Best WhatsApp Alternatives

South Africans looking for an alternative to Meta Platforms-owned WhatsApp have a broad range of instant messaging platforms from which to choose.

Meta, formerly known as Facebook, acquired WhatsApp in 2014, almost five years after its launch, and the company has faced criticism in recent years over how it handles private user data.

While messages sent over the platform remain end-to-end encrypted, the company faced criticism from European Regulators for not being transparent about how it handled personal information and forced users to accept privacy policy changes to continue using the platform.

The Irish Data Protection Commission said it found violations in the way WhatsApp explained how it processed users’ and non-users’ data, as well as how data was shared between WhatsApp and other Facebook companies.

In January 2023, the regulator slapped WhatsApp with a €5.5 million (then-R103 million) fine for forcing users to accept its Terms of Service changes to continue using the platform.

The company was accused of blocking access to the platform if consent for data processing was not given — a violation of Article 7 recital 32 of the General Data Protection Regulation.

In early 2021, Facebook gave WhatsApp users an ultimatum to accept its new terms of service and privacy policy for the platform or stop using it.

This led to concerns and backlash from users who feared their WhatsApp user data would be shared with the Facebook social network.

The company tried to assure users that the change only applied to business messaging on WhatsApp. However, it still caused many users to check out other platforms and more carefully consider what data WhatsApp might be collecting.

Those concerned over who has access to their private data might prefer messaging platforms like Telegram, Signal, Threema, Viber, and Wire, depending on their needs.

These apps offer varying levels of encryption to protect private conversations, and some platforms don’t even require the user to enter their phone number or email address to sign up.

MyBroadband assembled a list of popular WhatsApp alternatives.

Below are eight of the best alternatives to WhatsApp that offer similar features and are far more secure than SMS.


  • Platforms — Android, iOS, iPadOS, MacOS, Linux, Windows

  • Price — Free. Users can sign up for Premium for R89.99 per month

  • End-to-end encryption — Optional

  • Signup requirements — Cellular number

Telegram is WhatsApp’s biggest rival and offers several features not available on the Meta Platforms-owned messenger.

This includes allowing up to 200,000 members in a channel. The feature proves helpful for South African suburbs, letting residents communicate regarding outages and improving community security.

End-to-end encryption on Telegram is optional. However, experts believe it isn’t as secure as platforms like WhatsApp or Signal as it uses cloud storage for chats by default.

. Editorial credit: wichayada suwanachun /


  • Platforms — Android, iOS, iPadOS, MacOS, Linux, Windows

  • Price — Free

  • End-to-end encryption — Yes, default

  • Signup requirements — Cellular number

Signal focuses heavily on privacy, with end-to-end encryption for all chats on the platform.

“We can’t read your messages or listen to your calls, and no one else can either. Privacy isn’t an optional mode — it’s just the way that Signal works,” it says.

WhatsApp approached Signal to implement end-to-end encryption for its platform.

Signal also protects users from ads, tracking, and affiliate marketers.


  • Platforms — Android, iOS, MacOS, Linux, Windows

  • Price — R129.99 (Google Play Store) / R119.99 (Apple App Store)

  • End-to-end encryption — Yes, default

  • Signup requirements — None. Cellular number and email address optional

Threema also focuses heavily on security. However, it takes things a step further than Signal, allowing users to message entirely anonymously.

The Switzerland-based platform doesn’t require users to enter information like their phone number or email address but gives less security-conscious users the option to link this information to their account.

Messages sent via Threema are end-to-end encrypted and stored on-device. It also features a secure built-in browser.

It is the only app listed that isn’t free. Android users pay R129.99 once-off to download and Threema, while those on iOS pay R119.99.

Editorial credit: Burdun Iliya /


  • Platforms — Android, iOS, iPadOS, MacOS, Linux, Windows

  • Price — Free. Customers can pay a subscription fee for unlimited international calls

  • End-to-end encryption — Yes

  • Signup requirements — Cellular number

Rakuten-owned Viber started out as a voice-over-IP app and gradually expanded the platform to offer a fully-fledged messaging service.

Notable features include the ability to edit and delete messages for all chat participants and Viber’s social network, known as Communities.

The Viber app is free to use. However, users must pay the Viber Out subscription fee to call internationally to phones without the app at cheaper rates than other mobile options.

Editorial credit: Allmy /


  • Platforms — Android, iOS, MacOS, Linux, Windows

  • Price — Free-to-use for individuals. Paid tier for businesses

  • End-to-end encryption — Yes

  • Signup requirements — None. Cellular number and email address optional

Like Threema, Wire also focuses heavily on security, with the platform being built on an open-source encryption protocol called Proteus, which is a modified version of the Open Signal Protocol used by Signal and WhatsApp.

The encryption protocol regularly undergoes security audits to guarantee it remains secure against vulnerabilities.

Unlike Threema, Wire is free for individuals, while businesses must pay to use the messaging platform.

Wire supports multiple accounts and syncing across several devices. It has offered these features — which WhatsApp only recently introduced — for several years.

Editorial credit: Burdun Iliya /


  • Platforms — Android, iOS, Windows

  • Price — Free

  • End-to-end encryption — Yes

  • Signup requirements — None. Cellular number and email address optional

Line is a free-to-use instant messaging app owned by LY Corporation. It launched in June 2011.

The instant messaging platform has since expanded to include a Creators Market, Line Games, Line Family Apps, mobile payments, and medical appointment bookings.

Those only interested in the communication side of things can send free text, voice, and video calls and access features like stickers, emojis, and themes.

Editorial credit: DenPhotos /


  • Platforms — Android, iOS, MacOS, Linux, Windows

  • Price — Free

  • End-to-end encryption — No

  • Signup requirements — Email address required to create an account

Discord is an instant messaging and voice-over IP platform launched in May 2015. Users can communicate through voice calls, video calls, text messaging, and through sharing media and files.

This can be done privately through direct messages or in large virtual communities known as “Discord servers”.

While the platform is gaming-oriented, non-gamers can also take advantage of Discord, which has a broad range of non-gaming-focused communities from which to choose.

Those interested in using Discord may be interested to know that the company is busy rolling out ads on its platform.

According to an Ars Technica report, the once “anti-ad” platform will, in the coming days, start letting video game makers advertise their products on Discord.


  • Platforms — Android, iOS, MacOS, Windows

  • Price — Free

  • End-to-end encryption — No

  • Signup requirements — Cellular number

WeChat is a China-based instant messaging, social media, and mobile payment app launched in 2011. The Tencent-owned platform isn’t that popular in countries other than China.

However, its popularity and widespread use in China earned WeChat the title of the world’s largest standalone app in 2018 with more than 1 billion active monthly users.

WeChat is essentially an “app for everything” with its functions including text messaging, voice messaging, video conferencing, video games, mobile payments, and photo, video, and location sharing.

Editorial credit: Tada Images /

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