Messaging Apps

Most Popular Messaging Apps in the World

Keeping in touch with your friends has a huge array of benefits. Most importantly, relationships and friendships are key for mental health, particularly during stressful events. If you want to stay in touch with friends and family around the world, you need to know which apps to install!

In this guide, we’re going to take a look at the most popular messaging apps in the world: there’s significant regional variation, with some apps much more favored in some regions of the world than the other.

Are you ready to learn more about popular messaging apps in the Americas, Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa? Interested in learning which messaging app is the most popular? Then keep reading!

#1 Facebook Messenger

Last year, Facebook continued its surging growth: after winning its billionth user in 2012, it now serves 2.37 billion people or over a quarter of the global population! Facebook is a popular social media platform on every single continent, so it's no wonder that Messenger is one of the most popular messaging apps in the world.

To use Messenger, you need a Facebook account and nothing more. You don't need to have Facebook installed on your phone to use Messenger either, which is great for those who need to save some space.

Facebook Messenger isn't only a basic text messaging service, either. Users can record videos, send pictures, play games with other users, make group chats, and make voice and video calls, too!

If your friends around the world have Facebook accounts, Messenger is one of your best bets for staying in touch. If they don't have Facebook, there's another, even more popular option available.


#2 WhatsApp

When it comes to messaging apps, WhatsApp rules the roost the world over. This messaging service has two billion users as of early this year and it's very easy to see why.

In appearance, Whatsapp is most like the ordinary SMS messaging program that came installed on your phone. That's one of the driving factors that made WhatsApp so popular, as users were able to circumvent the limited number of texts that came with their plan. With WhatsApp, they're able to send a much larger number of texts as each text uses your data plan or WiFi rather than SMS.

Since its early years, WhatsApp has evolved into a much more multifaceted service. As with Messenger, users can now create group chats and WhatsApp groups are one of the most popular ways to stay in touch with multiple people at once.

If you'd rather speak on the phone but only have a limited number of minutes, WhatsApp is a great alternative, allowing you to make voice and video calls. This only uses your data or WiFi so you can chat with people around the world without having to add credit to your phone.

So how can you sign up for WhatsApp? It's hard to think of a simpler sign-up process, all you need is a phone number and a password. WhatsApp will send you a verification code via SMS and you'll log in.

Once you're in, WhatsApp can import your contacts and you can start messaging them right away. If you're not satisfied with popular messaging apps and want to use the most popular messaging app, WhatsApp is for you!


#3 WeChat

As you might imagine, the messaging apps that are authorized for Chinese users are limited. If you've got Chinese friends or family, installing WeChat is essential.

This app boasts many of the features that you'd find on western apps. For instance, you can send messages, record voice notes, make video calls, and hold conference calls. Users can make calls to and from China without any issue.

However, you should also know that WeChat is monitored by the Chinese authorities. Mentioning politically-sensitive events, like the Tiananmen Square massacre, can result in a temporary ban. To get back in, you will need to record a video of your face and read numbers in Mandarin Chinese.

This level of surveillance may put some users off but using WeChat is almost essential for daily life in China, so almost everyone has it installed. When using WeChat, be careful about the comments that you make and you'll be fine.


#4 QQ

If your Chinese friends don't have WeChat, another popular choice is QQ. Made by Tencent, this app boasts a huge range of features: it's much more than a messaging app.

Users can write microblogs a la Twitter, watch movies, play games, make voice and video calls, and write text messages. As one of the most popular messaging apps in the world, QQ has a huge userbase in China and among the Chinese diaspora around the world.

While it may not be quite as common as WeChat, it's a multifaceted service that can make staying in touch with and planning activities easy. As with WeChat, government surveillance is prevalent, so the same warning applies to QQ as to WeChat.


#5 Signal

If privacy is important to you, Signal is a superb app. Signal uses heavy-duty encryption to keep your messages away from prying eyes, be they government or corporate. No one can read your Signal messages and you can rest easy knowing that what you say is in confidence.

Signal is so secure that it's even become the app of choice for the European Commission.

Signal refuses to keep user records and does not track your activity. You can also set up extra security on the app itself, like that you would find on a mobile banking app. For instance, you can make it so that logging into Signal requires your FaceID or a PIN.

It will also not display any received messages on your lock screen. You're also able to verify that the person you're talking to is who they really say they are. This means that you're not going to fall victim to a scam or be the target of spearphishing.

All in all, if you want to find the most secure app around, Signal is the answer. It may not top the list of any "most popular messaging apps by country" lists, but it offers peace of mind and that's invaluable.



If you've got friends in Japan, Thailand, or Taiwan, LINE will be an essential install. This app is tremendously popular in several Asian countries where it serves a very similar purpose to WhatsApp.

You can send messages and user-to-user calls are free. If you'd like to make calls to people who aren't LINE users, you'll need to pay a small fee, like calling a traditional phone via Skype. You can share files on LINE too, and even make payments.

To sign up for LINE, you need a phone number and a display name. Like WhatsApp, it couldn't be much simpler. When you're in, you can start messaging right away.

One other great feature of LINE is that it has a desktop app. If you're on your computer a lot for work and don't want to keep looking at your phone, just log in to the desktop app instead!


#7 Telegram

Telegram is another app, that, like Signal, puts a huge premium on user security and privacy. While it may not be as popular around the world as some of the other apps on this list, it's still got a strong following in certain parts of the world. These include Iran, Uzbekistan, and Ethiopia.

You can share files with other Telegram users, write messages, and make voice calls. All of these features boast strong end-to-end encryption, too.

As with LINE, Telegram isn't only a mobile app either. If you'd prefer, you can install it on Windows, macOS, and even Linux too!


#8 Snapchat

If you think that Snapchat is only about sending pictures, you're wrong! Snapchat lets you send text messages to other users as well as make voice and video calls, too! You can even video chat with multiple users at once if you're interested in a group catch-up.

Snapchat is mostly used by young people, so if you're young or have a lot of young friends, installing Snapchat is a must. It's popular all around the world, too, so there's a good chance that whoever you're talking to, wherever they are, has Snapchat installed.


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