WhatsApp vs Telegram: What is the best messaging application?

There are few debates that cause so much sensation in the technological world that the eternal battle between WhatsApp and Telegram. Both applications evolve without stopping, with news almost every week, so it is difficult to keep up to date on which does what and which of them has exceeded the other functions.

To make it easy for you, here is the deep and updated duel of WhatsApp vs Telegram in concepts such as number of users, privacy, available functions and personalization. At the end of the whole we count the final score and tell you which is the best today.

Number of users

Let’s start with the easiest: the users. While there are certain tasks that you can do speaking alone or passively (consult information), we are mainly comparing two messaging applications, and as such, the main objective is to send and receive messages. The more people you can potentially connect with, the better.

WhatsApp exceeded the barrier of 1.5 billion active monthly users a year ago, and since then we have not received an updated figure. For its part, Telegram celebrated 200 million users a year ago, so the gap between users between applications is still huge, although every time WhatsApp falls, Telegram earns a few million users.

The victory is overwhelming for WhatsApp, whose user base is seven times that of Telegram. Although Telegram has managed to reduce the distance in about 20 million users compared to last year, the difference remains abysmal.

It is true that it is not a determining factor 100% when choosing a messaging application, it depends a lot on what app they use in your environment. However, the superior user base of WhatsApp means that it will be less likely that you will not find someone and you will be forced to use another app.

Privacy & Security

Just as the goal of a messaging application is to talk to other people, it is important that the message reaches only these people, privately and without being intercepted. It is the most difficult aspect to compare between both applications, since both use a different approach in this respect, and not even the experts agree on which is better.

Both WhatsApp and Telegram have end-to-end encryption, although there is a very important difference: in WhatsApp it is activated by default in all chats, while in Telegram only in secret chats. Normal Telegram chats are still encrypted, but not end-to-end.

While WhatsApp has been using the well-known Signal encryption for years, in Telegram they decided to reinvent the wheel with their own MTProto encryption. Although to date no vulnerabilities have been discovered in MTProto, the community of experts continues to opt for the known protocol rather than the protocol to be known. In any case, even if we equate both ciphers, the essential difference is still there: Telegram does not apply it by default.

Beyond encryption, other factors enter when buying the security and privacy of an application. For example, access control. WhatsApp is about to launch its fingerprint blocking system on Android, but until that happens, the app does not prevent anyone with mobile access from reading all the chats. In Telegram it is possible to protect the chats by PIN and password.

WhatsApp vs Telegram

Now comes the complication: while WhatsApp is more secure in its normal use thanks to end-to-end encryption, private Telegram chats add an optional security layer that you cannot get on WhatsApp in any way, with keyboard in incognito mode, protection against screenshots and self-destruct messages. Here is a summary of the differences in privacy and security between WhatsApp and Telegram.

END-TO-END ENCRYPTION Yes Yes, only in secret chats
PROTECTION OF CHATS Not yet Yes, by password and by PIN (compatible with fingerprints)
SELF-DESTRUCT MESSAGES Do not Yes, in secret chats
KEYBOARD IN INCOGNITO MODE Do not Yes, in secret chats
DELETING MESSAGES Yes, up to 1 hour later Yes, at any time and also the messages received
ACCOUNT LINKED TO PHONE NUMBER Yes Yes, but it is not mandatory

A key point in terms of the privacy of WhatsApp is that, until now, user accounts are firmly linked to phone numbers. You cannot chat to anyone on WhatsApp without having their number, and that is a major privacy issue. You probably share the same number with your grandmother, but for more sporadic conversations – or in groups – phone numbers are charged by the devil.

So, who gets the point? While encryption itself would take WhatsApp to activate it in all chats, when entering into play other factors such as the protection of chats or the ability to delete messages without time limit, not only those you send, but also those that you receive, they settle the balance in favor of Telegram.

Text Chat

Both WhatsApp and Telegram allow you to do a lot of things besides sending text messages (we will see them below), but that remains its main function. It is therefore important to know which of them it bests.

Traditionally WhatsApp has been a somewhat “bland” messaging application, where the most exciting thing you could do in addition to forwarding images was to send a throbbing giant heart, but this has changed a lot lately.

First there were the animated GIFs and then the stickers arrived to give more life and color to the chats. Currently, the experience is very similar in WhatsApp and Telegram.

So much so that what one application does, the other ends up copying before or after. For the computation of this comparison, it does not matter who copies whom, but some recent examples are the gestures to respond or the indicative when a message has been forwarded. No app is obviously better than the other to chat normally, and that’s why we have a draw.

Share with your friends

In addition to sending and receiving text messages, what else can you share on WhatsApp and Telegram? Of course, photos and videos, as well as other less conventional elements such as songs, files of any type or your location, which can be updated in real time in both Telegram and WhatsApp.

With the arrival of stickers to WhatsApp, the differences between what you can send in WhatsApp and Telegram are minimal. In a normal way, the only thing Telegram can send that is not possible with WhatsApp are the video clips.

Now, if we put in the mix the content available through bots, the list is multiplied in Telegram. With them you have access to an infinity of additional content in your chats, from surveys to mini-games or keep informed of the news of your favorite website. Here is a summary of what you can send in one and another app.

RECORDS Yes, any file Yes, any file
LOCATION Yes, also in real time Yes, also in real time

Although the list is very similar in both cases, the difference is in the nuances. For example, Telegram allows you to send files of up to 1.5 GB, which are stored in the cloud “forever”. Although the difference between what you can share between WhatsApp and Telegram is more equal than ever, Telegram takes this point.

Calls and video calls

WhatsApp premiered their video calls three years ago. It’s been so long that there’s been time to give them a twist by adding group video calls last year. Meanwhile, Telegram meanwhile is almost the only messaging application without video calls.

Although the voice calls finally arrived to Telegram, at the moment there is no sign of the video calls. Although in Telegram voice calls it performs quite well and includes advanced functions such as pre-recorded text messages to answer them, in this case the point is clear for WhatsApp. With WhatsApp you do not need an additional app to make video calls, and that is always appreciated.

Multi-platform operation

Sometimes you have your mobile on hand, sometimes you are sitting in front of a PC with a beautiful QWERTY keyboard. Why write on the small screen of the mobile when you can do it more comfortably on the PC? That’s where the convenience of using cross-platform applications comes in, where you can continue what you’re doing on another device.

WhatsApp starts here at a disadvantage because of its different approach: it is not a service in the cloud, but it synchronizes the data from one user to another through servers that do not store the messages per se. This means that you can only use one WhatsApp account on a single device.

Telegram for its part is a service based on the cloud, so you can log in to as many devices as you want. In fact, its open API implies that there are countless Telegram clients for each operating system.

WhatsApp has been using a web and PC version for four years now, but it is simply not the same: it requires that the phone is switched on and connected to the Internet. It is not a standalone version, but a kind of add-on to make it easier to chat from the PC. This is the availability of WhatsApp and Telegram for the different platforms:

IOS Yes Yes
BLACKBERRY OS Do not Yes, but discontinued
SYMBIAN / S40 Do not Yes, but discontinued
KAIOS Do not Yes, in some countries
WINDOWS Yes Yes, synchronized
WEB Yes Yes, synchronized
MAC Yes Yes, synchronized
LINUX Yes Do not

It is not so much a fight over who supports more operating systems, but about the convenience of having a messaging application that you can take with you wherever you want. To this day, this is only possible to do it easily with Telegram, and therefore this point is taken home.


We finish our comparison with a very Android factor: personalization. Which application can be modified more so that it adapts to our tastes and preferences? In WhatsApp, this basically comes down to the WhatsApp Wallpapers app, which was last updated in 2011. The only recent advance on WhatsApp was the inclusion of solid colors as possible funds for the chats.

Telegram sees the bet to change the background of the chats and raise the bet. Its official application is, in fact, one of the most customizable Android, because it allows you to edit the entire theme, changing the colors at your whim. What do you want dark theme? You got it. What do you want Telegram to look like WhatsApp? As well.

Now, another rooster sings when we talk about widgets. WhatsApp is an old dog and has five widgets, while Telegram has none. They have not been updated for years, but there they are in case you want to have the unread chats on your home screen always at hand. In Telegram you can also add shortcuts to chats, but it is not done from the widget selector.

If we put the Telegram theme editor and the WhatsApp widgets in the balance, the theme editor offers greater customization options. When finally WhatsApp includes the dark theme, the applications will be more at par, but in the meantime the point is for Telegram.

WhatsApp vs Telegram: Comparative Table

Before seeing the comparative table with what the different applications offer, it is time to count the scores in all the previous sections. This is how the battle of WhatsApp versus Telegram is:

USERS one 0
TEXT CHAT one one
SHARE 0 one
CALLS one 0

On paper, and for the third year in a row, Telegram is better than WhatsApp. This is demonstrated by taking the point in multiplatform operation, personalization, privacy and security and sharing with your friends. WhatsApp for its part takes the gold medal in calls and video calls and in number of users, where it remains unbeatable.

It is therefore a 5-3 victory for Telegram, although it is true that WhatsApp is slowly approaching news that has recently arrived or is about to arrive, such as stickers, dark mode or fingerprint protection.

Telegram, on the other hand, has more complicated progress in its weak points, because the difference in the number of users is abysmal. The only thing at your fingertips would be to add video calls, one of their big drawbacks still these days.

Of course, this is our score based on all the data analyzed previously, but as a user it is you who must evaluate how important the previous points are to choose the one that best suits you. To help you make the decision, here is a summary table with the features of WhatsApp and Telegram.

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