Need a private chat? Here are the best iOS apps for secret chatting

Dawna Roberts

Jan 26, 20245 min read

Need a private chat? Here are the best iOS apps for secret chatting: Header image

Data breaches and cyberattacks are on the rise, making it more critical than ever for users to secure their online activities. As a result, personal chatting apps are gaining popularity. Business executives, whistleblowers, journalists, and everyone in between are looking for ways to ensure that their private communications stay private. 

If you’ve been wondering which private messaging app is best for keeping all your messages safe and sound, you’re not alone. Keep reading to find out which private chat app offers the best balance between privacy and security and features.

Which app is best for private chats?

While the best private chat apps are similar, there are some key differences you need to know about. The app that’s best for you will depend on your preferences and priorities.

Before we get started, it’s worth noting that you should always read an app’s privacy policy to see what types of data it collects and who, if anyone, the company shares it with. Pay particular attention to metadata, which may contain your IP address, device information, and geolocation. 

In general, open-source Chat apps tend to be more secure because the open-source community can examine the code to look for vulnerabilities and hidden data trackers. End-to-end encryption is essential if you want your chats to remain private. Without it, hackers, the app company, and even advertisers could be listening in and harvesting data from your phone. 

Let’s explore the 5 most popular, private, and secure private messaging apps.

An image of the WhatsApp app.
WhatsApp is a trademark of Meta Platforms, Inc. Image by Pexels.

1. Signal: The private messenger

Signal tops most lists of private chat apps, as it’s one of the most secure and private apps you can choose. The app includes features like calling, video chat, messaging, file sharing, and photo sharing. Signal provides end-to-end encryption for calls and messages to keep strangers from spying on you. And the encryption protocol is so good that it’s also used by WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Unlike the other apps, Signal isn’t owned by a large corporation. Instead, it’s owned by a nonprofit, and they do not harvest data from your device.

What makes Signal private?

Signal is private because it’s open-source and uses end-to-end encryption for all messages and calls. It also includes a disappearing message feature, so no one nearby can read your text messages. 

Signal on the App Store

2. WhatsApp: Extra protection for private messages

WhatsApp is undoubtedly one of the most popular private messaging apps today. It doesn’t store messages on the server and uses end-to-end encryption for all chat messages. You can even store encrypted backups of all your chats. For extra security, WhatsApp offers 2-factor authentication and PIN codes to secure your account. However, since WhatsApp was purchased by Meta, users have voiced concerns over privacy and security within the app, as Meta is known for collecting and sharing volumes of data. 

What makes WhatsApp private?

As an extra privacy feature, WhatsApp allows users to secure chats with Chat Lock for specific chats. When using Chat Lock, you will need to use Face ID, your fingerprint, a passcode, or a secret key to unlock and read chats. This feature will keep intruders from seeing your messages.

WhatsApp on the App Store

3. Telegram: A messaging app with a Secret Chat feature

Another top-ranking messaging app that people use to keep their communications private is Telegram. Telegram works well for group chats and large teams (it can host up to 20,000 participants at a time in a single chat group). Users can send messages, share videos and files, and make calls using Telegram. 

What makes Telegram private?

One downside to Telegram is that all your data is stored in the cloud, making it more vulnerable to attacks. Plus, Telegram does not automatically encrypt all your texts. To turn up Telegram’s privacy, use the Secret Chat feature. This will send messages with end-to-end encryption. Once in Secret Chat mode, your data will not be stored in the cloud. 

Telegram on the App Store

4. iOS Messages with built-in encryption

iOS Messages is built into iOS, macOS, and watchOS. It’s a secure messaging platform that uses end-to-end encryption between Apple users. It can also message other devices outside the Apple platform using unencrypted SMS. The downside is that message data is stored in the cloud, which can make it more vulnerable to data breaches. 

What makes iOS Messages private?

iOS Messages uses end-to-end encryption between users. However, this only applies to messages sent between Apple devices. Plus, your metadata, contact lists, and phone numbers are not encrypted, leaving you somewhat vulnerable to exposure. 

iOS Messages on the App Store

5. Threema: A messaging app with no commitment required

The messages app Threema hails from Switzerland and offers voice calls, chats, video calls, and group chats. But one feature that sets Threema apart is that you don’t need to supply a phone number or email address in order to get started, something that is required by most other private chat apps. Another major benefit is that the entire app is completely encrypted and open-source for added security.

What makes Threema private?

As soon as a message is delivered, it is automatically deleted from the Threema servers, so no trace of it remains to be hacked. The app uses end-to-end encryption throughout its services. And, as mentioned above, you can remain completely anonymous without having to supply your phone number or email to use the app. Threema manages data on the local device rather than on its servers, keeping things more secure and private. The only downside is that it’s not free.

Threema on the App Store

If you want the ultimate in secure private messaging, you won’t do better than Threema. But if cost is a concern, you have some other great choices at hand.

Signal is frequently touted as the best free, secure messaging app out there. And although Signal may not include some of the fancy, fun features that other apps do, you won’t find a better balance of privacy and security for free. Finally, if you want a sleek, feature-rich option, take a look at Telegram. However, the choice is yours.

For most users, the best messaging app will depend on the platform their peers are using. Each platform requires that you be on the same platform to ensure end-to-end encryption. For the best results, choose the app that allows you to keep all your communications private and secure. 

Dawna Roberts Dawna Roberts
Dawna has spent her entire career in web dev, cybersecurity, and IT. Her work has been featured on Forbes, Adobe, Airtable, Backblaze, Cyberleaf, Lifewire, and other online publications for the past ten years.