Facebook Messenger Lite is a faster, lighter, more efficient version of the chat app from the social network.

Who doesn’t like smaller, faster, lighter apps that use fewer resources on their phone. Facebook has two versions of its Messenger app - the full fat or skinny version. Which do you prefer?

Apps often suffer from feature bloat and they start off small and lightweight, but over time they grow in size and complexity. Some apps have grown by 1,000% and Snapchat for example, is 50 times larger than it was just a few years ago.

The problem is that unless you upgrade your phone to the latest version, it will increasingly struggle to run the latest bloatware. Newer apps require more processing power to operate and more storage space for the app. It is almost a requirement that you upgrade your phone every year just so you can run the latest apps.

At least some companies have noticed the problem and are providing alternatives to the regular apps. Facebook for example, has two versions of its popular Messenger app and there is Messenger and Messenger Lite.

Messenger Lite loads all your Facebook contacts and Messenger conversations and you can carry on with conversations where you left off in Messenger.

 Facebook Messenger Lite for Android home screen Facebook Messenger Lite for Android conversation

Save storage space

Messenger on my Android phone requires 229MB of storage. This consists of 118MB for the app itself and 111MB for data (app data not mobile/cellphone data).

Messenger Lite requires just over 18GB of storage space and that consists of 16.5MB for the app and 1.8MB of data.

That is a considerable saving in storage space, although the data part might grow as the app is used more, but hopefully not as much as the full fat version of the app.

Save mobile data

According to Facebook, Messenger Lite uses less of your mobile data and it is more efficient. This is welcome for people that don’t have a very generous place and have to watch the amount of data used.

Lighter on the hardware

Lower specification phones should benefit most from Messenger Lite, partly because it uses less storage, but also because it has a simpler interface and feature set.

Messenger Lite also works on older versions of Android, all the way back to 2.3 in fact. The full Messenger does not state a version, but it is unlikely to work on versions older than 4.x.

This means the Lite app will run on older hardware with old versions of Android, which is just what is needed in some parts of the world.

What is missing?

The Google Play Store listing does not say what has been left out of this version of the app, but one obvious difference is there is no video calling. It offers voice calling to other Messenger or Messenger Lite users, but not video.

At least I cannot see any option to start a video call. Just tap a contact and tap the telephone icon to call them, free of course, via the internet.

Group activities are slightly different and there is no Group tab. However, there is an option to create a group text chat. Groups appear to be simplified. Messenger Lite also does not offer the games section in the full messenger.

Final thoughts

There are several key features missing in the Lite version of Messenger and you have to ask yourself whether you need them before switching. The Lite app is certainly smaller and faster, and uses less mobile data, but it only offers text, video and photo messaging, stickers, and free voice calls.

Can you live without games and video calling, and slightly limited groups? If so, switch to Messenger Lite.