Best encrypted messaging app for Android of 2024

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REASONS TO BUY
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Best encrypted messaging app for Android: quick menu

The best encrypted instant messaging apps for Android provide a simple way to keep your chats, calls, and videos private and secure.

Messaging apps have been common in Android smartphones since their release, but while there are an increasing number of privacy apps available, there are also a growing number of encrypted chat apps.

These aim to better protect users in an internet world where marketing companies are increasingly trying to not just track users but also read their messages. Additionally, private messaging traditionally involves copies of your chat sessions to be saved on the company servers, which could be exposed and published online by a successful hack attack.

Encrypted instant messaging ensures privacy and security by making sure that only the person you are sending your messages to can actually read them. Powerful encryption software built into the messaging apps means that any third-party intercepting those messages will not be able to read them.

With the ever-increasingly popularity of Android phones, encrypted apps have become increasingly popular. Here we feature the best encrypted instant messaging apps currently available.

We've also featured the best privacy tools and anonymous browsers.


Best encrypted messaging apps for Android of 2024 in full:

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Best encrypted messaging app for Android overall

(Image credit: Element)
A super-secure, decentralized messaging platform

Reasons to buy

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Strong security features
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Open source software
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Plenty of hosting flexibility

Reasons to avoid

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Could use some more polish
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Some aspects more technical
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Occasional mobile bug

Element is a genuinely interesting and appealing secure messaging platform that will appeal to individual users and businesses alike. It's reliable, it comes with just about all the features that you're likely to need, it's simple to set up, and it has some of the best security and privacy features in the business – if you want to escape the clutches of the big tech giants, this is well worth a look.

For consumers, the biggest problem might be getting all your friends and family to switch over to something new – Element doesn't have quite the same polish as the likes of iMessage, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Slack and the rest, and of course it's not as widely used. The best fit for Element might be those who have the time and resources to really invest in it, including servers and bridges to other apps.

Overall, the Element messenger platform scores highly for its approach to security and its commitment to decentralization, and it's definitely going to be of interest to businesses wanting control over their own chats – as well as plenty of individual users as well.

Pricing starts with the Business plan at $5 per user per month when billed annually.

Read our full Element secure messenger review.

Best free encrypted messaging app

(Image credit: Google)
The gold standard of encrypted messaging

Reasons to buy

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Open source, industry-leading encryption
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Supports disappearing messages too

Reasons to avoid

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Sparse interface

Signal is widely regarded as the gold standard of encrypted messaging apps, not least because its encryption engine is open source and available for anyone to inspect. That doesn't make it any easier to hack, but it does mean there are a lot more pairs of eyes looking at the robustness of the encryption methods.

Besides the industry-leading encryption on offer here, the app itself is fairly plain and basic in terms of visuals and appearance. It does support group chats though, as well as the sending of files and photos in addition to text, so you're going to be pretty well covered no matter what your needs.

Signal can replace the default SMS app if you want it to, but basic SMS texts aren't encrypted – you and the person you're chatting with both need to have Signal installed for the encryption feature to function properly, otherwise Signal doesn't have enough control over both ends of the conversation.

The app also includes several other useful features on top of the tight security, such as video calling, and disappearing messages that vanish after a certain time period (perfect for those conversations you don't want to stay on the record).

Read our full Signal review.

Best encrypted messaging app for ease of use

(Image credit: Google)
The fully featured instant messenger

Reasons to buy

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Your contacts probably already use it
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Very secure encryption standard

Reasons to avoid

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Owned by Facebook

You're no doubt already familiar with WhatsApp as one of the best messaging apps out there, but you might not have realized that it offers end-to-end encryption for your messages – in fact, it uses the super-strong encryption protocol developed by Signal.

There's very little that WhatsApp can't do. As well as the standard text-based conversations, it's able to handle video calls, group chats, location sharing, and the transferring of files of various types. You can ping a lot of people at once with the Broadcast feature, leave voice memos, and more besides.

WhatsApp's immense popularity works in its favor as well, because the chances are that the people in your contacts list already have it installed to keep in touch with friends and family. All those chats are fully encrypted by default – there's no way to turn this off.

What might give you pause when it comes to using this app is that it is, of course, owned by Facebook, which means you're contributing to the data collection practices of the world's biggest social network. Facebook can't read your messages (the end-to-end encryption prevents that), but it can log other data about you for marketing purposes, like the location of your phone.

Read our full Whatsapp review.

Best encrypted messaging app for performance

(Image credit: Google)
Keep your chats securely locked

Reasons to buy

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Offers all the key IM features
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Polished and intuitive interface

Reasons to avoid

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End-to-end encryption isn't default

Telegram is almost as well-respected as Signal is, although its encryption methods aren't open source and thus haven't been as well audited by third-party security experts. What it does have in its favor is a slicker interface, if that's important to you.

Another caveat about Telegram is that end-to-end encryption isn't enabled by default, so you need to make sure the Secret mode is activated before you can be sure that no one else is going to tap into your communications. Other types of chat and file transfer are encrypted, but only for part of their journey to other parties.

Those issues aside, Telegram impresses in most areas, with features like chat backups and disappearing messages (messages with expiry times attached). You can load up group chats, make video calls and more, and in use it's just as responsive and intuitive as the other messaging apps out there.

If you need all the bells and whistles of an instant messenger, like stickers and audio memos, and even a basic photo editor and free video editing software, Telegram is a solid choice. Just be sure to enable the Secret mode for the most secure messaging.

Read our full Telegram review.

Best encrypted messaging app for anonymous messaging

(Image credit: Google)
The extra secure private messaging app

Reasons to buy

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Secure connection
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Minimum data use
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Anonymous messaging

Reasons to avoid

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Small cost

Threema is another secure messaging app that aims to keep your data out of the hands of corporations and governments. The app can be used anonymously, and it's not just messages but also phone calls that can be securely encrypted.

While secure connections are the mainstay of many messengers, Threema goes one further by ensuring no contact details are saved on their servers, and any messaging data that goes through them is immediately deleted once sent. 

The result is that local files remain on your phone, rather than in the open on third-party servers where the information could be intercepted by hackers or data-collection agencies.

For all its security considerations, Threema is still a fully-functional messaging app, that allows you to send images, files, videos, and locations, as well as create groups and set up polls among trusted users. 

There's no need to sign in with an email or other personally identifiable information, reducing the amount of data required to use it. All in all, Threema offers a very secure experience with security and anonymity in mind.

Read our full Threema review.

We've also featured the best mobile payment apps.


Best encrypted messaging app for Android FAQs

Which encrypted messaging app is best for you?

When deciding which encrypted messaging app to use, first consider what your actual needs are, as budget software may only provide basic options, so if you need to use advanced tools you may find a more expensive platform is much more worthwhile. Additionally, higher-end software can usually cater for every need, so do ensure you have a good idea of which features you think you may require from your encrypted messaging app.

How we tested the best encrypted messaging app

To test for the best encrypted messaging app we first set up an account with the relevant software platform, then we tested the service to see how the software performed when accessed by different devices, as well as testing any additional tools that were provided. The aim was to push each encrypted messaging app platform to see how useful its basic tools were and also how easy it was to get to grips with any more advanced tools.

Read more on how we test, rate, and review products on TechRadar.

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.