Whatsapp vs Telegram

By: Marawan Alwaraki, June 28, 2014


Whatsapp is an extremely popular instant messaging application with a user base of 500 million users all across the world. It gained fame since it provided free messaging between people regardless of where they live. Telegram is a less popular app, and could be seen as a Whatsapp clone. However, the app has a much larger focus on privacy than Whatsapp and also does better in other comparisons as seen below. Ellis Hamburger from The Verge wrote an article titled: Why Telegram has become the hottest messaging app in the world.

I'm going to compare both Whatsapp and Telegram in five different challenges, and we'll see who wins overall. Keep in mind that some features which I consider important to me may not be important to you, and vice-versa.


1. Privacy


Whatsapp was recently purchased by Facebook for a massive $19 billion. This lead to fear of declining privacy in the future by users of the service, enough people worried about it leading to the company publishing a blog post emphasizing that privacy will still remain important to Whatsapp regardless of the Facebook partnership. However, people question what the gain for Facebook will be if it isn't to collect more information about users.

Telegram has a much larger focus on privacy. The app promises safer regular chats than competitors such as Whatsapp. But the interesting feature offered by Telegram is Secret Chats.


Secret Chats feature end-to-end encryption so that only the sender and receiver devices will ever see the contents of the message. According to the company's FAQ page, the contents of the messages aren't even visible to anyone at Telegram. The messages aren't stored on the company's servers. Moreover, messages sent in a Secret Chat can be self destructed (similar to Snapchat) and also the notifications do not display who sent the message or what the contents of the messages actually is.

Winner: Telegram!

2. User Base- Active Users


This is where Whatsapp defeats Telegram. Whatsapp announced that it has 500 million active users this April meanwhile Telegram announced that it has 35 million active users in March. That means that Whatsapp has more than 10 times the number of active users as Telegram. So chances are more of your contacts will be found using Whatsapp than Telegram.

Whatsapp announcing 500 million active users on it's blog
It may also be hard to convince your friends to switch over to Telegram (I'm facing this problem) so you might want to stick to Whatsapp in this case.

Winner: Whatsapp!

3. Price


Whatsapp sells it's subscription at a very low $1 per year, and a free year trial to begin with. Compared to the price of texting (overseas) this is a very very low price and is certainly worth paying. This is Whatsapp's current business model and in a blog post following the partnership with Facebook, the company claimed that this will not change.


On the other hand Telegram is completely free. It is a non-commercial company and is run by a large donation from Pavel Durov. According to the company's FAQ page, if the money runs out then it may ask users for donations or introduce non-essential in-app purchases. I'm assuming themes or stickers.

Chances are you'll need to either only use Whatsapp or use Whatsapp & Telegram since as I mentioned earlier, Whatsapp has a much larger user base. So it'll cost you the same low price either way.

Winner: Tie!

4. Group Chats


Whatsapp and Telegram both have great support for group chats. Participants in a group chat can change the group name as well as the group icon. Whatsapp allows up to 50 users per group meanwhile Telegram allows 200. I can't keep up with a group chat if it has more than 20 participants so I can't imagine needing more than 50, but perhaps some people do.



What I like about Telegram group chatting is that it tells you how many people are online in the group as well as if anyone is typing. This currently isn't available in Whatsapp's iPhone app and I'm assuming that's the case with Whatsapp on other platforms too. Telegram's small improvements in group chat makes it the winner here since it does improve the group chatting experience.

Winner: Telegram

5. Support for Multiple Devices


Whatsapp runs on pretty much all smart phones (iPhone, Androind, Windows Phone) in the world, but can't be run on an iPad or iPod without a jailbreak. Telegram on the other hand runs on iOS (including iPad and iPod) and Android smartphones, as well as computers.

A Whatsapp user can only be signed in with their number on one device at a time. So if a user's phone is out of charge then there's no way of accessing Whatsapp until the phone is recharged. This acts similar to regular SMS, however it is not necessarily convenient.



Telegram has official apps running on smart phones, but the company also offers APIs to let developers make apps that use Telegram. There are already unofficial apps for Mac, Windows and Linux as well as a web app. They have all been developed by developers outside of Telegram and are available for free.

What I like about Telegram is that all my messages sent in Telegram are saved to the cloud for free and as soon as I sign into my account on a new device my messages appear there (except for Secret Chats). I'm also sent a telegram message to my phone to confirm adding the new device. This makes chatting much more seamless since your chats and messages appear on all your devices rather than limiting you to one device.

Winner: Telegram

Conclusion


The above 5 points compare the main features I care about in an instant messaging application. Based on my comparison Telegram beats Whatsapp.

I face this pain where I can't convince all my friends to switch over to Telegram so I end up using both Telegram and Whatsapp and constantly switching between them to reply to different people. This is a cost I'm paying to use Telegram, perhaps if the difference between both apps isn't huge to you then it may not be worth the switch.

I find it worth the pain since I really care about having a backup of all my messages to the cloud where I don't have to worry about storage space and losing data or even the security of my messages, and also being able to use Telegram from my iPhone, iPad or computer.

I'm interested to see what you think of Telegram. What are your main points of comparison when deciding which instant messaging app to use? Which app do you currently use and why?

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