- Signal offers end-to-end encryption by default, ensuring secure communication, while Telegram only provides optional encryption through its ‘secret chat’ feature.
- Signal collects less data on users than Telegram, only storing the date and phone number used to sign up, while Telegram also provides IP addresses.
- Telegram offers more customization options and supports larger group chats, while Signal focuses on secure messaging and supports visually impaired users.
Signal and Telegram are unique messaging applications that aim at providing end-to-end data encryption and a seamless communication platform for users through text, audio, or video calls. Both apps are commonly used as they are widely available across major platforms. However, both messaging apps have key comparable features worth keeping in mind that uniquely identify them. In this article, we’ll see how Signal vs. Telegram differ in terms of security, privacy, user experience, and other features to help you choose the messaging app that is ideal for you. Let’s get started!
Signal vs. Telegram: Side-By-Side Comparison
|What it is||It’s an encrypted messenger service for instant messaging, voice, and video calls. Messaging functions include sending text, images, voice notes, videos, and other files.||It’s a cloud-based and centralized multi-platform instant messaging service. It offers optional end-to-end encryption, VOIP, file sharing, and more.|
|Release year||July 2014||August 2013|
|Developer||Open Whisper Systems (OWS)||Different companies affiliated with Telegram|
|Monthly users||Approximately 40 million||Over 200 million|
|Data protection||More secure due to End-to-End encryption by default using signal protocol||Optional E2E encryption and message protection is done only by messages using the “secret chat” option|
|Platforms||iOS, MacOS, Android, Windows, Linux||iOS, MacOS, Android, Windows, Linux|
Signal vs. Telegram: What’s the Difference?
Signal and Telegram are both reliable and secure messaging apps. Neither app is owned by a major tech company. Signal is managed by Open Whisper Systems, a non-profit organization. Telegram, on the other hand, is run and owned by a for-profit organization. Telegram was founded in 2013 by Russian businessman Pavel Durov. Signal and Telegram are standard messaging apps with features like stickers, files, video transfer, and voice and video calls. Both apps are free, and only your phone number is required to sign up. Signal and Telegram also provide optional web applications to connect through your Windows PC, Linux or Mac.
That said, let’s dive deep and look at more features between Signal and Telegram to know what each one offers to help you make the best choice.
Security and Privacy
In terms of security and privacy, Signal is your best bet. All signal messages are, by default, end-to-end encrypted, which means no third party can access your conversations. In comparison, Telegram expands the data shared limit, which leaves other messages to be potentially visible to other third parties, as end-to-end encryption is done to messages in the “secret chat” option only.
Signal’s encryption protocol (formerly known as the TextSecure protocol) is open-source and available for anyone to see and examine, meaning any security flaws can be quickly identified and fixed. Telegram uses MTP 2.0 protocol, an upgrade from MTProto 1.0, to encrypt its “secret chat” option messages, which is open-source on the client side. Telegram’s encryption method, through security experts, is said to have more limited track records than Signal. This results from the latest protocol being more secure than the MTProto 1.0 version.
Also, Signal collects less data on users than Telegram. Signal only stores the date and the phone number used to sign up, as well as your last connection time. Comparably, Telegram’s metadata provides your IP address which links to your location, who you are in contact with, and when.
Signal and Telegram both support the most popular platforms, including Linux, Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android. They also offer a Chrome browser extension to allow web-based access.
Also, Telegram supports Windows OS and allows universal access to unencrypted messages through a website access portal from the servers. It is worth noting that Telegram’s “secret chat” option is available only through the mobile application and not through web-browser access.
A notable difference between Signal and Telegram is that Signal service depends on Google services for notifications. Practically, this only applies to devices with custom Android OS.
Usability and Installation
Both Signal and Telegram are relatively easy to use and install. Download the software through the platform of your choice, and you’ll only need to sign up using your phone number and verify using an SMS or a call with a code in the case of Telegram.
In both services, you can anonymously configure your account if necessary. Telegram has detailed options to set up for user experiences, such as themes and colors, whereas Signal has similar but basic ones. This makes Signal an easy app to use and set up.
Telegram focuses more on social media messaging and broadcasting, while Signal focuses on secure messaging. Telegram supports sending uncompressed images, making it a better messaging app when compared to Signal for sharing photos. However, Signal has a face-blur feature installed by default for use when sending images.
In terms of support, both apps rely on online help or a volunteer to address specific issues, as they both operate on a non-commercial basis. Signal has the upper hand in providing a more secure messaging app, as it also supports visually impaired users.
You can customize Telegram to enhance the user experience by adjusting several settings, from themes, font sizes, colors, emojis, animations, and notifications. The app can create a playlist when sent a list of songs and launch them in its in-built media player. You also can conduct surveys and quizzes, edit images and videos, and view other individuals within your proximity with the People Nearby feature (though it may raise privacy concerns).
On the other hand, Signal is a simple application that has a focus on sending text, audio, and video messages securely. Recently, Signal has introduced animated stickers as part of its available emojis. Comparably, Signal is easy to use and requires minimal customization for a top-notch user experience.
Unless the “secret chat” option is enabled, Telegram collects and stores its messages in a cloud-based platform. Telegram claims to store its data across distributed databases, and the encryption keys are stored in the server, thus allowing them to decrypt messages. Similarly, if Telegram is a target for attack, the rival can access all user data, including chat information. This makes Telegram a threat to companies that actively archive messages with intentions to meet mobile company compliance.
Signal wins on privacy and security due to its robust encryption measures. However, we need to find out which messaging app is better for users operating within the confines of mobile compliance guidelines.
Telegram offers optional end-to-end encryption and protects messages only in the “secret chat” option. Consequently, users’ communications on Telegram remain vulnerable to cyber threats in unsecured environments. Contrary, Signal, by default, offers end-to-end encryption, making it a more secure option for your communications. For companies running in highly regulated sectors, such as banking and finance, education, healthcare, and pharmaceuticals, encryption in messaging is crucial for mobile compliance.
Therefore, it’s recommended that businesses use Signal to Telegram. However, this practice becomes effective in enterprise messaging solutions and when companies archive text messages. Regardless of the platform you are using, companies must emphasize the coverage of all communications between employees and stakeholders to maintain mobile compliance.
Pros and Cons of Signal
|Free and open source||Not widely known or used|
|Support sharing of different media types, such as emoji, audio, videos, contacts, pictures, location, and GIFs||Requires your phone number and access to your contacts to work|
|Communication is end-to-end encrypted by default||Registered number work on a single mobile device at a time. But you can link with Signal Desktop|
|User-friendly and intuitive interface||Limits file transfer size to 100MB|
Pros and Cons of Telegram
|Ability to share files of up to 2GB||The “secret chat” option is available on mobile apps but lacks in web versions and Desktop clients.|
|Highly customizable hence a slicker UI||Doesn’t support visually impaired users|
|Ability to send media, such as photos and videos, without compression||Not fully open source|
|Offers cloud message synchronization|
|Enables calls to a larger group and a group chat of up to 200,000 users|
Signal vs. Telegram: 9 Must-Know Facts
- Signal and Telegram are two different apps, but both aim at providing private messaging and seamless communication to users.
- The Signal app is owned by a non-profit organization and depends on grants and donations to support its mission, whereas Telegram is run and owned by a for-profit corporation.
- The Signal app is more secure as all chats are end-to-end encrypted by default, whereas Telegram encrypts messages only under the “secret chat” option.
- Telegram allows you to send up to 2 Gigabytes of file sizes, whereas Signal limits file size to 100 Megabytes.
- Signal and Telegram are available across major platforms, including Linux, Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android. They also offer a Chrome browser extension to allow web-based access.
- Telegram has a detailed setup that is customizable to enhance user experience, while Signal is a basic messaging app that is easy to set up and use.
- Signal collects less data as it only stores the phone number and last connection time, whereas Telegram metadata stores the user’s IP address which links to your location, and who you are in contact with.
- Telegram allows group chats of up to 200,000 users, whereas Signal limits to 1000 users.
- Signal has a disappearing messages feature that can allow messages to disappear from 5 seconds to a week. Similarly, Telegram has a self-destruct feature for both regular chats and “secret chats”.
Signal vs. Telegram: Which One Is Better? Which One Should You Use?
Signal and Telegram both support the most popular platforms, including Linux, Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android. They also offer a Chrome browser extension to allow web-based access. Ultimately, the choice between Signal vs. Telegram comes down to your priority. If security and privacy are critical factors, Signal is the best option since all communications are E2E encrypted. If you are focused more on functionality, a better-looking UI, enjoyable group chat features, and occasional encryption on the “secret chat” option, then Telegram is your best fit.
While it depends on your specific use case, you should consider which app your family and friends are using or are willing to use and whether you can convince them to shift to your ultimate choice.
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