One major difference between a feature phone and smartphone is that the latter is capable of using messaging apps which are a lot more functional and feature rich when compared to the default stock app that comes with the Android OS. The stock messaging apps in general, are pretty basic and don’t offer anything more than just sending, receiving, replying and reading SMSes.
Another issue is that more often than not, you’re stuck with the same boring theme or skin that comes with stock app. You can’t really do much about it and accept what it has to offer. Every Android user knows how customizable Android OS really is. Why compromise when you can customize like there’s no tomorrow?
The best way to enhance the SMS functionality of your Android phone is through third-party messaging apps which offer more flavor, functionality and better looks than the default messaging app. Here, we’ve rounded up the best messaging apps available for Android.
This article is a part of the Beat The Stock series that explores the best replacements for your stock apps. Other articles in this series include –
- Messaging (SMS) Apps (Currently viewing)
- Dialers and Contacts
- Web Browsers
- Music Players
- Video Players
- Instant Messengers
We will update the links as we publish other articles in this series!
The Stock Messaging App for Android
As mentioned, the stock messaging app of Android is a fully functional app, as long as your requirements are basic. It does its purposes of letting you compose, send, receive, reply and read SMS. Other things that you can do with the app include search for specific messages, change settings and delete threads.
For its design, the messaging app usually takes the a simple background. Sadly, there is nothing you can do to change the looks of the app. With its simplicity in terms of presentation, we are all probably going to get bored with the messaging app.
Besides, if you are an advanced user, you will be frustrated by lack of a lot of features. There is no provision for backup and restore, message security, customizing the looks, scheduling and so many other advanced options. The stock messaging app is usable at best and you would do well to shift to a third party messaging application.
Best Alternatives to Android Messaging App
Handcent SMS is perhaps the most popular third-party messaging apps for Android. I’ve used Handcent previously and I can say that it is perhaps the most feature-rich among the many Android messaging apps.
The app is powerful, customizable and best of all, free. It works for both SMS and MMS. It allows you to use various themes and skins and even change the look of the text bubble and conversation thread. The app really shines when it comes to design and presentation.
One feature that I really like about Handcent is the SMS scheduling feature. It lets you compose an SMS and have it sent on scheduled time and day. Besides you can secure your messages using the Privacy Box, apply filters and backup all the SMS, MMS and even the app settings. Its a full-featured package to meet all of your messaging requirements.
GO SMS Pro
Go SMS Pro is perhaps the best SMS messaging app for Android. It’s fast, highly functional and has tons of settings that you can tweak that makes your phone’s default messaging app pale in comparison. Aside from supporting SMS and MMS, the app also features Go Share, Go Chat and Facebook Chat.
Like Handcent SMS, GO SMS Pro has a scheduling function, batch mode, pop up with quick reply, privacy mode, and yes – tons of cool themes and skins that you can use to make messaging on your Android phone truly an enjoyable and fun experience. Additionally, the app has a DIY theme and Theme Maker plug-in.
What gives Go SMS Pro an edge over Handcent is the responsiveness of the Go Dev Team and the frequency of updates. Based on user feedback, Go SMS is continuously evolving but too many features make it seem bloated.
With both Handcent SMS and GO SMS Pro sporting the a lot of same features, choosing between one of them as your Android messaging app will be a tough call. So, how about trying out something different? We have few more cool options listed below.
Zlango is a pretty unusual messaging app and we have reviewed it in detail here. Why makes Zlango so different? Zlango is not just another app for text messaging. Its unique feature is icon messaging.
Yup, the app lets you send messages to friends containing icons and graphics to convey a message. And yes, this app seems geared for the younger Android users and not professional purposes (try sending funny icons to your boss about missing a deadline) but there’s no harm in checking it out even if you don’t belong to that crowd.
As a regular messaging app, Zlango is pretty useful and fun to use. You can use various themes and skins as well. And mind you, the available themes range from the wacky to the most gothic. So, if you really like to spice up your Android phone’s messaging app, Zlango is a pretty good app to use.
Let’s see. Chat-style bubbles, contact pictures, emoji icons, signatures, text snippets, passcode lock, blacklisting, scheduling, themes, and other customization features – ChompSMS is yet another awesome messaging app for your Android phone.
Best feature of the app is the quick reply feature. It’s free but you’ll have to bear a small “ad banner” that shows up 14 days after you’ve installed the app which is quite understandable since the app developers need the funding to continue updating the app with more features.
One particular feature of the app that others don’t have is the ChompSMS credits that you can buy to send much cheaper SMS messages. ChompSMS is a solid app and a strong contender for replacing your stock messaging app.
Pansi SMS is another great messaging app that you may want to consider and try out. It even boasts of being the fastest SMS application on Android. True enough, while I was testing this app I didn’t experience any lag time when opening up the app, replying, reading and sending text. It really works like a charm.
Feature-wise, the app has tons of features that you will obviously not find from the stock Android messaging app. Like the previous apps we’ve listed, Pansi features full SMS/MMS support, inbox or conversation style for displaying messages, SMS scheduling, SMS pop up for quick reply, widget support, batch modes and more. You can even use an iPhone style chat bubble if you want to experience how messaging looks like on an iPhone.
Best of all, the app is free and yet you won’t be disturbed by any ads. And if you want more organization features for your messages, you’ll be glad to know that Pansi support creating folders by user.
There you go – the best messaging apps for Android that you can use to replace the stock app. We have consciously left out Google Voice out of this list. Its a pretty awesome app but has one major drawback – it is available only in the US. Besides that, I think we got all the best messaging apps available today.
Did we miss any good ones? Which of these apps do you use for your messaging needs? Share your thoughts in the comments.