Some WhatsApp alternatives for feature phones & Android

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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.

Android: Yes
Feature phones: Nokia S40, Symbian

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!


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.


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.


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.




  1. Jeremy George

    biNu Chat? Not as pretty as the others but works on feature phones and
    Android phones, uses less data than the others, incorporate SMS alerts
    and free SMS for people without the App

    1. Mark Shoebridge

      Also biNu to binu is free

      1. Harlin

        Is the term “Free” not entirely true now is it – am still paying data charges

        1. James Ritala

          Free is free when the cost isnt coming to you. E.g When yu use a work WIFI connection, or a free or unlimited data plan…

        2. Jeremy George

          True, but the app is free and biNu’s unique technology makes the data charges very low.

  2. jojo

    problem is that usually trying to get ur fellow freinds to join the same platform to work. Maybe is these could all cross platforms – say chatting from weChat to whatsapp etc. Whatsapp has been smart in that it just automatically loads contacts from the fone book. Viber i know does that as well but hey – Whatsapp chakabaya chikatyokera.

    1. Mukuwasha

      You are right. No matter how great the app is, it is no use if your buddies don’t use it.

  3. P4TR10T

    Viber > WhatsApp because of desktop app and voice calls. And DAMN!!!! those voice calls are cheap

    1. Mukuwasha


  4. SKC

    For pure messaging I tried out Kik and WeChat but fell in love with hike app
    I really love the Status Updates and moods feature they have that is shared to your favourite list on circle of friends.

    The emoticons are adorable and truly stand out from the rest.

    For voip calling I much prefer Viber to Skype.

  5. MI5

    BlackBerry announced that it’s finally bringing BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) to Android phones and iPhones this summer.The concept of chatting online for free with friends and family members had once evinced many, but with the breakthrough of Whatsapp in 2009 came as a dream come true as it allowed us talking to friends sitting oceans apart on the go and absolutely free. When WhatsApp arrived as a multi-platform solution, non-BlackBerry users were able to avail of a similar service to BBM. WhatsApp, ChatON, Skype, Kik Messenger, WeChat and Viber Comparison! My best messaging service is Whatsapp because it’s a popular cross-platform instant messaging application that is available on all major mobile phone operating systems, even tho WhatsApp messenger is ideal for texting, the main difference of Viber from WhatsApp is that you can not only text your friends but also make voice calls to them using the Viber application. I say If you prefer texting, sharing music, audio, video etc., you can go with WhatsApp. But if you prefer voice calls over texting, then Viber is best.

    1. James Ritala

      And if yu liv in a country where internet is almost free you could even go for Video Calling, and Group Video calling , like Google Hangouts, and Skype, or Facetime

  6. James Ritala

    Hie. Just one small highlight. Gtalk is being replaced with what Google calls ‘Hangouts’, which I believe will become the next best thing in instant messaging and has replaced gtalk on Android already. With the promised upgrade that incorporates SMS into Hangouts soon, we might find ourselves using it more compared to Skype, Viber, etc.

    I have already tried it and its awesome and all it requires is your Google account.

    The rest of the functions are there. Messages, Emoticons, Video Calling including group video chats which was called Hangout before.

    Although I didn’t hear talk of Nokia being supported

    1. Concern Shoko

      Sorry to say this but the “hangout” i installed on my android phone proved to be crap! I had to revert back to Gtalk. What annoyed me most is I cant see whether my gtalk friend is offline or online? Seriously???

  7. Jeremy George

    And biNu Chat is now available from your PC

  8. How To Build A List From Scratch |

    […] Some WhatsApp alternatives for feature phones & AndroidTechnology Zimbabwe, on Wed, 22 May 2013 07:22:54 -0700The 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. ChatON. Android … […]

  9. Gazprom

    Hey where is my Telegram. i love this app i can send .doc .docx.pdf, whatever file extension you name it and Telegram can send it through to my buddies who use Telegram. Besides that feature is the secret conversation where by i can chat with someone and as soon as that message is read it self destructs

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