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alternative android sms appsAs you might expect, all Android phones come with a stock messaging app that handles SMS and MMS messages. This app provides basic functionality, and may be modified in different ways based on the phone you’re using. It works well enough, but just well enough.

If you’re looking for more options, however, you’ll need a third-party SMS app. Fortunately, there are several great alternatives to the stock messaging app available, and best of all, they’re free.

chompSMS

alternative android sms apps

If you’re looking for a simple, quick SMS app that can replace the default app, chompSMS may be your best bet. This app in default form comes bare-bones, lacking even the portraits of the people you’re texting (the app does fully support this, but it’s not turned on by default). The result is a quick SMS experience that should work well on most Android phones.

Some of chompSMS’s most interesting features include support for sending SMS via what is called “SMS credits” which can be purchased through the app. This makes it possible to buy additional text messaging beyond what your carrier’s plan allows. The app also has integrated support for a service called TextFreak, which sends texts using your data plan instead of counting them against your plan’s text message allotment.

My main gripe with chompSMS is the very obvious ad support. While I have nothing against developers getting paid, it is rather distracting considering the nature of the app. I also would like to see security via PIN – right now, it only offers security via a touch pattern.

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chompSMS requires Android 1.5 or newer.

Go SMS Pro

best sms alternative android

Despite the Pro name, which usually indicates a paid app, Go SMS Pro is entirely free and is one of the best looking SMS apps available anywhere. This is thanks to clear, easy to use theming support that is paired with customization that offers a live preview (this feature is also found on chompSMS and Handcent, to be fair). While you can trick out the other apps here, Go SMS Pro is the one I found easiest to customize. Within a few minutes I had downloaded a cool theme that looks great.

There’s plenty of features to be found here, including a message scheduler, a Facebook chat How To Save Your Complete Facebook Chat History How To Save Your Complete Facebook Chat History Read More plugin and security via both PIN and pattern input. I also found the ability to swipe between different messaging screens – the folders, messages and plugins sections – refreshing. Why don’t more SMS apps do this?

Clarity is the only problem I found with Go SMS Pro. The interface buttons at the bottom aren’t self-explanatory and a bit small. The menu options are also clunky and confusing. These issues are minor, however – overall, Go SMS Pro is a good choice.

Go SMS Pro requires Android 1.6 or newer.

Handcent SMS

alternative android sms apps

I’ve saved what is, in my opinion, the best for last. That’s not to say everyone will prefer Handcent, but it is the SMS app I’ve chosen to use on my own Android phone.

The interface of Handcent provides an excellent compromise between beauty and simplicity. Although the basic theme is based off the iPhone, it’s not exactly identical, and it does a good job of walking the line between performance and functionality. The menu options, when displayed, are sensible and easy to navigate. There are interface buttons on the messaging menu, but I found them more intuitive, and they’re slightly larger which makes them easier to use.

Handcent also has a lot of features including built-in skins, security via PIN or pattern, and a great message scheduler. In addition to this, it’s possible to access “Handcent services” – special features including e-cards, group SMS and an online inbox to which you can save messages.

Handcent requires Android 1.5 or newer.

Conclusion

All of these SMS apps are quite popular and will serve users well. Generally speaking, I’ve found them to be better than the default apps that come with most Android phones. As usual, feel free to weigh in if you have a favorite app that’s not listed here!

  1. michele clark
    September 14, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    I think the person above me might have been asking the same question, but I'm gonna ask again, cause I need to be sure.

    I JUST got an Android (HTC Desire on Us Cellular's network) and I need a texting application that doesn't count towards the "text plan" on the phone. I REALLY don't want to pay 30$ for data for the Droid PLUS 20$ for unlimited text for the account. I usually only send 90-100 a month and their new plans have done away with buying a 5$ 250 message plan.
    Does this app, or any other app, allow you to send text messages (to people without the app installed on their phone, too) with data only and not going via the standard text allotment?

    • M.S. Smith
      September 18, 2011 at 4:47 pm

      Yep, use Kakaotalk. It uses your data plan. I use it myself because I have a 250 message limit, which I would easily go over if I didn't use Kakotalk with my close friends.

    • lhanded
      September 28, 2011 at 12:03 am

      I'm using TextFree.  It doesn't charge us on us cellular but I have a problem with it not having a connection sometimes.  If there is anything out there better, please let me know. 

  2. jessica
    September 13, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    Does go sms pro use data??

  3. pigrabbit
    July 31, 2011 at 7:27 am

    does go sms pro use up data?

    • M.S. Smith
      August 5, 2011 at 3:41 pm

      No, these all use text messaging plans. If you want to use data, try Kakaotalk. http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/pay-texting-kakaotalk-android-ios/

  4. Iaasbntaylorb
    July 2, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Thank you for writing this cause the stock android was not cutting it for me.

  5. 554535
    July 1, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    I have used Handcent for many months but lately I found it was adding more and more features and thus becoming bloated. I then shifted to Go SMS Pro which is wonderful. Light and clean software and the ability to view messages as folders or threaded is the winning point.

    • M.S. Smith
      July 1, 2011 at 8:59 pm

      I kinda felt like Go SMS Pro was slower than Handcent. But it's not like there's a SMS benchmark, so there's a lot of subjectivity here. 

      • Mark O'Neill
        July 1, 2011 at 9:33 pm

        I am using Go SMS Pro too and it's brilliant. I like the bubble view when reading conversations and being able to encrypt conversations with a PIN number is just brilliant.  If I ever lose my phone, I don't have to worry about prying eyes reading my texts :-)

        • Anonymous
          July 3, 2011 at 8:54 am

          The text conversations are encrypted in Go SMS Pro only. If you fire up the stock messaging app, those threads will be there, exposed for anyone to read ;(

  6. chtrich
    July 1, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    So simple, thanks James. I didn't even ever think to check the stock SMS settings. LOL

  7. chtrich
    July 1, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    Does anyone know how to remove or disable the stock SMS when installing a 3rd party app?
    When I get a text my phone notifies me, but now it's always a double notification as both Handcent and the stock app are letting me know. It's annoying.

    • James Wright
      July 1, 2011 at 5:39 pm

      If you go into the settings on your stock messaging app, and then find an area for notifications and turn them off. For my HTC EVO on CyanogenMod 7, i do the following:
      menu button -> settings -> scroll down to notifications and uncheck the box.
      what android phone are you using? it is normally in the settings of that app.

      • M.S. Smith
        July 1, 2011 at 8:58 pm

        Ditto on this. Disable notifications, send messaging icon shortcut to new third-party app, presto!

    • dman977
      July 1, 2011 at 5:47 pm

      Like James says, just disable the notifications. You can not uninstall or keep the stock messaging app from running because it must run in order to receive texts.

  8. Guest
    July 1, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    I still think the best alternative to the stock SMS app is to use Google Voice. Text using data and a whole host of cool integration with the Android platform!

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