Top 5 IM instant messenger apps for iPhone

TiPb checks out the best, most must-have IM/Instant Messenger apps to load up on your iPhone

Top 5 IM instant messenger apps for iPhone

Interested in knowing which are the best, most must-have instant messenger (IM) apps for your iPhone? Eager to get you chat on via AIM/MobileMe, MSN/Windows Live, Yahoo!, GoogleTalk, Facebook, MySpace, and/or Jabber but need to know which client supports what and how well? Well read on for TiPb's top 5 most recommended IM/instant messenger clients for iPhone!

Beejive IM

Beejive is probably one of the most popular IM clients for iOS, and for good reason. It supports almost any messenger client you can think of and is completely customizable. Beejive has been making IM clients for a very long time, and it shows. I remember purchasing Beejive for my Blackberry several years ago. Even then, it was an extremely reliable choice.

It comes packed with features such as support for multiple accounts, push notifications, picture sharing, custom backgrounds and chat bubbles, and much more. I have always found it to be extremely efficient and easy to use. Most hardcore users prefer Beejive due to the amount of clients it supports. It also has the longest session option I've ever seen, which is 7 days (eBuddy also offers 7 day support). This means less time outs and having to re-connect.

Beejive has support for the following IM clients -

  • AIM/MobileMe
  • Facebook IM
  • Google Talk
  • Jabber
  • MSN/Windows Live
  • Myspace IM
  • Yahoo! Messenger

[$9.99 - iTunes Link]

eBuddy Pro

eBuddy is another IM client that has a pretty large user base. It boasts several great features such as themes, push notifications, picture sharing, and much more. eBuddy also offers a free version of the app that is ad supported and has fewer features. So you can always try before you buy.

When it comes to comparing eBuddy with other clients, it seems to offer about the same Beejive does. A lot of it is really going to come down to personal preference. I personally prefer the overall layout and setup of Beejive but if Beejive wasn't around, I'd have no issues using eBuddy as my full time messaging client.

eBuddy has support for the following IM clients -

  • AIM
  • MSN/WIndows Live
  • Google Talk
  • ICQ
  • Hyve
  • Yahoo! Messenger
  • Facebook Chat
  • Myspace IM

[$4.99 - iTunes Link]


While eBuddy and Beejive have rather large user bases, so does IM+. These are probably the three most used clients for iPhone users. IM+ offers just as much as the previous two. And again, it'll probably come down to personal preference. It boasts most of the same features of the previous two but also has some other features that make it unique such as viewing Twitter feeds and advanced chat histories. I like the fact that you can access chat history on your device or on the web. This can be extremely convenient for people who need to save chat histories for work reasons.

IM+ also offers a free "lite" version if you'd like to try before you buy. It supports the following IM clients -

  • AIM
  • MSN/Windows Live
  • Google Talk
  • Facebook Chat
  • Myspace IM
  • ICQ
  • Twitter
  • Jabber
  • Skype

[$9.99 - iTunes Link]


A lot of people may be asking why I'm including a client that doesn't support half the features the big 3 support. The answer to that for me is simple; Verbs looks like a client Apple themselves wrote. The UI itself is simply gorgeous. As of now, Verbs doesn't support the feature set the others boast, but I think it's a client to keep our eye on.

If the developers of Verbs can add support for several more clients and integrate a lot of the same powerful features, they'll do very well. Currently Verbs only supports local notifications, meaning if you close out the app from multitasking, you won't receive notifications. This is what's keeping me from using it on a daily basis. If they can issue updates to better the app in a timely manner, I think they'll acquire a pretty good sized user base. It's also a bit cheaper than some of the other options.

Verbs currently supports the following IM clients -

  • AIM/MobileMe
  • Google Talk

[$2.99 - iTunes Link]

Kik Messenger

Kik Messenger has an extremely easy to use interface and push is extremely quick. But there's a catch. Kik is proprietary. The other user must be using Kik messenger also. They provide cross-platform support for iOS, Android, and Blackberry. The downside is that you won't be able to link AIM and some other popular messaging clients. If your messaging needs are small and the few people you need to talk to have Kik (or you can get them to download it), this will work just fine. Apps like Whatsapp Messenger and Ping! also offer the same proprietary system as well. It'll really come down to which you prefer to use the most (and probably which one your friends use).

[Free - iTunes Link]

Bonus: Official IM apps

If you only use one IM/chat service and for some reason really want the "official" iPhone app for that service, you're in luck -- there are several in the app store:

  • AIM AOL Instant Messenger comes in 2 versions, free with adds and cheap without adds. [Free - iTunes link] and [$2.99 - iTunes link]
  • Facebook has built-in chat as well as feed, messages, places, groups, events, photos, and more. [Free - iTunes link]
  • Myspace gives you access to chat as well as updates, photos, comments, messages and more. [Free - iTunes link]
  • Skype not only lets you use Skype chat but also make VoIP and even video calls. [Free - iTunes link]
  • Twitter is technically less IM and more DM (Direct Message) but if you want to chat in 140 characters this is the app. [Free - iTunes link]
  • Windows Live Messenger with support for Windows Live, Y!, and Facebook, as well as social feeds for Facebook, Flickr, and Myspace, and access to Hotmail. [Free - iTunes link]

Your top apps?

So there you have them, our top 5 best iPhone IM instant messenger apps to get you going. Be sure to check out our Picks of the Week and iPhone App and Games Forum for more recommendations, and if we missed any of your favorites leave them in the comments below!

Allyson Kazmucha

Editor for iMore, Potter pundit, and the ninja in your iOS

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There are 100 comments. Add yours.

alamperti | says:

IMHO there are two more IMs that's worth to try, Palringo and Nimbuzz.
Greetings from Italy! :)

erin says:

on my iPad, I've had nothing but problems with IM+ - it will drop me constantly when I app switch. They haven't been able to tell me why either. :/

bone says:

i personally like talktone because it is simple, barebones, and you can make wifi calls on it via google calling.

deviladv says:

Why isn't Meebo on this list? They have a large user base as well.

kbduvall says:

Definitely. Meebo is an excellent client. It rivals BeeJive.

kbduvall says:

It's also free.. and a big plus is that it doesn't bug me with "Your AOL account is signed in at multiple locations" when I use multiple clients at the same time.

Jaysal says:

Shocked at meebo being left out. Really shocked.

Phxblue says:

Agreed, next to Beejive, Meebo is my other go to messenger. Surprised its not in this list.

devonair says:

I purchased Beejive on my iPhone 4 and eventually regretted it. The app was always laggy after receiving a push notification and returning to a session. It also frequently failed to connect to Facebook Chat. I later tried the free Meebo app and fell immediately in love with it. It really should be on this list.

Graig says:

I dropped beejive for meebo. Meebo does push notification. That just saves battery life. And it's cross platform. Supports multiple services. And it remembers the history across multiple devices.

Ken says:

Ally, what are your thoughts on Trillian? It seems to be left out..

deviladv says:

From what I've seen in reviews, Trillian for iOS seems to be very buggy and weak on features. It's also something you have to pay for, vs the Mac OS version which is free and works fantastically.

Rapscallion says:

I have been using Trillian since first released and I love it. Not sure why anyone would say its buggy.

Diaspar says:

another vote for Trillian, it's an amazing app! also, if you're using it as a desktop client, it keeps all the settings and accounts and etc. synced across the board! highly recommend.

chris says:

What about meebo? I use BeeJive the most but when it times out a lot (and it does) meebo is a good alternative.

firesign3000 says:

I don't use IM that much on my iPhone, but when I do, either Meebo or Palringo do just fine for me.

Sky_eye says:

I just use meebo and Yahoo messenger, and AIM.

louis cameron says:

I would definitely check out, cross platforms (both mobile devices and webapp for desktops). Looks good, and has a bunch of great features that the top 3 up there have.

JK says:

agree with imo. another big client that was left out.
i wish the writer had posted one that offered qq support.

George says:

Seconded - I use on my iPhone, iPad, another people's wintel boxes as a web client (using Apple's Messages Beta on my Mac at home, though). I will note that this wide a field of competing clients is just incentive for Apple to standardize messaging on their platforms through a common app with APIs for popular services (AIM, FB, ICQ, etc.) being plugins to the Messages App that can be added by the service runner for less work than developing a full fledged app, or by Apple to add more open-source protocols as they gain traction.

Griff says:

Beluga is a great app with cross platform functionality

zik says:

wow... that are really cool the application from iphone.. Verbs , is the preference one..

Mark says:

Firstly, Kik Messenger has been not only removed off the Blackberry App World, but it's been barred from being able to send out notifications and live updates. That means BB users often won't receive Kik messages for e.g. half an hour.
Secondly, LiveProfile deserves a mention over Kik. It's cross-platform (Android & iPhone so far - BB coming soon), is as fast if not faster than Kik, does the same stuff Kik does but is also the closest thing to BBM cross-platform. Status updates, profile pics in similar fashion to how BB does it etc. File sending is coming soon.
Thirdly, why bother showing Verbs? It doesn't offer notifications when the app isn't running - makes it stupid. Just because it has a nice interface, doesn't make up for it's lack of functionality.
Lastly, Ping! Chat is slow and often crashes. Just check out the App Store for proof of this for the LOADS of people who face this problem - that hasn't been fixed for AGES. Doesn't deserve a mention either.

Allyson Kazmucha says:

Some people aren't hardcore IM users. Verbs works for a lot of people. Some prefer form over function. I don't but a lot do. My opinion (or yours) does not apply to everyone. I kept that in mind.

sting7k says:

Beejive, all others are just meh.

Doug says:

Meebo. But who IMs anymore? I text.

robotphood says:

Millions. I text too but let's face it, it's pretty archaic. However, until everyone gets a data plan and all phones support IM clients we'll be paying out the a$$ for sms.

res says:

I do, with my friends abroad and with people on FB that I don't usually text, but will chat when they pop up on there. I have a few mates who only use MSN and a few who prefer GTalk so multiple account IM clients make sense for me and a missions of other people too. SMS is great but I usually use it for close friends and arranging definite meet-ups etc, tho of course you can use it like IM too if you fancy, whatever works for the given situation really.

JonnyGerman says:

Another Meebo user here. Serious question: What do these paid apps offer me that Meebo doesn't? I haven't had any problems with it and it has no ads.

Jentino says:

I am an iPhone user. My wife and friends are using BB. So, we're using WhatsApp! for chat in crossplatform. Send text, picture, video, even voice/sound with push notification, etc.

Alli says:

WhatsApp is the greatest. But it's apples and oranges compared to IM clients like Beejive. Anyone anywhere with any computer (pc or Mac) can use AIM/WLM/GTalk/etc., and then chat with Beejive, or some of the others. To use WhatsApp, you have to have WhatsApp - and it can only be installed on iPhones, BB, and Android devices.
While it is definitely awesome (frequently my pick of the week!), it is limiting, and not in the same category.

Jentino says:

Yes it's limited to mobile users especialy it'll use your inserted phone number rather than pin or email. But what i like most is the feature that will let us know when the messages is delivered and also red by the reciver. Just like in BBM.

igorsky says:

Why the ommission of Yahoo Messenger? One of the better IM clients out there, with great video chat ability.

GraysonIP says:

I used Yahoo Messenger for quite some time, until it got buggy and unreliable. Plus, it erased chat history fairly soon on the iPhone app. Now I prefer Meebo. One concern, though. I'd like to erase the exceedlingly long chat history and can't figure out how. Anyone know?

j says:

Meebo for me... It's been great!!

G says:

I think Leanna wrote a small feature on Verbs and I love how clean and iChat-esque it feels.

Allyson Kazmucha says:

I wrote the quick app post on verbs too :p
i love it. when they add more clients, i could see me using that as my main client. it's just beautiful!

Chuck says:

I'm surprised that TiPb didn't search their own blog prior to this post. Jeremy Sikora wrote a good review for the first release of Meebo back on Feb 17th, 2010. Meebo is now at 1.4, and many of your astute readers have given it their thumbs up. And for the budget conscious, it's free. Free is good, isn't it?

Allyson Kazmucha says:

An app review and a roundup aren't the same. A roundup is meant to show readers different choices if they're making a decision. A review is exactly that, a review. Apples and oranges really.

Wipash says:

Has anyone tried IMO? It's fantastic, supports all major protocols simultaneously, and its free! I've never used anything else so I can't really compare, but I think it's the best thing ever.

RodneyJ725 says:

I'm using IM+ Pro as it is solid, and designed to work on iPad as well. It does all that Beejive does.
I really liked Beejive, BUT it does not show my Yahoo Avatar picture, nor does it allow me to set it! Beejive will set display and avatars for the other services. The beejive website states it will for Yahoo, so I contacted their customer support; they confirmed the issue, and that they do not support avatar for YM, and they have no plan of fixing it. And the website STILL says it supports avatars for Yahoo.
I hate seeing a gray head for my own avatar. Maybe it is superficial, but I like seeing the pics of people I chat with, along with the pic that I choose to represent me: it is a basic feature. I feel if every other IM app can display and set the Yahoo avatar, why cant Beejive update their app to do so too, especially at $9.99! Oh well, I'm happy now with IM+ Pro.

Aaron Matthew Kaiser says:

Trillian should have been mentioned in the article.

Ray says:

Love Verbs, so nice. But I'm looking forward to iM. That looks like it's going to be a stunner.

tennenho says:

Meebo is the only client mentioned that will push a Live Messenger message to the other user's phone as SMS. I have no idea why I can't find a paid client that will do the same thing.

Capito says:

Meebo is the best man, should be on the list.

shugo974 says:

Missing two good and FREE ones
Pingchat (a BBM like service cross platform style)

Kwisawolfy says:

I just need jabber for my IM’s as i run MSN/Windows Live, Yahoo and Icq in Python transports on my mac at home and log in with iChat on my laptop ore a Jabber client on my iPhone

chirmer says:

Someone beat me to the punch mentioning Kik and RIM's battle to the death :D Also, I hope the developers of these apps are reading this... because I would like to know why on EARTH IM+ for iPhone is 10USD while for Blackberry it's 40 FREAKING DOLLARS. Who in their right mind would pay that...

Cail says:

There are two primary possibilities for why IM+ for iphone is $10 vs $40 for Blackberry that I have thought of.

  1. Applications tend to be more expensive on Blackberry. I've noticed this overall but am not sure how things have changed as I got rid of my Blackberry shortly after the market came out.
  2. Less people with Blackberries are interested in purchasing an instant messaging application. You have a large percentage of BB users that are on corporate systems and may not be able to install applications as well as a large portion of people that aren't interested in instant messaging and only use advanced features for business related work. The people that make IM+ need to be able to offset the development costs of the BB app. Less demand means they have to charge a higher price to make the BB client a profitable, or even break-even, venture.

My bets are on #2 for what it's worth.

Joey says:

I think when choosing the IM client and own another idevice, iPad for example, you need to choose wisely beejive req to buy both the iPhone and iPad (HD) version whereas IM+ you don't

iSurf says:

I wonder why the sidekick i had years ago had a perfect working AIM and we cant lol
I dont use AIM but i want to know why

afeef says:

Based on the article and all the comments, this is the overall list:
Beejive IM
eBuddy Pro
Kik Messenger
Windows Live Messenger
Yahoo messenger
Ping! Chat

afeef says:

Based on the article and all the comments, this is the overall list:
Beejive IM
eBuddy Pro
Kik Messenger
Windows Live Messenger
Yahoo messenger
Ping! Chat
Didn't include Whatsapp and other mobile only messaging apps.

GeorgeDW says:

I bought Palringo, but when Meebo came out I switched to that. Recently though, it's been having issue logging into AIM, so uv started using Palringo again.

Prisqua says:

Beejive is by far my favorite. I only use IM+ for Skype chat. Occasionally use PingChat and whatsapp.

James says:

Funny how Beejive is chosen first above eBuddy, yet the header picture shows Beejive with a 2.5 star rating versus a 4-star average from eBuddy.
Why does everybody bother mentioning WhatsApp and Kik though? I dont see that as IM

Mark says:

Instant Messaging is exactly that - instant messaging. Whatsapp, LiveProfile are the 2 only cross-platform in the smartphone sector IM clients. Kik is no longer on the BB at least in a functional state.
You don't see it as an IM client but they ARE an IM. Just like MSN Messenger is an IM client, so is Whatsapp etc. They allow the instant messaging and relay of messages. Just because you need a phone and not a PC to use the service, doesn't make it any different in its basic functioning.

Mike G says:

How could u forget the Meebo app. what I love about it is that when it saves the log to the cloud, I can log on via the website ( on my pc and see the same logs (discussions) that I had on my iPhone. This is helpful when I have to pick up a convo later. Or get a phone number or address that was given to me on another platform. Great way to share info between the iPhone and PC (Mac).

devonair says:

I'm going to repeat myself here with a bit of an addition. First off:
I purchased Beejive on my iPhone 4 and eventually regretted it. The app was always laggy after receiving a push notification and returning to a session. It also frequently failed to connect to Facebook Chat. I later tried the free Meebo app and fell immediately in love with it.
But I had always wanted an app that also supported Skype Chat; Imo.IM fit this bill and is every bit as reliably as Meebo. In my mind, both Imo and Meebo are superior apps (in terms of stability and responsiveness) to Beejive and IM+.

Steven Wilson says:

These are some great apps from what I read. I see why they made the list but hats off to Verb.
Steven Wilson
MySocialMania iPhone App

Alex says:

IMO is the best IM in my opinion, plus it's free.
The browser version is also great for when you're not on your computer.

DigitalOne says:

Meebo Meebo Meebo! Palringo is worth a look also! Both are free!!!

Dik says:

Facebook Messenger ( Crisp App ) . Requires iOS 3.1.2 or later
Make FREE VoIP calls
with your Facebook friends wherever they are - iPhone,
iPod Touch or web.
Facebook Messenger is the best way to stay in touch with all your Facebook friends and the ultimate Voice Chat app that allows you to call your friends for free.
Chat with millions of Facebook users
Additional cool features allow users to easily send pictures, browse message history, view a friend's wall, use emoticons, receive instant replies with Apple Push Notifications, and setup sound notifications and multi-tasking support - all right from within the app.

Faraz says:

well thats a nice collection of messengers but i already own IM+ for my iphone 4 and ipod touch.

MF says:

Save for Kik, i've used all of those IM apps extensively and found them to be extremely unreliable. Beejive was the biggest disappointment, considering the price. It doesn't crash as frequently as the other clients do, but it constantly misses messages. I use IM primarily for Gtalk, so I can check the chat history in gmail with the IM app i'm using. Beejive only receives about 3/4 of the messages that were actually sent. IM+ and verbs are equally flakey, but they're not as expensive so the purchases weren't a total loss. EBuddy is more reliable in terms of actually receiving IMs, but it crashes frequently, and is VERY slow on startup. Of the five listed above, however, it is the best app and is a good backup. The most dependable clients i've used are Trillian and imo. In the app description for Trillian, it is pretty clear that the developers are focused on bug fixes and reliability, and any crashing issues that appear are usually followed by an app store update within hours. The most solid of the pack in terms of speed, receiving all messages, and dependability is imo. I haven't missed one im since getting this app a couple of weeks ago, and it has never crashed on me. It is DEFINITELY more worth the download than Beejive or any of the others above.

iSRS says:

I also use imo. For the most part, it has been reliable, but last week I stopped getting notifications at all. I deleted it, rebooted the phone, and went a couple days with just AIM installed, tryed IM+, but ultimately, after a week, went back to imo, and have had no issues since.

John M says:

I use IM+ it works for google msn and facebook im perfectly. I tried all the free ones out there imo+ was the best but IM+ is stable and works perfectly.

William Eberwein says:

IMO.IM - supports all of the popular IM's and Facebook and Skype. Easy, free

Andy says: on both iPhone and iPad. Sounds a bit like a cuckoo clock factory when I'm at my desk signed in on my computer, phone, and iPad simultaneously and an IM comes in. Primarily use MSN but also log into GTalk some. Have also used IM+ but prefer

Megan says:

I have to also say I am sorry to see Trillian didn't make this list because so far it's the best I've tried. I used several random free apps as well as IM+ and eBuddy (both lite and pro versions of each). I used Meebo a tad too. I didn't like any of them very much at all, eBuddy seemed to crash a lot and IM+ began crashing after OS4 and having great difficulty connecting. I use Trillian on my computer so I had been very interested in seeing the sync between the phone and computer. Finally after the latest beta release that feature began and I bit the bullet to pay for yet another iPhone IM app. I was SOO PLEASED. I've never been happier with an IM program on my phone and the constant sync between devices is SO wonderful. I can literally walk away from my computer and within thirty seconds it begins notifying me on my phone of new messages, but when I'm on my computer the messages go there and not to my phone. I LOVE IT.

Dana Starnes Howard says:

I have had a lot of problems with Beejive lately. Really liked it at first, but now it can't keep up with me and seems it is leaving out messages in conversations even... any body else having these problems... we all at work have it and having the same probs yet everything I read about beejive is nothing but good!

Nish Ere 1990 says:

IM+ and e-buddy pro are d besttt

Electronic Swami™ says:

Why is imo instant messanger not on the list?

Lomsen says:

IMO is the best. no doubt..

Guest says:

BeeJive is horrible. It used to be passable, but now since their recent update, you can no longer type in landscape mode without the chat window getting covered up, and you can't just tap "return" to send a message -- the app now requires you to press a special paper-airplane icon! NOT worth $10. Not worth half that.

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Alaa Candy says:

Well i Love Nimbuzz So Much Because it's So Powerful With High Security.
I Highly Recommended To Download This App For Your iPhone.Good Luck.

kevin says:

ive been using meebo for the longest time and it easily tops IM+, ebuddy pro, and beejive in terms of functionality and reliability.
ive also tried about IMO.IM which is another great app to use, since it also has a lot of chats others dont; including skype and steam.
highly recommended; meebo, IMO.IM, whatsapp, KIK

kevin says:

almost forgot meebo and IMO.IM are free apps, meebo does have an ad bar that does pop up once and awhile, but after a month of continual use, the bar never comes back up. IMO.IM is also free.

Lahoma Delpaggio says:

I can see the person I call but they cannot see me

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Roselia Kanner says:

Nice find William. I swore there was a way to do this but I thought it was a single press on the top button.

חליפות חתן says:

על סמך החוויות שלנו ושל חברים וספקים רבים מ תחום ארגון אירועים , צוות פורטל חתונות וודינג-בוק זיהה חוסר יעילות יוצאת דופן בענף החתונות באינטרנט כיום. מצד אחד, תמיד היו ה חתן והכלה הטריים, אשר חיפשו בכל דרך האפשרית לארגן את היום החשוב ולפעמים היקר בחייהם בצורה הטובה ביותר, למצוא את נותני השירות המתאימים ביותר, שיענו לכל דרישותיהם . מצד שני, נמצאים הספקים, שמטרתם היא להגיע לכמה שיותר לקוחות פוטנציאליים, להציג את השירותים שלהם בצורה היעילה והרחבה ביותר, וכמובן להגדיל את העסק שלהם.

Mark says:

Meebo is going away July 11th. Find your alternatives now!

J says:

Looks like Meebo is the favourite among the comments; it's what I'll download ;)
Thanks for the list!

Azzoth says:

Here is a ranking of iPhone Instant Messaging apps if you want to see more alternatives:

Laura P1 says:

Are there any chat apps for iPhone that have functionality that allow you to log out and truly require you to log back in with a password, not just hit a button to log in (allowing anyone who sees your phone to view the chat history)?

Mahipal Nehra1 says:

Well collection!! Add this superb app in your list.
Instantly communicate with people who speak different languages!