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Some WhatsApp alternatives for feature phones & Android

   

If you use a smartphone or a supported Nokia phone, chances are you already use WhatsApp. It’s so popular even locally in Zim, people intending to buy a new phone are known to be concerned about just one thing; “inoita WhatsApp here?” Shona vernacular for “does it run WhatsApp?”

But WhatsApp is not the only WhatsApp out there. There are dozen other apps that run on smartphones and others on feature phones that achieve the same end in more or less the same way. So we thought we’d just list a few you can try and see if you like.

wechatWeChat
Android: Yes
Feature phones: Nokia S40, Symbian

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We have covered WeChat here before. The application is basically a rip-off of WhatsApp in terms of design and functionality, with some additional features to make video and voice chat much easier. We have had people objecting that it doesn’t support Zimbabwe when you sign up. Truth is that this doesn’t matter, you can basically use any country to sign up and you’d be good to go. The user interface is the same and you might be surprised to find a number of your contacts already use it.

 

kikKik Messenger
Android: Yes
Feature phones: No


Relatively not known much locally, Kik Messenger has risen phenomenally over the years. It brings some exciting features to instant messaging such as the ability to search for videos on YouTube, and share them instantly without leaving Kik.  Unlike WhatsApp, Kik doesn’t use your phone number for your account; you actually create a regular account using your email address, a new user name and a password. Since Launch Kik now has about 50 million users so again, you might find some contacts already have it!

 

Viber
Android: Yes
Feature phones: Nokia S40, Symbian

ViberViber is primarily a Skype alternative, but it’s also formidable as a WhatsApp. Unlike WeChat, a lot of people with smartphones locally (globally too) already use it for voice calls over the internet which means you’ll have many friends already on it available to chat. Chat features, look and feel are a lot like WhatsApp so you’ll feel much at home. The voice calling features however are either a big advantage over the other regular messaging apps, or, if you don’t prefer them over regular calls, an annoyance. The Nokia S40 and Symbian versions have no voice calling features.

 

skype-mobileSkype
Android: Yes
Feature phones: No

Skype itself is also a WhatsApp alternative, and like Viber which it competes with directly, it’s primarily a ‘voice & video calling using the internet’ app than just messaging. The bigger feature bag means it’s slower on some low capacity Android phones. As compared to WhatsApp that is. Again, seeing lots of people already use Skype on their desktops, you don’t need to build your contacts list from scratch.

 

ChatONChatON
Android: Yes
Feature phones: No

ChatON is made by the company whose smartphones are much loved globally, Samsung. A unique feature when compared to the rest is its animated messages which the recipient can replay. Other more common features include Group chat, pictures and videos. Because it comes preinstalled on Samsung smartphones you may find a couple of friends that already have it. Like Kik Messenger, ChatON doesn’t use your phone number for identity; it’s a regular account using your email address and a password. It’s a Samsung account actually!

 

While were just concerned with those apps that support Android and to an extent feature phones, all the apps listed above also support IOS and BlackBerry and some, also Windows Phone, Bada etc… Instant messaging apps are not few; there’s Gtalk, Kakako Talk, Cubie, Line, Group Me, Facebook Messenger, all which we can’t exhaustively list here. But WhatsApp excels at simplicity so we tried to choose those that resemble that simplicity closely.

If you know any apps we left out that deserve a mention, please let us know in the comments. Also let us know if you have tried any of these and which ones you have liked.

 


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