Needless to say, there are tons of messaging applications / services available for Android at this point in time. SMS messages have managed to become considerably less popular over the years, as people use Internet connections to send messages these days, for the most part. Well, we'll try to grab some apps from both worlds here, as we are talking about messaging in general, so you can expect some SMS apps to be included on this list.
We did try to limit the number of apps included on this list to around 10 apps, as we did our best to select our favorites only, excluding Discord, as it's aimed at gamers exclusively. There may be some other apps out there that you use, and consider to be better than the ones laid out here, which is perfectly fine. Having said that, these apps are not listed in any specific order, it doesn't really matter if the app is first in line, or the last.
Telegram has managed to become quite popular due to its security-driven features. Telegram encrypts everything within this app, including chats, groups, media, and so on. The company encrypts it using 256-bit symmetric AES encryption, 2048-bit RSA encryption, and Diffie-Hellman secure key exchange. Aside from that, this is your regular, nice-looking application, which offers everything you'd expect out of such app, ranging from sending GIFs, to sending documents.
Kik is an extremely popular messaging service / application, though it is more powerful in the east, than it is in the west. Kik offers a nice-looking application for its messaging service, and using that app you can communicate with your Kik contacts in a number of ways. You can send text messages, of course, but in addition to that the app has support for stickers, gifs, various other media… and you can even play games with your friends using this application.
WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging services on the planet, though it is owned by Facebook now. WhatsApp has always been known as a reliable messaging service which is available on pretty much every platform, which is why it managed to become so popular. This app includes everything you'd expect, and then some, as it also comes with some theming options, just in case you don't like the regular setup. The app is also expected to receive a proper dark mode soon, as it is already available in the beta channel.
Signal Foundation advertises its "Signal" messaging service / app as a "Private Messenger". Signal has a privacy focus same as Telegram, as it emphasizes its end-to-end encryption. Signal is actually open source, so anyone can verify its security by taking a look at the code. This app is equipped with all the messaging features you'd expect, ranging from media sending, to voice calls… and the app also looks really nice.
Viber, much like WhatsApp, managed to become extremely popular over the years. This is one of the most-used messaging services on the globe, and it is packed with features, not to mention it received a dark mode not long ago. Viber also comes with both desktop and tablet applications, and you can make free audio and video calls using this application. A ton of other messaging features are included here, including gifs, sending various media files, group chats, and so on.
Many of you know that Hangouts is going away, at least in this form, as the Hangouts Chat is expected to become available to consumers. Hangouts has been around for a long time, and Google's decision to release several other messaging apps instead of focusing on Hangouts is really odd, to say the least, as this service is still quite compelling. You can make both audio and video calls via Hangouts, while you have access to stickers as well. The app looks really simple, and quite nice at the same time, while it works fine, for the most part.
Messages, also known as Google Messages and Android Messages, is Google's very own messaging app. This app primarily works as an SMS app, but it also allows you to chat using RCS tech, though that is quite limited for now. In any case, this is a really solid application which comes with a desktop counterpart. Its design is very clean, and the app is quite intuitive, not to mention completely free to use.
Textra has been one of the most compelling SMS applications for years, and that hasn't changed. This app works really well, and it is fully packed with features. Textra allows you to alter its design quite a bit, and the same goes for sheer functionality of the app, so that it fits your needs best. Over 180 material design themes are available here, and you can even alter looks of chat bubbles, if you want.
(Facebook) Messenger & Messenger Lite
Facebook's Messenger service is extremely popular, and even though its main app has been known to drain the battery, the company actually managed to improve it in the last year or so. Messenger got a new design update, and some new features, including a full-blown dark mode. The app is packed with features, ranging from gifs and stickers, to audio and video call options. Messenger Lite is a toned-down version of the regular Messenger app, but it comes with most features the main app offers, and it's much more battery-friendly.
Pulse SMS is yet another compelling application for sending SMS (and MMS) messages, in case you still use those. The design of this app is on point, and animations are also quite fluid. You can engage in private conversations, while the "Blacklist" option is also included. This app supports dual SIMs, and you can also utilize its "Automated replies" feature. This app also allows you to create SMS chat groups, if you want, while it comes with a desktop client as well, and has end-to-end encryption.