These days, messaging applications abound, but when it comes to the major leagues, three stand out above the rest. Over the years, WhatsApp, Telegram, and Signal have all had varied degrees of success. However, following last year’s big Facebook outages, which brought WhatsApp to a halt and drove millions to Telegram, you may be thinking if you should make the transition as well.
WhatsApp, Telegram, and Signal are all considered to be among the top Android messaging applications today, but one is likely to be a better fit for your needs than the others. So, today, we’ll assist you in sorting through the information and making the greatest decision possible.
Here’s all you need to know about Telegram vs. Signal vs. WhatsApp, whether you’re an existing WhatsApp user seeking for a new home or are just starting started with third-party messaging services.
Telegram is accessible for Android, iOS, PC, Mac, and Linux, among other platforms. Telegram also has Web and Chrome apps, so you can use it on a Chromebook just fine.
One of the best features of Telegram is that you may log into as many devices as you want at once. So, even if you have different phones and computers, you can connect into your Telegram account from any of them and it will work flawlessly.
Signal is the least reliable of the five when it comes to availability. Signal, on the other hand, is available for Android, iOS, Mac, Windows, and PC. There are no apps for Web or Chrome, for example.
You can access your Signal account from many devices, however each account is limited to five device connections. Furthermore, you can only have one phone logged into Signal at a time.
On the availability front, WhatsApp and Signal are very similar, albeit WhatsApp has a significant advantage. Android, iOS, PC, and Mac users can download the app. There’s also a Web client for Chrome OS users to enjoy. WhatsApp recently added the ability to migrate your chat history between platforms if you switch between iOS and Android.
WhatsApp, like Signal, has severe limits on device connections. Only four active devices are allowed per account, and WhatsApp can only be used on one phone at a time. In a future update, WhatsApp may offer multi-phone capability, allowing you to access messages on both your personal and business phones. For the time being, WhatsApp has added offline WhatsApp capability, allowing you to read your messages even if your phone is turned off or not connected to the internet.
Telegram has the best availability.
Telegram is the clear winner if you use a variety of devices and want to access your messages on all of them. Even if you don’t, it’s good not to have to deal with device limitations like you do with Signal and WhatsApp.
ENCRYPTION OF MESSAGE
Although all three apps provide encryption in some form or another, the implementation varies. All of your normal messages (also known as Cloud Chats) in Telegram are encrypted using the client-server/server-client standard. This gives you simple access to your conversations across all of your devices, however it isn’t the same level of end-to-end encryption that other services provide by default.
End-to-end encryption is available in Telegram, however it requires the usage of the Secret Chats function. Telegram’s servers do not automatically back up Secret Chats by default. To use Secret Chats, you must enable the option for each contact separately. Secret Chats are not accessible for group chats, regrettably.
Telegram claims to have “disclosed 0 bytes of user data to other parties, including governments” for Cloud Chats saved on its servers, but you’ll want to stay with Secret Chats if you’re really concerned about message privacy.
All of your Signal interactions are encrypted end-to-end, which means Signal “can’t read your messages or listen to your calls, and neither can anyone else.” When you send or receive a message with Signal, it is encrypted end-to-end, regardless of who sent it.
Signal has significantly stricter device availability than Telegram because of this. Still, if your privacy is paramount, you may be willing to forego the convenience. Furthermore, group chats in Signal are fully encrypted from beginning to end.
Because all WhatsApp chats are end-to-end encrypted by default, it’s essentially comparable to Signal in this sense. This means that only you and the person you’re messaging can see what you’re saying, and “nobody in between, not even WhatsApp” can know what you’re saying. End-to-end encryption is supported in group chats, just like it is in Signal.
WhatsApp used this default encryption to justify its policy of only allowing you to log onto one phone at a time. Now that WhatsApp is rumored to be working on multi-phone functionality, we can only presume it’s doing so without jeopardizing the service’s end-to-end encryption, which isn’t simple. In general, WhatsApp provides high-level encryption without requiring you to think about it.
Another benefit of encryption is that WhatsApp now allows you to back up your chat history to Google Drive or iCloud using an encryption key that is only accessible by you. Enabling Google Drive backups assures you don’t lose your history, however Drive backups may soon be charged.
Signal and WhatsApp have the best encryption.
This is a dead heat. Signal and WhatsApp both come standard with end-to-end encryption, making them far more safe than Telegram. While end-to-end encryption is technically possible with Telegram, the implementation isn’t nearly as seamless or functional.
SECURITY AND PRIVACY
If Telegram “receives a court order that confirms you’re a terror suspect,” it has the right to disclose your data with law enforcement authorities. For what it’s worth, Telegram claims that this has yet to happen and that if it does, it will be completely visible.
You can set up two-factor authentication on Telegram in only a few minutes to protect your account from hackers.
You can also ensure that the people you message do not simply pass on your personal information. In a recent Telegram privacy upgrade, the option to “restrict saving material” was added to limit forwarding, screencapturing, and saving in a discussion. In a 1-on-1 chat, you can now delete messages in bulk by date. You can now message people anonymously in public chat rooms.
Signal also explains when your data may need to be shared in other situations. Among them are:
- To comply with any applicable law, rule, legal process, or legally binding governmental order.
- To enforce the Terms, which includes looking into any infractions.
- To detect, prevent, or respond to fraud, security, or technical issues.
- As necessary or permitted by law, to protect Signal, our users, or the public from harm to their rights, property, or safety.
You’ll generate a Signal PIN to view your messages and a registration lock to prevent anyone else from using your phone number.
While WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption provides security, a recent policy update mandated that all WhatsApp users provide the following information with Facebook, or risk losing access to their accounts:
- Name of profile
- Profile photo, IP address, phone number, and list of contacts
- App logs
Messages of Status
WhatsApp also stated that the information would be shared with “other Facebook Companies… to help operate, provide, develop, understand, customize, support, and promote our Services.”
Later, the Indian government requested that WhatsApp reverse this restriction, and the company agreed not to block accounts that refused to accept it. Germany has likewise chosen to “opt-out,” preventing German users from agreeing to the data request.
Apart from this “voluntary” revelation, WhatsApp was recently chastised after a study stated that its communications were not end-to-end encrypted because its staff check “millions of pieces of users’ content” on a regular basis and occasionally transmit data to law enforcement authorities.
Facebook said that communications are only examined when individuals “report spam or abuse.” However, if a message recipient complains you, Facebook will have access to the objectionable statements. It is currently developing a mechanism that will allow you to report a single message rather than the five most recent by default.
WhatsApp was also fined $266 million for breaking EU data privacy laws, however the company has filed an appeal.
Regardless of the controversy, WhatsApp has some important privacy features in its messaging choices. You can, for example, transmit “View Once” films and photographs that will vanish after the receiver has seen them. You can have your messages automatically delete after 1, 7, or 90 days. You can also hide your About page, profile photo, or “Last Seen” status from particular contacts.
WhatsApp, like Signal, employs a PIN for two-factor authentication to ensure that no one else can access your account without it.
Signal has the best privacy and security.
Because messaging apps are among our most-used apps, you’ll want to make sure that the service you choose has a functioning and appealing interface to connect with. In the case of Telegram, you get just that.
Your home page displays a list of all your active conversations, and you can quickly find chats, files, and contacts by tapping the search icon in the upper-right corner. The hamburger menu hides all of your other settings, revealing a variety of options such as creating a new group, examining your call history, looking up saved messages, and more.
Telegram may benefit from a bottom navigation bar to make some of these functions more accessible. Still, it doesn’t take long to get comfortable after surfing the app and seeing where everything is.
Signal’s user interface is quite similar to Telegram’s, which means it’s simple and straightforward to use. On your home screen, for example, you can see ongoing chats, and there’s a search feature at the top of the page if you need to look something up.
To access the rest of your options, tap the three dots next to the search tool. You can create a new group, mark messages as read, add friends, or go into your settings. Although I prefer Telegram’s appearance, both applications efficiently display the same information at the end of the day.
WhatsApp’s layout shares a lot of similarities with Telegram and Signal, although its home screens are the most elaborate of the three apps.
The default tab in WhatsApp displays all of your conversations, and you can use the search option at the top of the screen to conduct a quick search. However, unlike Telegram and Signal, you can do more without opening a hamburger or overflow menu.
A shortcut for swiftly shooting a photo or video is located to the left of the Chats page, and once you’ve caught something, you can either publish it to your Status or send it directly to one of your contacts. To the right of your Chats, you’ll find two additional pages, including specialized tabs for WhatsApp Status (aka tales) and your call history.
To view the overflow menu, hit the three dots in the upper-right corner to access the settings, create a new group, and more.
Tie for best app UI.
We’ll call this one a tie because design is such a subjective subject. If you want a messaging software with a super-clean UI, Telegram and Signal are both terrific choices, but WhatsApp may be a better fit for those who prefer something a little more utilitarian.
Telegram has a lot of customization options, which makes it a great choice if you want to personalize your chat experience. Taking a brief look at the Telegram app’s Chat Settings tab, here’s a sample of what you may change:
- Text size in messages
- Theme color
- Corners with messages
- Night mode automatically
- Animated emojis
On paper, Signal and WhatsApp appear to provide similar customization choices, but when it comes to how some of these features are handled, Telegram goes above and beyond to give you greater flexibility.
For your theme, you can utilize basic light/dark modes, but if that’s not enough, you can also change the background and message bubble colors to almost any color you like. Telegram also gives you extraordinarily fine control over the text size of your messages, with a slider that ranges from 12 to 30.
Telegram has recently taken some of WhatsApp’s best customisation options. It allows you to customize individual chats rather than the entire app, and send interactive emoji with full-screen effects.
Signal’s customizing choices are far less amazing in comparison. The app’s theme can only be changed to a bright or dark mode. You can change the size of the message text, but you’re only given four alternatives. Custom Signal sticker packs are available, but so is Telegram. Similar functionality exists, albeit to a lesser extent.
Although some users enjoy the customizing options provided by Signal, it is objectively inferior than Telegram.
Within the WhatsApp settings page, you’ll discover a Chat menu to adjust your time within the app, although the customization options are restricted, similar to Signal. Only light and dark modes are available for themes. You can alter the background of your talks and modify the font size to small, medium, or large.
There’s not much else to say about it, unfortunately.
Telegram has the most customizing options.
You’ll feel right at home with Telegram if you want a messaging app that allows you to personalize practically everything. It’s the clear winner in this category, with customizing features that go beyond what Signal and WhatsApp offer.
FEATURES OF CHAT
There are many different aspects that go into creating a full messaging app, and each of the three services we’re discussing has a lot to offer. Here’s a rundown of all the major features and how they compare.
Telegram has a strong feature set that has only gotten better in recent months. Telegram has included iMessage-like replies, a translation button for messages in different languages, QR codes to make sharing usernames with new friends easier, and spoiler formatting to hide certain text behind a touch.
It features a far greater group chat capacity, bot support, and larger file size limitations than the other two.
To make Signal more appealing, it has begun to push out more chat capabilities present on other popular apps. Signal introduced chat backgrounds, dynamic stickers, and a “about” section to your profile in January.
WhatsApp offers the smallest chat rooms, but because to stickers, mini-apps, and other useful features embedded into the main program, it’s still a popular choice. WhatsApp just added the ability to create unique stickers and transmit payments in Pax Dollars to its online client.
Telegram has the best chat functionality.
In comparison to Signal and WhatsApp, Telegram has the most extensive feature set. Of course, this comes at the expense of the increased security offered by its competitors, but we have to give Telegram credit for squeezing so much functionality into its app while maintaining a simple and intuitive layout.
MESSAGING IN GROUPS
One of the most popular group messaging apps is Telegram. It’s simple to see why, given everything the app has to offer. It not only supports the largest group conversations (up to 200,000 participants), but it also has the most functionality. This is what you’ll get:
- Usernames are mentioned
- Specific message responses
- Messages pinned
- Links are invited.
- Public organizations
- Bot support a variety of administrative tools
If you just want to have a simple group chat with your buddies, you don’t need all of these features, but if you want to take group messaging to the next level, Telegram has you covered.
Signal is an excellent platform for group chats, because group chats, like individual talks, are protected by end-to-end encryption. In terms of chat size, you can have up to 1,000 persons in a single conversation.
You also get a few handy features for group talking, such as:
- Invite others with a website or a QR code.
- Admin controls are mentioned by Username (remove members, edit group info, etc.)
WhatsApp also supports group chats, however it is the smallest of the three services on this list. For example, you can only have 256 participants in a single group chat, which may be plenty for certain users but may be a problem if you need to accommodate a group chat with a large number of people.
The main parts of group chat functionalities are present. You can restrict who can join your group, and admins can send special messages to other admins exclusively. Username mentions are also supported.
Telegram and Signal are the best options for group communications.
In this category, Telegram and Signal both stand out. Telegram is an easy option if you want the most functionality and support for as many individuals as possible. Signal is the way to go if you don’t mind a smaller feature set in exchange for end-to-end encryption.
Telegram supports voice and video calls, allowing you to communicate in ways other than text. Telegram claims that voice calls have “crystal-clear quality” and use the greatest audio codecs.
Telegram group video calls can hold up to 1,000 people, making it ideal for social gatherings or discussions as well as private interactions.
Telegram also employs artificial intelligence to improve the quality of your video calls over time. According to the Telegram website:
Telegram also offers group voice chats, which is a nice feature. If you’re in a group chat and want to hear your friends’ voices, you can create a voice chat room and invite anyone who wishes to join. Even better, the number of people that can join these group chats is unlimited.
Signal supports voice and video calling, and it shares many of the same wonderful features as Telegram. Here’s how it works:
- For one-on-one voice and video calls, end-to-end encryption is available.
- Within group chats, there is group calling.
- Change the layout and your speaker/microphone options with customizable settings.
It’s worth noting, though, that group calls are limited to a maximum of 8 participants. If you only have a few pals to communicate with, that should enough, but if you want to have larger group talks with many people, Telegram is the superior option.
WhatsApp’s voice/video calling experience is similar to Signal, which means there’s a lot to like. Voice and video calls are possible, and they’re protected by end-to-end encryption just like the other two apps. Group calling is also possible, albeit the implementation differs slightly. You can also listen to your voice clips before sending them.
WhatsApp group calls, like Signal, are limited to eight individuals at a time.
Telegram is the best app for voice and video calls.
Signal and WhatsApp both have great phone and video calling foundations, but Telegram goes above and beyond to win. When it comes to one-to-one calls, all three platforms are identical, but when it comes to group calls, Telegram’s approach is the clear winner.
So, where does it leave us after all of this? Telegram is the clear winner if we only consider which app got the most categories. The longer answer, on the other hand, is more complicated.
Telegram is a terrific tool in many respects; it’s the messaging service I use for the majority of my discussions. It is one of the most accessible messaging apps due to its absence of device restrictions and wide app availability. Telegram’s interface is user-friendly and full of customization choices and capabilities. It’s the best of the group in terms of my priorities.
But this is coming from someone who doesn’t care if all of my chats are encrypted end-to-end. If you’re more concerned about your digital privacy and prefer a messaging service where you don’t have to worry about things being encrypted, Signal might be a better option.
WhatsApp should provide another option, but users may want to seek elsewhere after months of privacy issues and growing links to Facebook. WhatsApp is still the most popular messaging app in the world, but given that 70 million users signed up for Telegram during the Facebook outage, that could change. Whether you stay or go will most likely be determined by where your friends and family end up.
All three of these applications are better at various things than the others; it’s up to you to figure out what your priorities are and whether Telegram, Signal, or WhatsApp can accommodate them. So, bearing that in mind, and after reading this advice, you should have a clearer sense of where you should go.