If you own a stock Android device you no doubt quickly discovered that it came with Hangouts as the default SMS/MMS/IM app. And no offense to Google, but not everyone is a fan of Hangouts. So we've gathered our list of the best texting apps for Android which are also free. These apps use your phone signal and texting allowance in your contract, and are not to be confused with instant messenger apps such as Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp, the best of which you can find by clicking below.
So we may have been quite harsh on Hangouts, which over-complicates the supposedly simple process of sending texts. But Messenger has many of Hangouts' finer qualities while cutting out the clutter. It has an eye-soothing Material Design interface, and as well as sending free texts you can also use take photos and record audio messages from directly within the app. Messenger has all the basic messaging features you need, dressed up in a coveted Lollipop interface.
MySMS comes garlanded with rave reviews from press and users alike, and it's available not just for Android but for Windows, Mac and web browsers too - and that means you can post from a computer or tablet using your Android phone's number, which is pretty handy. This is why it makes our list of the best free texting apps. It supports group messaging and MMS, message scheduling, message export and backup and connects with services such as Evernote, Dropbox and Google Drive. Many of the advanced features require a Premium membership, but at just $9.99 per year that's hardly going to break the bank.
We're going to start off with a bit of a wildcard here. The simply-titled Messaging is essentially the stock SMS app from Android 4.4 KitKat. So if you're already on KitKat, then there's nothing to see here. But if you're on an older phone and want to experience a piece of KitKat, or you're finding the default Lollipop texting app a bit too bright and garish, then this could be what you're looking for. It's dark, serious, and contains all the features from Android's former flagship texting app.
chomp SMS has been around for a long time, and progressed alongside Android to become one of the most popular Android SMS apps. Some of its features include a huge array of emojis, passcode app lock, message locks, more intense privacy options, blacklists, quick reply popups, not to mention a ton of customization options, as well as Pushbullet and Android Wear compatibility.
Textra SMS is a great SMS app that makes this list partly because the developer was quick to bring the new Android L Material Design to the app, which makes this already ‘’beautiful’’ texting app even more appealing.
It’s also got many more features than most stock SMS apps, including floating notifications, quick reply popups, a heap load of signature and notification types. It’s also compatible with PushBullet as well as Android Wear in case you’ve bought yourself a Moto 360, LG G Watch R or Samsung Gear Live.
As opposed to some other frilly SMS apps, 8sms is a text-messaging app which gets straight to the point with a bit more added functionality than the average stock SMS/MMS app, like quick pop-up replies. It's free, although ads will appear after your 14-day 'trial period' until you make a donation. With its ease of use and a nifty energy-saving 'dark theme', we think it's worth a try.
I love HoverChat. It brings the cool pop-up bubble functionality of Facebook's chat heads or Link Bubble to your SMS app. So no matter which screen or app you're currently in, any new SMS will pop up in front of what you're doing so you'll never miss a notification bar message again (although HoverChat previews in the notification bar too). If you're not yet ready to deal with the message, you can dismiss it or drag it out of the way, and you can reply directly from the notification bubble. How's that for multitasking?
QKSMS is one of the prettiest SMS apps we've seen, offering material design plus a range of themes, night mode, customisation, quick replies, group messaging, message scheduling and more in an ad-free environment. The basic app is free but if you want to unlock all the color options and advanced features the Premium mode is a $1.99 in-app purchase.
Handcent SMS is a veteran of alternative SMS apps, and has received a modern facelift at the end of 2014 thanks to a recent update in the Play Store. Taking this into consideration, as well as the features and themes galore, Handcent truly is the Android lover's SMS app.
You can customize the way the app handles incoming and outgoing messages as much as you could ever want, including scheduling messages to go out at specific times (only in the Pro version). You can also sign in with your Facebook credentials so you'll see your contacts' Facebook profile pics.
hello SMS is one of the best-looking SMS apps around. Slick, clean and minimal, hello SMS is the style guru's SMS app. The app has a super simple tab setup, so you'll get your friends' profile pics and names on the left and you simply swipe out the conversation tab.
You can do all the same things you can with most other SMS apps, of course, but the truly unique thing about hello SMS is just how much it manages to do without looking heavy or bloated. If only all apps looked this clean.
If you're someone who errs on the side of security, then it's hard to overlook TextSecure (case in point: I had to take photos of the screens because screenshots are blocked by the app). TextSecure encrypts your personal communications with end-to-end encryption protocols as soon as you register your number.
Custom ROMs like CyanogenMod already use the TextSecure service but you can get it as a stand-alone app as well. As you may recall, the NSA has a habit of intercepting SMS content as it passes through data centers. TextSecure only handles encrypted content so your messages are safe in transit. All of your attachments are also encrypted.
EvolveSMS is the Google-inspired SMS app we wish Hangouts was. It has been designed to look a lot like Google+ and has a nice clean design with the latest Android style guidelines in mind. While the default orange interface looks great, you can also grab more themes if you're willing to drop a little coin for the customization pack. Swiping between conversations and a navigation drawer make it a breeze to navigate and there are plenty of free customization options pre-loaded on the app.
MightyText, while not an SMS app itself, is on this list because it is an awesome tool for sending and receiving texts via your computer. MightyText does not have an app component on your Android device, but is an extension for your existing SMS app. So you can pick an app you like the look of from this list and give it the MightyText touch so you can read and reply to incoming messages directly from your computer screen without ever needing to dig your phone out of your bag. Other nice features are built-in SMS backup and restore options.
Do you agree with our list of the best text message apps for Android?