With online messaging apps like WhatsApp and Snapchat getting more and more popular, not to mention Facebook Messenger, millions of Android users all still likely use regular text messaging apps. Manufacturers like Samsung and HTC have their own messaging apps, but if you don’t like your stock option, there are plenty of alternatives available.
Whether that be to send texts, MMS picture messages and more, here we’ll go over a few awesome options to replace the stock app on your phone with something better, more customizable, or more powerful that’s available from the Google Play Store.
Most stock text apps aren’t all that appealing (we’re looking at you Samsung) and they’re not very customizable either. Thankfully the power of Android means you can download any of the hundreds of text messaging replacement apps from the Play Store, set them as the default option, and use them with ease. You can even change the notification icon, quick compose features and more. Lets get started.
Most of the 3rd party text message apps on the Google Play Store will change the design elements, give you a different look and feel on your device, add more features, and much more. These apps will all handle regular texting and picture messaging with ease, and people on the other end won’t need them, and it doesn’t matter if they use Android or an iPhone. It all just works.
When you replace your stock app with something from the Play Store you’ll probably be able to customize it with themes, change the look of the message bubbles, customize font, and more. It all varies on which you choose to download, and below are our five favorites, starting with Textra. Oh, and Google has their own Messenger App, if you’re interested in their take on an SMS app.
Hands-down the best text message alternative app for Android has to be Textra. Over the past year they’ve introduced tons of new features, improved the design, and it’s suited to beautifully integrate into the latest Android 5.0 Lollipop update rolling out to most owners over the past few months for most smartphone owners.
Textra offers resizable font (a biggie for many) tons of customization, a dark mode, background color options, incoming and outgoing message bubble color (and shape) customization and more. You can request delivery reports for texts, set it to automatically save picture messages to your phone gallery, and even a quick-reply popup option to make sending a reply even easier.
There’s even an option to have a quick compose bar always present in your notification pulldown bar, if you’d like. Many love this, but I like my notification bar clean so have this convenient feature disabled. Then the attach button (Plus symbol) lets you easily add a photo, take a photo, use emoji and more. All said and done, Textra is one of the most beautiful apps around, runs extremely smooth and fast, and is more customizable than most while also being easy to understand. Handcent is a popular one that makes our list, but it’s also convoluted and confusing, something you won’t have an issue with if you use Textra.
If you like tons of customization with your text app of choice, try out Chomp. They explain their app as a souped of version of your stock text and mms app, and that’s basically what it is. It isn’t as pretty as Textra, but has tons of customization. If you like having pictures behind all your text messages, like a background wallpaper, this is your app.
Just like Textra, which we failed to mention above, is the fact that you can customize the color of the notification for each individual message as well. So a different color icon appears for specific contacts. It’s a great touch, and something many enjoy. You can choose from hundreds of free themes to personalize your messaging experience and some of the features include scheduled SMS sending, group MMS (yes), delayed text sending, pinning favorite conversations to the top, and even block certain numbers. They also have a quick compose option as well, but it isn’t as nice as Textra.
The long-press options on each message thread is one of our favorites, not to mention an area to “blacklist” a number from texting you in the future. Check it out.
If some of the few mentioned above aren’t quite what you’re looking for, Hello SMS is a great option worth checking out. It can be confusing at first, but an easy way to describe it is calling it the Gmail of text apps. It has tabs and columns for your conversations, making things rather neat once you figure it out.
Hello has tons of animations, a few theme options (light and dark) as well as being extremely fast and fluid. The little circle tabs to the left side are the conversations, which are only a users initials, which can be confusing for some. One tap opens each convo, so it’s a nice touch one you get used to it.
Hello SMS isn’t nearly as customizable as the others, but the simplistic and clean user interface makes up for all for all of that. It’s fast, fluid, easy to understand, and of course, is absolutely free. It might be a little too simply for some, and if so, the others above are perfect for you.
If Hello SMS is a bit too simplistic for you, check out Handcent. This is probably one of the most customizable and most advanced options on the Google Play Store. In fact, they’re almost trying too hard, making the app more difficult than it should be. It’s a bit convoluted and confusing for most, and I’ve had friends or family members call and ask for help, simply because the settings can be difficult to grasp.
The newer flat user interface is close to what you’ll see with Android 5.0 Lollipop, and it looks leaps and bounds better than it did a year ago, but it’s still somewhat confusing. That said, it features quick reply popups, vcards, backup features so you’ll never lose a text if you change phones, tons of themes and customization, and so much more it’s almost too bloated.
One neat feature is if another user has Handcent you can send messages over WiFi (online messages like WhatsApp) without getting text charges from your carrier. That said, who doesn’t have unlimited text these days?
Handcent even lets you draw little images or doodles and send them as messages, supports more emoji options than most, and simply has more options than almost anything out. All of this can cause it to be slow at times, something you won’t experience with Chomp or Textra. If you want control of everything, give it a try.
Go SMS Pro
Last but certainly not least is another popular one that’s been around for a while, and that’s Go SMS. The Pro version is free, but there’s also a paid option that unlocks even more options. This is the only paid app in our list, but does have a pretty capable free version.
To enjoy the full customization of Go you’ll need to pay for it, which is why this is last on our list. However, once you do, it’s very customizable and a great app full of neat features and controls. Go delivers a “Private Box” for personal messages, free online text messaging with GO chat, you can sticky specific conversations to the top of the list (like a GF) and of course, a quick-reply popup option like the others that made our list.
All of these five have tons of customization, a pretty user interface, and lots of features like the popup quick compose. These are all things users will love once they try them, and need them with each new phone as they upgrade throughout the years. Go also has auto reply and block spam message controls, scheduled messages, and the paid option lets you backup and save all your messages to the cloud. Another neat feature many need when they switch to a new phone, like the new Galaxy S6 or HTC One M9. The only thing we don’t like is to fully enjoy everything it has to offer, they’ll want you to spend a few dollars, or up to $19.99 for everything.
Devices like the Moto X or Nexus 6 come with Google’s own “Messenger” app installed by default, but they also will let you use Hangouts as your text messaging app as well. This means that there are two excellent options right from Google as well, aside from the manufacture options that come pre-installed out of the box. That gives you seven options, for those looking for something better, or more customizable.
A quick shout out also needs to go to mysms, as they let you send and receive texts from your computer, if you need that type of feature. All said and done our favorite has to be Textra, which is ever-improving with updates, has one of the cleanest interfaces around. It’s just simple, yet effective. Give any of these a try and drop a comment below with others you think should make the list.