So +Google has seriously screwed their instant messaging client. The one new feature that was going to be amazing in Hangouts, notification/read syncing between devices works so poorly it looses messages. When it did work, it worked inconsistently. I know that this only affects a small set of users, but I'm one of them. I longed for the days where my messages were simply sent to all my logged in devices. On the desktop I tried using the web client, but it didn't compare to using a multi-protocol client like Pidgin. So I was forced to try out alternative third party clients on Android similar to what I use on the desktop. One thing to note ahead of time, if you want Hangouts for video chat, you're stuck with having a broken Google Talk implementation as none of these clients support the video feature.
OTR, that's another $5. I find that a bit steep for something that should be based on GPL code. I'm actually going to investigate that. You can try IM+ for free with adds and some features missing.
costs $10, which considering it doesn't include OTR like encryption was a bit steep. I didn't find the price justified over the $5 price of IM+. They do have a free version available as well.
So in the end I stuck with IM+ and paid for their pro version. It
seems to be the best by far in terms of features, usability and value.
Yes, some of the clients are free, but require you to sign over your IM
privacy to some third party. This app, at the time of purchase cost $5
and you can leave the company out of your IM or choose to benefit from their history syncing.
The one annoying thing I ran into with all the clients has nothing to do
with the actual clients but that some of the other IM protocols, unlike Jabber, do not support multiple
device sign-in. Wish they did as logging in/out all the time is
annoying. Still it's a small price to pay for an actual working IM client that doesn't loose your messages.
Lastly, I know there are complete alternatives to these like Whatsapp, but this is not what I was after and have no interest in it. Hopefully you will find this mini review of value as I know I'm not the only one that is having issues with Hangouts.
Update: Since posting this I got some other recommendations which missed my radar as they are not multi-protocol.