5 Of The Best SMS App Alternatives To Replace Messages On Android

Tech-savvy people prefer using instant messaging apps like WhatsApp to communicate with their loved ones and acquaintances because they afford you more features. However, some still prefer communicating via SMS or text messaging — a protocol that uses cellular service rather than coursing it through the internet. The ability to send and receive texts via SMS is still a capability you'd want regardless of how often you use it, if only to give businesses and other services to send updates and verification messages.

While there are certain Android manufacturers that have built-in text messaging apps specific to their brand, for most Android phones, the default texting app is Google Messages. Several notable features include end-to-end encryption and protection against spam messages. You can also access your texts on a computer by simply pairing your Android phone with your machine. However, there isn't a lot you can do in terms of customizing the look and feel of the app. There are also other text messaging features you may not even know you'd need or want that are offered by other third-party apps.

In case you are considering replacing your Android phone's default SMS app, here are a couple for you to consider.

Textra SMS

Textra SMS is one of the more popular options on the list, with 4.4 out of 5 stars and over ten million downloads in the Google Play Store. The interface is simple and clean, but you have the option of customizing the theme, emoji style and skin tone, the bubble colors within text conversations, and even the app icon color itself. You can also customize every chat thread in your inbox individually or by batch.

It also has a few built-in features that are quite useful. The Textra Bot is accessible in the SMS inbox in case you have a question about a feature or would like to receive tips on optimizing your use of the app. It also has nuisance controls that lets you auto-block chats from email contacts that aren't in your address book as well as choose how you want to get notified when messages from unknown senders come in. Other notable features include the ability to schedule text messages, stop a text mid-send, copy a portion of a text message, and quick replies. It is also compatible with Android Auto.

Textra may occasionally show in-app ads — which the company says you can get rid of permanently through a one-time fee — but there weren't any at the time of app trial. There have been recent complaints posted by users in Google Play, but customer service seems to be responsive on the platform, which is great for those who hit a snag in using the app.

Chomp SMS

The developers behind Textra SMS created another app called Chomp SMS. The reason behind releasing two competing apps is unclear, but Chomp has its own appeal. The default theme is also basic. You have the option of customizing the look by downloading themes, which there is a lot of. You can also modify individual text thread notifications by changing LED color, vibrate pattern, or ringtone specifically for that conversation.

Chomp also lets you schedule messages and stop a text while it's sending, along with other settings you can tweak that'll show you more information on every text thread in your inbox. Furthermore, like its sister app, it also has Android Auto compatibility, letting you receive and respond to texts while on the road.

Just like Textra, you may need to pay a one-time fee to get rid of ads, but none appeared in testing. If you're looking for an SMS app that mostly offers a slew of customization options, Chomp is worth the try. To date, it's been downloaded in the Android app store over ten million times and has a rating of 4.3 stars out of 5.

Handcent Next SMS Messenger

Handcent has 4.5 stars out of 5 and over a million downloads. It is also one of the most robust in terms of features. There is plenty of room to customize your inbox's look and feel through a variety of background, font, ringtone, and notification options, to name a few. You can also take advantage of scheduled texts and turn on driving mode, on top of other basic functions you'd need for an SMS app.

However, for the most part, users are encouraged to create a free Handcent account in order to unlock more capabilities within the app. For instance, once you register and log into the app, you get access to Handcent Anywhere, which provides cross-platform support that lets you access your messages on your computer or other mobile devices where the app is also installed. You can also take advantage of Private Box, which is a virtual space that can hold text conversations you'd like to shield from prying eyes. What is perhaps the most intriguing update to this text messaging app is its integration of AI bots like ChatGPT and Google Bard. You will need to provide an API key to these services (linked to your personal ChatGPT and Google Bard accounts) and manually plug them into the app to be able to talk to the AIs in a text thread.

Handcent offers a premium subscription for a minimum of $5.99/year if you want the ability to remove ads and back up messages, among other things.

Mood SMS

Immediately upon installing Mood SMS, you get to pick from a variety of colorful styles to apply to your general inbox interface, which you can always customize even further through the settings. In addition, you can also tweak the look of each individual chat thread so conversations between different people are easily identifiable. Personalization-wise, Mood is a fun app to tinker with.

Its most unique feature is something called Party Mode. When activated — ideally, during a time when certain things will be imbibed that may cause your desire to text your ex to shoot up — you will be temporarily prevented from sending any messages to anyone in your contacts, unless you pass a test of sorts. You can set a duration for the restricted mode to be active and pick a level of difficulty for the test you'll need to pass while inebriated. You can also try the test to ensure that you pick a level that'll actually hinder you from making bad text decisions. Any unsent messages that were crafted while Party Mode was on will have a pause icon next to it in the text thread and can be sent at a later time.

Like most of the apps on this list, the chief complaint among Mood users is the appearance of pesky ads. If you like Mood enough to invest in it, you can upgrade to a premium version of the app for $3.49/month. This affords you message encryption, premium themes, and the ability to remove ads and back up and restore messages.

Simple SMS Messenger

The name says it all: Simple SMS Messenger promises to deliver all the features you'd need in a text messaging app. You can send text messages and a variety of media messages. You can also schedule messages ahead of time. You can mute chats, assign notifications to certain contacts, and search for specific messages within your inbox. There aren't a lot of menus to tap, so you won't be overwhelmed navigating the ins and outs of the app.

Simple SMS Messenger's default interface mimics the basic look of most text messaging apps, minus the frills and distracting ads that are unavoidable on some third-party apps without paying for a monthly fee. However, certain customization options are behind a small paywall. To unlock them, you'll need to make a one-time payment of $1.59, which some may consider a small price to pay for a completely ad-free experience. Once you have access to previously locked features, you can do things like pick a theme and apply it across all apps created by the same developer. You can also manage blocked numbers.