Facebook Messenger for Windows Phone review: Nearly flawless Facebook chatting

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The Good Facebook Messenger for Windows Phone has a crisp design and plenty of features to help you chat with your friends.

The Bad Unlike the iOS and Android apps, there are no chat heads. The app also can't send recorded voice messages, or place voice calls.

The Bottom Line Download Facebook Messenger if you want the same robust chatting features from Facebook's Web site on your phone.


8.4 Overall
  • Setup 9
  • Features 8
  • Interface 8
  • Performance 9

Facebook Messenger for Windows Phone is a standalone app that lets you chat with your Facebook friends, send them photos and stickers, and that's it. It takes all the best parts of chatting over Facebook on the Web and puts them on your Windows Phone in a streamlined app.

The app is unique because it's the first Windows Phone app published by Facebook. Microsoft built the Facebook app for Windows Phone, though the company said it had help from the social network. While the main app looks nearly identical to Facebook for iOS and Android, Messenger uses the traditional text-focused, flat Windows Phone aesthetic, which blends well with the rest of your phone.

Like other Messenger apps, this version is fast, clean, and easy to use. Compared to sending messages with the original Facebook app, it the best way to chat in real time on your Windows Phone.

Getting started
No surprises here, you'll need to login in with your Facebook account to use the app. Once you do, the app will ask you to enter your phone number, so that anyone who has your phone number, but isn't friends with you on Facebook, can add you as contact on Messenger. You can opt to not give your phone number, if you don't want to.

Chances are if you're interested in this app, you're already familiar with Facebook's chat features. If that's the case, the app will feel very familiar.

The main screen, called Recent, shows a list of your recent active conversations, which is every message thread that you have not deleted or archived. You'll see your friend's photo, name, and the last message sent in the conversation.

Next to photos of friends, you'll see a small icon that tells you their chat status. The blue messenger icon (which looks like a tiny lightning strike) means they're using any of the Facebook Messenger apps and are currently signed in. The gray Facebook logo means they are only signed into Facebook's Web site, though it doesn't tell if they are currently online.

The Recent screen shows your active conversations (left). You can send text messages, stickers, and photos to your friends in each conversation. Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

There are two other pages in the app, but neither are as useful as the main screen. The first is called Messenger and shows the people Facebook thinks you want to chat with, followed by an alphabetical list of all of your friends. The second screen is Active, and has a list of your Facebook friends who are online right now, whether on mobile or the Web.

Since you can easily start a new chat from the main screen (more on that process below), I don't see the point of browsing or searching for friends to chat with on the other two pages. The Active page could be helpful if you want to kill some time chatting with a friend who's ready to receive your messages, but I rarely do that on Facebook.

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.

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