WhatsApp vs Telegram vs Signal

It’s no secret that WhatsApp is catching some major flak for the new changes to its privacy policy. You have just a few months to agree to the new terms that would share more of your data with parent company Facebook. As a result, many users are quitting the messaging app for good and searching for greener pastures. Here’s our comparison of WhatsApp vs. Telegram vs. Signal to help you decide where to go next.

See also: 5 best encrypted private messenger apps for Android

We’ll go beyond the obvious privacy questions and give you a bit more of an in-depth look at what each app has to offer. You may also find that it’s helpful to ask your fellow WhatsApp users if they plan to make the switch. Ready to learn more? Let’s get to it.

WhatsApp vs. Telegram vs. Signal: Features

The Telegram icon on an Honor View 20 on a flowery pillow.

Each of these three messaging apps comes with its own list of features. Those cover the basics like texting and video chatting, but we’re not including security features in this section. Make sure to check out each of the apps carefully to see if it meets your needs. Next, we’ll dive into the all-important security of each platform.

WhatsApp

You’re probably already familiar with WhatsApp’s list of features, so you’ll know that it does the basics pretty well. You can easily send files, media, and your location to individuals or in larger groups of up to 256 users. However, you can only share your location if you give the app permission to log your whereabouts. If you plan to video call with your friends, WhatsApp will let you bring as many as eight users into the fold.

See also: 8 new features WhatsApp should add from other messaging apps

You can also send disappearing messages messages that expire after a select period of time, somewhat like Snapchat. WhatsApp offers desktop support, though you can only log into one location at any given time. Your phone must also remain connected to the internet to use WhatsApp. You can easily customize your own WhatsApp UI with dark mode, stickers, and more for a personal experience.

Telegram

Telegram launched in Russia back in 2013, and it has been growing steadily since then. It may not have claimed the messaging crown yet, but these features may put it over the top. Just like with WhatsApp, you can easily share files, locations, and media through Telegram. You can also share files up to 2GB over Telegram, which is massive compared to the 100MB cap on WhatsApp. If a group of 256 isn’t quite enough for you, Telegram allows for groups as large as 200,000 users.

Right now, you can set up a group voice call and talk to your friends, but the group video call feature is still in beta testing. Users can sign up for different channels, too, which means that an administrator can broadcast one-way messages for all to read. Telegram is an open-source app, which has led to users creating new clients such as Telegram X. It’s essentially the same skeleton of an app, just with a new, revamped UI on top.

Signal

In the battle of WhatsApp vs. Telegram vs. Signal, Signal offers the shortest list of integrated features. You can do the basics as far as messaging goes, but you can only send images up to 6MB and files up to 100MB. Signal supports groups of up to 1,000 users at a time, which tops WhatsApp but doesn’t come close to Telegram. As expected, Signal is rolling out new features to keep hold of the users leaving WhatsApp. You can now add eight people to a video call rather than five, and a new low-data call mode makes it easier to stay under your monthly cap.

See also: Signal: What is it, and why is everyone talking about it?

Signal is actually the successor to a pair of messaging apps — TextSecure and RedPhone. Each app developed encrypted calling and texting independently, and Signal is a perfect combination of the two. Best of all, the app comes from the nonprofit Signal Foundation, so you won’t have to worry about ads taking over your experience.

WhatsApp vs. Telegram vs. Signal: Security

WhatsApp vs Telegram vs Signal

Credit: Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

WhatsApp’s privacy policy kicked off this whole fuss, so you’ll no doubt want to examine the security options closely. All three apps encrypt your data end-to-end, but the bonus options once again help to set the platforms apart. This might be the most important part of your decision, so check on the security features carefully.

WhatsApp

We all know that Facebook owns WhatsApp. We also know that Facebook and privacy go together as well as orange juice and mint toothpaste. Alright, maybe it’s not that bad, but Zuckerberg certainly isn’t winning any bonus points. However, all WhatsApp messages are still end-to-end encrypted, so you shouldn’t have to worry about outside parties reading your messages. The company will know where you’re sending them from, though.

You can back up your WhatsApp messages and data both locally and to the cloud, which helps you switch devices often. WhatsApp uses a store and forward method for your messages, so it deletes delivered messages upon sending, but it stores undelivered content for 30 days.

Now for the reason why people are considering leaving the platform: data access. The new privacy policy changes grant WhatsApp extensive access to your personal data, even if they don’t read your messages. WhatsApp will have access to your location, usage statistics, device information, purchase history, and more. It can then share that data with Facebook for advertising purposes. Not exactly what most people want from a messaging app.

Telegram

Telegram’s messages are actually client-server encrypted, which means that they are unencrypted and then re-encrypted at the server level before reaching the end-user. In theory, it means that Telegram could access messages, though it would require a great deal of effort. However, if you use the Secret Chats feature, you’ll have full access to end-to-end encryption, which should put more users at ease. You can also activate a built-in PIN feature or fingerprint requirement for added security within the app.

Related: What is encryption? Everything you need to know

While there are no ads on Telegram, the company is considering launching its own ad platform. This could lead to changes in the future. Right now, Telegram can only access your phone number, email address, and user ID.

Signal

Although it boasts the smallest userbase and the fewest features, Signal may be the most secure app of the lot. You can create an encrypted profile that only you can recover with the use of a PIN. Signal uses end-to-end encryption on all of its messages, and it only stores your undelivered messages temporarily. You won’t find any ads on Signal, and it only accesses your phone number.

One slight drawback to Signal is that it only offers local backup. If you should happen to lose your device, you’re bound to lose at least some of your content and messages. Signal users can also verify one another using QR codes within the app for added security. It helps to eliminate metadata from the equation, which is a plus for users.

If you’re worried about personal information when you share an image, Signal is the app for you. It recently introduced a blur feature that you can use to hide faces or other information within pictures.

WhatsApp vs. Telegram vs. Signal: Which app should you use?

There’s no easy answer in the battle of WhatsApp vs. Telegram vs. Signal. Each app is slightly different, and your choice may come down to which application your friends choose. WhatsApp’s privacy policy is driving users away, though it remains the largest platform of the three. The app is loaded with features, and it works very well. You could probably stay with WhatsApp right up until the new policies go into effect.

However, we can’t blame you for making a move away from the Facebook-owned app. Telegram is slightly less secure than either WhatsApp or Signal, though it packs plenty of innovative chat features. It’s not an unsecured app, but it’s just not quite to the other two’s standards. Your final option, Signal, is the most secure platform in town. Signal is the smallest of the three at this time, but it’s growing quickly. This will likely mean a new suite of features to keep the userbase happy. It also offers the most airtight security of the three apps in question.

If you’ve made your choice, go ahead and download any of the three apps from the buttons below:

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