The Most Popular Sendbird Alternatives: A Comprehensive Guide

Looking for more flexible, cost-effective, or feature-rich alternatives to Sendbird? This guide will assist you by providing a detailed comparison of top Sendbird competitors to help you make an informed decision. Whether you're a startup, a growing business, or an established brand, this guide will help navigate the myriad of choices available.

Aarathy Sundaresan • Oct 19, 2023

Sendbird has established itself as a prominent player in the real-time customer engagement market. But is it the best choice for you? In this article, we will look at what Sendbird offers, some reasons why we think Sendbird falls short of the competition and other equally good alternatives of Sendbird.

Sendbird: A Quick Overview

Sendbird provides real-time messaging services, enabling businesses to integrate chat features into their applications. Sendbird's offerings include:

  • Messaging API

  • Chat SDKs (Software Development Kits)

  • Voice and Video Calling

  • Notifications tool

  • Support Chat

  • Live Streaming & Broadcast

  • User Authentication and Management

  • Channel Management

Why do businesses look for alternatives to Sendbird?

1. Extensive development time & effort

Though Sendbird offers a lot of customization to their users it is a bit complex to implement highly tailored chat interfaces, meaning developing this could require a lot of time and effort.

For instance, email and SMS notifications functionality has to be built from scratch using their webhooks, whereas other solutions like CometChat provides it as a out of the box feature, making it easier for integration.

2. Pricing limitations

SendBird’s pricing issues are considered to be a major reason for users' moving away from their platform.

A. Their pricing is not scale friendly

Businesses face scalability challenges when it comes to their pricing model. The more your user base grows, your cost to deploy SendBird’s services would exponentially increase as well.

Here is a pricing comparison from a Hackernoon post that shows how Sendbird’s price increases after a certain scale. The author notes that, up to the 10000 MAU (Monthly Active Users) limit, Sendbird's pricing stays nearly same to that of other providers. However, there is a sharp increase when you exceed 10,000 MAU.

B. They charge a hefty overage price

Sendbird charges an additional charge of $5 for every PCC (Peak Concurrent Connections) overage.

This overage fee can add up quickly during high demand periods, making it potentially expensive and financially burdensome when scaling up to accommodate more users or concurrent connections.

C. They have a very strict usage capping policy

Once the usage surpasses the predetermined thresholds for MAUs and PCCs, Sendbird temporarily suspends functionalities until all the outstanding bills are settled. This temporary suspension interrupts operations and may lead to a poor user experience, particularly during periods of high traffic or when there is an unexpected rush of people.

D. They gate keep certain features under enterprise plan which is way costlier compared to starter and pro plans

While Sendbird provides a comprehensive set of features, it reserves some essential features exclusively for its enterprise plan. In order to access these features, users would need to subscribe to the more premium and costly enterprise plan.

For instance, messaging retention is capped at six months for all plans except Enterprise. Other solutions like CometChat, doesn't have any restriction on data storage.

Similarly, the maximum group size is restricted to 100 members by default. 'Super private groups' with the ability to include thousands of members are only available in the Pro and Enterprise plans.

3. UI kit limitations

While they offer pre-built UI components and layouts for chat and messaging applications, these UI kits could only provide the basic building blocks for creating chat interfaces and they do not include more advanced features and workflows commonly needed in real-world applications. This can lead developers to invest additional time and effort into implementing complex business logic themselves.

Moreover, Sendbird does not provide UI Kits for popular front end frameworks such as Flutter, Angular and Vue.

Developers using these frameworks may need to invest additional time and effort into customising their integrations, potentially slowing down development and increasing the complexity of their projects.

Top 6 Alternatives to Sendbird

1. CometChat

CometChat is an in-app chat and calling infrastructure platform that helps businesses to add real-time communication to their web and mobile applications.

Integration methods:

Low code UI kits and components

This is the quickest way to integrate CometChat and requires minimal coding. Our UI Kits are ready-to-use UI components that allow you to deploy various chat components like user lists, conversation lists, and message boxes without spending a lot of time on design and coding. They're compatible with all popular front-end frameworks like iOS, Android, JavaScript, React, etc.

Fully customizable chat SDKs & APIs

They provide more flexibility and a high level of control over all the platform features. Our SDKs should be used when,

  1. 01.

    You require a high degree of customization for your chat use-case.

  2. 02.

    You want to integrate chat functionality into existing workflows or application structures.

  3. 03.

    You need to build complex features or use cases that use chat as a fundamental part of the functionality, not just as an add-on

Five reasons why CometChat is a better choice than Sendbird

1. Ease of setup

CometChat's ease of setup is a standout feature, making it a developer-friendly choice for integrating real-time chat and messaging into applications.

With clear and comprehensive documentation, step-by-step tutorials, and pre-built chat components, developers can navigate the setup process effortlessly.

Our UI kits and components are not only visually appealing but also highly customizable. Developers can easily adapt these UI elements to match their application's design and branding, resulting in a consistent and polished user interface.

One of the main reasons why we chose CometChat is because chat is crucial to our platform, so it had to work well and fulfil the needs of the users. The support was instrumental in why we chose CometChat. CometChat's fully-featured SDK, UI Kits, and robust documentation compared well with competitors. From the initial deployment to the release of our platform, we didn't see that level of support with any other chat solution"

Nathan Heber

Founder & CEO, Boatyard

2. Scalable Pricing

In addition to the MAU based pricing model, we also provide a more scale friendly option based on Daily Chat Users (DCUs).

DCU pricing is a consumption based pricing model where you only pay for the chat and calling usage.

It is cost-effective for businesses who have a large user base but only a portion of them actively use chat on a daily basis. With this model, you pay for the users who are actively engaged in chat, which can lead to cost savings compared to MAU-based models.

3. Implementation & Customer Support

CometChat offers multiple channels for customer support including email, live calls, daily solutioning hours, and a comprehensive Help Center with guides, tutorials, and FAQs. Our solution engineers have a deep understanding of chat use cases and its implementation, making them capable of tackling a wide range of customer queries and integration issues.

We also provide one-on-one support to help customers integrate CometChat into their specific projects effectively. This involves offering advice, addressing potential challenges, and providing solutions to ensure a seamless integration process.

A notable differentiator of our support is the policy of not charging extra, meaning our support is free of cost. This user-centric stance allows customers to access CometChat's proactive assistance without incurring additional costs, making it an economical choice for businesses keen on effective budget management. 

In contrast, Sendbird charges for premium support, potentially adding an extra financial burden for users. Furthermore, it's worth noting that CometChat offers support 24x5, providing assistance around the clock, while Sendbird's support is limited to 8x5, aligning with CometChat's mission to deliver value and support to users without hidden fees.

4. Depth of solutioning

CometChat comes equipped with a rich set of out-of-the-box features, making it a versatile choice for businesses across industries - be it healthcare, education, social platforms, or others.

What makes CometChat truly distinct is its high level of customization and thoughtfully built chat components that solve specific problems faced by a wide range of industries. 

For example, a marketplace business can use our moderation and data masking feature to prevent platform leakage.

A telehealth business can benefit from our world-class HIPAA compliance and security standards to protect user data, and best-in-class webhooks that trigger automated responses based on patient behaviour.

"CometChat has already built it and that was the piece that we were trying to solve for. The CometChat UI kit has features that we didn't even think about building such as support for emojis, stickers, suggested answers, and all of that. So if we were to build it, I know how complex it is like suggested answers, depending on the role, very complex pieces, but CometChat already has it."

Mahesh Kumar J

CTO, GradRight

In contrast to Sendbird which offers more raw infrastructure that requires customers to invest more time and effort in configuring them, CometChat focuses on providing comprehensive solutions with pre-built UI components that lets their users get their chat applications up and running faster, resulting in quicker time-to-market and reduced development costs.

5. Migration Options

CometChat places a strong emphasis on providing a seamless migration experience for users, making it straightforward and hassle-free to switch from Sendbird to CometChat.

We offer dedicated Import APIs that enable you to migrate your existing chat data and messages from Sendbird to CometChat effortlessly.

Import APIs facilitate the transfer of your chat history, user profiles, conversations, and other essential data, ensuring that nothing is left behind. CometChat's white-glove migration support means that you receive personalised assistance and guidance throughout the migration process. Our dedicated support team helps you plan, execute, and verify the migration, addressing any questions or concerns you may have along the way.

CometChat has secured several notable wins over Sendbird, including - Entole, Talkiverse, Launchpad 6, Yes Madam, Medsnow, Starlight.

2. Ably

Ably is a real-time data delivery platform and messaging service that provides a range of APIs and developer tools to enable real-time communication and data synchronisation in applications.

Ably uses a publish-subscribe (pub/sub) messaging model, where data is published to specific channels, and subscribers receive updates from those channels in real-time. This model is efficient for broadcasting messages to multiple subscribers.

Relying on Ably's infrastructure can create a degree of vendor lock-in. Migrating away from Ably or transitioning to an alternative service may require substantial effort and adjustments to the application's codebase since it is deeply integrated with your core.

Depending on the nature of the data being transmitted through Ably, developers may need to implement additional security measures to ensure data privacy and compliance with regulatory requirements, such as GDPR or HIPAA.

3. Twilio

Twilio, a CPaaS (Communications Platform as a Service) provider, offers a versatile suite of communication services that empower developers to integrate real-time communication features seamlessly into their applications. .

A repeating problem with Twilio's real-time communications is their latency issues, particularly when users are spread across diverse geographic locations. It's worth noting that ensuring stringent data privacy and security compliance falls within the purview of the application developer, adding an extra layer of responsibility. A meticulous evaluation of Twilio's offerings in the context of your project's unique requirements and financial constraints is paramount.

4. Agora

Agora, Inc. is a company renowned for its cloud-based real-time communication platform, which serves as its primary offering. At the heart of their service is a Software Development Kit (SDK) that empowers developers to seamlessly integrate audio, video, and interactive live streaming capabilities into their applications.

Their video chat SDK is designed with a "Mobile-First" approach, making it particularly well-suited for both iOS and Android platforms, ensuring compatibility with a wide array of mobile devices and operating system versions.

Agora's platform boasts scalability to accommodate a large number of concurrent users, rendering it particularly suitable for applications targeting extensive user bases. Security features, such as encryption and access control, are also part of Agora's toolkit, ensuring the protection of user data and communication.

However, it is essential to consider some potential drawbacks, notably Agora’s React SDK for video calls is still in its beta stage. This means that its features are not fully complete and developers may encounter limitations while implementing it. Additionally, integrating real-time communication features can be complex, requiring developers to invest time in learning and implementing the SDK.

5. PubNub

PubNub specialises in real-time communication, allowing developers to build applications that can deliver messages, notifications, and data updates instantly to users or devices.

PubNub uses a publish-subscribe (pub/sub) messaging model, where data is published to specific channels and subscribers receive updates from those channels in real-time. This decouples senders and receivers, making it efficient for broadcasting messages to multiple subscribers.

Integrating real-time features into an application, even with the help of PubNub's SDKs, can be complex. Developers may need to spend time understanding the intricacies of the pub/sub model and the platform's features, especially if they are new to real-time programming.

6. StreamChat

StreamChat provides SDKs and client libraries for various programming languages and platforms, including JavaScript, Python, iOS, Android, and more. These SDKs streamline the integration of chat and messaging capabilities into applications.

StreamChat is versatile and can be used in various applications, including social networking apps, customer support chat, in-app messaging for on-demand services, and more. However, they are currently testing and refining audio and video calling features as they are in the beta phase of development.

Aarathy Sundaresan

Content Marketer , CometChat

Aarathy is a B2B SaaS Content Marketer at CometChat, excited about the convergence of technology and writing. Aarathy is eager to explore and harness the power of tech-driven storytelling to create compelling narratives that captivate readers. Outside of her professional pursuits, she enjoys the art of dance, finding joy and personal fulfillment.