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WeChat Messaging App Review

What WeChat Is:

 

WeChat is a free cross-platform messaging app that is phenomenally popular in China. The international version of the app is known as WeChat while the Chinese version is called Weixin (meaning “micro message”). WeChat is now available in many widely spoken languages worldwide including English, Spanish, Hindi, Russian and Indonesian.

 

WeChat was released in January 2011 and as of May 2014 had 396 million monthly active users, of which around 25% were outside China. This compares to WhatsApp’s global user base of 465 million monthly active users and Viber’s 100 million monthly active users. Even though most of WeChat’s users are in China, last year it hired Lionel Messi as a spokesperson to promote the app worldwide. 

 

WeChat Platforms.png

 

What Platforms Does WeChat Work On:

 

WeChat works across the major mobile platforms including iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Symbian and Blackberry. WeChat apps are also available on Apple Mac computers and a web version for PC’s.

 

Chat View.png Chat View - Functionality.png

 

What Functionality Does WeChat Offer:

 

WeChat users can send free text messages (SMS), picture messages (MMS), voice messages, video messages, and make free voice calls and video calls. Group chat functionality, broadcast messages (sending voice messages to multiple users) and walkie talkie mode are also available. Other services include location sharing, contacts sharing, photo sharing, moments and games. Moments allow users to share photos with their Facebook or Twitter accounts.

WeChat offers paid for services including downloading stickers and downloading games with in-app game purchases. After three months of launching WeChat’s Game Center in 2013, it registered over 570 million downloads. 

 

Comparison to Other Messaging Apps:

 

Other messaging apps like WhatsApp and Viber offer similar core communications functionality including free text and picture messaging, voice and video messaging, group chat functionality, broadcast messages, location sharing and contacts sharing. However, WeChat offers free voice and video calls, moments and games which WhatsApp doesn’t. WhatsApp’s co-founder Jan Koum announced at Mobile World Congress in February 2014 that it would add voice functionality to WhatsApp in the near future. Viber does offer free voice calls but is currently working on adding video calling.

 

Why You Should Download It:

 

WeChat offers more functionality than Whats App and Viber and is free of charge. Few of your UK based friends probably use WeChat right now but the additional functionality makes it a worthwhile download. 

 

Who Are The Developers Behind WeChat:

 

WeChat is owned by Tencent, a massive Chinese internet company founded in 1998. Tencent is the forth-largest Internet company in the world by revenues after Google, Amazon and Ebay. In terms of stock market capitalization, Tencent is roughly the size of Amazon, with only Google and Facebook being bigger. As of July 2014, Tencent had a stock market value of around US$ 150 billion.

 

Feedback From The giffgaff Community:

 

Would you be willing to try out the WeChat messaging app? Or are you happy with your existing messaging apps like WhatsApp, Viber and BBM? If you download the app, please share your thoughts and opinions of the WeChat app below. Alternatively, if you have opinions on other messaging apps not mentioned in this blog, please share them as well.

42 Comments

I mainly use whatsapp but I would definitely give WeChat a go, it seems like a cooler and more advanced version of whatsapp. 

trainee

The appeal of WeChat is that you can use it on your PC.  

 

But as other people have pointed out, it doesn't help to have a cool messaging App if none of your contacts has it installed. 

newcomer

I use Wechat to chat to my family in China and France. Sending group chats and stickers is fun, voice chatting and sending photos is even easier than using Skype chat.

 

The feature where if you type "I miss you" "happy birthday" and at the right time "merry christmas" and get a special animation is entertaining Smiley Happy getting bouncing footballs during the wold cup leads to random words being fired into chats just to see what happens. 

 

I really like it and just wish more of my UK contacts used it.

contributor
Think ill stick to whatsapp..this is the first ive heard of it so unless ur with giffgaff probably not a lot of other people will have heard of it..i seen someone above saying its only free calls and sms to people who have the app aswell...so untill its more "out there"ill stick to whatapp and good old fashioned texting. .Good blog though..
newcomer
It all sounds very interesting but pretty hopeless if my friends and family don't have the app :/ My phone is running out of memory so I'm reluctant to take whatsapp off....decisions, decisions ....
newcomer
So, basically this app does exactly what Google hangouts does...
newcomer

As I worked in China for 13 years, most of my friends are there and use WeChat. I also have WhatsApp and Skype on my phone and Skype on my Macs. I haven't loaded WeChat onto my Mac as I understand it loads updates without asking permission and that is a serious security flaw.

 

As for using WeChat on my iPhone, I very much prefer it over WhatsApp, Viber and Skype. I used WhatsApp and tried Viber before I was put on to WeiXin — the international version WeChat had not yet been released — by my friends, who all moved over because it was much more reliable (in China?) than WhatsApp, and the sound quality on Viber (at the time) rendered it unusable. Skype I used to connect to my family back in England. All in all, I find WeChat easy to use, messages get displayed on the log-on screen when they arrive if your phone is on standby, and if you have the ringer turned on it sounds an alert too.

 

Quality of sound — as with all these apps — is highly dependent on available bandwidth at both ends, so for video calls to China, we often have to switch to voice as China's network is often overloaded and the necessary bandwidth is not available. I use it with a £7.50 goodybag, and inspite of using the messaging side a lot almost every day, both on WiFi and 3G, including receiving photos in messages and viewing my friend's posts in "Moments", I have never yet reached my data limit. That said, I don't use video or voice chat when out and about, and I wait till I'm back on WiFi before posting images myself.

 

The only thing that I haven't found how to do on my iPhone is post a URL in "Moments". My friends all do it, but I suspect the reason is they also have a QQ account, which I don't. It is very occasionally annoying, but it's not a deal-breaker.

 

How many users each of these apps have is a distraction. What matters is how many of your friends and contacts use that particular app. As others have said, there's no point in installing WeChat, even if it is free, if none of your contacts use it, unless you can persuade them to change over too.

 

By the way, in spite of my login name, I'm British and once again living in the UK.

novice

thanks for the alternative information. Have a few to look at now.Worth trying them out for free!!Smiley Happy

newcomer

Thanks for all the comments.

 

Looking at all of your views and the info given, Telegram wins hands down, as security and independence are much stronger with it. Being free for life and Open Source it's developed by a caring community rather than a big corporation that may wish to sell my data at some point.

newcomer

Whatsapp is very good at what it does, but of course, it's limited compared to other platforms in that there is no direct call or video calling facility. Good for text, pics, video clips etc. but that's it.

 

Viber is equally as good as Whatsapp for these functions, but also has free direct calling. However, I have found the quality of the direct calls to be very variable and intermittent, so not reliable for voice calls.

 

Have now tried out briefly the other ones mentioned in this Giffgaff blog, i.e. WeChat and LINE.

 

Early impressions as follows :

 

LINE - a bit like Viber, good for the 'basic' stuff, voice calls again poor quality, and video calling just didn't work at all.

 

WeChat - without doubt the best platform I've tried to date. Basic messaging fine, voice calls excellent, only slight delay but continuous signal and good quality. Video calls superb, better than Skype which I have used for years. Can't wait to try it out from abroad.

 

Should emphasise, that the latter two are first impressions only, carried out at home in UK, with a good WiFi signal.