Signal vs WhatsApp vs Telegram: Which Messaging App Takes the Crown?

signal vs telegram vs whatsapp

You’re spoiled for choice for messaging apps, so which should you use? We go head-to-head with Signal vs WhatsApp vs Telegram in this review.

It’s fair to say that text messaging changed the way we communicate.  The original SMS messaging on phones was only introduced as a gimmick but quickly became one of the most used features. The advent of internet-based messaging apps allowed people to message for free, and we’ve never looked back.

Which messaging app should you use, however? WhatsApp was the app of choice for many, but concerns over privacy have seen people jump ship in recent years. Two of the most popular alternatives are Signal and Telegram, but which of the three apps is better?

Read on as we go head-to-head with Signal vs WhatsApp vs Telegram in this review.

Related Article: What is Telegram?


Some of the biggest issues that will affect your decision when choosing the right messaging app for your needs are security and privacy, so it’s easy to overlook how well each app works as a messaging app in its own right.

We’ll start off by taking a look at how well each handles the core features every messaging app should offer.


Signal allows you to create one-to-one chats with other Signal users to send text or voice messages. You can also add photos and videos, GIFs, and contact cards, and share your location within chats. You can also send documents up to a maximum file size of 100 MB or add stickers to your messages.
signal disappearing messages

Signal has the option to use disappearing messages that will automatically delete after a set period of time. The default options go as low as 30 seconds, or you can set a custom time anywhere from one second to four weeks.


WhatsApp offers very similar features to Signal, with voice and text messaging, the ability to send photos and videos, contact information, and location sharing within messages, as well as stickers. You can send GIFs but they’re a little harder to access than in Signal.

The maximum file size for documents is 2 GB which is significantly more than Signal. Another feature that’s not included in Signal is the ability to create polls in any chat.
whatsapp poll

WhatsApp offers the least options when it comes to disappearing messages. The only settings are 24 hours, 7 days, or 90 days, and there’s no way to set a custom time.


Telegram also offers similar features, with voice and text messaging. You can add photos and videos and send contact information and your location in messages. Polls are available, although only in group chats, and you can add GIFs, although these are again harder to access than in Signal.

Telegram also offers disappearing messages, but the shortest self-destruct time is one day. You can set the custom time anywhere from one day to an entire year.

Like WhatsApp, Telegram allows you to share files up to 2 GB in size. It goes one step further and offers up to 4 GB if you subscribe to Telegram Premium. It makes Telegram the best choice if you’re looking to share large files.

Winner: Telegram

Group Chats

As well as one-to-one messaging, each app also allows you to communicate with multiple people at once.


Signal allows you to create group chats with up to 1000 participants. For group voice or video calls, the limit is reduced to 40.


WhatsApp has a group chat limit of 1024 participants, which is very similar to what Signal offers. For group voice and video calls, the limit is 32.


Telegram allows groups of up to 200,00 members. Yes, you did read that right. You can even create broadcast groups where only the admins can send messages, but you can have an unlimited number of members. For group voice and video calls, there’s a maximum of 30 participants, although up to 1000 people can view the call.

Winner: Telegram


If you’re using a chat app, you want to be sure that your messages are only visible to the people that you want to read them. That’s why security is a key factor when choosing a messaging app.


Signal offers end-to-end encryption of your chats, voice, and video calls by default. It means that the only people who can see your messages are the people who receive them; even Signal can’t access them. Signal uses the Signal protocol for encryption, which, as the name suggests, was developed by the same company.

This is an open-source protocol that has an excellent reputation for secure encryption.
signal sealed sender

In addition, Signal also uses a feature called Sealed Sender. This means that not only is the message itself encrypted, but the sender metadata is also encrypted. The only person who can see who a message is being sent from is the recipient; once again, even Signal can’t see who the sender is.


WhatsApp also offers end-to-end encryption by default. In fact, WhatsApp uses the very same Signal protocol that the Signal app uses. However, there’s no equivalent of the Sealed Sender feature in Signal; the metadata attached to your messages is not encrypted, so it’s much less secure.


Telegram comes off by far the worst in this regard. Messages are encrypted, but only between you and the server and then from the server to the recipient. This means that your private messages sit unencrypted on Telegram’s servers. Telegram itself may be able to see your messages, along with anyone who can gain access to their servers, including law enforcement agencies.

You can use end-to-end encryption for your Telegram messages, but this isn’t turned on by default. You’ll need to start a ‘Secret Chat’ in order to have this level of protection.
telegram secret chat

Telegram also uses its own encryption protocol, called MTProto, rather than the Signal protocol used by Signal and WhatsApp. Earlier versions of this protocol were found to have some security flaws, but these appear to have been addressed in MTProto 2.0.

Winner: Signal


Privacy is one of the major reasons that people left WhatsApp in droves to move to alternatives such as Signal and Telegram. When WhatsApp updated its privacy policy, there was a panic that the app was going to share data with its parent company, Meta (the company behind Facebook).

Although Meta claimed that nothing changed in terms of what data would be shared, by that point, millions of people had signed up to Signal and Telegram. What’s the comparison between Signal vs WhatsApp vs Telegram when it comes to privacy?


Signal promotes itself as being focused on privacy, and it certainly lives up to this focus. As we’ve already learned, Signal’s encryption ensures that even sender metadata is end-to-end encrypted and inaccessible—even by the company itself.

In a 2021 FBI report, the security service confirmed that even with subpoenas and court orders, the only information that they could access from Signal was the date that an account was registered and the last time that it was used.

No other information was accessible for the simple reason that thanks to encryption, Signal simply didn’t have it.
signal shared info

Another useful measure of privacy is the information on the Apple App Store about the data that each app collects. For the Signal app, the only data collected was contact information, and that information is not linked to your identity.


WhatsApp does use end-to-end encryption, but metadata is not encrypted.

The FBI report revealed that the security service gained access to various types of information. This included basic subscriber records, address book contacts, details about blocked users, and users who had the target in their contacts.

Additionally, the report mentioned that the service obtained data about the source and destination of each message, as well as limited message content.

whatsapp data linked to you

The WhatsApp app can collect a huge amount of information, all of which may be linked to your identity. This includes purchases, location information, contacts, identifiers, diagnostics, financial information, contact information, user content, and usage data.


Telegram fell somewhere between the two in the FBI report, with no access to message content, but it stated that Telegram might disclose IP addresses and phone numbers to the relevant authorities as part of a confirmed terrorist investigation.

Since Telegram does not use end-to-end encryption, it also has significant amounts of information that could be accessible should there be a data breach.
telegram shared info

Telegram also fell in the middle in terms of the data the app collects. This data may be linked to your identity and includes purchase, location, contacts, identifiers, financial information, contact information, and user content.

Winner: Signal

Signal vs WhatsApp vs Telegram: The Verdict

There are a few things that will impact your decision when choosing a messaging app. Privacy and security are key decisions, but additional features also come into play if you’re looking for an app that can do specific things. Another key factor is the apps that your friends are using, as there’s no pointing using an app that no one you know is on.

So, your ultimate choice may differ from ours, but our ranking is as follows:

Winner: Signal

Signal saw millions join in the wake of the WhatsApp privacy update, and with good reason. It’s an app that genuinely cares about keeping your private messages private. Not only does it offer end-to-end encryption, but it even encrypts your metadata.

The only data the company can access is the date of account creation and the date of last use. With all the key features you’d expect from a good messaging app, if you want to keep your information safe and secure, then Signal is the strongest choice.

Second Place: Telegram

Telegram doesn’t offer anywhere near the levels of security and privacy that Signal does. It doesn’t even offer end-to-end encryption by default. However, this allows it to offer significant features that the other apps can’t match.

Telegram allows for huge group chats, broadcast channels with unlimited members, and other useful features such as bot integrations and voice chat rooms.

If you’re willing to sacrifice the strong security offered by Signal, then Telegram can offer things that other messaging apps can’t.

Third Place: WhatsApp

It may be the case that the updated privacy policy didn’t grant WhatsApp any new powers to share your data with Meta. That said, it’s still the app of these three that collects the most information about you. It can also be compelled to share a significant amount of it with law enforcement.

WhatsApp’s privacy policy confirms that it can collect a huge amount of information about you, including your IP address, device identifiers, browser information, mobile network information, groups that you are in, and even your battery level.

WhatsApp offers great messaging features, but if privacy is important to you, then there are better options out there.

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