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One of the great advantages of having an Android phone is being able to customize to your heart’s content, and that includes everything from getting a new launcher Which Android Launcher Should You Use? We Compare The Best! Which Android Launcher Should You Use? We Compare The Best! Given the huge number of launchers available, there's something for everyone. Here are the best app launchers for particular needs, depending on what kind of user you are. Read More to replacing your SMS app. If your stock SMS app doesn’t do everything you want it to, or you just want to try something new, you should give one of these a try.

GO SMS Pro

From the makers of popular apps like GO Launcher and GO Locker, GO SMS Pro is one of the biggest players in the game, and as such it is chock full of features.

Chomp-SMS-Update-1

As you can see above, you can attach all kinds of things to your messages from regular photos and videos to doodles, files, or even a greeting card. Regular photos and videos will be sent as MMS, but larger files or doodles will be sent as a link that the other person can open, unless they are using GO SMS Pro too.

If there’s something you’ve always wanted to do with texting, it’s probably available with GO SMS Pro.

Chomp-SMS-Update-2

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A pop-up reply box, common in many texting apps, is available here as well, but it’s much more customizable and can even appear as a Chat Head-like icon in the corner of your screen to be less invasive. A navigation menu also slides out from the left side, and from there you can access a few of its strongest features: an SMS blocker, Security Lock, scheduled text messages, a backup service, and themes.

While Security Lock should keep prying eyes from checking on your text messages, remember that text messages can still be accessed by other texting apps. So to fully protect yourself, you’ll want to hide or disable your default messaging app and be careful not to let anyone download a new one.

There are so many themes available for this app, you’ll never run out of options, but they will cost you. Access to all the themes is $18.99, and unlocking the extra functions and removing ads costs $4.99, or you can purchase them together for $19.99. It isn’t cheap, but GO Pro has the best theme selection of all these texting apps.

Who should use it? Those who want a relatively clean interface and an abundance of features.

Handcent SMS

Up next is another feature-full app: Handcent SMS. This app has an older look to it and a swipe-to-the-side animation that makes it look as if the whole app is on a cube. With many of the same features of GO Pro, it’s mainly differentiated by its clunkier, older interface and the fact that its completely free.

Handcent-SMS-1

While Handcent has an options button in the top right, it also has a hidden menu for some reason that brings up a completely different set of options; this menu can be accessed by your capacitive options button or should appear on your navigation bar if you don’t have capacitive buttons. When most apps are moving to incorporate the menu button into their interface to make it more visible, Handcent has both visible and hidden menu buttons.

Like GO SMS Pro, there are too many features here to count. Send your location, an audio clip, or personalize the chat bubbles and backgrounds colors for each individual message thread.

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You will need a Handcent account to use nearly any of the features; however, this account means that you never have to pay for Handcent. While supported by ads, all the features are available in the free version of the app, and there is no way to pay to remove the ads.

Who should buy it? Those who want a completely free, full-featured app, and don’t mind ads and a bit of a tacky interface.

chomp SMS

chomp SMS manages to weed out a lot of the unnecessary features of the previous two apps and presents you with a clean, basic app that still holds a lot of functionality if you go digging.

Buried in the settings you can find options to change the color of the LED notification, set a password to protect the app, or change the theme. While there are several apps for scheduling SMS messages Send It Later: 4 Useful SMS Scheduling Apps To Text At Just The Right Time [Android] Send It Later: 4 Useful SMS Scheduling Apps To Text At Just The Right Time [Android] MS messages have become one of the most common forms of communication. They can also be extremely flexible, with scheduling and delivery reports. While delivery reports are usually included in stock SMS apps, scheduling is... Read More  to be sent, chomp SMS has this feature built in, just like GO SMS Pro.

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The themes are pretty lacking in chomp SMS, though — there are only 5 in total — but you can customize it down to the shape and color of the speech bubbles so that you have it just the way you like it.

Chomp-SMS-2

chomp SMS manages to keep things simple while also allowing for customization if you want it. It strikes a good balance in between minimalist and feature-packed, and getting rid of ads only costs $2.49 via in in-app purchase.

The biggest difference in GO Pro SMS, Handcent, and chomp SMS is really the price. While all have free versions, GO Pro is the most expensive, chomp is cheaper, and Handcent is completely free.

Who should use it? Those who want key features and a nice, customizable interface.

Textra SMS

Brought to you by the same people who made chomp SMS, Textra is intended to be a stripped down, simplified, faster version of chomp. Where chomp allows you to customize and change every tiny detail, Textra is less customizable but far simpler and faster.

Textra-SMS-1

Textra is perfect if you just want to install an SMS app and forget that it’s there. There are no ads, no paid version, and the entire settings menu is presented in one clean list that is super easy to go through.

There are some nice improvements from chomp as well; for instance, when in a conversation, you can swipe in the from the right to see the timestamps for every message. It’s a small change, but it’s intuitive, slick, and keeps the timestamps out of the way until you need them.

Textra-SMS-2

You can switch between a light and a dark pattern and also customize the bubble colors and notifications minimally, but Textra is really just meant to blend into the background and become a quiet SMS app.

Who should use it? Minimalists who just want a basic, fast SMS app.

hello sms

Departing from the basic texting app format is hello sms, which ditches not only capital letters but also a lot of what people associate with texting apps. You switch between conversations from a tabbed interface on the left, rather than jumping from a list of all your conversations to a specific message thread, and there aren’t any colorful message bubbles, just simple blacks, whites, and greys.

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hello sms keeps things simple, having even fewer customization options than Textra. You can switch between night mode (black background, white text) and day mode (white background, black text), turn on/off in-app sounds, and adjust how notifications appear, but that’s it.

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Contact pictures are displayed along the left side in small circles, and if there isn’t a photo, the app uses the person’s initials instead. It’s wonderfully simple, takes advantage of the actionable notifications found in Android 4.2+, and is a fresh take on texting. Plus, it has no ads, and no in-app purchases.

Who should use it? Those who want a brand new and minimalist interface for free.

Now SMS

Those on newer versions of Android have no doubt run into Google’s nearly ubiquitous card-style user interface. It’s present in Google Now, Hangouts, Google+, and many other Google apps. If you love the look, but don’t want to use Hangouts as your default SMS app Google+ Integrates SMS In Hangouts, Pumps Up Video & Image Editing Google+ Integrates SMS In Hangouts, Pumps Up Video & Image Editing Hangouts has a few new updates, perhaps the biggest of which is the fact that it now integrates with your text messaging. Google+ will also now automatically fix and enhance webcam lighting. Read More , that’s where Now SMS comes into play.

Now-SMS-1

Now SMS manages to blend the traditional messaging app style in with the card interface, departing from Hangout’s pull-out menu from the left. It looks nice and feels right at home on Android.

Unfortunately, nearly all of the cool features, like theming, popup messages, and reminders, are only available in the premium version through an in-app purchase of $2.02. Still, it’s a low price for an app that works well and has a fair level of customization.

Who should buy it? Those who love Google’s card-style user interface.

Conclusion

For texting on your phone, these apps are great, but don’t forget that you can also text from your tablet or PC. 3 Ways to Send and Check SMS Messages from Your PC 3 Ways to Send and Check SMS Messages from Your PC Do you often get distracted by SMS alerts on your mobile while working on the computer? Switching from one device to another is major interruption of your work flow, so tools that help you stay... Read More

Texting isn’t the most secure form of communicating, and it could be dying out soon with the prevalence of more secure messaging apps 6 Secure iOS Messaging Apps That Take Privacy Very Seriously 6 Secure iOS Messaging Apps That Take Privacy Very Seriously Don't fancy your messages being read by unwanted parties? Get a secure messaging app and worry no more. Read More , but for now it’s still so widely used that you’ll probably be making good use of your new SMS app.

Which of these apps is your favorite? Or do you have a different SMS app that you prefer? Let us know in the comments!

Image Credit: Flickr/Michele Ursino

  1. Jenny Isupov
    October 5, 2015 at 10:33 pm

    I love these apps!
    One cool one that wasn't mentioned is: invi SMS messenger

  2. Steve
    March 16, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    Chomp SMS Has Zero Customer Service. Used to love it. But now every second "update" they send causes problems. Last one created a problem where I can't even text. Sent them a very detailed email outlining the problem. 26 hours later all I got from them is "send a screenshot". Nothing from them for 3 days. Not a peep. Then sent a follow up email & THAT got ignored too. CS in non existent. Their only solution is to ignore the problem hoping you will go away. Decent product at one time but way too many problems now...and they totally ignore you when you ask for help. And it's NOT free, they say it is but you'll get a message in 2 weeks to pay if you want to continue. My stock app works fine (but looks ugly)...so the problem IS with Chomp. Downloaded GoSMS in frustration over a week ago and it works fine as well. My advise is don't waste your time with this one. Be aware this same company also makes Textra SMS and Telegram X.

  3. Waqas Ilyas
    February 27, 2015 at 4:58 pm

    EvolveSMS

  4. ihave5brats
    January 10, 2015 at 9:50 am

    Textra is a great looking, customizable app however will not ever send my sms always says failed so I'm using my phone sms app that was preinstalled not as nice but messages actually go through now hope they fix textra

  5. arslan raza
    December 27, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    in go sms pro
    sms allow sending option start coming..
    how i can solve this problem?

  6. Rison
    August 7, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    I reallllllly wish Textra had Chomps' feature to send scheduled messages :-/ I know there are other apps that can handle that feature, but I usually don't think about scheduling (i.e. making sure I send a message when my friends are actually awake, thus not waking them up and cussing me out the next morning) until after my message is already composed. I guess I could just keep practicing my cutting-and-pasting skills or continue to use Chomp. Thanks for the excellent article!

  7. Alex
    June 27, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    goSMS is so bloated now! I used to use it on 2-3 devices before my previous one. I just switched to a new device and downloaded several. I downloaded goSMS first but it had so much bloat/ads and decided to look for something different. After trying the different ones suggested on this and other websites, I have to say that 8sms is by far my favorit.

  8. Shafqat
    June 8, 2014 at 5:22 am

    i love to use hello sms but it has less features and not good..

  9. Apostolito
    May 29, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    Testing Sliding Messaging Pro these days. Will report with my findings.

  10. Tim Vels
    May 7, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    I moved from Handsent and it is the best decision to use Textra.
    Simple and small in size than the others I have used so far.

    • Justin D
      May 9, 2014 at 12:44 am

      Lots of Textra fans in the comments! Thanks for sharing. :)

  11. Amir
    April 28, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    I think the best SMS I have found so far is What'sApp

    • Justin D
      May 9, 2014 at 12:43 am

      I don't think Whatsapp sends SMSes does it? Only lets you message other Whatsapp users, as far as I know.

  12. Erise
    April 18, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    I think one of the best features in chompSMS and Textra (which you didn't mention) s the ability to do a quick sms by swiping down the notification bar and selecting quick compose (it's the one feature I jailbroke my old iPhones for). Love the clean interface of Textra too.

    • Justin D
      May 9, 2014 at 12:43 am

      Hm, I always found the quick compose from the notification drawer to be more annoying than anything. But you're right, it is a feature I should've talked about more. My bad, but thanks for mentioning it! :)

  13. Stian H
    April 10, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    I really miss EvolveSMS in this article. It's a great app with a lot of features, without feeling bloated. Read more about it here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.klinker.android.evolve_sms

    • Justin D
      May 9, 2014 at 12:41 am

      Looks interesting, thanks for the recommendation! :)

  14. Sul
    April 9, 2014 at 9:41 pm

    Hello SMS for me

  15. Alain S
    April 9, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    No dual SIM apps?

    • Justin D
      May 9, 2014 at 12:40 am

      Unfortunately I don't have a dual SIM device, so that's not an option for me. Any recommendations for dual SIM SMS replacement apps that another writer might be able to try out, though?

  16. MsHanson
    April 9, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    Any room on this list for MightyText.net? I migrated from AirDroid and have never looked back. I can text from my tablet when I'm away from my PC, and regardless ofwhere the phone is lost in the house, it appraises me of the battery level.

    • Justin D
      May 9, 2014 at 12:39 am

      I love MightyText! But, as far as I know, it isn't a full SMS replacement app; it only allows you to send texts from your tablet or desktop, right?

  17. Bob
    April 9, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    I used to love Go SMS. I could live with the ads at the bottom of the screen. But then it became irritating when they moved the ads to the top of your message list and you had to move past the ad to get to your message. I recently switched to Textra and have been happy with it despite lacking a few features.

    • Justin D
      May 9, 2014 at 12:38 am

      Seems like a lot of people are really happy with Textra. It is a really great app!

  18. Sarath
    April 9, 2014 at 11:08 am

    Pansi SMS - works like a mail box it allow us organize content, very helpful !

    • Justin D
      May 9, 2014 at 12:31 am

      Hmm I will have to check it out. Thanks!

  19. Ankit
    April 9, 2014 at 9:31 am

    I have tried them all. HoverText (Ninja) has the best interface so far. Handcent/Go/Chomp/Hello suck. Textra though stands apart. Hovertext is good.

  20. Halkun
    April 8, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    I used to use bitesms on a jailbroken iphone then migrated onto Galaxy S4. Upon finding out Textra is the same creator as Chompsms and bitesms, I instantly used textra as my default. Simple, fast and easy to use app. I've already recommended to few of my friends.

    Textra > Stock sms

    • Justin D
      May 9, 2014 at 12:29 am

      Textra is definitely a superb option. Thanks for sharing. :)

  21. Ben S
    April 8, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    I've tried many of these apps; most are pretty good.

    Handcent is the first one I used. I liked it, but I found it became fairly laggy on my old phone, which may have been the phone's fault, not the app's.

    Then I went to GO. It's nice and packs lots of features, but I found it really bloated and the ads (even in the notification bar) weren't worth it.

    Then I tried Chomp, which was easy and clean but kind of outdated.

    I've been using Textra since I got my Nexus 5 and like it a lot. It's more up-to-date than Chomp, but has the level of customization that I want without being bloated. I'm very happy with Textra for now.

    • Justin D
      May 9, 2014 at 12:27 am

      Textra is a great app! It's what I recommend to a lot of my less tech-savvy friends with Android phones. Thanks for sharing. :)

    • martha
      March 7, 2015 at 11:31 pm

      how come i cant find where to add a picture or a file within an instant message that I'm typing?

  22. Ebbe K
    April 8, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    I'd like to mention MySMS (http://www.mysms.com/). It does not have that many bells and whistles but it does have one thing that I think is absolutely vital: It backs up my full SMS history to my Evernote account (it also supports backup on Google Drive or Dropbox). And yes, all the old SMSes are restored when get a new phone and install MySMS on it.

    • Graeme
      April 8, 2014 at 7:29 pm

      I love the fact that you can access your texts from the web or a tablet which is super convenient. Also the sliding interface where you can slide between conversations without going back to the messages list is great for texting multiple people quickly.

    • Bikas V
      April 9, 2014 at 8:01 am

      You forgot desktop. MySMS has dedicated desktop app as well.

    • Tony Karakashian
      April 9, 2014 at 2:19 pm

      Seconded! Since I moved to mySMS, I now leave my phone in the bedroom on the charger when I get home and use my tablet all night long. The only feature I needed that my phone had that the tablet didn't was SMS (I don't really use it as a phone all that often. At home, I'm more likely to have Google Voice forward calls to my Skype number so it rings on the tablet). The backup/restore features are just icing on the cake.

      I moved my wife to it because she was using Go SMS for a long time, but it finally got to the point that I told her not to send me MMS messages. Go moves your content to one of their web servers, and half the time it's been inaccessible.

    • Justin D
      May 9, 2014 at 12:26 am

      Thanks for letting me know about MySMS, sounds awesome :)

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