The 7 Best WhatsApp alternatives in 2021

Last updated: January 15, 2021
Best Alternatives to Whatsapp

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If you’re reading this article, you’ve probably heard about the new WhatsApp privacy policy issues. While this secure messaging app is easy-to-use and has more than 2 billion users, its owner Facebook couldn’t keep its hands away from all that personal data.

Let’s see what has actually happened with WhatsApp in January 2021 and what can you do to continue sending messages securely to your family and friends.

WhatsApp security concerns in 2021

Sadly, it’s not the first time when WhatsApp has security and privacy issues.

When Facebook bought the mobile messaging service in 2014, Zuckerberg promised users that they could continue to expect total privacy and ownership of their data. Since then, of course, Facebook finds itself under ongoing scrutiny for shady practices that look to have compromised user privacy and security across all of its platforms.

In May 2019, an Israeli company NSO Group managed to exploit a security flaw that allows remotely installing surveillance software on the targeted phone. While Facebook has issued an update, it remains unclear if it removes the spyware and, most importantly, what can this software do with your smartphone.

In January 2021, WhatsApp updated its privacy policy. It now states that personal data, such as phone numbers, contacts, profile names and pictures is now shared with Facebook. At least the encrypted message contents seem to be safe.

The fact is, privacy keeps being removed from WhatsApp under the guise of analytical data. Whether or not your personal data is being mined and being prepared for sale to advertisers is unknown.

These WhatsApp security fears mean that a lot of previously enthusiastic users are now looking for secure messaging alternatives.

7 messenger alternatives to WhatsApp in 2021

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1. Signal

Signal messaging service logo

Find it on: iOS and Android

Benefits:
Built for iPhone, Android, Windows, Mac OS, Chrome and Linux, this messenger service offers telephone number based registration and private communication. Your number is just the ID and not the transmission point – meaning that you can avoid any SMS or MMS fees.

Things to know:
This is an open-sourced model and offers excellent features, including emojis and stickers.

We particularly like:
Great end-to-end encryption features and a simple, user-friendly interface.

Our Signal review

2. Telegram

Telegram messaging software logo

Find it on: iOS and Android

Benefits:
This is a true alternative to WhatsApp in terms of features and scope. You’ll instantly notice that the video and voice message facilities are similar and that there are plenty of emojis, sticker, channels, groups and chatbots on offer.

Things to know:
You can also use Telegram on the desktop app version, or via a web chat application, so you can make use of it when working on Windows, Mac, or Linux.

We particularly like:
Telegram makes a point of respecting user privacy, with end-to-end encryption and log in via your phone number only.

Read our Telegram review

3. Wire

Wire communication and collaboration app logo

Find it on: the web and Android.

Benefits:
A clear interface and encryption from start to finish. Wire is rapidly winning fans when it comes to secure messaging, which is unsurprising given that it’s the brainchild of Janus Friis, the co-founder of Skype. It’s particularly noticeable for its smart design as well as privacy credentials which vastly exceed WhatsApp security levels.

Things to know:
You’ll need to use your email or mobile number to begin using the app. This data isn’t shared though, as you’ll simply use a username to communicate.

We particularly like:
The timed message feature, which allows you to “self-destruct” messages after a 5 second to 1 day period has elapsed.

4. LINE

Line mobile messenger app logo

Find it on: iOS and Android

Benefits:
You may be unfamiliar with LINE, but this app is the biggest competitor of WhatsApp. It boasts a fantastic feature array, including an endless array of stickers and the ability to make conference calls. It is also light on data use, especially compared to WhatsApp, going light on data when you make calls.

Things to know:
LINE was developed by a Japanese development team who invested heavily in a powerful set of features.

We particularly like:
The very clean interface which is customizable to your preferences. It also has excellent end-to-end encryption.

5. KIK Messenger

KIK instant messaging mobile app logo

Find it on: iOS and Android

Benefits:
The app is free and doesn’t store your data (e.g., phone number). In fact, your only identifier is your username. All messaging data is housed on your phone, locally, so you are responsible for managing your privacy.

Things to know:
KIK garnered a bit of a “mixed” reputation in recent years as the app of choice for drug dealing, petty crime, and sexting – amongst other things – so one thing you can be sure of is its privacy credentials!

We particularly like:
The fact that this app is basically unmoderated, making it ideal if you are conscious about privacy and keen to set your own processes in place for security.

6. Wickr Me

Wickr Me messaging app logo

Find it on: Android

Benefits:
This is apparently the messaging app preferred by politicians, journalists and other global movers and shakers who are keen to converse privately. It doesn’t store any of your contacts on its servers, allows you to delete messages permanently and irretrievably if you wish and also doesn’t store any metadata.

Things to know:
Again, the app uses your phone number as a log-in, and it has a fun data set of emojis, stickers and more.

We particularly like:
That Wickr Me is free, has no advertising and offers excellent data encryption – putting WhatsApp security attempts firmly in the shade by comparison.

7. Kontalk

Kontalk instant messaging app logo

Find it on: PC and Android

Benefits:
With Kontalk, you can host your own service, WhatsApp style! It’s basically an open alternative service based on XMPP, which means you can host it privately on your own server.

Things to know:
Kontalk is available as a Google Play app, an F-Droid store app, and a desktop client format. This gives you real flexibility over customizing your solution.

We particularly like:
The ultimate in privacy, the open XMPP format of this app means that you are totally in charge of your chat privacy

Bottom line

WhatsApp is still a great messaging service feature-wise. Facebook has invested in plenty of enticing features, but many users now accept that it is, essentially, an advertiser’s data farm.

These new WhatsApp privacy concerns mean that many people will walk away before the February 8, 2021 deadline. After it, all users, save for Europe and the UK, will be forced to agree with the new privacy policy terms and give away their personal information to Facebook.

If online privacy is something that you value, one of these alternative messaging apps may be your alternative to WhatsApp. Yes, you will find that every app here has its own set of pros and cons, but at least you can rest easy in the knowledge that you aren’t providing any data inadvertently to Facebook.

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4 comments
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  1. battlebornpro

    Telegram is pretty useful. I use KIK for dating. It’s pretty good to have a thing to give a guy so that he can’t have your real number, gotta make sure that a guy isn’t a stalker or somebody who wants to hurt you. There are too many creepy jerks out there today that you gotta have something like that.


  2. Jemila G

    Oh thanks for the article. I was sure alternatives existed but I wasn’t sure which one were the best and if they were good alternatives to What’sapp. I know WA isn”t safe but I’m so used to using it that I have a hard time using another app.


  3. Donald Thorn

    Isn’t it great that Whatsapp has many contenders out there even though I enjoy Whatsapp so much. I’m glad to find a lot more contenders I have never heard of on this blog so thank for the heads up. I appreciate this info much.


  4. zanjoe

    I’ve been a user of Wickr and I can vouch for how good it is. I’ve had to tolerate the use of Whatsapp though as a lot of people are still on the platform. Not really happy with Facebook’s move to get Whatsapp on and especially knowing the shady practices, who knows what would happen.

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