Text messaging is a big part of phone use for many people, and while all phones come with native messaging clients, they can be painfully, horribly bad. Some native text messaging apps also don't handle MMS the way we'd like, while others are laid out poorly or just lacking in features. Thankfully we have the option to use one of many, many third-party SMS clients on Android — some are minimal messaging apps, and others offer features above and beyond the rest.
Straight from Google
Messages is Google's official SMS app, and it features a simple interface and plenty of features for the average user without going overboard with bells and whistles. It also supports Google's RCS features, which allow for iMessage or WhatsApp-like features like read receipts and larger file transfers as long as your carrier supports it.
Pulse SMS is an interesting and very, very customizable text messaging app. but that's not the real draw. Pulse is a text messaging app that helps bring your text messages to all your other devices, too, from tablets to computers. Pulse has also added password-protected private conversations box in case you need to protect the identity and messages of your sources, for example.
Super fast messaging
A long-time favorite, Textra is a clean-looking SMS app with plenty of features for hardcore users. Textra offers a slew of customization options with various theme colors, notifications, and per-contact settings. There's even built-in SMS scheduling, quick replies, improved group messaging, SMS blocking, and more.
Keep it to yourself
Originally, Signal Private Messenger was designed to be a more secure form of standard messaging. Then, an update brought the ability to use this as your default SMS client. In addition to the end-to-end encryption, you can also use Signal for audio and video calls.
SMS Organizer arose from a Microsoft Garage project and has turned into quite a popular SMS replacement. The app automatically organizes your inbox, while offering smart assistant options. These include creating tasks if you need to pay your friend back, for example. Microsoft has also included auto-backup to Google Drive in order to keep your messages safe and secure.
The kitchen sink
If you want an app that allows you to customize every single aspect of your messaging experience without taking up a bunch of space, then YAATA is the answer. The app offers the standard SMS/MMS support, including Group Chats, Archiving, and more. There are also a slew of customizable notification options, including the ability to use Chat heads similar to Facebook Messenger.
Chomp SMS is one of those apps that has been around since seemingly the dawn of the Play Store. The app has transitioned and been updated on a regular basis and continues to be a fan favorite. While it works great as your default SMS client, you can also take advantage of integration with the likes of Pushbullet or MightyText for cross-platform support.
Use it everywhere
Another app that has seen quite the transition over the years is Handcent. The app is now named Handcent Next, and includes major features such as desktop notification, cloud back-up, and much more. Handcent has continues to add more and more features and customization options in hopes to keep its user-base happy while attracting new users.
There's an app for that
There are so many different SMS applications on the Play Store, but sometimes you don't need to really look too hard. Google's Messages (opens in new tab) app is pre-installed on many devices and is a great way to send text messages to your friends, family, and whomever else you wish. There are a couple of great selling points for using it when looking at desktop notifications and replies, and the fact that it's free.
However, the bare-bones app may not be for you and in that case we would recommend Pulse SMS (opens in new tab). This comes from the makers of Talon for Twitter, and is just as customizable, if not moreso. All of your conversations are encrypted from end-to-end and you an easily set up and take advantage of the web app to leave your eyes on your computer and not your phone.
Ara Wagoner was a staff writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing about cases, Chromebooks, or customization, she's wandering around Walt Disney World. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.
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