WhatsApp is the unarguable leader when it comes to messaging, primarily because of its vast user base. Since it’s been acquired by Facebook, the social media giants have tried to add a lot of features relating to its other social media apps such as Facebook and Instagram.
But with this implementation, WhatsApp has soaked up a lot of flavors of a social media platform and its now far from being just a simple messaging platform.
However, while a lot of its users have come to like the features that are being added, it might also be distracting for people who want to use the app for simple and meaningful conversation, and this is where another powerful messenger “Telegram” comes into the picture.
Telegram is a simple, cross-platform messaging platform with an active approach in security and a variety of extra features like programmable bots, which allows its users to customize how they communicate with others profoundly.
Almost during all of 2018, Facebook has faced a lot of fire from regulators and lawmakers across the world for the massive and infamous Cambridge Analytica breach. Meanwhile, Telegram, too, met its legal tussles from the Russian authorities for denying private encryption keys to its users.
So, whether it’s for your concerns about privacy or you are just taking a break from the usual uproar on WhatsApp, telegram might be able to redeem you. However, this is no intent to mean that WhatsApp lags, and both messaging apps have their ups and downs.
Both messaging platforms support similar features like stickers, picture-in-picture viewing (PiP), besides basic messaging features, but at the same time, are set apart by many other nice features.
In this article, we plan to highlight the differences in both apps to help you to make a clear distinction between the two platforms and also allowing you to choose which might be the better messaging service to cater for your necessities.
Let’s begin with the user base, shall we?
Table of Contents
- User Base
- Features Comparison
- How Telegram Topples WhatsApp in Features?
- WhatsApp vs. Telegram
- Telegram is more feature-rich and secure, but WhatsApp has more user base
Before taking the battle between the two messaging services further, let’s take a look at the difference between the numbers of users employing the two apps.
A vast user base translates to a more elegant overall end-user experience, a better customer support channel, and a smaller number of experimental features.
In January 2018, WhatsApp reportedly had a record 1.5 billion active users while a couple of months later, Telegram reported having over 200 million monthly active users who are less than 15 percent of the users that are served by WhatsApp.
In spite of the much difference between them, telegram takes pride in the fact that since its launch in 2013, it has not shared even a single byte of user data with any third-party, which may sound forceful especially with concerns about Facebook removing its encryption in the name of helping the government fight fake news.
WhatsApp and Telegram, both boast of some unusual features that separate them from one another. So, let’s take a look at their remarkable features:
WhatsApp: What is unique?
Group Video Calling
This feature which was rolled out back in 2016, WhatsApp video calling feature has become more and more sophisticated over time and the messaging platform recently added support for video calling from within WhatsApp groups.
Using this feature, you can request a maximum of three other people adding to the tally to four users including yourself.
You can initiate a new group video call directly from any WhatsApp group by just tapping on the phone icon on the top part of the phone, and then adding the participants to the call.
However, this feature isn’t as great or appealing as Apple’s FaceTime’s group calling which can allow up to 32 participants at the same time, but WhatsApp video calling and group video calling is a useful and reliable feature.
Status & Stories
Years ago, WhatsApp allowed users to add short text messages which are displayed on their profile. Though the option is still there, WhatsApp included the option to upload Snapchat-style stories which can live for 24 hours and are deleted automatically.
A user can post images, GIFs, text, or videos as their WhatsApp statuses and can also view the statuses uploaded by their contacts in the same window.
While adding txt statutes, users get the options to change the background color and font style of the status.
Unlike Instagram, there’s no option yet to add special moments to your highlights, but at the F8 conference in 2018, Facebook announced that it will allow users to post their Spotify’s “Now Playing” as their WhatsApp status.
As per recent news, WhatsApp might start showing ads to users in the Status tab to generate revenue from WhatsApp.
WhatsApp is the most frequently used messaging service and last year, its parent company Facebook decided to leverage this and allow its businesses to use the platform for sending messages or notifications that are meant to market their products and services.
WhatsApp Business, although was designed while keeping the communication needs of small businesses in mind, can be a handy tool in not only sending out promotional and informational messages but also as an excellent platform for customer support.
With WhatsApp Business, small and medium-sized businesses can see insights and metrics about customers, and set automated messages which are set for few hours.
Recently WABetaInfo leaked a new feature, which has to do with linking external accounts with WhatsApp Business to help its users’ to recover their accounts in case of forgotten or lost passwords.
While the service might be free for business owners, WhatsApp charges business users who take more than 24 hours to reply a message. This is obviously to keep businesses bound to engage and reply through WhatsApp.
Suspicious Link Warning
With the increase of fake news and otherwise misleading information on the platform, WhatsApp introduced a new feature to help users spot suspicious links that could be used to spread misinformation.
The feature also warns its users when it suspects a potentially harmful link that might initiate the download of malware, unwanted software, or bloatware on to their smartphone devices.
WhatsApp is also using its dominance to conquer another somewhat different category for a messaging platform.
Back in February 2018, WhatsApp payments feature in India went into testing, where the protocol in use in UPI (unified payments interface) which allow users to send and receive money using payment apps from and directly into their bank accounts without needing to transfer it to a wallet app.
This feature has since been made available to WhatsApp beta users in India as well as non-beta ones who are only invited by the existing users, enabling them to transfer money using unified payments interface (UPI).
Any further development has, however, being unsuccessful after the Reserve Bank of India demanded that all the data affiliated with financial transactions must be stored on servers within the country and not outside.
Currently, the feature stays restricted to a small bunch of users but if you want to try it out, you can get guides on the internet on how to get your WhatsApp payments working.
WhatsApp recently introduced the ability to format your texts in the app; this is a pretty cool feature. You can now format your texts in Bold (*text*), Italics (_text_), Bold & Italic (*_text_*) and strikethrough (~text~).
Telegram: What is unique?
The Secret Chat feature lets you have a conversation with end-to-end encryption among other security options. There are notifications for screenshots taken, and forwarding of messages from the secret chat is prohibited.
You can also set a self-destruct, which will destroy your messages after a certain period. If you’re looking for a secure messaging experience, then the Telegram Secret chat has got you covered.
Secret Chat now prevents its users from taking screenshots and even blacks out the screen recording.
Sharing of Different file types up to 1.5 GB
There is no competition for Telegram’s file sharing abilities as you send almost any file type including Zip, documents, PDF, etc. on the messenger besides the normal media files.
On Telegram, you can send files ranging to 1.5 GB, unlike WhatsApp, where you can only share files up to meager 100 MB (limited to 16 GB for media).
Create and Download Themes
Telegram now offers you a bunch of options to customize the app’s interface, including the ability to change the color of each graphical user interface (GUI) element. You can do this by going to Settings >> Chat Settings >> Theme.
The Telegram also supports the option to download themes created by other users. You can search for channels that are dedicated to themes and install a theme created by other users.
Auto Night Mode
Besides letting you customize or choose the color scheme of the interface, Telegram also has an option which allows you to switch from a light to a dark theme automatically.
You can either allocate the timing for this or manually assign a threshold brightness level such a way that the interface changes theme automatically when the brightness falls below a certain level.
Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
To maintain the security and secret of your messages every time you switch from one device to another, you can enable two-factor authentication (2FA) by going to Settings >> Privacy and Security >> Two-Step Verification.
Once the feature is enabled, you will be alerted to enter a password besides the SMS authentication code which will be sent to you every time you install and set up Telegram on a new device.
Aside from the password, Telegram will also ask you for your email ID since that will be the only means you could recover your account in case of a misplaced or forgotten password.
You can add a hint if you wish so that you can easily recall your password in case you forget it.
Telegram can be very useful for sharing mini blogs as it comes with an inbuilt reader mode to view links.
Besides just viewing links, you can also change font size and style, as well as the background color of texts in Instant View 2.0. To make articles consistent with Instant View, developers must first implement the code in the back-end of their website.
However, if you want to write essential articles and share them primarily using Telegram, you can create ‘Instant View’ articles using Telegram bot telegra.ph.
All thanks to its cloud-based synchronization feature, Telegram supports multi-device sessions, which allows you to start a chat on one device and continue it on another device.
All the messages from the previous device are synced between devices in real time, so it is swift and efficient. You can also check your active sessions in the app to know if the device in which your Telegram account might be engaged.
Super Groups and Public Channels
Telegram also includes Supergroups, which can hold up to more than a thousand members along with cool public as well as private channels.
Channels are essentially broadcasting to a broader audience, and it can hold unlimited members. When a message is sent through a channel, the message is transmitted through the channels name.
A public channel has its username, and it can be searched and joined by any Telegram user. A user can also send mute messages in channels along with the ability to edit its sent messages.
Telegram Bots are primarily Telegram accounts that were created to carry out specific tasks. Every bot comes with its separate set of features and commands.
Here’s an instance, the @Pollbot can be used to create polls in groups, @Storebot comes in handy when you want to search for more cool bots. There are a lot of different and useful bots that are available on Telegram bot store, or you can search for bots straight from the app as well.
Lock Chats & Ability to Hide Last Seen for a Particular Contact
The ability to hide your ‘last seen’ in Telegram is a very similar feature which can be found on WhatsApp but with a little twist.
Telegram lets you hide last seen for a particular contact. So, instead of protecting your last seen for your entire contacts, you can hide it from single or multiple contacts.
You can also lock your chats on Telegram with a passcode feature so that no one will be able to read your messages.
Have you ever wanted to edit the messages you just sent? Well, bid goodbye to typos, as Telegram now lets you to edit sent messages.
You can press and hold on to a message you have posted and then hit the ‘edit’ icon to start editing the text. The edited messages will now have an edited banned on them.
Although Telegram is not a payments provider in itself, it also supports payments on the platform with the help of its bots.
These bots can’t collect payments directly from your Telegram account, but they can help you generate invoices, payments reminder, and interfaces using which anyone who is supposed to pay you can be directed to the desired platform.
Payments bots can also be used to accept payments through credit cards as well as services such as CLICK, Paymentwall, Payme, and more. However, to create a Payment bot, you will have to use Telegram’s Bot API, and you will need sufficient coding prowess.
So while you can’t pay your friends and family using Telegram, businesses can add payments to their bots thereby making it easier to shop using Telegram bots.
How Telegram Topples WhatsApp in Features?
When it dwells down to features, Telegram wins it all by a large margin, as it brings some unique features that inevitably make a difference when it comes with usability.
While WhatsApp has a group video calling and end-to-end encryption for all chats, Telegram is clearly the best option with its self-destruct timer, multi-device support along with tons of other small but yet unique features (Instant View 2.0, bots, internal media player, etc.).
However, WhatsApp is slowing adding many cool features, and it’s already testing a bunch of impressive features that could make it better than Telegram. Well, we’re hoping Telegram too will up its game.
The security of chats on WhatsApp has consistently been placed under question despite the platform first introducing text message encryption back in 2016.
Last year, WhatsApp’s co-founder Jan Koum quit plainly due to a disagreement with Facebook’s board over encryption and privacy, and since then, there have been more concerns about the way the company us sacrificing encryption and reading its users’ private messages to show them ads within the messenger.
Nevertheless, Telegram, which also comes with a user-to-server encryption in regular chats and user-to-user encryption in Secret chats, had to face the fury of a lower Russian Court which set a ban on Telegram for refusing to share private encryption keys of its users, and thereby not complying with the orders of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB).
Telegram went ahead to challenge the orders of Russian Supreme Court which went ahead to impose a fine of 800,000 roubles (~$12,000) on the company for non-compliance. The messaging platform has since remained shut in the country.
Moreover, special features like Secret Chats and Self-destruct timers make your chats more secure, efficient and more difficult to be intercepted by any anti-privacy advocates.
This shows that, unlike its rival WhatsApp, Telegram is not willing to settle for the privacy and security of users to acquire financial gains, making its users lean in its favor when it comes to safety.
Furthermore, since WhatsApp chats for Android users are all stored on Google Drive, these chats are not encrypted and meaning an attack on your Google account or Google Drive, in general, can result to loss of data.
However, while WhatsApp might have to give up its encryption in countries like India where the government wants to oversee digital habits, Telegram might not quickly come under the lens to its relatively smaller user base. Overall, Telegram takes the lead over WhatsApp regarding security.
Performance and Ease of Use
There’s no clear winner in this section, as WhatsApp and Telegram both perform admirably well even though telegram can be sometimes quicker in sending a message due to its cloud-based sync feature.
When it comes to usage, both messaging platforms are very easy to use, with similar working apps. But, telegram’s gesture-based UI makes things quicker and fun.
However, if you want a very fast Telegram UI (user interface), you can check out the Telegram X app, which is more-or-less a beta version of the app.
It’s packed with faster animations, a relatively soothing and accommodating user interface (UI), smaller icons, and a dark theme by default. It also receives a lot of experimental features before they are authorized to make their way to the main Telegram app.
Moreover, Telegram also has a web app which is available on the Chrome Web Store and its due to its open-source nature, and there are third party Telegram apps which are available as well though we recommend you to stay away while using a telegram client by an unknown or unidentified developer.
Telegram wins it here because it offers its users’ independent apps for all platforms, unlike WhatsApp, which depend upon the mobile app to be running for the desktop and web clients before it can be able to work.
Also, you can have multiple instances of telegram running at the same time while WhatsApp is confined to only a mobile app and a desktop client concurrently.
WhatsApp vs. Telegram
- Group video calls
- Massive user base
- Support for small business
- End-to-end encryption everywhere
- Owned by Facebook
- Chats on Google Drive not encrypted
- Limited file sharing
- Not as feature-rich as Telegram
- Better for privacy
- Overall more feature-rich
- Bots and great file sharing
- All chats are backed up to cloud automatically
- Has greater platform compatibility and multiple instances at once
- Smaller user base
- No video calls support
Telegram is more feature-rich and secure, but WhatsApp has more user base
WhatsApp is now drawing level with Telegram in most of the categories and Telegram’s relatively smaller user base is not too compelling. While we do hope that its user’s base multiplies, it is not likely to overtake WhatsApp anytime son.
WhatsApp has been trying out and adding new features lately, and new ones keep showing up. For instance, WhatsApp is now testing ‘Status preview’ on iOS for video statuses, much like the long-press-to-preview option on Instagram.
It’s now apparent that Telegram offers a better user experience, but you might feel out of touch since many users still prefer using a single messenger and that happens to be WhatsApp. If you are finding it difficult to persuade your family and friends, then WhatsApp is the more convenient option, of course.
And lastly, if your primary concern is about privacy, Telegram is not ready to compromise and give-up on encryption any time sooner than WhatsApp.
So, using Telegram is more reasonable if you want to send sensitive information, or are located in a country or region where the authorities have oppressed the voice and concerns of its citizens.
These’re our recommendations which, we hope, will help you to decide between Telegram and WhatsApp or even help you to divide time between the two apps thoughtfully.
Do you think we skipped any vital piece of information about both messaging platforms? Be kind to tell us in the comments section below.