Facebook Messenger is a really popular communication app. It’s only real downside is that it’s incredibly bloated. On my Moto E4, it weighs in at just under 60MB, which makes sense—not only does it have all the messaging features that you want, it also has audio and video calling (nice), chat heads (alright), a Snapchat Story clone (why?), games (not that you knew), and lots more under the hood.

Fortunately, Facebook has an alternative called Messenger Lite. On my Moto E4, it’s just 6MB in size; a tenth of what the full app is. Messenger Lite is designed to work anywhere, but especially on slow phones on low quality cellular networks. It’s been available for a while in India and Africa, but it’s now available in the US, European, and other Play Stores. (If you’ve got an iPhone…well, you’re out of luck. Messenger Lite is only available on Android and Facebook has no current plans to bring it to iOS.)

Messenger Lite is a stripped down version of Messenger. It only has the basic features—you know, the ones you care about in a messaging app. You can send and receive messages, images, voice notes, stickers, and audio calls. The only things you can’t do that you’ll probably care about are send videos and make video calls. In the screenshots below, regular Messenger is on the left and Messenger Lite is on the right.

By taking out video features though, Messenger Lite uses a lot less bandwidth and can get by on much worse connections. It’s also a lot quicker to use on your phone. This probably won’t matter if you’ve got a high-end Android phone, but if you’re on something like my Moto E4, the performance difference is noticeable.

Should You Use Facebook Messenger or Messenger Lite?

If you have a slower Android phone or are on a phone plan with limited data, Messenger Lite is an easy call. You lose a few features, but for the most part the app is just as good. You can also keep both installed on your phone for the few instances when you need to send a video or make a video call.

If you’ve a higher end phone or a decent data cap, then it’s a tougher call. On general principle I like Messenger Lite, because it’s so lean and stripped down. But I do use Messenger for video calls and receive at least a few videos a week as messages. If you don’t use Messenger’s extra features, give Messenger Lite a go and see if you like it. If you do though, switching apps all the time will probably annoy you more than ignoring Messenger Day.

Profile Photo for Harry Guinness Harry Guinness
Harry Guinness is a photography expert and writer with nearly a decade of experience. His work has been published in newspapers like The New York Times and on a variety of other websites, from Lifehacker to Popular Science and Medium's OneZero.
Read Full Bio »