Telegram vs Signal: Which messaging app is better?

Telegram vs Signal

Telegram vs Signal is one of the latest comparisons between messaging apps. Telegram and Signal both have their weak points and strong points. Since last year when WhatsApp forced users to share data with Facebook, many users resolved to turn to other free messaging platforms for communication.

Telegram and Signal are two of the most popular alternatives and are the top two encrypted messaging applications.

There are a few key differences, however, between the two apps which will likely make them the right choice for different users. This article compares both applications side by side to see which one comes up top.

Telegram vs Signal: Which app is more secure?

In terms of security, Signal is the obvious winner.

For starters, all messages on Signal by default are end-to-end encrypted, meaning that only you and the person you are chatting with have access to your messages.

On the contrary, only some Telegram messages and voice calls are end-to-end encrypted. The others are practically visible to law enforcement, Telegram employees, and others. More details on the message types on both apps will be discussed in later sections below.

Flaws on Signal’s encryption protocol can be easily found and fixed as it is open source i.e available for all to see and examine. This is the same encryption WhatsApp uses.

Telegram’s encryption protocol is open-source on the client-side, it uses its own MTProto 2.0 protocol and has a limited track record compared to Signal’s.

Telegram collects far more data on its users than Signal does. Signal stores only the last time you connected and the date of creation of your account. Telegram stores your IP address (by extension your location) as well as when and who you are chatting with. Telegram needs to access your contacts before allowing you to message anyone but with Signal, you can start chatting by typing another person’s number.

Telegram vs Signal: Features

When it comes to chatting options: Both apps have similar features.

Individual messages:

Signal’s individual messages have end-to-end encryption but Telegram’s one-on-one chats are not. If you want your communications to be end-to-end encrypted, you’ll need to start a Secret Chat.

Group chats:

There are group messaging options on both platforms. Telegram is not end-to-end encrypted but Signal is, and there is no Secret Chat equivalent for groups. Signal can include up to 1,000 group users while Telegram accommodates up to 200,000 group members.

Voice and video calls:

Voice and video calling features are available on both platforms. Signal’s individual or group voice calls (up to 40 users) are encrypted.

Telegram’s one on one video calling is end-to-end encrypted and it also has a voice-chat feature that allows group conversations to be held and members can join and leave. Telegram’s voice chats are encrypted on the client-side but not end-to-end. This implies that someone with access to Telegram’s servers can listen in.

Disappearing messages:

You can set messages, both individual and on a group chat in Signal, to disappear within anything from a few seconds to one week. A similar self-destruct option is available on Telegram for both regular and Secret Chat.

With its Channel function, Telegram operates more like a social media network. Users can broadcast messages – like text, files, photos, and videos to an unlimited number of subscribers. It is one-way communication and subscribers cannot respond to channel messages. Channels can be Private/Invite-only or public.

Telegram vs Signal: Ease of use and Installation 

Both applications are relatively easy to install: Download the software for your designated platform, complete your registration by entering your phone number, and enter the verification code received through SMS.

Your first name is required to finalize your profile for both platforms, but it doesn’t have to be your real name. An alias can be used, or an emoji – in Signal. You will be asked if you want app permissions enabled.

Signal then requires you to create a PIN, an optional step but recommended. You can do the same with Telegram under Settings > Privacy & Security > Passcode Lock.

To enable a desktop version of either app, you must first set up your account via the mobile app. Telegram and Signal both have an in-app QR code to link to other devices.

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Telegram vs Signal: Device support

Telegram edges Signal in this category, with Windows Phone support as well as a Chrome Browser extension and full web-based options.

Both Telegram and Signal are available on the following platforms:

  • Android  
  • iOS  
  • Windows 
  • Linux 
  • macOS  

Telegram vs. Signal: User Experience

Telegram is the front runner in this category, as it has many more options to customize your experience. Tons of adjustable settings are present and you can play around with color themes, font sizes, notifications, animations, and emojis.

Telegram creates a playlist that can be launched in its in-built media player when you send multiple song files at once. You can also edit photos and videos and view other users who are near you physically with People Nearby.

Signal has a much simpler design with the focus mainly on sending basic text, voice messages, and media securely. Although animated stickers were recently introduced, adding to its available emojis. Signal does not require too much navigation and is relatively easy to navigate.

Telegram vs Signal: Comparisons between app features

TelegramSignal
EncryptionSome end-to-end options using the MTProto 2.0 protocolEnd-to-end by default using the Signal Protocol
Messaging typesIndividual, group, channels, video, voiceIndividual, group, video, voice
Data collectedPhone number, contacts, IP addressNone except phone number
Self-destruct messagingYes, for Secret Chats onlyYes, for all chats
CustomizationExtensiveLimited
CostFreeFree
Telegram vs Signal

Telegram vs. Signal: Trendspickers Final Verdict

In conclusion, choosing between Telegram and Signal depends on your priorities and preferences. If encryption and security are your top priority, Signal is the option to go with.

If you only want encrypted messages occasionally and use features common with social-network-style, then Telegram may be the better option. Just be sure to select Telegram’s Secret Chat option to enable your communications to be end-to-end encrypted.

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