Choosing an instant messaging service depends on what the people around you are using rather than what you want. In that sense, WhatsApp is the most prominent of all chat services. However, if you are still looking for an alternative, here’s to break it up in 1 simple line.
WhatsApp is for extroverts whereas Telegram is for introverts.
The reason I moved to Telegram was quite simple. I am an introvert and I don’t want people to add me in random groups and send innumerable spam messages. So, Telegram’s small user base catered exactly to my needs. To further elaborate my point, here is what makes these two stand apart.
The primary goal of both WhatsApp and Telegram is to help users communicate. Hence, there are tons of common features in both of these. The basic features like personal chats and group support are present on both platforms. Users can also access the messages on multiple devices with the help of app and web variants. There are other similar features as well but varying in the values. For instance, both allow file transfers but WhatsApp has a file limit of 100 Mb whereas Telegram allows sending of 1 GB of data with ease.
Pretty much both the apps offer decent voice calling but it has hardly replaced my normal calls. Themes also play a huge role in the user interface but with Telegram, I have more room for customization. The “Chat Settings” give you options like color theme, rounded corners, etc.
What’s good in WhatsApp
1. WhatsApp has more users
Every chat app is made from ground up by its users. The more the number, the easy it is to connect with people. To put it in perspective, when I moved away from WhatsApp, it was impossible for me to ask everyone in my contact list to move to Telegram. So I decided to rather invite people I communicate with on a daily basis. This is simple if dealing with one person or a closed group of people. In case you’re planning to do the same with a large group, it’s impossible to even think of inviting so many people.
WhatsApp has become more of a social media rather than a private messaging app.
WhatsApp has become a social media in itself with 2 billion users as compared to Telegram’s meager 200 million and hence annoying if you want to stay off the radar. In recent times, due to the advent of WhatsApp Business, I’ve also encountered local businesses rushing to WhatsApp. This has caused unnecessary spams, annoying catalogs, and bulk promotions.
2. WhatsApp has video calling and statuses
Few features are so much embedded in my life that I often ignore them until I move away from them. The same goes for WhatsApp’s video calling and statuses, which telegram lacks. I’m not bothered about the status because not many people use it but video calling is something you can’t ignore. WhatsApp not only lets you video call personal contacts but you can also connect up to 4 users in a group video call. The video calling is seamless and you can switch from a voice call to a video call in a jiffy. All your voice and video call logs are kept in the same place.
Unlike Telegram, What’sApp has in-built Status and Video Calling feature.
Currently, I’ve resorted to Google Duo but I still face the same issue. None of my friends are on Google Duo and to be frank, it’s tedious to have an extra app for video calling.
3. WhatsApp has better default privacy features
This specific topic is always contentious and has been frequently discussed on Reddit. Technically, Telegram in the dumbest sense doesn’t have end-to-end encryption in the normal chat. So every time you want added security, you’ll have to deal with Telegram’s “Secret Chat” option, which for some people is an unnecessary step.
What’sApp features default end-to-end encryption while Telegram has a Secret Chat option
On the other hand, WhatsApp has end-to-end encryption enabled by default. It uses the Signal Protocol, designed by Open Whisper Systems. However, WhatsApp has other security issues to solve as well with several data breaches in the past. Two of those that got my attention were injecting Israeli spyware using voice calls and the infamous Jeff Bezos hacking scandal.
What’s good in Telegram
1. Telegram has fewer users
I know I have said this enough times in the article. But, that’s the primary reason I moved on to Telegram. Due to the lesser number of people, there are even fewer approaching me. Basically, I want the messaging app to be exclusive. I wanted only personal chats and no group messages.
2. Telegram has Secret Chat
First things first, there are some features that are exclusive to Telegram and those have kept me hooked. One of them is “Secret Chat”. It’s different from a normal chat and is a great option if you want added security. It not only provides end-to-end encrypted but it is device-specific. This simply means that if you start a secret chat on one device, it can only be accessed on that specific device. In terms of encryption, Telegram uses a combination of AES-256, RSA-2048, Diffie-Helman, etc.
Secret Chat provides end-to-end encryption, send self destructing messages and prohibits screen-shot.
Note: I couldn’t take the chat screenshot because “Secret Chat”.
Moreover, there is absolutely no limit on the number of secret chats you can create with a user. It’s great if you have two many fragile topics to discuss with one person. Secret chat is also secret in the most literate sense. You will lose all the chats when you log out. Added features like no option to forward text, self-destructing messages, and no screenshot mode make sure that it remains a secret. I even tried screen recording but all I could get was a black screen.
3. Telegram has channels instead of broadcasts
Groups are an easy way to chat and share media with friends and family. On one hand, WhatsApp has groups and broadcast messages whereas Telegram has groups and channels. On WhatsApp, a group or broadcast message is limited to 256 users whereas on Telegram, you get a 200,000 limit on the group messages and unlimited on a channel.
Large Organization can dispense information using Channels. For instance, New York Times Channel for daily news.
WhatsApp’s Broadcasts is where the problem starts. The broadcast messages show up on the recipient’s personal chat. The recipient cannot determine other recipients on the broadcast. Moreover, broadcasts totally lack admin control. Telegram, on the other hand, has a different take on broadcasts. They have channels with subscribers, unlike broadcast messages that have recipients. Anyone can check the number of subscribers in a channel and even check if it’s a public one.
You can make your own private channel or even follow specific channels like news. There are plenty of organizations that feed information to it’s dedicated subscriber base with channels. For instance, I have subscribed to the New York Times, therefore I get daily updates including instant view where I don’t have to exit the app to view the content.
4. Telegram has more cross-platform apps
There are so many devices that we use and it makes no sense to manage more than two devices to chat. WhatsApp’s solution to this is a web-based platform that you can use in conjunction with your phone which for me is a huge drawback. This is where Telegram takes the lead. It is available on both Android and iOS and has a web version as well. Moreover, you can download standalone apps for PC, Mac and even Linux, so there is no stone unturned.
Telegram has standalone apps for PC, Mac and Linux in addition to iOS and Android
Similar to WhatsApp, Telegram also shows your current logged-in devices in the settings menu. But, it adds a bonus by sending login details like date, time and IP address details to you in a personal chat. Hence you don’t have to juggle between a phone and a PC screen nor do you have to be bothered about privacy.
What would I choose?
Well to be true, I love that there aren’t a lot of people on Telegram. It is exactly the reason I migrated in the first place. If you’re an inwards looking person, you love to have privacy and you are not too overwhelmed with multiple groups like WhatsApp, Telegram is certainly a place to look for nirvana. You’ve several added features like Channels, Secret Chats and being able to send huge files, which is sufficient for my usage. WhatsApp, on the other hand, should be your choice if you don’t want to get into the fuzz of inviting people to download the app and can’t live without the video calling feature. What would you choose?