Facebook Messenger for Windows Phone review: Nearly flawless Facebook chatting

Chatting with friends
From the Recent screen, you can tap the plus sign at the bottom to start a new chat, where you can send messages, photos, and stickers. Just start typing a friend's name and the app will search ahead to find people who match. If your Recent page already has conversations that you started in another app or on the Web site, you can tap on anyone's name to continue chatting.

Each conversation has a clean, simple design, similar to what you'll see on Messenger for Android and iOS. Below the text field, where you type your message, there are options to send a photo, a sticker, or a "Like" quick reply, which shows a large thumbs-up in the conversation. When you send a photo, you can either snap a new picture or choose an existing on from your phone.

Stickers are free images of smiley faces, cats, and even branded characters from Disney and more, which you can add to your conversations. As silly as they are, I really like the stickers, especially the animated Pusheen the Cat choices. One tip I picked up while playing around with the app is once an animated sticker stops playing, just tap it to start it again. You can download more free sticker packs (themed collections) without leaving the app, which is nice.

You can choose to share your location with your friends in a chat, by tapping the small dot next to the text field. If it's blue, that means your friend can see the city and neighborhood where you are. If the dot is gray, that means location sharing is turned off. When you or your friend has location sharing on, you can tap and hold any message, sticker, or photo and select "View details" to see, on a map, from where the message was sent.

You can download new sticker packs in the app, or send photos from your phone. Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

Another handy feature of Messenger is group chatting. From the Recent conversations screen, you can tap the plus sign at the bottom to start a new group chat. That will send one message two or more people at once, just like on Facebook's website. You can add more people at any time, give the conversation a name, or set a group photo from the menu on the conversation page.

Unlike the iOS and Android Messenger apps, this version cannot send recorded voice messages or place phone calls. Also, Messenger for Windows Phone doesn't have Chat Heads, which allow you to pop a conversation out of the app and continue it when you're doing other things on your phone. That feature is only available on Android, though the iOS app has Chat Head, but only inside the Messenger app.

Why Messenger?
If chatting is important to you, Messenger is worth getting for all of its helpful features. Messenger can tell you if your friends are online, show from which location they're chatting, and send stickers. Almost every chat feature from Facebook's Web site is available here.

On the other hand, the Facebook app for Windows Phone has far fewer features for sending messages, all it can do it simply send and receive. If you only need to send the occasional message and use Facebook more for your news feed and other features, the original Facebook app will be fine.

Additionally, while this app comes from Facebook, it doesn't connect with the Microsoft's Facebook app. If you try to view a friend's timeline from Messenger, it just opens a Web page instead of directing you to the app. That makes it far less useful if you want to multi-task by sending messages and browsing your news feed simultaneously. In contrast, both the Messenger apps for iOS and Android will open Facebook links in the native apps.

Conclusion
Facebook Messenger for Windows Phone takes all of the social network's most helpful instant messaging features, marries them with a pleasing design, and serves them up on your mobile device.

As is the case with many Windows Phone apps, this version is missing some features that the iOS and Android apps have. However, it's easy to see that the social network put a lot of thought into designing Messenger to mesh with the other apps on your phone and give you a familiar Facebook experience.

Download the app if you want to stay connected with your friends away from your desktop, and want all the same chatting features from Facebook's Web site. If you're more interested in checking your news feed, and only occasionally check your inbox, the Facebook app for Windows Phone is enough.

What you'll pay

    Pricing is currently unavailable.

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    Where to Buy

    Facebook Messenger (Windows Phone)

    Part Number: 3219d30d-4a23-4f58-a91c-c44b04e6a0c7

    Free

    Quick Specifications See All

    • Category Social networking
    • Compatibility Windows Phone