Popular chat apps, WhatsApp vs Telegram have had a bromance that goes back to Telegram’s founding in 2013. Starting out as a harmless WhatsApp clone, Telegram soon established itself as a contender for the top spot. Unfortunately, it was too little too late. Telegram, a gatecrasher, too late to the mass adoption party has since then lagged much further behind. By then, WhatsApp had already entrenched itself in our everyday lives, that we would be hardpressed to remember a time without it.
WhatsApp vs Telegram: Users + Monetization
Back in 2014, WhatsApp was yet to crack the monetization formula when Facebook swooped in and bought it for a staggering $19 Billion. Three years down the road and the winning formula is yet to be cracked. Same goes for Telegram which remains a force to be reckoned with. WhatsApp’s 1 billion users make up 1 in every 7 people on the globe. Buoyed by Facebook limitless resources, WhatsApp can choose to play the long game as they figure out a way to milk their users.
As for Telegram, the 100+ million users are merely a drop in the ocean. However, Telegram has shown, time and again, that it can come up with novel ways to please their cult following. Many features that WhatsApp users enjoy have been commonplace on Telegram for a while now. With the maturation of Telegram Bots, it’s only a matter of time before Telegram figures out how to monetize.
Related post: Seven reasons I chose Telegram App over WhatsApp
WhatsApp vs Telegram features
At the baseline, most chat apps serve the same purpose. They should be able to send and receive messages, and media so as to foster communication. Add the internet to the mix and this communication transcends geographical borders.
It’s considered fair game and actual standard practice in the industry to copy features from other apps. When you look at WhatsApp vs Telegram, both have unabashedly done their fair share of this. However, at some point, certain features come to embody the personality of an app. Have a look at Telegram’s underlying blue theme, and contrast it with WhatsApp’s deep green. The aim of our post isn’t to talk about such cosmetics. Let’s have a look at the inherent features that make up these apps.
|WhatsApp vs Telegram: Features Comparison||Telegram|
|Cloud sync||YES~ Requires active internet on phone||YES|
|Edit Sent Messages||NO||YES~ Up to 48 hours|
|End-to-End Encryption||YES~ by Default||YES~ via Secret Chats|
|File Sending (any format)||Up to 100 MB||Up to 1.5 GB|
|Internal Media Player||YES||YES|
|Live Location/Location sending||YES||YES|
|Memory Usage Manager||YES||YES|
|Public Groups||Up to 256 friends||Up to 30,000 friends|
|Secret Chats||YES~Encrypted by Default||YES~Optional|
|Sent Message Delete||YES~Up to 7 minutes||YES~Up to 48 hours|
|Simultaneous Multi-device access||NO||YES|
|Status Message||YES||YES (Known as Bio)|
|Themes/Customization||NO||YES~Downloadable & Customizable themes|
|Web/Desktop version||YES~Requires active internet on phone||YES|
Okay from the above WhatsApp vs Telegram showdown, it’s obvious that Telegram beats Whatsapp hands down. I know Whatsapp diehards will protest at this outrageous claim, but let’s take a closer look. Almost everything Whatsapp has, Telegram already has. In fact, there were first released on Telegram before they hit the Whatsapp camp.
Let’s start where both camps are at par. Telegram and Whatsapp started off as text messaging mobile apps and so both fulfil that goal to the brim. Both offer end-to-end encryption, so we are sure no one is reading our texts including Whatsapp and Telegram except the indented recipient. More on that, both support file sharing although Telegram allows bigger files of up to 1.5GB compared to Whatsapp’s 100MB. Both support Gifs, location sending and lately live sharing, media playback, groups, secret chats, Two-step Verification and finally voice calls. Generally speaking, if you all you need is a modern mobile communication that will save you on your phone bill, then either app can work perfectly well. But if you want something more than the basics, then Telegram might trump Whatsapp in some aspects.
Perhaps the selling point of Telegram vs Whatsapp is the Bot ecosystem. Whatsapp users are clearly missing out on the immense cool features and convenience that Bots bring to mobile messaging and communication. A Chatbot or Internet bot is an interactive piece of software that runs simple and repetitive automated tasks over the Internet. Bots can allow you to read news highlights, translate text, shop, check the weather, play Youtube videos, search products etc. You can take a look at this guide we did on using Telegram bots if you are unfamiliar with the subject.
With Passcode Lock, you can actually look your Telegram account with a simple passcode or numeric pin. This way, your friends or strangers can’t easily tamper with your Telegram account. This is a great security feature. You can’t do this on Whatsapp! Anyone who unlocks your phone can impersonate you and send Whatsapp messages.
Then let’s talk about Public Channels. They are like websites or more closely mobile text-based radio channels. Anyone can tune in as long as they own a radio and know the radio station. That’s precisely how Telegram channels work. A good example is the Tech256 Telegram channel https://t.me/tech256 that syndicates Tech content from across major blogs in Uganda. Many other news media organizations have their own dedicated channels. The difference between channels and groups is that with channels, subscribers can’t send messages, they only receive message blasts. Yeah, we know Whatsapp has broadcasts, but the admin has to manually add users from his phone book and there’s no URL to share so other users can join. Plus there are no automated broadcasts too.
Now let’s talk about public groups. Both Whatsapp and Telegram have them. But Whatsapp allows only up to Up to 256 friends while Telegram accepts a whopping 30,000 friends. Beat that.
This is where Whatsapp might have some bragging rights over Telegram. Both messaging platforms have voice calls, but only Whatsapp has Video calls. However, Telegram has Video messages just like Whatsapp which is an indication that Video calls might be coming anytime soon.
One final slot where Telegram trumps Whatsapp is when it comes to Web and Desktop support. Whatsapp users can’t forgive their messaging app for forcing them to tether their phone with their computer while using Whatsapp Web. Telegram works without forcing you to keep your phone actively on and tethered to your PC while using their Web/Desktop version. That’s really convenient.
Lastly, this is for developers, the people who build all the technology we love. Unlike Whatsapp which until now doesn’t have an API, Telegram has had one since its inception. And just in case you are wondering what an API is, think of it as a socket, a plug that a service provider avails to third parties to securely use its service. APIs are powerful platforms that enable developers to extend the capabilities of a system beyond what it could originally do. This is the reason we have all the cool stuff like bots, customizable themes on Telegram.
Okay as it seems right now, Whatsapp beats Telegram hands down by just sheer numbers. But when it comes to features and functionality, Telegram seems to be ahead of the curve. And am not saying this so you can cross over to Telegram, but so you can know that there are alternatives that far outperform what you already know. If you get a little adventurous and try out Telegram, that’s fine. If you think Whatsapp meets your current needs, that’s cool too.
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