Best WhatsApp Alternative in 2021: Jumping Ship

Looking for a secure platform to send messages with friends? The app store has many options to choose from, so we’ll go through some of the best WhatsApp alternatives that are available.

Robin Barber
By Robin Barber (Assistant Editor)
— Last Updated: 2021-03-24T13:57:18+00:00

With over 2 billion monthly active users, WhatsApp is easily one of the most well-known and widely used messaging services. However, since it recently announced changes to its terms of service, many users have been looking for another option. In this article, we’ll give you our pick for the best WhatsApp alternative.

Key Takeaways:

  • End-to-end encrypted communication is a key part of data privacy.
  • Some apps, like WhatsApp, will store lots of user data. 
  • The three best WhatsApp alternatives are Signal, Wickr Me and Telegram.

There have always been three things that made WhatsApp popular: it’s easy to use, it does everything that most people need and it keeps your data safe. The inclusion of end-to-end encryption is especially nice, as Facebook hasn’t always been the best platform for respecting its users’ privacy.

However, it looks like that’s starting to change. WhatsApp’s changes to its terms of service would give Facebook access to the metadata WhatsApp stores to run and improve Facebook’s service. This has led people to delete WhatsApp and look for alternatives that aren’t trying to use their data (you can read our guide on how to delete your WhatsApp account).

  • You can use basically any messaging app instead of WhatsApp, but there are some features you should look out for. Normally, a secure messenger will use end-to-end encryption and won’t store much personal data. Using open-source programs is another good way to ensure there’s nothing hidden in the app, as anyone can access the full code.

  • The biggest WhatsApp competitors in terms of monthly users — such as Facebook Messenger and Snapchat — aren’t much better for privacy. So, if you’re looking for a secure messaging platform with a larger user base, Signal and Telegram are both excellent choices.

  • Unlike WhatsApp, messages sent in Telegram aren’t encrypted end-to-end by default. Both companies also take plenty of metadata. So if your main issue is storing data with Facebook, this is a decent alternative, but you should make sure you turn on “secret chats” before sending anything.

  • For most people, Signal is the best messaging application for privacy, but there is an exception to this. If you need to keep your phone number completely hidden, you should use a service like Wickr Me or Element, where you can create an account without it.

Why You Need a WhatsApp Alternative 

Storing their users’ metadata — things like your phone number, status messages, profile name, profile picture, IP address, etc. — is something that most services do, although WhatsApp does take a lot. As WhatsApp is one of the most common messaging apps with end-to-end encryption, many people have been willing to hand over this data.

However, as of February 8, 2021, WhatsApp is sending all of that information to Facebook. Given Facebook’s history of using data for targeted ads and large scandals — such as Cambridge Analytica’s data mining — it should be no surprise that people want to move to a platform that’ll fight for their privacy a bit harder.

Although there are plenty of tools to protect your privacy and Facebook does have some privacy settings, your only way to truly get away from this invasion of privacy is by using these WhatsApp alternatives. You should also consider moving off Facebook Messenger for many of the same reasons.

The 10 Best WhatsApp Alternatives 

As many people use WhatsApp because of the good balance between privacy and messaging tools, the best app for you will depend on which is more important to you. So, we’ve found the 10 best alternatives to WhatsApp for different uses — privacy, usability and group conversations.

  1. Signal — A chat app that’s known worldwide for its focus on privacy
  2. Wickr Me — For anonymous accounts and messages that self-destruct
  3. Telegram — Better for larger groups, but end-to-end encryption is still available
  4. Element — An open-source platform with lots of potential
  5. Dust — A good combination of encryption and self-destructing messages
  6. Line — Very similar to WhatsApp but without Facebook running it
  7. Wire Personal — Well-rounded but questionable privacy choices 
  8. Discord — Better for group chats and calls but doesn’t encrypt end-to-end
  9. Slack — Great for organizations and businesses
  10. Bridgefy — An offline messaging app that uses Bluetooth

Carry on to read reasons why you should — or shouldn’t — use these WhatsApp alternatives.  

1. Signal

alternative to whatsapp signal
Signal has a clean interface and takes you straight into the messenger.

Available on: iOS, Android, Windows 10, MacOS, Linux

Pros:

  • Industry-standard end-to-end encryption, even in group calls
  • Incredibly easy to use
  • Endorsed by Edward Snowden, Bruce Schneier & Elon Musk

Cons:

  • Requires a phone number
  • Doesn’t support multiple phones on one account

In 2018, WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton joined Moxie Marlinspike — the founder of Open Whisper Systems (OWS) — to improve on the secure messaging app Signal. It has since received endorsements by Edward Snowden, Elon Musk and Bruce Schneier for its dedication to user privacy.

The reason many users praise it, is because it works. The encryption stops anyone from getting access to your messages, and the app itself is incredibly easy to use. You can even hide some of the limited metadata it handles by using options like the “secure sender.” Overall, if you’re looking for a secure WhatsApp alternative, pick Signal.

alternative to whatsapp signal messaging
You can send messages or start secure video and voice calls easily.

2. Wickr Me

alternative to whatsapp wickr me
Wickr Me is a great app if you don’t want to reveal your phone number.

Available on: iOS, Android, Windows 10, MacOS, Linux

Pros:

  • All messages will self-destruct 
  • It keeps minimal metadata
  • No phone number or email address required

Cons:

  • A little difficult to learn
  • Smaller user base than other apps

Wickr Me takes privacy to the next level. You don’t even need to attach a phone number or email address to your account to begin. It also automatically deletes messages after a set time — six days by default — and sends you a message if anyone screenshots your chat.

Even the metadata it keeps is limited to the bare minimum and shredded when it’s no longer needed, as outlined in their privacy policy. Although you can also choose to give the app access to data such as your contact lists and account information, this is all optional, and it keeps as much data as possible on your device.

alternative to whatsapp wickr me messaging
All text messages in Wickr Me have an expiry date attached.

3. Telegram

alternative to whatsapp telegram
The Telegram app puts all of your direct messages and groups together.

Available on: iOS, Android, Windows 10, MacOS, Linux

Pros:

  • Optional end-to-end encryption
  • Integrated bots
  • Great for big groups

Cons:

  • You have to use the secret chat function for privacy
  • Collects lots of metadata

Taking a slightly different approach than Wickr Me and Signal, Telegram prioritizes ease of use over security. It doesn’t use end-to-end encryption by default, and it collects plenty of metadata. This will be a turnoff for many, but there are some benefits to this system.

Telegram is one of the more accessible messaging apps, and it’s easy to find users or make groups. It also supports various bots, which can help you run the larger “supergroups” with up to 200,000 users.

So, if you want something more private than Whatsapp but need to support a large group, choose Telegram. Just check that you’re using secret chats where possible. 

alternative to whatsapp telegram secret chats
Make sure you use the secure chat feature for extra security.

4. Element

alternative to whatsapp element
Element is a very clean and simple app, and you won’t need a phone number.

Available on: iOS, Android, Windows 10, MacOS, Linux

Pros:

  • Based on the Matrix protocol
  • Doesn’t need phone numbers attached to accounts
  • Works well with large groups

Cons:

  • Some features aren’t very user-friendly
  • Lots of metadata

Element is a part of the Matrix ecosystem, which will allow you to communicate with anyone else who’s connected. This means that businesses and other organizations can set up their own server to connect to and still talk to everyone else in the system.

However, if you’re using it for personal use, you can just join the free Matrix server and get straight into messaging people. There are also plenty of settings to tweak, but many of them are complicated and situational — like stopping it from sending encrypted messages to unverified sessions — so you shouldn’t change anything you’re unsure about.

alternative to whatsapp element messaging
Each encrypted conversation will have a shield logo in the Element app.

5. Dust

alternative to whatsapp dust contacts
Dust lets users follow each other for one-way communication, like some social media sites.

Available on: iOS, Android, Windows 10

Pros:

  • Self-destructing messages 
  • Harsh screenshot limitations

Cons:

  • No calls
  • Closed-source encryption

Dust — formerly known as Cyber Dust — takes the idea of deleting messages to another level. By default, everything is gone within 24 hours or 100 seconds of the recipient opening the message. Even if they manage to take a screenshot — something blocked in private chats — data like your name is automatically blurred.

However, there are two minor issues with Dust. The first is that it’s closed source, so the general public can’t snoop around for any flaws. Second is the metadata they take. Although it could be worse, the Dust privacy policy does let them store some data, such as your username, age, email address and phone number.

alternative to whatsapp dust chats
You can’t even take screenshots within a private chat.

6. Line 

alternative to whatsapp line
In Line, voice and video calls are in separate sections.

Available on: iOS, Android, Windows 10, macOS

Pros:

  • Similar to WhatsApp
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • Limited encryption
  • Cluttered front page

Line doesn’t advertise itself as a secure app, and there’s a good reason for that. It collects a decent amount of data, and the end-to-end encryption is limited to groups of up to 50 and one-on-one calls. It also uses TLS encryption to protect images or stickers, rather than encrypting them end-to-end.

However, if you’ve been using WhatsApp until now, there’s a good chance that ease of use is your main consideration. In this area, Line does well. Adding and messaging users is easy, and there are some nice extras like the timeline and built-in games. Just be sure to enable “letter sealing” for some privacy.

alternative to whatsapp line letter sealing
Check that letter sealing is turned on.

7. Wire Personal

alternative to whatsapp wire
Wire is a simple, open-source app for secure messaging.

Available on: iOS, Android, Windows 10, MacOS, Linux

Pros:

  • Open source
  • Can use email or phone number for signup
  • Syncs across multiple devices

Cons:

  • Owned by a U.S. company
  • Saves contact list in plaintext
  • Questionable communication with users

Wire checks all the standard boxes. It’s encrypted end-to-end, you can sign up with an email address instead of a phone number and its headquarters are in Switzerland — one of the best countries for privacy laws. However, there are some potential problems with it.

In 2019, Wire moved its holding company to the U.S. Although this isn’t necessarily a problem, closer relations with the U.S. government isn’t a great move for security. This is made worse by the fact that the list of users you’ve messaged is stored in plaintext — just their username, but still not great — and that they don’t always notify the public of changes to their privacy policy.

Wire does have reasons for most of these, and their blog posts are worth reading, but it comes down to whether you really need to sync your account over multiple devices.

alternative to whatsapp wire chats
Chats are easy to read, and you can send self-destructing messages.

8. Discord

alternative to whatsapp discord
Discord is a messaging app aimed at gamers.

Available on: iOS, Android, Windows 10, MacOS, Linux

Pros:

  • Built for group conversations
  • Great bot integration
  • Plenty of users

Cons:

  • No end-to-end encryption
  • Collects lots of data

Discord is more focused on large group conversations with voice and video calls than direct messages, and it makes joining, creating or moderating a large group chat easy. There are even plenty of bots made by the community for your servers.

However, Discord’s two main problems are the lack of end-to-end encryption and its habit of collecting lots of data. Its security is improving — having achieved the Mozilla foundation’s minimum security standard — so better encryption for messages could come in the future, but it isn’t here yet.

For now, you should use Discord for groups and a different messaging app that does security well for one-on-one chats.

alternative to whatsapp discord groups
There are many public servers you can join in Discord.

9. Slack 

alternative to whatsapp slack home
Slack simplifies group chats with its channel system.

Available on: iOS, Android, Windows 10, MacOS, Linux

Pros:

  • Great for businesses
  • Integration with office apps
  • Plenty of extra apps & bots

Cons:

  • Not encrypted end-to-end
  • A limited free version

Although there are plenty of alternatives to Slack, it’s definitely one of the better options. It has strong mobile and desktop apps, individual chats, group channels and integration with other office software — such as Office 365 and Google Workspace.

However, you will give up end-to-end encryption, a feature that’s probably never going to come to Slack. You’ll also be limited as to the number of messages that can be stored and how many people can be on a call unless you pay — something most other services don’t limit.

alternative to whatsapp slack dms
You can see more information on your chats in the DMs tab.

10. Bridgefy 

alternative to whatsapp bridgefy
Bridgefy is a good SMS app if you’re going to be out of your provider’s range.

Available on: iOS, Android

Pros:

  • Only needs Bluetooth to work
  • Private chat & broadcasts
  • End-to-end encryption

Cons:

  • Limited range
  • Few users

Bridgefy is a slightly different messaging app from the others on this list, as it uses Bluetooth rather than the internet. This means that this messaging service is better suited for scenarios where you’re nearby but need to contact each other via your phone, such as if you lose a friend at a concert.

Although it is limited by range — around 100 meters or 330 feet — information can “hop” between other devices with the app. This means that if there are other Bridgefy users nearby, you can send a message farther away, and the people in between won’t be able to see a thing due to the encryption.

alternative to whatsapp bridgefy broadcast
The broadcast channel lets you talk to anyone who’s around you.

Final Thoughts: WhatsApp Alternatives

There are chat apps tailored to your needs beyond WhatsApp, whether you want extra privacy, encrypted messages, audio and video calls, third-party app integration, an easy way to send text messages online or to avoid using a mobile phone number.

There’s no need to let any company, Facebook or otherwise, put your privacy at risk. Be sure to check out a company’s past, where they’re based, and what user data their privacy policy lets them collect before you use anything.

Before you do jump ship, be sure to backup any important WhatsApp conversations. Our dedicated guide will show you how to backup your WhatsApp history.

Are you looking for a WhatsApp alternative? Have you tried out any of these messaging apps? Did we miss your favorite platform? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks for reading.