Signal vs. WhatsApp: Should You Make The Leap?

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Some people have made the leap from WhatsApp to Signal, but should you follow them? This Signal vs. Whatsapp head-to-head will help you decide.

If you’re a WhatsApp user, you may understandably have concerns about how the app uses your personal data. When WhatsApp updated its privacy policy, millions of people made the switch to alternative apps. These apps offered similar features without needing access to all of your personal information. One of the biggest beneficiaries was Signal, which saw so many new sign-ups that it crashed the Signal servers.

If you’re thinking of leaving WhatsApp, you may be wondering if moving to Signal is the right move. Can it offer you the same features you already love in WhatsApp? Is it really that much more secure or private?

Read on for a head-to-head comparison of Signal vs. WhatsApp.


If you’re already a WhatsApp user, you want to be sure that whichever app you move to offers you the same or similar features to what you’re already getting. If you’re new to both apps, you’ll want to know how their features stack up. Let’s take a look at the key features in turn.


This is the bread and butter of any messaging app. How do Signal and WhatsApp compare when it comes to messaging?

Well, the answer is that they both offer a very similar set of features. Both allow you to send messages that are end-to-end encrypted. That means that no one other than the recipient can read what you write, not even Signal or WhatsApp themselves.

As well as messages you can also send photos, GIFs, files, contact information, and locations. One feature that WhatsApp currently has that Signal doesn’t have is the ability to create polls. This isn’t a huge dealbreaker, however.
whatsapp poll

One major difference between WhatsApp and Signal is that in Signal, your metadata is also encrypted. That means that information about who the message is only available to the recipient; even Signal can’t read this information. In comparison, WhatsApp has complete access to this type of metadata as we’ll see later in the article.

Group Chats

Both apps also allow you to create group chats with multiple users. Currently, WhatsApp allows up to 1,024 people per chat, and Signal allows up to 1,000. Both Signal and WhatsApp use end-to-end encryption for group chats as well as one-to-one chats.

Voice and Video

As well as sending text messages, you can also use both apps to make voice and video calls. Once again, both apps offer end-to-end encryption when making voice or video calls. This means that no one can listen to or watch your calls other than the person or persons that you’re making the call with.


As already mentioned, both apps use end-to-end encryption to protect the content of your messages. The only people who can read your messages are you and the people you are sending them to. Even WhatsApp and Signal can’t read them.

Signal uses an encryption protocol called the Signal protocol which was developed by the company and is the foundation of its messaging app. This is an open-source protocol meaning that anyone can examine the code to look for flaws, but it also means that other apps are free to use the protocol, too.

And that’s exactly what WhatsApp has done. Since 2021, WhatsApp has used the Signal protocol in its own app. In other words, whether you’re using Signal or WhatsApp, the apps use the same encryption protocol and so should offer a similar level of security.
signal sealed sender

WhatsApp, however, doesn’t make use of what Signal calls Sealed Sender in which the metadata of the sender is also encrypted and can only be accessed by the recipient. Since this metadata is not encrypted in WhatsApp, it is far less secure.


One of the key reasons that people have been leaving WhatsApp for apps such as Signal and Telegram is because WhatsApp updated its privacy policy. There was a panic that the new terms meant WhatsApp would share more of its users’ data with parent company Meta – then still known as Facebook. The company issued a clarification that the new policy did not include any new data collection policies. Unfortunately, many people had already deserted WhatsApp for more privacy-focused apps at that point.

Regardless of whether the privacy policy changed anything or not, a quick glance through it uncovers some worrying facts. For example, WhatsApp can see unencrypted information such as your profile picture and About information and it may be possible to identify you from this data. WhatsApp also collects the names and descriptions of any groups you are part of.

WhatsApp can also collect a huge amount of information about your usage of the app. This includes your activity if you search for and interact with a business, whether you’re online, and the times you sent or received calls and messages.

The data collection doesn’t stop there. WhatsApp can also collect information on the device that you’re using, such as the hardware model, OS, battery level, mobile network, ISP, and most worryingly, your IP address and other identifiers.
whatsapp privacy poicy

In comparison, Signal states that it is ‘designed to never collect or store any sensitive information’ and its privacy policy backs that up. Personal information such as your profile name and profile picture are end-to-end encrypted, so Signal has no access to them. You can opt to allow Signal access to your contacts, but even if you do so, the information is cryptographically hashed before transmission to the server.

If you want a visual comparison of the differences in data that each app collects on you, then a quick glance at the privacy information in the Apple App Store is very telling. Signal only collects contact information, and uses encryption so that it’s impossible to link directly to you.
signal shared info

In contrast, WhatsApp has access to information about your purchases, location, contacts, identifiers, diagnostics, financial info, contact info, user content, and usage data.
whatsapp data linked to you

Data Sharing

It’s clear that WhatsApp collects a huge amount of data on its users, and that Signal collects virtually none. But how safe is that data? An FBI report from 2021 was quite an eye-opener. It listed the information that the FBI was able to gain access to from the most popular messaging apps, through court orders, subpoenas, or other methods.

The document states that the only information the FBI could get from Signal was the date of account creation and the most recent access date. This is because this is the only data that Signal holds; everything else is encrypted and inaccessible.

In comparison, the FBI was able to access a huge range of data from WhatsApp. This included basic subscriber records, information such as blocked users, address book contacts, and other WhatsApp users who have the target of the request in their contacts. Additional information, such as the source and destination for each message, and most worryingly of all, limited message content, was also accessible.


Another major issue when it comes to privacy is knowing exactly how apps use your data. Both companies have very different approaches here.

Signal collects virtually no data at all, so it has no benefit from selling that data to third parties. In addition, the company runs as a not-for-profit enterprise. It only needs to generate enough money to cover its costs, which it currently does through donations.

WhatsApp is part of Meta, a company that most certainly wants to make money and does so very successfully. The privacy policy indicates that WhatsApp shares your data with other Meta companies. This data includes things such as how you interact with businesses, mobile device information, your IP address, and more.

Meta uses this information to ‘provide a personalized experience’ which includes targeted ads. While the information may not be directly shared with third parties, it is clear that companies are paying Meta to use your personal information to target their ads. They’re making money from the data that they harvest from your WhatsApp account.


When it comes to features, both apps are very similar, with little to choose between them. The biggest differences appear when it comes to privacy. Signal attempts to encrypt as much information as possible so that even the company itself can’t see who sent a message. WhatsApp takes the opposite approach and ensures that while your messages are hidden, your personal data ends up on their servers.

If your focus is privacy, then there’s really no contest—Signal is by far the better option. If you’re not concerned about Meta harvesting a lot of your personal data, and using it to turn a profit, then there’s no reason why you can’t stick with WhatsApp.

One key factor in your final decision has nothing to do with the apps’ features or privacy. Your choice may ultimately depend on the app that more of your friends and family are using. There’s no point in having great privacy features if you don’t have anyone to message. That said, if your friends are concerned about privacy, it’s easy to make the switch from WhatsApp to Signal.

Learn More About Messaging

If you’re comparing Signal vs. WhatsApp, then the chances are that you may be considering switching from one to the other. Both offer a similar feature set, so your decision will ultimately come down to how important privacy is to you, and how many people you know are using each app.

These aren’t the only messaging apps out there, however. If you’re a fan of Facebook Messenger, you can add end-to-end encryption by using Secret Conversations. If you prefer iMessage but you’re tired of messages popping up on your Mac as well as your iPhone, you can learn how to mute iMessage on Mac.

Alternatively, you can check out Telegram if you’re looking for a messaging app that plays nicely with bots, but be sure to consider the differences between Signal and Telegram first.

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