Stuck between Telegram and WhatsApp? We’ve put the two messaging services head-to-head to help you decide which one is right for you.
Telegram and WhatsApp are very similar at a glance, but there are some differences when it comes to features, devices supported and the level of encryption each service offers.
Keep reading to find out how they compare…
Both Telegram and WhatsApp are free messaging services.
Telegram does offer a $4.99/£4.99 Premium membership with perks including faster downloads, larger file uploads and exclusive stickers and reactions, but this isn’t necessary to use the app. Likewise, WhatsApp recently launched a Premium tier for business users with benefits like a web page and multi-agent support to communicate with customers.
However, neither of these plans affect regular users, who can continue to access all the main features available on each app without paying a monthly subscription price.
Telegram can be downloaded on smartphones, tablets and PCs, with iOS, Android, macOS and desktop apps available. You can also log in online with Telegram Web.
Furthermore, the Telegram API is open for developers, meaning you can find unofficial apps built for platforms not mentioned above, like Xbox.
WhatsApp is also available on smartphones, tablets and PCs, including iOS, Android and Windows devices. A macOS app is currently in development, but you can still log in on your browser using WhatsApp Web.
Both Telegram and WhatsApp offer a range of features, including support for media, video calls, large group chats and encrypted messaging.
Both apps are encrypted, but Telegram requires users to opt in to end-to-end encryption by creating a “secret chat”. The feature is not supported in group chats, making Telegram less secure in these instances.
However, all Telegram chats do take advantage of standard encryption and group chats have a huge 200,000-member capacity.
According to Telegram, the app delivers messages “faster than any other application”, there are no limits on the size of your media and chats, and you can access chats across multiple devices.
The app also has its own Bot API, which lets developers create their own bots to bring some automation to their chats.
WhatsApp messages, meanwhile, are end-to-end encrypted by default. However, that does mean that WhatsApp has previously been behind Telegram when it comes to accessing your account across multiple devices.
WhatsApp also offers disappearing messages that vanish after a set time has passed, the ability to transfer chats across Android and iOS, broadcast messages and voice messages.
However, WhatsApp has a file size limit of 16MB and a smaller (but still huge) group chat limit of up to 1024 members.
Data and privacy
WhatsApp saw a large number of users abandon ship back in 2021 when Meta announced its new terms of service. These terms required WhatsApp users to consent to sharing data with the parent company or lose access to the app.
Like Whatsapp, Telegram’s treatment of data has also been brought into question in the past.
Most of the privacy experts we spoke to seemed to agree that Signal is the best choice of the three when it comes to data handling, but the choice is ultimately down to you.
One of the benefits of using Telegram over WhatsApp and Signal is that it doesn’t require a phone number, allowing users to choose a username instead.
However, the lack of default end-to-end encryption covered earlier in this guide will be a privacy concern for potential users. Furthermore, Telegram bots can be leveraged for scams and cyberattacks.
At a glance, WhatsApp and Telegram are very similar.
The two apps offer a comparable array of features with a few minor differences. WhatsApp has end-to-end encryption by default, whereas Telegram users are required to create secret chats to access this feature and E2EE isn’t supported in group chats.
On the other hand, group chats are significantly larger on Telegram and there are no file size restrictions to contend with. Telegram also has a macOS app – something WhatsApp is still working on.
Your choice will likely come down to these differences, along with which app is more popular among your friends and family.