WhatsApp vs Telegram: which messaging app is best for you?

We've broken down the big differences between WhatsApp and Telegram, so you can see which of these messaging apps is for you.

What’s the difference between WhatsApp and Telegram?

yltnerruWhatsApp and Telegram are two popular cross-platform messaging apps that have been designed for instant messaging whilst promising to respect privacy, a desirable and necessary trait in this day and age.

WhatsApp and Telegram may at first appear similar, there are some important differences between the platforms that are worth knowing about.

One key difference between WhatsApp and Telegram is their differing attitude to users’ privacy and data. Whilst WhatsApp uses end-to-end encryption for all of its services, Telegram only does so when Secret Chats (the end-to-end encrypted mode in Telegram) are enabled. Once users enable Secret Chats, however, they are able to send 'self-destructing' messages and photos which can be set to disappear after a specific time period.

Another innovative new feature created by Telegram is its self-installed bots, which facilitate app attributes like sending relevant information about the weather or useful news articles to users. They can also set personalised scheduling reminders, play music and create to-do lists, providing an ‘assistant-esque’ approach to cloud-platform communication.


How are WhatsApp and Telegram similar?

As with most messaging platforms, WhatsApp and Telegram both boast similar features such as instant messaging and picture-in-picture viewing as well as stickers and other cosmetic options.

Both messaging apps also contain cloud synchronisation options, memory usage manager ability, in addition to built-in image compression and editing facilities. Telegram also has the capacity to save images and send any type of files of up to 1.5GB which is supported across multiple platforms; a feature that WhatsApp has restrictions on.

How do WhatsApp and Telegram use your data?

With the introduction of Apple’s new privacy labels, consumers are now able to assess exactly what user data messaging apps collect from their activity; a fundamental component for users' data security and protection. The privacy policies can unveil important information such as the types of data collected from each app and how exactly this is being used by its developers.

How WhatsApp uses your data

Alongside storing basic data such as your phone number and having access to your contacts, WhatsApp tracks its users’ location, analyses their habits, accesses their blocked contacts and more so as to optimise performance. You can see the full list for yourself by clicking Request Account Info within the Account section of your WhatsApp settings.

How Telegram uses your data

By default, Telegram does not use end-to-end encryption, meaning that (at least in theory) Telegram could access its users’ messages when in default mode.

However, end-to-end encryption can be manually activated by enabling Secret Chats. Once Secret Chats has been authorised, users’ data is secure and they can benefit from all the usual features of end-to-end encryption. Users also have the ability to prevent messages from being forwarded and the option of putting their messages on self-destruct mode when Secret Chats is switched on.

Group chats on WhatsApp

Group chats have completely revolutionised the way we communicate with our friends, families and colleagues. And WhatsApp is no exception to this rule.

In fact, WhatsApp is a leading messaging tool for this specific feature. Whilst standard text messaging apps allow personal communication with friends and family on a relatively small scale, there is scope for large group chats on WhatsApp.

By opening the app, selecting More Options and starting a New Group, users have full rein of inviting a range of contacts of up to 256 members into a private group chat where they can communicate freely and instantly with one another. The creator of the group is regarded as an admin, responsible for admitting or rejecting members of the group.

Group chats on Telegram

As a cloud-based messaging app, Telegram also has the ability to connect its users via group chats. However, the app has gone that one step further and presented a platform that cultivates mass-communication on a grand scale with group chats of up to 200,000 members.

There are two ways to join a group chat. One is by clicking on a link. The other is by seeking out and joining a specific group. To join via an invite link, the user must have an existing Telegram account (available directly from the app itself or on a desktop program).

In order to find a specific group, users will have to use their initiative and scour the internet to discover a group that suits their specific interests. Once this has been identified, users can click on the link and get connected. Private chats will require access by the admin of the group who will approve your request before communicating.

Last time seen and online status: WhatsApp

WhatsApp’s online status allows users to see the last time someone within their contact list was active on the platform and whether they are currently using the app.

Important to note: online status does not signify that a contact has read your messages (usually indicated by two blue ticks). It simply shows that they are active on the messaging platform. WhatsApp does allow users to hide their online status from everyone through the app's settings for both iPhone and Android devices.

Last time seen and online status: Telegram

Like WhatsApp, Telegram measures a user's online status by default, based on their activity within the app. This platform also provides users with the ability to hide their online status from their contacts for Android, iPhone and laptop devices.

Self-destructing messages

As the name would indicate, self-destructing messages are messages that can be set to delete themselves after a set period of time.

Secret chats on Telegram

Secret chat is a style of end-to-end encryption available within Telegram that enables users to set self-destruct timers on messages, identifiable by a lock icon next to the chat. As they are client-to-client encrypted, meaning only the sender and receiver can view the messages, the conversation cannot be forwarded or screenshot to anyone else - giving users ultimate privacy when communicating.


Animated stickers and GIFs

For anyone unfamiliar with the sticker or GIF phenomenon, these messaging features are animated images that are a much easier way of expressing emotion without even having to type a single word. They are typically built in to most social media apps' operating systems with a vast collection to choose from. Whether you’re happy, angry or want to find a trending emotion that correlates with a message, a GIF or animated sticker can be the perfect asset to many conversations.

Private folders in WhatsApp

WhatsApp's latest update now allows users to store private folders within the app for the following:

  • WhatsApp images
  • WhatsApp videos
  • WhatsApp animated GIFs
  • WhatsApp audio
  • WhatsApp documents

This new feature is an additional encryption tool available within the app, allowing users to hide media such as images, videos, GIFs, audio files and documents downloaded specifically from their WhatsApp chats. As opposed to being visible within the phone's gallery, the files are hidden by a '.nomedia' file that is only accessible by manually changing the File Manager’s Settings within your phone.

Saving messages on WhatsApp

One of the more useful features associated with WhatsApp as a communication app is the fact that all messages are automatically backed up and saved daily to your phone’s memory. Depending upon your phone’s settings, you can also periodically back up your WhatsApp chats to cloud devices such as Google Drive.

If you uninstall WhatsApp from your phone but you do not want to lose any important chats or messages, the platform enables you to manually back up your chats before uninstalling simply by entering the WhatsApp app, selecting More Options, then Settings and going to Chats and Chats Backup.

Managing folders on Telegram

A major feature permitted by Telegram is its ability to sort and organise conversations into different sub-sections and folders. As active users may be part of a variety of group chats, this feature allows them to stay abreast of their messaging notifications without needing to archive them. They can simply navigate to the three-dot menu on their Telegram chats and select Add Folder to begin the compiling process.

Save files

Another interesting feature that Telegram provides is the ability to save messages for future use. As opposed to having to download the file, Telegram allows users to save the message and keep it within the platform itself. The Saved Messages chat is always displayed at the top of the list in the sharing and forwarding menus. This makes it easy to save your favourites while maintaining an organised messaging platform. Saved Messages are easy to find: they are accessible both from the Chats list and from the side panel on Android or Settings on iOS.

Both messaging platforms boast an array of features that work remarkably for their consumers. Despite WhatsApp’s enormous database of 2 billion people in over 180 countries, Telegram is a message app that is continuously on the rise, rapidly expanding in growth with over 500 million users (a 25% increase in just under a year).

Where Telegram lagged behind in terms of video calling, the latest version of the app supports both voice and video calls and can do so on multiple devices - whether it be mobile or desktop.

Undeniably, consumer concerns regarding data privacy and security are at an all-time high, which is where WhatsApp's verified end-to end encryption is a great feature that consumers are instantaneously drawn to. Although, uncertainty surrounding WhatsApp's new privacy policies in recent months has certainly propelled Telegram into a new cloud-communicating space that may not otherwise have seen such an expansion.

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