Don't like the IM app on your phone? Check out these replacements!
So maybe the standard messaging app that came on your phone isn't the best. You may think it's a bit clunky or doesn't pack a lot of punch when it comes to features. Luckily, we can replace those with other messaging apps. Most of them will bring some different design elements to the table, as well as additional functionality to fulfill our texting (and multimedia messaging) needs.
These apps will handle regular messaging without requiring you and your friends to use the same platform. This is not meant to provide a detailed look at any particular apps, but offer an overview of several popular ones. The ones we've listed here have received pretty good reviews on the Play Store.
Now let's get to it!
1. Textra SMS
Textra is definitely a handsome-looking SMS app, especially since it received its Sept. 3 Material Design-inspired update. I like the look quite a bit, and I look forward to seeing how it will evolve going forward.
It's pretty customizable. You can choose your color themes, set dark mode ('dark mode off' has a white background, dark mode is grey, black is...well...black), request delivery reports, auto save videos and images to your phone (if you're into that sort of thing) and more.
I also like that Textra has a quick reply pop up, or the ability to reply immediately by tapping on the notification, which will display a window that kind of hovers over your home screen or whatever you were looking at before. Please see the above screen shot. Unfortunately, landscape keyboard is not available with this feature.
This app will take care of your MMS (picture and group messaging) needs as well.
Download Textra SMS (Free)
2. Hello sms
Hello is kind of like the Gmail of text messaging apps, at least in the sense that both feature tabs. It's a pretty simplistic app overall.
Hello also handles MMS.
One interesting thing is, upon setup, you will be asked to invite your friends to use the app through SMS. Don't worry, you can bypass that and still use the app. No need to spam your friends and contacts with that request to use the app.
Download hello (Free)
3. chomp SMS
Chomp is pretty customizable. If you want to see a picture of Fluffy or Fido as you background wallpaper in your messaging app, you can make it happen. If you want crazy emojis, well, Chomp says that it offers over 800 of 'em. You can also adjust font and more.
Chomp also has some other pretty useful features. You can schedule when you want texts to send, stop a text while it's being sent, long-hold a contact in a conversation list to blacklist them and more.
Oh, and it's also MMS capable.
Download chomp SMS (Free)
4. Handcent SMS
Just to get it out of the way, yes, Handcent also supports MMS.
Now that that's been said, Handcent has some pretty cool features. One is called Handcent Anywhere, which allows you text from your computer. You can customize skins and themes. It can tell you how many texts are in a thread right by your contact's name, which is cool. The app also supports bulk messaging, can back up your messages, send and receive vCards, draw little doodles and send them as MMS and more. There's also a quick reply pop up, like in Textra—and landscape keyboard works here. There's a Private Box feature, which lets you password protect your texts.
Handcent did seem to lag more than the other apps listed thus far. It wasn't terrible and it's still nice to use, but Handcent might be a little bloated. Still, it's hard to argue with a 4.4 rating on the Play Store. Some of the app's features might outweigh that for some people.
Download Handcent SMS (Free)
5. GO SMS Pro
There are plenty of themes available, although you need to pay for a lot of them (if you want to use GO SMS Pro and are a theme fiend, look into their Themes VIP package).
With the free version of the app, you can schedule when text messages will be sent, set up auto reply and block spam messages. There's also a Private Box, or encryption for messages you select.
The Functions Pro version gives you unlimited cloud storage space to back up your messages and send MMS up to 20 MB. It also gives you an advanced Private Box.
Download GO SMS Pro (Free); can upgrade in the app to Functions Pro ($6.99), Themes VIP (all paid themes included for life for $18.99), or all for $19.99
Hangouts: Well, we can't end this without mentioning Hangouts. After all, it is the default messaging app on the Nexus and on stock Android. It can handle SMS and MMS. Now that Google Voice has been integrated, it can handle some calls now as well. It can be a little confusing, so be sure to check out Phil's guide to the new Hangouts.
MightyText: This one also lets you text from your computer. It's available free of charge.