Sendbird Alternatives – Sendbird Chat vs Competitors

If you’re in the market for a ready-made chat solution, chances are you might be considering Sendbird, or one of their competitors, as an option.

Emily R.
Emily R.
Published March 4, 2020 Updated March 14, 2023
Sendbird Chat Competitors and Alternatives

However, finding a fair and direct comparison of Sendbird and your other top choices can be difficult with thousands of alternatives. It is essential to determine the budget, primary use case, and must-have features of your project and workflow before evaluating the competitive landscape of chat API offerings.

To make things easier, we've rounded up the top eight Sendbird competitors so you can narrow down your options and find the best chat solution for your app. But first, to fairly compare alternative solutions to Sendbird, you need to familiarize yourself with the company's product offerings. While we might be a little biased as to which competitor we'd suggest, we'll try to be fair and give an objective overview of each provider.

Sendbird Chat Overview

Sendbird provides chat, voice, and video solutions for businesses ranging from financial services to retail to digital health. Let's explore the pros and cons of its solution as well as its notable features, primary use cases, and pricing plans.

Advantages of Sendbird 

  • Feature-Rich Chat: Sendbird's feature-rich chat API comes equipped with industry-standard capabilities, including voice and video support, message and user moderation, push notifications, reactions, mentions, typing indicators, user presence indicators, and more. 
  • Simple UI: The company provides ready-made UI kits for iOS, Android, React, and React Native, saving developers time from building their UI chat components while creating a custom experience. 
  • Scalability: Sendbird's infrastructure can scale up to one million concurrent connections per client app.
  • Data Security: The chat API is compliance-minded and meets SOC 2, ISO 27001, HIPAA/HITECH, and GDPR security standards.

Drawbacks of Sendbird 

  • Pricing: Sendbird's pricing is based on a fixed number of monthly active chat users (MAUs) and concurrent (peak) connections. You will be charged overages if you exceed the number of allowed MAUs & peak connections, but there's no transparency about exactly how much you will be charged.
  • Availability: While Sendbird's infrastructure covers eight data centers worldwide, you must choose a single region for your app to be based out of. All chat traffic must be routed through a single datacenter, regardless of user location, which can cause increased latency and performance issues.
  • Limited SDK Options: Sendbird only provides seven chat SDKs, with no support for languages like Java, Go, PHP, Python, or Ruby. Its integration capabilities are limited, too. It only enables developers to configure webhooks, no pre-built integrations with other components, like databases, event streaming platforms (e.g., Kafka), or serverless platforms are available.

Main Sendbird Chat Features

Sendbird groups its chat messaging features together into messaging, engagement types, moderation, and analysis and integration. The list below covers the features that each bucket includes:

  • Message: Group chat, 1:1 chat, UI kit, typing indicators, read receipts, delivery receipts, push notifications, reactions, mentions, unread message count, mention count, channel list, and presence indicators.
  • Engage: Audio, video, image, GIF file uploads, admin messages, offline messages, announcements, polls, and translation.
  • Moderate: Moderation dashboard, image moderation, profanity filter, user-to-user blocking, muting, deactivating users, spam flood protection, and freeze channel.
  • Analyze & Integrate: Advanced analytics, data export, message retrieval API, and post-event webhooks.

Primary Sendbird Use Cases

Sendbird's chat solution targets six industries: financial services, social and community, retail, marketplace, on-demand services, and digital health. These industries can leverage the chat API in the ways listed below: 

1. Support: Provide a fully customized and integrated chat support experience within your app that meets the unique needs of your customers.
2. Sales: Stop sending customers to chatbots that don't work. Give a live white glove experience to the clients that matter.
3. Marketing: Engage users when they're most receptive to marketing messages.
4. Operations: SMS is expensive, email is rife with phishing, and push notifications get dismissed, empower your operations team with in-app messaging.
5. Live Streaming: Sendbird offers easy-to-integrate chat, voice, and video streaming APIs so that you can engage worldwide audiences live in your app.
6. User Conversations: Build an engaged social community among your user base with chat, voice, and video.

Sendbird Pricing

Sendbird Chat is priced separately from its Calls and Desk products. Four chat pricing plan options are billed based on your app's Monthly Active Users (MAU):

  1. Developer: Free
  2. Starter: $399-$1,199+
  3. Pro: $599-$1,799+
  4. Enterprise: Talk to Sales

What to Consider When Vetting Sendbird Versus a Competitor

Now that you have Sendbird as a baseline to compare the following chat solutions, you'll need to know what differentiating features to look for. The following components of in-app chat are key to providing a world-class UX your app users will love and your development team will appreciate.

  • Reactions: An advanced, out-of-the-box feature for 1:1, group, or open channel messaging experiences. They allow users to "react" to a post or message with a particular emotion.
  • Threading: Creates the ability to "reply" to a post or message to start a thread from an already-established one.
  • AI Moderation: Gives users the options to implement the following: user bans, user mutings, freezes on chat channels, user permission controls, image filtering, smart-throttling, spam flood protection, chat moderation, user moderation, moderators, and profanity filters.
  • Scalability: The maximum number of chat members allowed in a group at once and/or the maximum number of concurrent connections allowed at once.
  • Front-End Components: Presents users with multiple component libraries for React, React Native, iOS, and Android. This reduces the time needed to build the chat front end. Front-end components include built-in support for unread counts, connection recovery, message states, and read events.

Head-to-Head Comparison of Sendbird Versus Top 8 Competitors

1. Sendbird vs. Stream

Sendbird Chat vs. Stream Chat

Stream and Sendbird make adding chat to any application a simple task. But since they both boast easy-to-use chat APIs and SDKs that streamline the development of in-app messaging interfaces, how do you know which one to use? You'll need the most performant and scalable plug-and-play solution if you have big plans for your app. With a UI kit, front and backend chat SDKs, extensive documentation, 24/5 customer support options, and a Go-powered backend API, Stream Chat's offerings are more robust and customizable than Sendbird's. 

The best way to see the differences between Stream and Sendbird is to build a proof of concept prototype and evaluate it for yourself. Follow these tutorials to experiment:

Stream Main Use Cases

  1. Social & Team Messaging: Stream is the perfect in-app messaging solution for your online social community. Try the social messaging demo and the team collaboration demo
  2. Virtual Events Chat: Adding Stream Chat to your virtual events platform increases attendee engagement and satisfaction. Try the virtual events demo.
  3. EdTech In-App Chat: Create the ultimate virtual classroom experience by enabling students and teachers to chat live with one another, ask questions, and engage in more dynamic lessons.
  4. Marketplace Chat: Boost your eCommerce and digital marketplace sales by allowing shoppers to chat live through Stream with customer support agents and resolve any outstanding questions to ensure they don't abandon their carts. 
  5. Telehealth App Messaging: Increase patient satisfaction with Stream by providing a way to communicate and upload image files to their provider securely. 
  6. Gaming Chat: Heightened the in-game experience by enabling players to chat, encourage, and create a social community within your app. Try the livestream gaming demo.

Stream Chat Versus Sendbird 

  • Chat Features: Stream's chat APIs and SDKs feature slash commands, live stream traffic feature switches, multi-tenancy, and GIF support.
  • Global Edge Network: Stream Chat is the first and only messaging API/SDK solution available on global edge infrastructure for max performance across continents, with latency 5x lower than Sendbird's traditional region-based cloud approach.
  • Concurrency Limits: Stream's default pricing plans allow five concurrent connections per 100 MAU and can scale up to 5M concurrent connections for enterprise apps. Sendbird's pricing allows two concurrent connections per 100 MAU.
  • Unlimited Group Chat Participants: No limit on how many users can be in a single chat room simultaneously: Sendbird allows 100 members per group channel by default. To further increase the limits, the price is increased. Stream does not have a cap on the number of members on a channel, nor is the price increased with high member counts. It's possible to have hundreds of thousands of users on a channel with Stream.
  • In-House Text AI Moderation: Both companies allow admins to mute and ban users, mute channels, and send system-wide notifications to help keep conversations civil. AI-based AutoModeration can automatically detect commercial spam, Platform Circumvention and sharing of PII, and any harmful behavior you may want to detect based on meaning and intent. Stream customers can configure AutoMod semantic filtering to detect advanced concepts like self-harm, grooming, and many others that Sendbird does not have. Stream has in-house AutoModeration and a partner integration, while Sendbird only has a partner integration.
  • Cost Effectiveness: Stream's Standard chat plan gives you more bang for your buck than Sendbird's. While Sendbird's 25K MAU plan is $100 cheaper per month than Stream's, it does not include some of the key industry-standard features that Stream's does at that level. To access those features and not exceed 25K MAU, you'd have to choose Sendbird's Pro plan, which is $700 more than Stream's Standard plan.
  • Front End Components: Built-in support for unread counts, connection recovery, message states, and read events.

Stream Pricing

Stream's pricing for chat is divided into four plans based on the number of your app's MAU.

  1. Start-Up: $499
  2. Standard: $1,299
  3. Premium: $2,299
  4. Enterprise: Talk to Sales 

According to Product Hunt users, Stream Chat is a 5-star rated Sendbird competitor. Check out Stream Chat's G2 profile to read verified customer reviews, if you're ready for a Sendbird migration, Stream makes it easy!

2. Sendbird vs. Agora Chat 

Sendbird Chat vs Agora Chat

Agora's chat service allows you to add customized messaging experiences to your real-time video and voice apps with its eight SDK options. Agora's platform offers flexible customization, ease of implementation, and reliable network quality to give your users an amazing messaging and chat experience.

Agora Chat Versus Sendbird

Agora's chat offering is a solid alternative to Sendbird. It covers all of the same SDKs that Sendbird does, plus Windows. It suits the same use cases that Sendbird targets, including gaming, social and team, marketplaces, EdTech, and Telehealth.

It also provides the same feature-rich, in-app messaging experience for users, complete with rich media messages, scalable cross-platform messaging capabilities, high security and compliance standards, translation capabilities, and standard messaging features like typing indicators, user presence, push notifications, edit/delete chat options, and read receipts. Agora offers robust documentation to support its chat developer experience, too.

The major difference between the two is that while Sendbird offers a free trial of its chat product, Agora's gratis option is 10,000 free minutes of use for its voice and video product, there is nothing for chat. 

Agora Chat Pricing

Agora's pricing is free for up to 500 MAUs and then ranges from $349/mo for up to 50K MAUs and $699/mo for up to 100K, with Enterprise plans available for over 100K MAU apps.

3. Sendbird vs. PubNub

Sendbird Chat vs. PubNub Chat

PubNub is a Data Stream Network (DSN) and offers real-time infrastructure-as-a-service. Its primary product is a real-time public/subscribe message API built on its DSN. Its nuts and bolts chat API requires more custom development because it's a spinoff product based on its low-level real-time communication platform.

PubNub Versus Sendbird

Before releasing its chat product, PubNub operated similarly to Firebase as a platform designed for real-time synchronization across devices. PubNub's ChatEngine is compatible with iOS, Android, and Javascript, whereas Sendbird covers those three in addition to React Native, .NET, and Unity. 

While they did not specialize in chat messaging in the past, PubNub now offers a pretty comparable experience to Sendbird. The only difference in the messaging features PubNub offers compared to Sendbird is that eight features Sendbird have are only partially available: user blocking, message delete/edit, invitation, friend list, bot interface, smart throttling, moderation, and profanity filters. And PubNub does not offer auto-thumbnail generation, message search, and multiple push certificates. 

However, at its core PubNub is a worthy Sendbird competitor, and just as easy to integrate and customize, it is a slightly less feature-rich solution. 

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PubNub Pricing

PubNub's pricing page features three plans for customers to choose from in addition to customer support plans, including free, Gold, and Platinum as add-ons and a flat fee of $399/hour for live event support.

  1. Free: Develop your proof of concept and test up to 200 MAUs
  2. Starter: Starts at $49/mo and increases based on MAU
  3. Pro: Contact Sales

4. Sendbird vs. Twilio

Sendbird Chat vs. Twilio Chat

Twilio is a customer engagement platform that sunset its Programmable Chat product and now offers a conversation API to enable businesses to interact with customers through voice, SMS, video, chat, and email. Twilio also provides other products, such as Twilio Segment (a customer data platform) or Twilio Trusted Activation (useful for user activation, authentication, verification, and secure online transactions).

Twilio Versus Sendbird

Let's start with the similarities between these two chat providers. Twilio and Sendbird are single-region solutions, which can cause increased latency and poor performance reliability. They use WebSockets to maintain chat connections between their servers and client devices.  Like PubNub, Twilio only provides three chat SDKs: Javascript, Android, and iOS, while Sendbird Chat supports more. Both companies meet SOC 2 and HIPAA compliance standards and offer 1:1 chat, group chat, all basic messaging features, file sharing, and third-party integrations.

Where they differ is feature-richness. Twilio provides more diverse services than Sendbird, allowing Sendbird to have an edge on chat-focused features. Its platform includes pre-made chat UI components, more advanced messaging features like reactions and mentions, more scalability features, moderation capabilities, auto-translate, and a higher group chat limit of 20K participants, compared to only 10K for Twilio.

Where Twilio shines is its slightly higher uptime SLA of 99.95% compared to Sendbird's 99.9%, making it an objectively more reliable option. Also, Twilio's pricing model is more straightforward and transparent compared to Sendbird's when it comes to overage charges.

Twilio Pricing

You only pay for what you use with Twilio's pricing model. In addition to chat, the company has three core products; Twilio Engage, Segment, and Flex, and an add-on product suite to enhance your monthly plan. You can pay-as-you-go or leverage volume and committed-use discounts to make Twilio affordable for your business. 

5. Sendbird Chat vs. Firebase

Sendbird Chat vs Firebase Chat

Firebase's in-app messaging helps engage app users by sending them targeted messages that nudge them to complete key in-app actions, like beating a game level, buying an item, or subscribing to content.

Firebase Versus Sendbird

Sendbird has more chat features, but Firebase also provides basic messaging services such as text, file, and custom messaging with solid file encryption, spam protection, and push notifications. If you are looking for a more fully featured messaging and chat experience and looking to scale, Sendbird may be a better fit for your company.

While Firebase's chat covers the basic components like test, file, and customer messaging, announcement messages, and push notifications, Firebase does not include features like typing indicators, read receipts, message unread counts, invitations, user blocking, friend lists, and message edit/delete capabilities; Sendbird does.

Firebase also does not have as broad of a messaging tool range as Sendbird, it's missing the operators, smart throttling, bot interface, auto-thumbnail generation, and auto-translation capabilities of its competitor. It does not include the admin controls of moderation, message search, data export, multiple push certificates, and profanity filters either.

If all your app needs is a basic messaging platform, then Firebase will certainly meet your needs. But if you want a solution to scale with your company's growth or one that already offers the chat and messaging features consumers expect, then Sendbird might be the answer.

Firebase Pricing

Google's Firebase pricing starts with a free plan called Spark for all users and then shifts to a pay-as-you-go model called Blaze.

6. Sendbird vs. CometChat

Sendbird Chat vs CometChat

CometChat offers a wide range of flexible pricing plans and features 10 SDKs to support in-app chat, video, voice messaging, and moderation tools for dating apps, EdTech businesses, marketplaces, social communities, and more. Cometchat also provides pre-built chat plugins on their GO pricing plan.

CometChat Versus Sendbird

Like Sendbird, development teams can quickly ship in-app chat experiences with CometChat that integrate with their existing tech stack, thanks to the company's extension library. The chat provider claims developers of any skill level (or even non-coders) can build a custom chat solution using our no-code widget, UI Kits, or SDKs.

CometChat does not reveal too much about its full feature list on its website. Nevertheless, you can still learn a lot about how it stacks up to its competitor, Sendbird, by skimming its solution pages for use-case-specific options. For example, dating apps can be reassured that CometChat's user safety features like anonymous calling, encryption, block user function, and more help will give users a safer place to connect in their app. 

CometChat Pricing

CometChat has three pricing plans: Essentials, Pro, and Custom. The three tiers are priced according to your app's MAU, you can see what the estimated monthly cost for your app would be on their pricing page for up to 50K MAU---anything higher than that would require you to contact their sales team. 

7. Sendbird Chat vs. TalkJS

Sendbird Chat vs. TalksJS Chat

TalkJS sells a developer-friendly in-app messaging API that helps build and ship custom chat features quickly using the pre-built UI and out-of-the-box notifications of any type. TalkJS primarily serves customers in the marketplace, virtual event, education, and hiring platform industries. 

TalkJS Versus Sendbird

TalkJS is a smaller operation than chat behemoth Sendbird, but its product is a contending alternative. It effectively serves the same use cases as Sendbird, like marketplaces, education, healthcare, etc.---plus hiring and job platforms. It also offers engineers a pre-built UI kit and notifications system that can be integrated with just a few lines of code, like Sendbird. 

Where TalkJS falls short of the alternate solution is the number of available SDKs. TalkJS only supports Javascript, Flutter, and React Native, a far shorter list than Sendbird. Their documentation is much briefer and tutorial-based than implementation-focused Sendbird. However, it makes up for fewer offerings by ensuring that the three they support are feature-rich with moderation capabilities, analytics dashboards, and all the real-time messaging features you could imagine. 

TalkJS Pricing

TalkJS pricing ranges from Basic at $259/mo to Growth at $569/mo to a custom-priced Enterprise plan. Use their pricing calculator to find the right plan for your business.

8. Sendbird vs. MessageBird

Sendbird Chat vs. MessageBird Chat

MessageBird is an omnichannel automation platform for APIs, services, and marketing. It offers an extensive suite of communication products, but its chat widget is what we'll be comparing to Sendbird. It connects multiple chat platforms to a central communication hub on your app or website.

MessageBird Versus Sendbird

Evaluating MessageBird versus Sendbird is not an apples-to-apples alternative. MessageBird is a much broader solution that does not prioritize its Chat Widget product (the most similar to Sendbird Chat) over its Flow Builder, Cloud Sending, or Inbox offerings. This company takes a more holistic and omnichannel approach to customer engagement when compared to Sendbird.

MessageBird customers seem to be much more sales and support oriented. Sendbird's main channel types are more varied and skew towards in-app efforts, like community building and user-to-user connection. MessageBird's Chat Widget leverages push notifications like its competition, but that is where the similarities end for the chat product. MessageBird's Voice API seems more comparable to Sendbird's voice and video offering. 

MessageBird Pricing

MessageBird's pricing makes bundling their a la carte services easy for developers. Pricing will vary depending on the number of services you purchase from MessageBird and the number of MAUs your app has.

Alternatives Comparison Chart

FeatureSendbirdStreamAgoraPubNubTwilioCometChatTalkJS
Group ChatYYYYYYY
Slash CommandsXYYYYYY
Customer User and Channel EventsXYYYYYY
1:1 MessagingYYYYYYY
TranslationYYYYYYX
ReactionsYYYYYYY
Silent MessagesYYYYYYY
Image ModerationYYYYYYY
Multi-tenantYYYYYYY
Presence IndicatorsYYYYYYY
WebhooksYYYYYYY
Push NotificationsYYYYYYY
URL EnrichmentYYYYYYY
Flag MessagesYYYYYYY
Campaigns APIYYYYYYY
Typing IndicatorsYYYYYYY
GIPHYYYYYYYY
User RolesYYYYYYY
@MentionsYYYYYYY
Ban UsersYYYYYYY
Spam & Profanity ProtectionYYYYYYY
Message HistoryYYYYYYY
HIPAA ComplianceYYYYYYX
Message SearchYYYYYYY

Is Sendbird Chat Right For You, Or Did You Find An Alternative?

The eight Sendbird alternatives above are all viable options for engineers looking to create a more engaging and connected in-app UX. Some are better suited for smaller-scale projects where chat isn't a core functionality, like Twilio or Firebase, while others are more appropriate for a holistic engagement strategy that extends beyond in-app chat and into voice and video, like Agora and MessageBird.

Depending on the features that are important to you, your budget, and your use case, Sendbird Chat might not be the best solution. We suggest taking advantage of the competitors above who offer a free trial, like Stream Chat. You'll want to test out a proof of concept project before committing to any big decisions, but you can always easily migrate away from Sendbird if you need to pivot.

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