What is Telegram? A Complete Guide to the Popular Messaging App

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What is the Telegram Messenger App and is it secure? What platforms does it support and what are its main features? We have all the answers!

When WhatsApp updated its privacy policy in 2021, people became concerned about the app sharing data with its parent company, Meta. Many people jumped ship, and one of the apps that benefited greatly was the Telegram App, which had a significant spike in subscriber numbers and is now one of the top messaging apps on the market.

What is Telegram, exactly? It’s a secure messaging app with core features similar to WhatsApp and Signal. You can communicate via text, voice, and video and chat one-on-one or in groups of multiple people.

Since the communication is transmitted over the internet, the app is free to use. Unlike most of its rivals, however, it also offers a paid tier called Telegram Premium, which we will look at in more detail below.

What Makes Telegram Different?

There are numerous chat apps available, but Telegram is a little different from most of them, thanks to some of its unique features.


Apps like WhatsApp and Signal allow you to create group chats with around 1,000 participants. For people who are just using the apps socially, this is usually more than enough.

In contrast, the Telegram App allows you to create groups with up to 200,000 members, all of whom can both read and write messages to the group.
telegram group

This allows the creation of groups that are more like communities, where like-minded people who don’t necessarily know each other can interact.

Broadcast Channels

Telegram takes things one step further with broadcast channels. A broadcast channel allows the creator to send messages to an unlimited number of people who subscribe to the channel. This is a one-way system; the creator can broadcast to all the subscribers, but they can’t reply.
telegram channel

This is a great feature for businesses that want to be able to keep people updated about their business without their message getting lost in a host of replies.

Voice Chats

Most messaging apps allow you to make group voice and video calls, but Telegram takes things a little further with Voice Chats. Unlike a voice call, where everyone needs to answer the call at the same time, Voice Chats allows you to create a live chat within a group chat that anyone can join in with at any time.

You’re free to leave the room and continue messaging in other chats and then return to the room again and rejoin the voice chat. You can also opt to listen to the chat rather than join in. These chats can accommodate thousands of participants, so they are ideal for large groups.


Telegram also allows you to use bots within your chats. These bots are like tiny apps that work within your chats and can add valuable functions. They cover everything from bots that can find you hotels to bots that can send you reminders directly within your chat. You can even develop your own bots using its bot API.

telegram bot

If you’re not a DEV, however, no worries. The app has a strong community with over 10 million bots already created.

Telegram Premium

Another significant way the messaging app differs from its competitors is its paid tier. Although the core services are free, if you pay the monthly subscription, additional features are available to you.
telegram premium perks

Premium Details:

  • $2.41/month for the annual plan or $3.99/month through the app
  • $4.99/month if purchased through an App Store
  • Stories – Unlimited posting, priority order, stealth mode, permanent view history and more
  • Doubled limits on channels, folders, public links, and accounts (1000 channels, 30 folders, 10 pins, 20 public links, 4 accounts, etc)
  • Doubled limits on file sizes, allowing files up to 4 GB
  • Voice-to-text conversion
  • Faster download speeds
  • Real-Time Translations
  • Animated emoji
  • Emoji Statuses
  • Tags for Messages
  • Wallpapers for Both sides of the chat
  • Profile Badge
  • Advanced Chat Management
  • No Ads
  • Infinite Reactions
  • Animated Profile Pictures
  • Premium Stickers

How Does Telegram Compare to Other Apps?

The features above aren’t offered by many of Telegram’s competitors, such as WhatsApp and Signal. A crucial reason why it can offer these features is that it works a little differently.

WhatsApp and Signal both use end-to-end encryption. Your message is securely encrypted when you send it, and it doesn’t get decrypted until it reaches the recipient’s device. That means that when it passes through WhatsApp or Signal’s servers, it’s still encrypted, and the company can’t access its content.

Telegram, however, encrypts your messages, but only between the sender and the server and then from the server to the recipient. The message is not encrypted when on Telegram’s servers. This means that it can offer useful features, such as being able to store large files for you without filling up your phone’s storage space or accessing your messages from a new device.

The downside of this, however, is obvious—your messages are far less secure. Telegram can read the content of your messages if it wishes, and if there is a data breach, your unencrypted messages may also be at risk.

To solve this issue, it’s possible to use end-to-end encryption using Secret Chats. However, doing so removes some of the features that set Telegram apart from the competition. For example, you can only access Secret Chats on the device you started them on. Secret Chats are also only available for one-to-one chats and not for groups. Also, Secret Chat is only available on mobile devices. Desktop clients are not supported.

In Signal, end-to-end encryption is used for all chats, including group chats.

telegram shared info

Telegram also isn’t as private as some messaging apps. While it doesn’t harvest as much data as WhatsApp, it’s significantly less private than Signal.

What Devices Does Telegram Support?

The majority of mobile and desktop platforms are supported, including Android, iPhone, iPad, Windows, macOS, and Linux. The only thing you’ll need is a valid phone number.

If you don’t want to install a standalone desktop app, you can also use the app through a web browser, and there are even extensions for Chrome and Edge. Unless you’re making a Secret Chat, you can pick up any chat on any device.

How to Install Telegram

You can install Telegram on your mobile from the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. You can also download desktop versions for Windows, macOS, and Linux.

To start using the app, follow the on-screen instructions and enter your phone number. A verification code will be sent to your phone. Enter this code and choose a display name. Telegram will also require access to your contacts so that it can find other Telegram users that you know. Once the setup is complete, you’re ready to start messaging.

Choose the Right Messaging App for You

Do you still have questions? I use Telegram daily, so please feel free to ask your question in the comments and I’ll be happy to fill in any gaps I missed in the article.

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