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06 Best PubNub Alternatives & Competitors (Free & Paid)

Published On March 26th, 2024 970Communication

“Looking for top Pubnub alternatives for your chat app development? Explore the leading competitors of PubNub that are market’s best, & offer budget-friendly, reliable, and feature-rich in-app APIs.”

These days in-app chats have become the core concept for any communication happening in the web or mobile app. As they help boost user engagement and retention rates extraordinarily. 

Whilst PubNub stands as one of the prominent providers of real-time chat APIs, the market flourishes with other plausible chat SDK providers like MirrorFly, Stream, Apphitect, and Sendbird.

Therefore, we will see how each competitor is going to help app developers integrate top-notch instant messaging services. And mates, that’s not all we’ll also focus on key features and use cases of each of the alternatives to Pubnub in the guide below. 

First, we will see,

1. What is PubNub? – A Go-To Definition

PubNub is a real-time communication API provider that allows developers to build online messaging and IoT applications on the web, Android, and iOS devices using its pub/sub model.

Their pub/sub model that is acronymed as publishers (as in senders) and subscribers (as in receivers) uses separate channels or topics to send out and receive messages. 

And though this type of architecture fosters scalability and extensibility, it also requires a substantial amount of developer’s time for building additional messaging features.  

Plus, PubNub also comes to users as an IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) platform, where features like: 

  • Live Events
  • Real-time Messaging
  • Remote IoT Control
  • Presence Detection
  • Push Notifications
  • Geolocation
  • Data Streaming can be added.

Why should you go for PubNub alternatives?

While PubNub provides an enterprise-grade solution for creating apps, it has some drawbacks like:

1. Offers component libraries only for React, iOS, and Android.

2. Limited feature suite and chat components at high pricing.

3. Does not provide visual libraries for front-end development.

4. It is devoid of offline storage.

Well, if you ask me, are these the shortcomings of PubNub? Well, no, there are quite others and we will see the limitations of this platform by

1. Efficiency

  • PubNub does not use message sequencing, hence when a user disconnects from the network, there is no guarantee the message will be delivered.
  • It has a smaller queue size, which is 100, and hence, messages exceeding this limit will remain undelivered.
  • The platform does not persist messages when a subscriber is offline.
  • There are no built-in presence indicators in their APIs, unlike other providers like MirrorFly or Sendbird. 

2. Pricing

  • Though Pubnub has a free plan supporting up to 200 MAUs, their pricing tags seem to be complex, which could be due to the pub/sub model under which it is built.
  • Plus, they charge extra for customer support, which most of the real-time chat API providers don’t.
  • It has three plans- Standard, Gold, and Platinum, with Platinum being billed at $1500 per month. 

Doesn’t it seem like a hefty dime to spend? Well, you must check on MirrorFly’s SaaS price tiers then, they are quite a pocket-saver. For SaaP pricing, contact their sales team

We Invite Developers to Try and Test Our Chat SDK

3. Security

When it comes to security, PubNub is no developer’s favorite as it 

  • Lacks authentication and security mechanisms.
  • Channels can act as gateways for spam messages.
  • Absence of industry regulations and compliance standards.

and much more.

4. Scalability 

  • Businesses mostly prefer solutions that give them the benefit of scaling their apps when the user base grows. And PubNub lacks this. 
  • Secondly, it does not offer video and voice calling capabilities and enterprises must look for third-party integrations to add them.
  • Pubnub’s webhooks are known to offer basic features that limit the user interactivity within the app.

Therefore, I hope that by now, you will have an idea as to why you should choose Pubnub competitor for your chat app development process. 

 List of 6 Best Pubnub Competitors!

Listed here are the 6 best alternatives to PubNub (MirrorFly, Sendbird, Apphitect, Strean, Ably, & Firebase) that outshine in offering exceptional real-time communication capabilities.

Editor’s Tip: Patience is a virtue but if you do not have time to go through each Pubnub alternative, I would suggest you check why MirroFly is the Best Alternative To PubNub.

1. MirrorFly


MirrorFly, undoubtedly is considered to be one of the best PubNub alternatives by developers for building feature-rich apps. Because, besides integration, many developers prefer to migrate from PubNub due to reasons like:

  • Easy-to-integrate SDKs in <20 mins
  • Complete source code ownership
  • Advanced features such as group video calling, audio calls, and presence indicators.
  • Presence of 2 communications models – SaaS (Cloud SDKs) and SaaP (Self-hosted SDKs).

As we saw that MirrorFly offers two pricing solutions to flexibly build apps, we will see a quick comparison of the top features offered under each solution.

Key Features of Cloud Solution 

  • Dedicated cloud servers
  • Multi-tenancy support
  • Low code strategy

Key Features of Self-hosted Solution

MirrorFly vs PubNub: Differences between them

Online presence indicators, video conferencing, audio calls, & many advanced featuresInstant messaging, data streaming, push notifications
100% customization on features and UI kitsLimited customization support
Integration Support
Can hire developers to look after integrationTo be carried by self
Reduced latency <100ms with WebRTC protocols & global serversHigher latency due to long-polling protocol
Component Libraries
Available for Android, iOS, React JS, React Native, Flutter, WebAndroid, React, iOS
Pricing Model
Offers services for monthly subscriptions and one-time license costMonthly subscriptions
Deployment Time
Integration <20 minsTakes days

Advantages of MirrorFly’s in-app chat APIs

  • Gives complete source-code ownership for a one-time license cost
  • MirrorFly handles quick migration with zero downtime
  • It offers utmost scalability without compromising latency
  • E2E and AES encryption mechanisms to build secure chat and call apps
  • Supports global deployment with servers present everywhere

Use Cases: Financial, Telecom, E-learning, Gaming, Dating, Logistics & Transportation, Healthcare, E-commerce, Fitness

Location: India, USA, UK, UAE, Singapore, Thailand

2. Stream

Stream, also known as GetStream is yet another popular PubNub alternative for developers who are looking to build high-quality video calling and instant messaging apps. When we talk about Stream’s strengths, there are plenty.

Right from offering customizations on all its features to support front-end component libraries to global edge servers for reduced latency to advanced chat moderation features like flagging and blocking, they come as the most-liked ones in the market.

Key Features:

  • In-app chats
  • Activity feeds
  • Quick integration
  • Chat analytics
  • Real-time updates
  • Video and voice calling

Use Cases: Virtual events, telehealth, gaming, marketplace, dating, education

3. Apphitect

The next PubNub competitor in our list is Apphitect – a leading and prominent self-hosted SDK provider for developers. 

Being a self-hosted SDK provider, it offers impeccable real-time communication features such as video, voice, and chats, and gives flexibility to host apps on their own servers at a one-time license cost. 

This way, businesses might not have to face security issues or data threats. Plus, they also offer 100% customizations, allow developers to take complete control of their source codes, and build a white-labeled app. 

Key Features:

  • 100% customizations
  • White-labeled solution
  • Advanced Features
  • Hire Developers
  • Multi-tenancy Support
  • Complete Ownership

Use Cases: Telehealth, Education, Gaming, Logistics, Dating, Social, Marketplace, Transport

4. Sendbird

Acclaimed to be one of the potential alternatives to PubNub, it has an excellent feature suite, pre-made UI components, and improved operational efficacy under its hood.

Along with this, their in-app chat SDKs are proven to boost engagement and retention rates when deployed across different use cases. And with them, developers may not focus on the reliability or scalability part.

Key Features:

  • Easy Integration
  • Detailed analytics
  • Global Edge APIs
  • Advanced chat features
  • Group Video Calls
  • Audio Conferencing

Use Cases: Customer Service, Sales, Marketing, Operations, Live Streaming

5. Ably

Mostly similar to PubNub as it incorporates the pub/sub model, Ably stands efficient in delivering quality messaging services with the help of their API and developer tools. Plus, it seems that data is sent and received without dissemination to subscribers.

Along with real-time chats, they also offer capabilities like data broadcast, data synchronization, multiplayer collaboration, and notifications. 

Key Features:

  • Global data centers
  • Supports major programming languages
  • Elastic scalability
  • Guaranteed message delivery
  • 99.999% uptime SLA
  • <65ms round-trip latency

Use Cases: B2B platforms, fintech, edtech, gaming, automotive, logistics, healthcare

6. Firebase

Developed by Google, Firebase is yet another alternative to PubNub that offers great real-time communication applications like live chat and gaming apps and dashboards via its Realtime Database and Firestore services. 

That being said, the Firestore category helps developers build scalable apps by using its database and real-time synchronization. And when we talk about Firebase’s advantages, it has massive offline support, quick to set up, and supports integration with other Firebase services. 

Key Features:

  • Build
  • Release and Monitor
  • Engage
  • Authentication
  • Remote Configuration

Use Cases: Firebase can be used for building apps under any use case.

PubNub Alternatives For Businesses Focusing On Secure Chats

Be it in-app messaging or financial transactions, data is distributed online and chat SDK providers are focusing on implementing strong encryption mechanisms and protocols to make their codes fight against any data threats. 

That being said, MirrorFly has proven time and again as the best secured in-app chat API with UI Kit provider through its sturdy E2E and AES mechanisms, immense customization capabilities, and flexible deployment options. 

Just not stopping with this, our self-hosted solutions also let developers take complete control of data by hosting apps on their own servers. This way, they can prevent any intrusions. 

Therefore, take MirrorFly for a spin if you want security, scalability, reliability, and flexibility under a single cloak. And it is because of these factors, that we come as the best PubNub alternative in the global market. 

See How MirrorFly Can Help!

All things considered, the PubNub alternatives mentioned in the article are known to help developers like you build quality-oriented in-app communication services for any app. 

But the concern rests on which SDK provider to choose as most of them offer the same set of capabilities. Therefore, choose an alternative that will give you the best features, sturdy security, complete source code access, zero downtime, and integration support.

Have a different provider in mind? Leave us a comment and we will take steps to add them to the list. 

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Vigneshwar is a Performance Marketer, guiding providers of healthcare, education, etc., to elevate their conversation value with the help of powerful communication solutions to drive a better communication experience.