Why Stream is the Best Alternative to PubNub Chat

Chat and messaging are critical components for application success. When searching for a provider to enable in-app chat, you might compare Stream Chat with PubNub Chat. PubNub is an enterprise-grade lower-level pub/sub solution (hence the name PubNub). In late 2019 they officially released PubNub Chat - but when I compared feature changes from when I originally created this post, I found that nothing changed. The only real addition I could see was an unstyled react box that has zero features built in. Although Stream Chat is a relatively new product, we think you'll find it's the better alternative because it provides a **complete messaging experience** and is much easier to integrate with feature rich front end components.


  • Stream has years of experience building highly scalable, high performing infrastructure powering activity and news feeds for over 500 million end users.
  • Stream’s solution is feature rich, providing capabilities like AI moderation, @mentions, banning/muting users, custom objects, threads, reaction, slash commands, and built-in search.
  • Stream provides an extensive portfolio of front end components and a beautiful UI kit to make integration more straightforward than any other product on the market.

High-Level Overview

Stream Chat is the most complete chat solution available. It supports five use cases out of the box, providing a beautiful UI kit for each in both light and dark modes. The UI kit can be handed off to your designer, and they’ll have all the assets at their fingertips, making it a breeze to swap out what they need to. The five use cases are:

Selecting the use case will modify your chat settings for that usage – for example, a Livestream will turn off typing indicators and read status since the volume will be so high. You can try all this our in our live demos - no login required.

Built on top of Go, Raft, and RocksDB, Stream Chat leverages many of the same components our market leading Feed solution is built upon. Over the years our team has learned how to scale feeds to support billions of updates a month in real time, and we’ve used that experience to create one of the fastest and most scalable chat solutions possible. We are trusted by Under Armour, Crunchbase, NBC Sports, eToro and many others. We are GDPR ready, HIPAA compliant, and EU and Swiss Privacy Shield complaint as well as CCPA.

Stream’s Strengths as a PubNub Alternative

  • Component libraries for React, React Native, iOS and Android
  • Features: Reactions, Threads, Slash Commands, @mentions, and Search
  • AI moderation
  • Simple and clear pricing
  • Simple Migration

Front End Components

Stream provides component libraries for React, React Native, iOS and Android. This vastly reduces the time your team needs to spend building the chat frontend. Integrating with Stream typically takes days, integrating with PubNub Chat, on the other hand, can take months. The component libraries are fully customizable so you are in control over your chat and messaging’s user experience. PubNub claims to have a React SDK, but it's essentially nonexistent. You get an unstyled box with the ability to type text.

Stream’s frontend components also include built-in support for unread counts, connection recovery, message states and read events. You can build those features on top of PubNub’s API yourself but it’s easy to make mistakes, especially if you’re under a tight deadline.

Premium Features

Out of the box, Stream provides advanced features for your one to one, group, or open channel messaging experiences. Features like slash commands, reactions, threads, @mentions, and search are all built-in. We also provide developers with a clean API and webhooks, allowing them to build custom features like chatbots, user polls, and anything else they dream up. PubNub advertises built-in language translation capability, but they’re simply calling out to 3rd party services as we explain in our blog, we just don’t list it as a native feature.

Stream vs. PubNub – Messaging

AI Moderation

Stream provides admins the ability to mute and ban users, mute channels, and send system-wide notifications to help keep your conversations civil. Our tools allow you to ensure user safety within your app. Activating our AI based moderation will automatically protect your users from spam, profanity, and explicit content. If you need more advanced moderation, you can use the same partner that PubNub uses: TwoHat Security.

PubNub Chat doesn’t have any true AI moderation without the use of a partner.

Stream also provides User to User mute, flagging and admin banning.

Simple and Clear Pricing

As you can see in a previous article, PubNub’s pricing is confusing and very difficult to estimate what you’ll be paying. A recent customer told us he implemented a quick POC with PubNub to try to determine what the costs would be and after a short test realized he’d be paying 5x+ what he’d pay to Stream. That's due to PubNub's pricing not being built around chat – it's built around being a low level pub/sub framework.

Simple Migration

Stream can work with you to make your migration from PubNub a snap. With our import tools and customizable interfaces, we can help get you off PubNub and into Stream Chat in no time. Companies have been switching to Stream because of our:

  • Scalability
  • Performance
  • Stability
  • Advanced Features
  • Customer Support

Try us out

Want to see how easy it is to migrate from PubNub Chat to Stream? It only takes about 60 seconds to signup for our free trial, or reach out via our contact form, and we’ll be happy to help you run a test yourself.

Want to jump right into the code? No problem. We also have an interactive API tour available here, no login required.

Happy chatting!