Signal and Telegram : Are they the Best Alternatives to WhatsApp?

WhatsApp update on privacy policy have prompted unhappy users to look for alternative apps we have reviewed three messaging apps, to bring you the best alternative for WhatsApp.

by Akansha_B Updated: 16 Jan, 2021, 11:31 IST
31 3551

WhatsApp recently revised its privacy policy, raising concerns given the data sharing with Facebook and its partner companies. Holding the largest messaging service globally, with over 2 billion monthly active users, finding an alternative has been the tabloid talk. Simultaneously, the new privacy policy has undoubtedly caused a lot more people to consider alternatives to WhatsApp.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk's tweet reading "Use Signal" led to a massive number of downloads for the alternative app for WhatsApp. The recent change in WhatsApp's privacy policy has raised security concerns for Users. Following Signal at a ballpark of 10-20 million monthly active users, Telegram downloads have seen a surge in download accounts for 400 Million.

Merely looking at the raw numbers would suggest that WhatsApp is hugely popular and almost omnipresent while Telegram is catching up and Signal appears to have recently entered the million downloads race. Nevertheless, numbers do not often tell you the whole story. Therefore, we have made through an estimate of the three apps' security and features.

Signal or Telegram : Are they the Best Alternatives for WhatsApp?
Security

We want to start with security first as it is the most debatable and controversial topic among the three messaging services. So, let us begin with WhatsApp’s security model early in this battle against Telegram and Signal.

Security policies of WhatsApp

WhatsApp has its end-to-end encryption working in favour, which guarantees all your data the absolute safety. All your messages, media files and anything else you share are end-to-end encrypted on WhatsApp. That means only you and the recipient are the only people who can read the messages and not even WhatsApp.

Focusing on security, it is noteworthy that WhatsApp practices the end-to-end protocol developed by Open Whisper Systems, that is the name behind Signal messenger. At the same time, that gives Signal a brownie point, as it is open-source, widely peer-reviewed and considered one of the best protocols for implementing end-to-end encryption in messaging platforms.

Another noteworthy point is that though all your information on WhatsApp uses end to end encryption, it does not encrypt backups (Local or Cloud) or encrypt the metadata. Naming it one of the major criticisms of WhatsApp’s security model. However, that is on the back end.

Another issue is with security features on the user-facing side of WhatsApp. WhatsApp extends a built-in app lock feature on both the Android and iOS apps, so you can lock your WhatsApp chats with biometrics. Furthermore, you get support for two-factor authentication on the app, which is excellent for security.

Analysing all the factors, it does an excellent job of ensuring security for its users. That stated, WhatsApp has flagged a couple of significant privacy nightmares, particularly the recent issue with group chats getting listed on Google search. The problem has been fixed; however, it was a hindrance for the messaging app.

Security policies of Signal

Signal till now is the best for security, be it on the user-facing side of the service or the back end. As mentioned before, Signal uses the open-source Signal Protocol to implement end-to-end encryption, making it by far the best for security purposes. Similar to WhatsApp, the end-to-end encryption covers all forms of communication on Signal. While WhatsApp encrypts the data, Signal goes one step further and encrypts the metadata too.

To guard user privacy against all intersections, Signal devised a new method to communicate amidst the sender and the receiver, and it is called Sealed Sender. Fundamentally, with Sealed Sender, no one will be able to know — not even Signal — who is messaging whom, which is impressive.

You can read more about it on their official website. With everything estimated in terms of security and privacy protection, Signal stands head and shoulder above WhatsApp and Telegram, making it the most secure messaging app between the three.

Security policies of Telegram

Concerning security, Telegram does offer some protection to its users. However, many headaches go in the way Telegram encrypts your messages and extra information. Foremost, it does support end to end encryption, but it is not enabled by default. To use their E2E encryption, you will have to use its secret chat feature.

These messages are E2E encrypted, which is fine, but daily chats are not, which is an alarming concern. In simple terms, messages are encrypted on your device and decrypted on Telegram’s server. As you can understand, in this method, Telegram has the encryption codes on the server-side and can, in theory, obtain your regular chats.

Telegram states that it controls its message storage and decryption codes so that one would require government orders from various legal systems around the world to obtain any of your data. In fact, the Telegram states that it has shared 0 bytes of data with any third parties or the government.

Clearly, Telegram’s security is not nearly as robust as WhatsApp or Signal Messenger’s.

Features

Let's look at these three apps' features and see which one extends the most perks to its users.

WhatsApp

Overall, WhatsApp offers every feature user might require. It supports group chats with up to 256 members, with voice and video call support (group video calls are restricted to 8 users at any time.). What sets it apart is its distinct feature that neither Telegram offers nor Signal. WhatsApp Status also called Stories. Users love this feature, as they can express their thoughts through it. Making it a social media platform, in a sense.

Moving forward, file sharing on WhatsApp limits to 16 MB for photos, videos, and audio files but documents limits up to 100 MB. Sharing a live location with your contacts is one handy feature for users. Meant for general users, it allows seamless backup and restores through cloud services like Google Drive and iCloud absolutely free.

Telegram

Unlike WhatsApp that provides features required for a user, Telegram is loaded with features. The app offers so numerous features that it is impressive. Comparable to WhatsApp, you get the basics such as chats, group chats and more. However, unlike the group members at 256, Telegram enables up to 200,000 members for groups.

You can edit sent Messages, along with features like message scheduling, sharing uncompressed media, themes, and a lot more with a whopping sharing size limit of 1.5 GB.

Additionally, it extends multiple group-specific features such as bots, votes, quizzes, hashtags, and many more, making group experiences satisfactory. It offers unique features called self-destructing messages, allowing deleting messages sent to a recipient's device forever.

Signal

While Signal strikes Telegram and WhatsApp skilfully when it comes to security, it falls short on the features it offers. However, we do not think there's any prominent feature that might deter you from using the app. It has all the features that the other two apps have secure messaging, voice, and video calls. Like self-destructing messages of Telegram, Signal has disappearing messages and a feature to send a one-time viewable image.

The "Note to Self" is one feature that comes handy for users without creating a single-member group. You can write down your ideas and thoughts while messaging. Aside from that, Signal enables users to send voice calls to its servers, so their identity remains hidden from their contacts (Similar to VPN).

All in all, Signal has some of the best privacy features but might fall short for users who want endless customization options, but we accept to see some more additional features to signal in the coming days.

The Conclusion: WhatsApp vs Signal vs Telegram

Analysing all three applications, it's relatively straightforward that Signal is highly secure and private. If privacy is top-most on your priorities, Signal is for you. While even WhatsApp guarantees you security, however, with the new privacy policy, we find it extremely difficult to recommend WhatsApp to anyone anymore.

Telegram cannot be considered best in security, but you do get end-to-end encryption limited to secret chats. However, it does offer a boatload of features that are enough to make any group admin drool.

To add up our estimated information, we will suggest going with Telegram if you want more features than the average messenger. Signal if you are looking for the primary messaging and calling features along with a high standard of security. Still, WhatsApp is looking dicier than ever now with the new policy update.

31 Comments  |  
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Deal Subedar
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telegram all the way.. privacy is a myth anyway..
at least we have great features and seamless sync

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Offerer wrote:

telegram all the way.. privacy is a myth anyway..
at least we have great features and seamless sync

Yes! The features offered by them are outstanding

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Signal is the best

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Deal Subedar
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Signal one day how many message we can send like whatsapp or normal message

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For customers who has privacy as there’s 1st priority
U have can’t use android with google services and Facebook services whatever they are providing free it comes at cost which we won’t pay with money, sometimes it is data with what we pay

Considering only features i think its telegram for now atleast

Signal is good for privacy focused people as it run by non profit

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Deal Newbie
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there are not many options…WhatsApp is owned by Facebook, which believe in using your data without any moral or legal issues…..Telegram is created and maintained in Russia, which being Russian only is out of consideration (like chinese apps)…so only option left is Signal….or maybe Snapchat (never used it).

On same note, can anyone point out a simple way to get my android phone disconnected from Google and China (it’s a OnePlus device).
I tried once…around 2 years back…but every other service wants me to install their app and needs to connect with google…I am thinking of trying again, hoping things have changed a lot in these 2 years.

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Krrezi1 wrote:

there are not many options…WhatsApp is owned by Facebook, which believe in using your data without any moral or legal issues…..Telegram is created and maintained in Russia, which being Russian only is out of consideration (like chinese apps)…so only option left is Signal….or maybe Snapchat (never used it).

On same note, can anyone point out a simple way to get my android phone disconnected from Google and China (it’s a OnePlus device).
I tried once…around 2 years back…but every other service wants me to install their app and needs to connect with google…I am thinking of trying again, hoping things have changed a lot in these 2 years.

There are custom roms which are certified amd can run all banking apps check xda developers

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IRIDESCENT wrote:

Signal one day how many message we can send like whatsapp or normal message

You can send unlimited messages just like WhatsApp

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I use telegram and its fantastic.. Not sure about signal which seems to be another whats app clone..

While many social media users are abandoning established services such as Facebook and Twitter, or being blocked from the platforms, a Russian-made messaging service has risen to become one of America’s most popular apps.

https://www.rt.com/russia/512269-telegram-downl...

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Krrezi1 wrote:

there are not many options…WhatsApp is owned by Facebook, which believe in using your data without any moral or legal issues…..Telegram is created and maintained in Russia, which being Russian only is out of consideration (like chinese apps)…so only option left is Signal….or maybe Snapchat (never used it).

On same note, can anyone point out a simple way to get my android phone disconnected from Google and China (it’s a OnePlus device).
I tried once…around 2 years back…but every other service wants me to install their app and needs to connect with google…I am thinking of trying again, hoping things have changed a lot in these 2 years.

telegram is not maintained in Russia.
Which OnePlus device you have?

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kshaptra17 wrote:

telegram is not maintained in Russia.
Which OnePlus device you have?

thanks for correction….and sorry for creating confusion… Telegram was created and maintained by it’s Russian creator… although they are currently situated in Dubai…
but my fear if Russian and Chinese is so big that I am always try to stay away from their products…

I am using 5t… looking to install Lineage OS now… don’t have money to buy a new phone…just bought LG G8x to replace my spouse’s iphone…

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Krrezi1 wrote:

thanks for correction….and sorry for creating confusion… Telegram was created and maintained by it’s Russian creator… although they are currently situated in Dubai…
but my fear if Russian and Chinese is so big that I am always try to stay away from their products…

I am using 5t… looking to install Lineage OS now… don’t have money to buy a new phone…just bought LG G8x to replace my spouse’s iphone…

Yes, LineageOS is good. But if you want total disconnection with google and want most open source software then I would insist to go with microG rom versions. Best one would be LineageOS for microG, download link-

https://download.lineage.microg.org/dum...g/

Let me know if you need any help.

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kshaptra17 wrote:

Yes, LineageOS is good. But if you want total disconnection with google and want most open source software then I would insist to go with microG rom versions. Best one would be LineageOS for microG, download link-

https://download.lineage.microg.org/dum...g/

Let me know if you need any help.

thanks dude… will check it out.

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Krrezi1 wrote:

there are not many options…WhatsApp is owned by Facebook, which believe in using your data without any moral or legal issues…..Telegram is created and maintained in Russia, which being Russian only is out of consideration (like chinese apps)…so only option left is Signal….or maybe Snapchat (never used it).

On same note, can anyone point out a simple way to get my android phone disconnected from Google and China (it’s a OnePlus device).
I tried once…around 2 years back…but every other service wants me to install their app and needs to connect with google…I am thinking of trying again, hoping things have changed a lot in these 2 years.

Opt for Linux based os. It is completely safe and mature at this point. It will be the next big thing as per mrwhosetheboss.

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anurags156 wrote:

Opt for Linux based os. It is completely safe and mature at this point. It will be the next big thing as per mrwhosetheboss.

yes, that’s what Lineage OS is…most secure is Graphene (as per some people), but it works on Pixel phones only… I am still looking out for other options…there are many options nowadays…going to be fun.

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I feel no difference. Open source is a myth, these orgs are run by the big fortune companies for their benefits . Data governance is always a bigger issue as it all depends on which part of the world data is stored which in itself is constrained by local and international govt policies. To be truly secure and open nature it has to be truly decentralized and distributed which none of these messaging platforms are smile

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Offerer wrote:

telegram all the way.. privacy is a myth anyway..
at least we have great features and seamless sync

For privacy minded people signal is best solution.
For organization/group activity telegram is best.
Whatsapp is shit at both.

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alienteck wrote:

I use telegram and its fantastic.. Not sure about signal which seems to be another whats app clone..

While many social media users are abandoning established services such as Facebook and Twitter, or being blocked from the platforms, a Russian-made messaging service has risen to become one of America’s most popular apps.

https://www.rt.com/russia/512269-telegram-downl...

yes. When whatsapp was acquired by Facebook and they started changing privacy policy and using user data, one of whatsapp founder Brian Acton decided to create new app which can provide secure chat and privacy to users. He even provided initial funding of 50 millions in 2017.

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Deal Newbie
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I did some more digging…being a noob in the world of internet…and now I am frightened that privacy is really a myth till we keep on using any of these softwares/features/social platforms…there is no escaping… for instance Signal is very secure on it’s own, but needs our phone to work…and if use same phone number on Facebook or WhatsApp… Facebook will know that what we are trying to initiate on Signal and who other people are connecting with us…they don’t need to know our chat details…just knowing the connection they can bombard us with advertising and sell our contacts to 3rd parties…
I may be wrong in understanding, as I said, I am a noob grimacing

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Krrezi1 wrote:

I did some more digging…being a noob in the world of internet…and now I am frightened that privacy is really a myth till we keep on using any of these softwares/features/social platforms…there is no escaping… for instance Signal is very secure on it’s own, but needs our phone to work…and if use same phone number on Facebook or WhatsApp… Facebook will know that what we are trying to initiate on Signal and who other people are connecting with us…they don’t need to know our chat details…just knowing the connection they can bombard us with advertising and sell our contacts to 3rd parties…
I may be wrong in understanding, as I said, I am a noob grimacing

I think facebook app can scan your phone to get list of apps installed on your phone, So they will know if you have signal installed or not. Other than that, no data/messages from signal will be available to facebook.

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Birla.Veena wrote:


https://cdn0.desidime.com/attachments/photos/659682/medium/IMG-20210111-WA0002.jpg?1610614133

This is from 2017, note that CIA cannot bypass encryption, They can bypass your phone security if you download some game/app apk from shady websites. The title here shows that encryption is useless, when that is not the case. If CIA somehow manage to get a keylogger onto your phone then they can just get the keystrokes. issue here is keylogger/malware getting into your phone by some other sources(like shady webistes you downoad apk from)

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20170307/1036...

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Deal Newbie
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I personally liked signal

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Deal Newbie
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Bhai jab tak Google use kar rahe ho data regarding " din me kitni baar HAGAA" is also being collected.. all these apps ( fb/whatsapp etc etc) are not even asking for a tenth of that… So if you do not worry about using Google.. no need to worry about anything..

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Does signal have broadcast list option??

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tangocash wrote:

Does signal have broadcast list option??

Not Yet.

replyuser