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Threema review

Threema review

You may not be familiar with Threema. In the premier league of messenger apps, it lags far behind western favorites such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, as well as market leaders WeChat and QQ in China.

Even imo, which only has a solid user base in the notoriously repressive Turkmenistan, had 200 million users in 2017. Even in 2019, Threema hasn’t managed to crack 5 million; the only market in which it’s ever managed to gain a foothold is in Germany following the Facebook purchase of WhatsApp.

There are several potential reasons why Threema isn’t that popular, but there are plenty more why it should be. For that reason, we took a look under the hood to see what makes Threema tick, how secure it is, and whether it should become your messaging app of choice.

How to use Threema

After purchasing the Threema app on AppStore, Google Play, or the Microsoft Store (it’s usually around $3.39), you’ll receive a license key. Redeem this in order to activate the installation process. Once installation is finished, Threema is ready to use.

Unlike many other instant messengers, Threema doesn’t require you to provide your email address or mobile number in order to get started. You generate your Threema ID by moving your finger around the screen at random. This code is then stored on your device, which makes for completely decentralized information.

Threema Web is the app designed for desktop use. The installation process for this is similarly straightforward and decentralized; simply scan the QR code on the web browser to synchronize the app to your mobile account.

How secure is Threema?

Threema’s servers are located in Zürich, Switzerland, a country known as a data privacy haven. Swiss authorities are not invasive of the data stored on servers in their country, which is an immediate plus for our Threema app review.

What’s more, Threema doesn’t even store any information on its actual servers. As soon as a message is successfully sent, it is wiped from their servers. The actual data is decentralized, meaning it is stored on the user’s devices, not a central server.


One of our favorite things about Threema messenger is that you aren’t required to provide your mobile number when signing up to its services and creating your Threema ID. When you sign up to Threema, you receive a unique eight-digit ID that becomes your private key.

This is part of the way Threema encrypts your data. As some contact information is necessary in order to communicate with other users, Threema creates a key pair for this purpose, which includes a private key and a public key.

As the names suggest, the public key is the one that is sent to the Threema servers, while the private key remains encrypted on your device. Neither of them requires any personal information from you, which makes Threema’s communication protocol one of the most secure of any instant messenger.


After investigating the app for our Threema app review, we found that the encryption software matches that of the 2048-bit RSA handshake common with the best virtual private networks. Furthermore, each individual message is encrypted with 256-bit symmetric key, and each message also receives a second layer of 128-bit encryption for added security.

256-bit encryption is practically invincible when it comes to brute force attacks. All of the computers in the world couldn’t crack this level of encryption between now and the end of the universe. The added 128-bit encryption is there to detect any manipulations or forgeries.

Few instant messengers provide this level of security to their communications. As well as being completely decentralized, then, Threema also ensures any intercepted messages cannot be picked apart by hackers.

Threema troubleshooting

We didn’t encounter any glaring issues while testing the software for our Threema app review. Fortunately, issues in general appear to be few and far between. A relatively extensive Google search provided little evidence of actual problems with the software besides (very) brief instances where it simply didn’t work.

Partially due to the fact that Threema isn’t really on anyone’s radar, it seems not to be blocked in any major territories, even some of the more repressive territories such as Belarus, Iran, and China.

For now, then, Threema seems to be a viable alternative for a great many reasons, particularly if you’re in a territory like the ones mentioned above where it is difficult to access a reliably encrypted instant messenger. (This is especially true for Signal, which ceased automatic domain fronting for territories in which it is banned.)

How Threema compares to other private messaging apps


Launched: 2012
Owner: Threema GmbH
Users: 4.5 million +
End-to-end encryption: Yes
Secret chats: Yes
Secure file sharing: Yes
Data storage in servers: Yes, but only as long as it takes to send the message
Chat/Messages self-destruction: No
Requires mobile number: No
Supported platforms: Android; iOS; Windows Phone


Launched: 2013
Owner: Telegram Messenger LLP
Users: 200 million (monthly)
End-to-end encryption: Yes, but only in secret chats
Secret chats: Yes
Secure file sharing: No
Data storage in servers: No
Chat/Messages self-destruction: Yes, but only in secret chat
Requires mobile number: Yes
Supported platforms: Android; iOS; Windows Phone; PC; Mac; Linux

Read our full Telegram App Review


Launched: 2014
Owner: Signal Foundation/Open Whisper Systems
Users: No recent statistics
End-to-end encryption: Yes
Secret chats: Yes, by default
Secure file sharing: Yes
Data storage in servers: Yes, but only for as long as it takes the message to send
Chat/Messages self-destruction: Yes
Requires mobile number: Yes
Supported platforms: Android; iOS; Windows; Mac OS X

Read our full Signal App Review

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  1. Smash October 15, 2021 at 5:18 pm

    Threema doesn’t have self destructive chats!

    1. avatar
      Ethan Payne October 18, 2021 at 6:42 am

      Hey, Smash. Thanks for letting us know, I’ve corrected the error.

  2. Frans May 9, 2021 at 8:11 am

    Would it be possible to receive a Threema message on twoo seperate computers using the same account (key)?

    1. avatar
      Ethan Payne May 11, 2021 at 12:04 pm

      Hi, Frans. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to have more than one device with the same ID simultaneously. However, you can use Threema Web to access the device that’s set up with your Threema ID. Furthermore, multi-device support is currently in development. 

  3. jo April 16, 2021 at 3:41 pm

    does it work in China?

    1. avatar
      Ethan Payne April 21, 2021 at 11:36 am

      Hello there. Yes, Threema works in China. It’s quite secure and is a great alternative to the more popular messaging apps that get blocked frequently.

  4. Kaan November 22, 2019 at 8:02 am


  5. Sparklight April 22, 2019 at 5:20 am

    This app sounds way better than I had expected! Why is it that nobody really seems to know about it? I love that all you need to make an account is a swipe code!

  6. Mario P March 10, 2019 at 1:49 pm

    Threema’s level of security seems to be its main selling point. Even if they were requested to decrypt your messages by law enforcement, they wouldn’t be able to comply since the secret key is on your device, not their server. It’s too bad they don’t offer a free version for people to try, they would probably increase their user base to put them in competition with the other private messaging apps.

    1. Michael April 10, 2020 at 9:17 pm

      A limited trial version would probably be better.

  7. Rachel J March 6, 2019 at 8:26 am

    Didn’t even know about this one ! There are so many apps like that, it’s hard to choose the right one. This one sounds interesting though I’m not sure I’ll try it out. Messenger is already useful and what’s app is a great addition as well.

    1. Tom Tapping February 22, 2021 at 7:13 pm

      Somehow I think that you don’t get the point of Threema!
      Messenger (from Facebook) is just about the most insecure messager app out there. Facebook harvest over 100 metadata points from EVERY message that you send by it
      Whatsapp (another Facebook app) is heading that way with users compelled to accept new T’s& C’s or start losing access. Facebook then monetarises/sells your message metadata to other businesses whether you approve of them or not.
      Threema shares nothing, monetarises nothing because it’s a paid for app, it needs no personal details like a phone number. email address to make the app work, unlike almost all other apps.
      That amounts to less personal data to share than I needed to input to post this reply…….. And that’s the point!

    2. Paul May 6, 2020 at 12:37 am

      I think you must be missing the point.

      1. Itsmee April 30, 2021 at 5:47 am

        Facebook; Google, making money by deception!
        Threema; save you from deception for very little ;~ 0

  8. Clementine Bérard March 4, 2019 at 9:24 pm

    Threema seems like a good addition to my digital security arsenal. It looks like a big step up from more popular message apps such as Facebook. Plus, you can never go wrong with something located in Switzerland.

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