The best end-to-end encrypted messaging apps for your Android phone

The best end to end encrypted messaging apps for your Android phone

As a general rule, chat apps that use end-to-end 256-bit AES, enterprise-grade encryption are considered the holy grail when it comes to privacy. With end-to-end encryption, every message you send is encrypted and encoded directly on your phone and only decoded by the intended recipient after delivery. This encryption process is important as it only allows you and the recipient to read your conversation, thus preventing malicious people from reading the contents of your chats, even in the unfortunate case that they manage to intercept while data is being transferred.

Most Android devices come with a semi-encrypted solution in the default Google Messages SMS app, but there are better solutions for both SMS/MMS and internet-based messaging. Here we have selected some of the best options for you.

What is encryption?

The operation occurs when the code of the message is processed by an encryption algorithm (a block of instructions) that must be AES compliant (Advanced Encryption Standard). AES is also known by its original name as Rijndael and was first established in 2001 by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). 256 bits refers to the length of the key used to encrypt information and is virtually unbreakable given the computing power available. For this reason, it is considered the strongest encryption standard to date.

When sent, anyone who eavesdrops or intercepts messages can only extract mixed information. This is then decrypted (decoded) on the receiver’s device, a process that allows the message to be hidden “end-to-end” – from the sender’s end to the receiver’s end.

Encrypted messaging on Android

The Android ecosystem offers many security and privacy focused mobile apps that allow us to send messages without worrying that malicious actors or government agencies might read the content. Unfortunately, Facebook Messenger some of the most popular messaging apps like

Additionally, while the Google Messages app offers end-to-end encryption when sending messages via RCS, it still falls short as this coveted encryption only happens during one-on-one messages (not group chats) and when enabled by chat features. Google is also behind Apple on this one, as iMessage offers an end-to-end encrypted, multi-device system (as long as you’re chatting with someone else using an Apple device).

That’s why privacy experts agree that users should consider alternatives when chatting with friends, family, and colleagues. Fortunately, there are several major messaging platforms to choose from that offer true end-to-end encryption in the Android ecosystem. We picked our seven favourites.

Signal

Signalis considered one of the most secure messaging apps in the Play Store. The mobile app allows end-to-end encryption (using a tried and tested encryption algorithm) on all outgoing text, voice and group chat messages, and also allows sharing of media and attachments.

Other functions include self-destructing messages, local encrypted backups and animated stickers.

threema

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Threema is an open source chat application with some unique privacy solutions. It uses the NaCl encryption function to encrypt data and offers anonymous login via an identity key. Additionally, Threema has a QR “add friend” functionality along with audio, image, video and text encryption.

While the app is not particularly popular and free in Germany ($3.99), you may decide it’s an affordable price point to improve your privacy and security posture. It is available on both Android and iOS.

wire

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Wire is another open source application that offers end-to-end encryption for messages, files, videos and conference calls. It also comes with a host of enterprise-level functions, such as secure collaboration for businesses with included video conferencing tools, and the ability to run Wire in a company’s own datacenters.

Another feature that will delight power users is the presence of local decryption key storage as opposed to storing keys online, on remote servers. Wire Personal is available for free on both iOS and Android; There is also an Enterprise subscription tier that will give you access to additional business functionality.

WhatsApp

whatsapp plus

WhatsApp is one of the most widely used voice and chat applications on the planet and uses the VOIP standard to send voice data over the Internet. Since 2016, Meta’s app uses Signal’s algorithm to encrypt data sent and received via end-to-end encryption. There are various other functions that WhatsApp uses or is currently undergoing Beta testing, including lost messages, chat history transfers, and end-to-end encrypted backups.

WhatsApp is completely free and available on both Android and iOS platforms, so you can chat securely throughout the split.

Wickr Me

Wickr Me is a serious, privacy-focused app with lots of security features. Specifically, the app supports configurable self-destructing messages and strips media from metadata such as location and message times to increase your privacy.

In addition, Wickr Me offers a verification system that allows users to check each other’s identity via short strings of encrypted video messages. The company even has a bounty program that awards up to $100,000 for users who find vulnerabilities in the app.

For context, Wickr was acquired by Amazon in June 2021, causing some users to doubt the platform’s privacy practices. Still, at the time of writing, the Wickr Me app remains one of the most secure apps for end-to-end encrypted conversations.

Telegram

Telegram does not offer end-to-end encryption on regular chats as it needs to store the information somewhere on its servers. However, the company’s encryption within the “Secret Chats” feature is similarly robust to WhatsApp of Signal.

In addition, Telegram offers a wide range of privacy and security features, including self-destructing media, proxy servers support, and a “delete my account” scheduler.

It also comes with a wide variety of features such as locking and backing up chats, a screen sharing tool, and even a built-in photo and video editor.

Silence

Unlike all the other apps on this list, Silence doesn’t work over an internet connection, but replaces your default text messaging app.

The Silence app, formerly known as SMSSecure, is a by-product of Signal and therefore retains all its encryption features, instead applying it only to SMS and MMS.

This means that although you can use Silence offline, your phone network provider can see who you’re texting (and not what you’re typing). That’s why you should use Silence with another end-to-end encrypted messaging app and use SMS only when you don’t have an internet connection.

While we believe Signal tops all the other options on our list when it comes to security and privacy, if you want to make sure your chats with friends and family are as secure as possible, you can’t go wrong with Threema, Wire or WhatsApp. And if you’re more interested in features than end-to-end encryption, Google Messages has all the features you could want.

I hope you liked our list. If you have questions, you can use the comment field.

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