There’s no competition for WhatsApp when it comes to the world of internet messaging. You wanna wish someone for a birthday, just send a message. You wanna propose your girlfriend over text (totes, a bad idea), just send her a message and strenuously wait for those blue ticks. No matter what, WhatsApp saves the day till hell freezes over.
Although, there are also other fishes in the sea when it comes to messaging. And their popularity and availability widely depend on a lot of things. Things, which include the way those apps handle your messages and the extra features they provide.
Enter Telegram, an app that does the same things like WhatsApp- only better. Still, you might wanna check out why one of them is much preferred than the other.
Why not start the allegory centralizing the crux of the subject. Both WhatsApp and Telegram provide a good messaging experience. However, WhatsApp is kind of ahead in this countenance- all thanks to its read receipts.
Read Receipt’s indication
On Telegram, you won’t be able to tell if a message has been delivered as it’s kinda confusing. A single tick constitutes the message to be sent and a double tick indicates a read message. There’s absolutely zero way to know if a message has been delivered or not. It’s as if the ‘message being delivered’ and the ‘message being read’ indications are fused into a single ‘double tick’.
This is completely different and copiously organized on the WhatsApp side of things. You get a single tick for a ‘sent’ message, a double tick for a ‘delivered message’, and a blue colored double tick for a ‘read/opened’ message.
This circumspection does not prevail in Telegram’s group chats, though. In fact, Telegram is better at evidencing read receipts in a group chat while it’s the opposite with WhatsApp.
Though, you can always opt out of read receipts on both of them.
Message read by the recipient
WhatsApp has a neat feature for its group chats. You can easily get to know the people who have got your message and also if they have read it. This is helpful in a plethora of situations which I don’t intend to enlist as of now.
Sadly, Telegram lacks this one. And it gets extremely annoying after you’ve used WhatsApp. I mentioned a teammate in a Telegram group of The 8-Bit but wasn’t able to check if the message was read by the person concerned. Well, this is the peculiar stuff that makes a huge difference.
Chat Interface and Features
The chat interface on both the systems is fairly similar. Though, WhatsApp has an upper hand over Telegram here. I get it, Telegram offers more features, but WhatsApps takes the trophy home for this one with its easy interface.
It sports a minimal interface which includes a text bar, a ‘plus’ icon used to send media, a shortcut to the camera, and a microphone button. On the other hand, Telegram has a jam-packed chat bar. You can send media using a button on the left similar to WhatsApp, and record audio using the switchable audio button on the right.
Well, switchable is the word here. Telegram has a befitting feature, if not useful, using which you can send voice messages along with a video. Just with a tap on the microphone icon, you can switch to video mode and record a video by holding the camera-shaped button which, then appears as a circular video in the chat stream.
There’s also a button embedded in the text bar specially assigned for stickers, which is a huge benefit that comes along with Telegram and which will be talked about more further in the post.
‘Switchable’ is the word here
Though, as I’ve voiced before, WhatsApp is cemented on serenity. You can easily fire up the camera using the camera shortcut and quickly snap up a couple of images. Although, this isn’t the case with Telegram as you have to go through a two-tap process to just enable the camera. But, Telegram never fails to whelm users with its features. This time, it provides an easy way to send images by showing a little thumbnail slider from which you can select images and send them then and there itself- no need to open a separate window to select and send them.
It’s true that WhatsApp offers some basic editing tools in its camera interface, but Telegram has an ancillary feature where, while sending a photo, you can time the image for self-destruction just like Snapchat or Instagram’s chat features.
It also exhibits a full-fledged photo editor. Unbelievably, there’s a curve shader tool included as well. As compared to that, WhatsApp has absolutely nothing except for some filters and a cropping tool.
Another crunch with WhatsApp is its inadequacy to losslessly compress images while sending them. Telegram also compresses images but they don’t end up pixelated when they reach the person at the other end. Though, everything has a dark side to it. And Telegram’s dark side in this situation is that the images take forever to load. I don’t know if its just me or it’s a renowned problem, but tolerating it is intolerable.
Forget about videos for now, cause there’s a long road to travel before videos become lucidly accessible. Downloading a video on Telegram takes ages, probably eons for me.
Emojis and Stickers
Chatting only through text has long been outdated. And it’s just been a few years since chat became the new sensation. It’s the age of emojis now and the whole world’s internet communication revolves around it. I cannot imagine chatting with my friends without emojis. Sometimes, I’m even afraid to send a sarcastic joke to my friends without an emoji thinking that it would send a comprehensively different message.
Taking that into consideration, those chat apps do a very good job in maintaining their status quotient when it comes to emojis.
However, Telegram takes all of this a notch higher. And it does so by introducing stickers. For those who haven’t used Telegram before, stickers are modified, more furnished versions of emojis that broadcast messages in an effective way.
The fun doesn’t end here. Telegram automatically converts normal emojis entered into the text bar into better, improved stickers. And the options are not limited to one per emoji, you get at least 3 equivalent stickers. Well, this emoji to sticker ratio varies in some cases but most of the times, you’ll apprehend what you want.
On the other hand, WhatsApp plays the simple game yet again. It offers simple emojis that are furnished by the OS’s own dictionary- more like a Pictionary.
Video calls and Voice calls
What’s better than talking to a person through text, especially when you are a thousand miles away? Calling. And even better: Video calling. Although, in order to do that earlier, you would need Skype or Viber or IMO. But, since WhatsApp embedded voice and video calling features into itself, no one I know uses Skype anymore.
Where I live, people have ingenuously forgotten about normal calls. No one who has a pre-paid plan tops up for calls, instead, everyone is now interested in filling their sim cards with data recharges. Besides, Telegram also offers free of charge calling over data. But, the question is- Which messaging platform handles calls better?
Bear with me, you’ll eventually figure out the answer by yourself. WhatsApp offers a sleek calling interface along with a dedicated panel for tracking call logs while Telegram lacks all of that.
Additionally, you can easily access the call button in a chat as calling buttons are placed flamboyantly at the top right corner of a person’s chat interface in WhatsApp. On Telegram, you have to tap into a person’s profile and then initiate a call.
The biggest incongruity as far as Telegram is concerned is that it does not feature video calls, while WhatsApp does- and surprisingly they are crisp and clear. Also, it would have been nicer if WhatsApp would allow conference calls. Looks like Facebook has a lot of stuff to note down already when it comes to WhatsApp.
Privacy and Encryption
It seems we are at the most important part of this conversation. Without the proper inclusion of privacy, no chat app could be even considered for usage. Imagine your chats being easily ‘brute-forced’ and shared with everyone in the social market. I get it, it could be much more than a nightmare. A disaster, to be fair.
Thankfully, both WhatsApp and Telegram offer apt privacy features without which, you could’ve never used them in the first place.
Privacy is the most important part of this conversation
For starters, WhatsApp offers ‘end-to-end encryption’ for its chats by default. It even shows it off for the user’s consent when a new chat is initiated. End-to-end encryption, for those who don’t have any knowledge about; is a formidable privacy feature where your messages are turned into complex codes when they are sent. Those codes are extremely difficult to crack and cracking them is not at all a peanut-cracking job. However, those codes are then converted back into the text when it reaches the recipient. This way, you can ensure that no one reads or even intercepts your messages other than who you allow to.
Telegram, though, does not offer end-to-end encryption by default. Alternately, it has a standalone privacy feature called the ‘secret chat’. To enable a secret chat with someone, you’ll have to go into that person’s profile and tap on ‘Start secret chat’. The secret chat feature offers:
leave no trace on Telegram’s servers
have a self-destruct timer and
do not allow message forwarding
However, not having end-to-end encryption enabled by default is counterfactual. But, the secret chat makes it up by offering those extra features that WhatsApp does not offer nor it probably ever will.
Speaking of privacy, once again, Telegram has a head-start as it provides an internal chat lock. You can use a fingerprint or a passcode as a security measure. So whenever you open the app, you’ll be faced with a passcode or a fingerprint opt-in. And you won’t be able to get in unless you enter the required credentials. Predominantly, Telegram has better privacy options.
You have the option of choosing whom you may want to allow to add you to a group, call you, or view your ‘last seen’ status. Albeit, WhatsApp just offers to hide your ‘last seen’ status as the highest privacy measure after end-to-end encryption. Both of them offer two-step verification, though.
C’mon, there must be a little extra fun in chatting as well. You can customize both WhatsApp and Telegram’s chat interfaces to your liking. And that is what makes these chat apps less boring. Well, one of the two has better customizability options and I guess you already know which one’s better. It’s Telegram, once again.
I’m not biased, but it’s a fact that Telegram offers awesome customizability options. You can change the entire theme of the app- including the chat interface, for example. While things are a bit suppressive with WhatsApp as the only extent that you can go to is change the chat wallpaper.
Both WhatsApp and Telegram have their own desktop companions which you can access by just scanning a QR code on the desktop’s screen. However, WhatsApp has better compatibility and works smoother than the Telegram’s desktop companion.
WhatsApp also has a standalone ‘status’ feature which is a standard set by Facebook in all of its apps- copied by Snapchat. The stories feature on WhatsApp works exactly like the stories feature on Instagram, except there’s a lack of polls and GIFs. You can also overlay stickers on top of your stories.
Telegram doesn’t have a similar feature. Besides, WhatsApp also has a recently introduced business chat feature using which you can contact businesses and businesses can contact you. Although, I must say that it’s a bit more overwhelming than I thought it would be as I’ve already got a few unwanted messages from some brands trying to advertise its products. A ‘peer-to-peer’ payment system is also expected to launch sometime soon.
However, Telegram has none of the perks that WhatsApp does. But, it has its own community by which it’s well known for- channels. Yes, channels are the beasts of Telegram and are one of the reasons people tend to install Telegram in the first place. Channels work exactly like the channels on TV.
Depending on what the channel is about, you can get news, information, businesses can advertise their products and offer services, and you can interact with businesses as well. You can also shop for products online. Basically, it contemplates as a community.
Channels are also the reason Telegram had to face a ban from Russia and Apple’s app store in the first place.
Apart from all of this, there’s one more thing that makes a good point in this discussion. You can send files on WhatsApp only up to a limit of 16 MB, while Telegram allows file sharing of up to 1.5 GB. And that colossal file sharing size limit makes a huge difference.
No matter what app you choose, at the end of the day, all you’ll ever want is to just message your recipients. So, maybe having those extra features won’t mean much to you. But, if you are someone who plays around with features and is feature-hungry, Telegram seems like a decent choice.
However, if you are someone who wants extreme reliability and super secure, super fast messaging, WhatsApp could be the best choice.
Once again, I would like to say that no matter how many articles you read about the comparison between these two chat apps, you’ll only choose the app you feel comfortable using. If you’ve been using WhatsApp since the beginning (which is the case with most people), you’ll never like any other app. Same goes for Telegram.
So, my advice is to try both the apps and evaluate what fits best for your needs.