Which Android Video Chat App to Use? Duo vs. Hangouts vs. Facebook Messenger

tl;dr Use Google Duo for the best video quality and low cell data use on Android, vs. Facebook Messenger or Google Hangouts.

A few months ago Google launched it’s new chat apps — Duo and Allo. I rolled my eyes and for the nth time thought “Google, you’re killing me what’s with all the chat apps!”

So I kept Hangouts, I’ve already got too many chat apps on my phone: HipChat, Slack, WhatsApp, Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, and Skype (in decreasing order).

For the past 5 months as my daughter and I had our daily video chat catchup over Hangouts, I kept wondering “should I try Duo?”

Meanwhile I couldn’t find any articles that actually compared the apps data usage. Oh sure, there are a bazillion rankings, but all I wanted was a head-to-head data usage and video quality test. Finally, I just did one myself.

Google Duo had the best mix of video quality and low data usage.

My basic test worked like this:

  • I took two Android phones and propped them up in the kitchen.
  • I turned off the wifi on the phones.
  • I got a 30 second timer
  • I looked up each app’s data usage in Settings to get a base. Hm, there doesn’t seem to be an article to link to, so do this: Settings > Apps > Click the app (e.g., Duo) > Data usage > tada! Great feature!
  • I called my wife’s phone, accepted the call, started the 30 second timer, muted the mic (eww, feedback).
  • Then I proceeded to make faces at myself all while moving around to make sure the focus kept working (to most closely mimic my calls).
  • After 30 seconds, I hung up, and wrote down each app’s data usage.

In the future I’ll add Skype, but my wife didn’t have it installed.