Telegram Review: An Alternative Messaging App

What are the key features of the popular Telegram messaging app and are they any good? Learn more in this Telegram review.

When WhatsApp updated its privacy policy in 2021, people jumped ship in their thousands, looking for apps that were more focused on privacy. One of the biggest beneficiaries of this phenomenon was Telegram. The messaging app gained a big following and had more than 700 million users at the start of 2023.

Telegram is a little different from many of its rivals. As well as the standard messaging features, it offers some unique features that you can’t get in most other messaging apps.

Learn about some of the key features of the app in this Telegram review.


The key purpose of any messaging app is, to state the obvious, sending messages. Unsurprisingly, Telegram does this in a very similar manner to other messaging apps. If you’ve used WhatsApp before, you’ll know how to use Telegram from the offset.

When messaging, you can add other content aside from text. You can add photos and videos from your photo library or take one directly within the app. Telegram also has some surprisingly good photo editing tools that you can use before you send the image, including tinting, vignetting, and even tilt shift tools.
telegram photo editing

You can add files up to 2 GB in size, and since Telegram keeps your conversations on its servers, you don’t have to worry about large files clogging up your phone storage. Just clear your cache on your phone, and the files in your chats can be redownloaded at any time. It’s a handy way of storing large files if you don’t have much space on your phone.

Within chats, you can also share your live location. You can opt to share your current location or set your location to live for up to eight hours, meaning anyone in the chat can see where you are and where you go. It’s also possible to share contact details within chats, and you can also create polls, but only within group chats.
telegram gifs

And of course, you can add GIFs, although this isn’t as easy to do as it is on some messaging apps. You’ll need to tap on the Stickers icon and then select the GIFs tab before searching for the GIF you want. Alternatively, you can use the GIF bot by typing @gif followed by your GIF search term.

Group Chats

As well as chatting one-to-one, you can also create groups where multiple people can chat together. Apps such as WhatsApp and Signal have limits of around 1,000 people per chat, but with Telegram, you can have as many as 200,000.
telegram group

Group chats allow you to send text messages or make voice or video calls. Up to 30 people can participate in the call, and as many as 1,000 can watch without joining in.

Another way to interact via voice in a group is to create a voice chat. This allows anyone in the group to talk whenever they wish, without the need to answer a call. Anyone in the group can drop in and out of the voice chat, and anyone in the group can listen in without needing to participate.


Channels are like groups where only one person can talk. The creator of the group can post content, and anyone subscribed to the group can see it. They can’t reply, however; this is a one-way street. Channels are a great way to promote a business or keep people up to date with news without the message getting lost in a flood of replies.

Unlike group chats, there are no limits on how many people can subscribe to a channel. You can search for channels through the Telegram app, although it’s not immediately obvious how to do so. On the main chat page, you need to pull down to reveal a search field. Searching in this field will bring a range of results, including media, links, and files, but also Telegram channels.

The terms of service state that you shouldn’t post ‘illegal pornographic content on publicly viewable Telegram channels’, but it didn’t take long to find channels through the search that had pornographic content on them.

The more effective way to find channels is to search online—there are websites dedicated to providing directories of Telegram channels. If you want to join a private channel, you’ll need an invitation link.
telegram channel

Creating your own channels, whether public or private, is as simple as setting up a group. Create a new channel, give it a name, invite some contacts or send out an invite link, and start posting.


Telegram bots are basically small apps that run within Telegram. Thanks to Telegram’s Bot API, developers can build their own bots for use in Telegram. This has led to the creation of hundreds of thousands of bots that offer a wide range of different uses.

There are bots that send you alerts and reminders, bots that allow you to make or accept payments, bots that can bring you the latest news, and bots that allow you to send messages at a specified time. Some of these bots can be incredibly useful and are a big reason that people may choose Telegram over other messaging apps that don’t offer bot integrations.
telegram bot

Whilst bots can add some incredibly useful features to Telegram, you should also be aware of the risks. Security researchers found that Telegram bots don’t use the same encryption that is used for protecting your chats. Telegram released a pretty snippy blog post dismissing these findings and stating that if you could hack HTTPS, you should go and steal billions from a bank.

But then if HTTPS is sufficiently secure to protect your bot data, why use MTProto 2.0 encryption for Telegram messages at all? Our advice is to use bots at your own risk and not share any sensitive information, such as card numbers or bank details.

Telegram Premium

Although the key features of Telegram are free to use, you can opt to sign up for Telegram premium. It is currently $3.99 per month or $4.99 if you sign up via an in-app purchase through the Apple App Store.

Telegram Premium adds additional features, including:

  • All ads removed
  • Doubled limits for groups and channels, pinned chats, saved GIFs, folders, and connected accounts
  • Faster download speeds
  • Voice-to-text conversion within chats
  • Animated emoji and emoji statuses
  • Maximum size of uploaded files doubled to 4 GB
  • Real-time translation within chats

Frustratingly, some privacy features are only accessible to Telegram Premium subscribers. For example, in the Privacy settings, you can restrict who can send you messages or call you to people who are in your contacts, or even to nobody at all. However, anybody on Telegram can send you unsolicited voice messages; only subscribers of Telegram Premium can restrict receiving voice messages.

The Telegram FAQ states that the company believes in fast, secure, and 100% free messaging, so it’s frustrating to find that a key privacy setting is only accessible to paid subscribers.


Telegram uses client-to-server encryption rather than the more secure end-to-end encryption used by competitors such as Signal and WhatsApp. You can start a Secret Chat which is end-to-end encrypted, but this only works for one-to-one chats, and if you do so you can only access the chat on the device that you started it on.
telegram secret chat

Telegram also uses its own proprietary MTProto 2.0 encryption rather than the more tried-and-tested Signal protocol that is used by both Signal and WhatsApp. The previous iteration of this protocol was found to have security flaws, although these have been addressed in the current version. MTProto 2.0 is open source, but the encryption used on the server is not. This is a concern since Telegram uses client-to-server encryption, meaning that your data is more vulnerable when on Telegram’s server.


Telegram’s privacy policy states that it can collect and store some of your metadata, including your IP address, information about your devices, and the Telegram apps you use. A history of username changes may also be stored. This information can be kept for up to 12 months.

A 2021 FBI report indicated that the security service is able to potentially access some of this information, with Telegram stating that it may provide information such as IP addresses and phone numbers as part of a verified terrorist investigation. This information could be used to identify you.
telegram shared info

The Telegram app also collects a significant amount of information, and this information could be linked to your identity.

Choosing the Right Messaging App

Hopefully, this Telegram review has helped you to decide whether Telegram is the right message app for your needs.

You’ll need to weigh whether the lower levels of security and privacy outweigh the additional features, such as channels and huge groups, compared to some competitors. Your final decision may also come down to which apps your friends and family are using.

If you’re looking to leave WhatsApp for something more private and secure, then you might want to learn how to move from WhatsApp to Signal. If you’re an iPhone user, you can learn how to turn off iMessage on your iPhone and Mac if you no longer want to use it. And if you’re definitely jumping ship, you can learn how to delete your WhatsApp account.

Can’t decide between them all? Check out our Signal vs Whatsapp vs Telegram comparison review next.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Jimmy F.

    July 3, 2023 at 2:46 am

    Another interesting aspect of Telegram is that it allows developers to build ‘alternative’ telegram client apps. These apps access the same messaging data on the Telegram servers but developers can add additional functionality or change the layout of the user interface. There are many of these alternative clients on iOS and Google app stores. One of them is ‘iMe Messenger’ which adds a pretty decent non custodial crypto wallet right into Telegram. This enables crypto to be sent and received in a couple of clicks using phone numbers rather than long crypto wallet addresses.

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