TalkJS as an alternative to PubNub Chat

Find out how PubNub Chat compares to the TalkJS Chat API by diving in this comprehensive overview of features, pricing, and key benefits. We’ll pinpoint the core differences between the platforms and showcase TalkJS as a PubNub Chat alternative.

Table of contents:


TalkJS is a full-featured chat API you can add to your website or mobile app. It comes with a pre-built chat UI and works seamlessly with any language or framework. You can have a chat solution up and running in a matter of hours.

“We just deployed the private messaging service to Hashnode. It literally took 30 mins to set up the whole thing. Great job!”

—— Hashnode

TalkJS key benefits:

  • Fully featured and pre-built chat UI
  • Robust notification system
  • Transparent pricing

PubNub provides a programmable network for developing realtime applications. Their main products are the Realtime Communication Platform and the PubNub Chat.

PubNub Chat key benefits:

  • Create your own chat UI
  • Content moderation
  • Image moderation

Feature comparison

Both platforms have comparable messaging features by supporting 1-on-1 chat, group chat and rich media messaging, and similar features. The differences start to show up when comparing the chat UI capabilities and the moderation system.

TalkJS excels in providing a pre-built and fully featured chat UI that’s highly customizable. It makes the frontend side of the integration feel like a breeze, with no need to piece together the UI components and design. With PubNub, you’ll have to build the chat interface from scratch.

When comparing the moderation features, PubNub takes the lead by providing both content and image moderation features. While TalkJS offers basic moderation features.

Available for web and mobile✔️✔️
Fully featured chat UI✔️
Highly customizable UI theme✔️
UI design kit✔️ Design files for Sketch
Multi-language chat interface✔️
On-premise intstallation✔️ Only with Enterprise plan
1-on-1 chat✔️✔️
Group chat✔️✔️
Rich media messaging✔️✔️
Full conversation history✔️✔️
File uploads✔️✔️
Roles and permissions✔️✔️
Content and image moderation✔️
Profanity filters✔️✔️
Real-time translation✔️✔️ Requires third-party API integration
Read indicator✔️✔️
Typing indicator✔️✔️
Video chat
Voice chat
Push notification✔️✔️
Email notification✔️
SMS notification✔️ Custom pricing (Amazon SES)✔️ Requires third-party API integration
Desktop notification✔️
Reply-via-email directly (sync to chat)✔️
Mask contact info✔️
Location sharing✔️

Pricing comparison

The pricing models could not be more different. TalkJS offers standard SaaS pricing plans while PubNub charges by MAU (monthly active users) and also per payload, which they call transactions.

Let’s start with PubNub, as it offers a significantly more complicated pricing scheme with additional pricing for support. Users can start by subscribing to the Starter plan for $49/month with a limit of 1500 MAU. But that’s not all, and it’s essential to read the tiny text just below the pricing, the so-called charge per transaction.

Users also get charged additonally for:

  • Overages for MAU
  • Monthly messages
  • Functions execution
  • Message storage

The chat API is a relatively new PubNub product, so the pricing isn’t built around chat, but a around a low level Pub/sub platform. We recommend you to pull out an Excell spreadsheet and get a better bearing about the pricing before talking to the PubNub sales team.

In contrast, TalkJS offers three pricing plans that support unlimited MAUs and unlimited messages. With no limitations on concurrent users or conversation history. Developer support via chat is available on all plans.

The Standard and Premium plan provide core messaging features as well as some advanced ones like:

  • Customizable chat UI theme
  • Webhooks
  • Reply-via-email directly (email-chat sync)
  • Support via chat
  • Custom email notifications and domain (Premium)
  • Priority access to roadmap (Premium)

For use cases that require an on-premise installation, custom paperwork, a proper SLA, or guaranteed performance under heavy load, the Enterprise plan is a great fit. It also offers at-rest encryption and dedicated phone support.

Key differences

Chat UI

Most chat APIs provide a backend-as-service along with UI components or Sketch designs (UI design kit) to make the frontend part of the integration somewhat faster. With PubNub, you have to create the chat UI from scratch. They claim to have a React SDK, but it’s basically nonexistent, it provides an unstyled box you can type text into. Because of this, the PubNub integration will take at least a few months to finish.

TalkJS, on the other hand, provides a complete chat solution, frontend and backend, in a single package. You get the infrastructure, the code, and a fully functional chat with highly customizable UI, including the design. The UI is forward compatible, so the chat will keep working on future devices, new features, or future browser bugs. In other words, you can deploy our chat solution in a couple of hours.

The TalkJS theme is a CSS file that allows you to tune the look and feel of the chat UI. The core UI layout stays the same, but you can make it fit the website or app design. With just a few lines of CSS, you can change the default UI (on the left) to look any way you like.


TalkJS provides support via in-app chat during working hours, and it’s included in all pricing plans. The entire TalkJS support team is staffed with developers. And that is something few companies can boast about. Any time you contact support via website chat or by email, you are talking to one of our developers. With no additional charges.

“This is the best customer service and support I’ve received in a long time, and that goes a long long way for being happy with a company 🙂

There’s bugs with software some times no matter who you use, but you’ve been very receptive to hearing about them and fixing them which is great! Very impressed with the quality of the chat though and the service you’ve been providing. “

—— Dan, JiffyTask

PubNub has separate pricing for support. It offers a couple of pricing tiers starting with the free plan that doesn’t guarantee a response time, and support is available only via email. The first plan with any kind of guarantees starts at $500/month.


PubNub chat is equipped with a couple of useful moderation tools. It provides features to support content moderation and image moderation. These tools make it easy to protect your users as well as your brand.

TalkJS provides basic moderation tools like the activity view in the dashboard where companies can monitor chats, and act accordingly. And also a pro-active way to moderate messages by suppressing information like email or links by using the mask contact info feature.


TalkJS provides a robust notification system with advanced features that keep the users in the loop across different platforms. For example, users can reply to the email notification directly or jump back into the chat platform – either way, their response will safely reach its destination.

The PubNub chat notification system is limited to push notifications and SMS notifications via a third-party API and doesn’t support email and desktop notifications.

pub nub alterantive

Bottom line

When comparing TalkJS and PubNub Chat, the primary thing you should consider is how long it will take to get the solution up and running. Implementing TalkJS takes from a couple of hours to a couple of days, in good part, because of its fully-featured chat UI with a design you can easily customize. With PubNub, you get the backend-as-a-service, but you need to design and build the chat UI from scratch, and that can add up to a lot of work on the frontend.

Ready to start coding? TalkJS is free for development and testing. You’ll have plenty of time to customize and integrate your chat. You pay when you decide to go live. Try it out!

Don't reinvent the wheel. Our chat API + SDK allows developers to easily add chat between users on your platform in hours instead of months.
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