The seven best secure messaging apps with end-to-end encryption


If you’re looking for a way to keep your texting conversations private, choosing your messaging app carefully is crucial. Not all of them are end-to-end encrypted (E2EE), and others may have security holes that compromise your privacy.

Simply put, E2EE means that only you (the sender) and your recipient can see the content of your messages. This, more importantly, excludes all third parties, such as your mobile carrier, Internet Service Provider (ISP), and phone manufacturer. Some users may want this extra layer of protection to prevent outside intrusion from government and other organizations that may try to use your private conversations against you.

All apps listed here are free and offer E2EE, so you can worry less about your privacy. Let’s go.

A list of conversations on Signal (text is blurred for privacy).

You can customize the background color of your messages in Signal.

Signal is one of the best known private messaging apps and it’s my personal reference. It offers a simple and aesthetic interface that makes it easy to use as a replacement for your device’s default messaging app. Signal also describes itself as an “independent, not-for-profit company” that does not contain any ads or trackers in the app. Messages as well as voice and video calls are E2EE on Signal.

Note: On Android, you can also arrange to use Signal for less secure SMS/MMS messaging, but the only way to get full protection in Signal is if both users on each end are using the app. (You don’t have to worry about this if you’re an iPhone user, as you can’t change your default SMS app.)

Signal is a great app to use as your default messenger or in certain situations where you need to communicate securely.

The Telegram home screen.

Telegram includes fun stickers.

Telegram is another great secure messaging app. It provides server-client encryption for group and private chats, and you can message with E2EE using Telegram’s Secret Chats feature. Telegram also lets you send self-destructing messages, which disappear after a specific period of time. If you delete your message in a chat, Telegram will also delete it on your recipient’s device.

While Telegram recently rolled out a paid tier that offers faster downloads and larger file uploads, the free version of the app still has a ton of great features. (Oh, and Telegram has a bunch of rad stickers you can use to spruce up your messages.)

Telegram is serious about privacy, but also has a bunch of other fun features like stickers.

WhatsApp enables E2EE for its messages and calls by default.

WhatsApp will notify you if you receive a message from someone who is not in your contact list.

Everything owned by Meta (Facebook’s parent company) doesn’t really paint a clear picture of privacy, but WhatsApp is an exception. WhatsApp enables E2EE for its messages and calls by default. Like Signal and Telegram, WhatsApp lets you create group chats as well as securely send images, videos, and voice messages. The company has faced backlash over its updated privacy policy last year, which requires users who interact with companies on the app to share their data with Facebook; However, it is important to note that this does not affect day-to-day personal conversations on the app.

WhatsApp may be owned by Facebook’s parent company, but it offers E2EE by default.

Here is where your contact list should be.

Wickr Me has tabs for Rooms, DMs, and Contacts.

Wickr Me is another app with a parent company that might seem off-putting. Amazon Web Services bought Wickr Me last year, but the service is still a solid messaging app that should keep your conversations safe. Although Wickr Me is geared more towards professionals who use the app to communicate with colleagues, that doesn’t mean a typical user can’t use it. The free version of the app allows encrypted personal and group messaging, audio and video calls, and file sharing. It also lets you set timers for messages that disappear.

Wickr Me, owned by Amazon Web Services, is a private messaging app aimed more at business users.

Wire has a fairly simple interface.

You can easily create groups and add contacts.

Wire is a streamlined messaging app with a simple interface that does exactly what you need: send E2EE messages and make E2EE voice and video calls. There are premium paid options as well, but these plans are best suited for businesses looking for a secure collaboration app.

Wire is a handy app that supports secure messaging, calling, and file sharing.

Viber can display recommended channels in your chat list.

You can explore and join different channels to stay updated on various topics.

With Viber, you can expect a full messaging experience, with everything you’ll find on a modern messaging app, like stickers, GIFs, and message reactions. It also works much like Telegram in that you can explore and join different channels to stay up to date on topics that interest you. Although it supports E2EE for calls and messages, it’s a bit more cluttered than some of the other apps here – you might see ads and channel recommendations while using it.

This app is owned by Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten and is a bit more cluttered than some of the other apps here.

Skred does not have access to your device contacts.

You can invite someone to Skred using your QR code.

The cool thing about Skred is that you don’t need a phone number or email to sign up. Skred also doesn’t use your phone’s contacts to detect if any of your friends are using the app. You can only invite people to the app by having them scan a QR code from your app in person or by sending them the code through another messaging service. Skred supports E2EE messaging as well as voice and video calls.

Skred does not require you to enter your email address or phone number to use the app.


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