully, there are quite a few secure messaging services on the market that still give you similar benefits to WhatsApp. Here are three messaging apps that provide strong security and are easy to use.

Signal

You may have heard that many people dropped WhatsApp to go to Signal, particularly after Elon Musk tweeted “Use Signal.” So what’s so great about Signal?

On top of an easy to use design, Signal uses end-to-end encryption via its own open-source Signal Protocol. It works on all mobile platforms and offers voice and video calling alongside messaging. It’s widely regarded as one of the most secure messaging apps because it uses end-to-end encryption as its default.

Pros:

  • Free to use
  • Default end-to-end encryption
  • Open-source code
  • Disappearing messages
  • Send text, voice messages, photos, videos and GIFS
  • No long-distance charges
  • Group chats
  • No ads
  • Blur function that can obscure faces in photos
  • Available on iOS, Android, Windows, Linux and Mac
  • All data is stored locally

Cons:

  • Limit of 8 people on a video call
  • No animated emojis – but these can be imported.
  • Smaller user base
  • Data is stored locally so you need to manually transfer it over when switching to a new phone.

You can learn more about Signal here.

Telegram

Telegram offers many of the same features as Signal and WhatsApp but with a few differences. It has a group call limit of 1000 users and a group chat limit of 200,000 – if you can imagine talking to that many people at once. It also offers some great customisable theme options.

Telegram still values privacy and uses open-source encryption software. It also has a much larger user base, but is yet to roll out group video calls.

Pros:

  • Cloud-based, messages can sync between devices
  • Open-source software
  • End-to-end encryption for voice and messages
  • Disappearing messages
  • Multimedia file sharing
  • Only requires user ID, phone number and contacts to sign up.
  • Large active user base
  • Free to use
  • Animated emojis
  • Available on iOS, Android, web browser, PC, Mac and Linux

Cons:

  • No group video calls – but they’re coming soon.
  • End-to-end encryption needs to be manually switched on for messages – this is the ‘secret chats’ function. Secret chats are then stored and can only be accessed on the origin device.
  • Messages are stored in Telegram’s cloud – if cloud storage is a concern for you.

Check out some of Telegram’s other features here.

Threema

Threema’s focus is on privacy with all information stored locally on your phone and nowhere else. The app claims to generate as little user data as possible and everything – video, voice, text and files – is end-to-end encrypted.

Threema can also generate you a random user ID on signup, leaving it optional to link your email or phone number. The app is also designed and hosted in Switzerland, which is known for its strict privacy laws. Unlike Telegram and Signal, however, Threema has a price attached but it only requires a one-off payment.

Pros:

  • No phone number or email address required
  • QR codes used to verify contacts
  • Open-source
  • Offers business and education plans
  • No ads
  • Simple interface
  • Individual chats can be protected via a pin code
  • Share files, media and locations
  • Voice and video calls – all end-to-end encrypted
  • Can create group polls
  • Text formatting

Cons:

  • Paid app
  • 100 member limit for group chats

You can check out Threema’s features here or download it from the Apple Store or Google Play Store.


There are plenty of messaging services to go around, but these three put a high priority on personal security.

A couple of other options to consider: Wire is similar to Threema and is protected by European data retention laws, open source software and has both personal and business paid plans.

Viber is another free and popular messaging app but has fallen to the wayside a bit in the wake of WhatsApp. It uses default end-to-end encryption and also offers a large range of social features for building community chats.