WhatsApp vs Signal – Best Private Messaging Apps Compared

Join Our Facebook Group

Talk with other privacy advocates just like you

WhatsApp vs Signal, which is the better private messaging app this 2021?

Today, we’re going to compare the most popular social messaging app, WhatsApp, against an up-and-coming highly-secured messaging app operated by a non-profit organization, Signal. But first, let’s have a quick discussion on how we got here. Why do we need to compare a Facebook-owned application with over two billion users to Signal Foundation’s messaging app?

If you’ve been using WhatsApp before, you may already have heard about their planned changes to WhatsApp’s privacy policy and terms of service, and that it’s now sharing its data with Facebook. It’s not a big surprise that the Facebook ads you are seeing have gotten more specific and somehow related to what you and your friends were talking about. It’s a big issue for people who are concerned with their information and is the main reason why most WhatsApp users are looking for an alternative, a more private and secure messaging app.

Enter Signal. Signal has gain popularity not just because Elon Musk recommended it, but also because of how well it measures against other popular free messaging apps like Telegram and Viber.

But how does Signal match up against WhatsApp?

whatsapp messaging application
signal messaging app

Which Private Messaging App Is Better: WhatsApp vs Signal?

To better compare the two messaging apps, we will analyze each application’s privacy and security features, its popularity, and how easy is it to use.

Privacy

Both messaging apps offer end-to-end encryption, which means both WhatsApp and Signal cannot see the contents of your message. They even use the same exact protocols for encrypting your message. What makes them different is the data they store about you.

For WhatsApp, these include your usage and log information, contact information, cookies, device information, your location, and status updates. None of this is bad but it’s still worth noting how much information they have about you.

For Signal, it’s an entirely different story, they only store what’s required for their messaging app to work which is your phone number, some random keys, and your profile information.

So when it comes to keeping your information private while you message your friends and family, the clear winner here is Signal.

Security

With its military-grade encryption for all your messaging and voice calls, Signal has people in awe of how secure it is. However, WhatsApp offers great security as well and has become the go-to messaging app for those looking for end-to-end encryption for their messages.

The main difference between them is Signal is a full opensource, this means that anyone can examine it for vulnerabilities and significantly lessens the chances of any potential hidden vulnerabilities. This can’t be done with WhatsApp since they have their own proprietary deployment.

signal security
Signal Security Settings
whatsapp security
WhatsApp Security Settings

When it comes to the security features of a messaging app, we also have to consider if it utilizes the cloud for backups. This is the case for WhatsApp and has become its main security weakness. It stores your chat backups to cloud services like Google Drive and iCloud which are not encrypted. Signal does not use those servers, because, you guessed it, for security reasons.

There’s also the fact that WhatsApp has been compromised by alleged Israeli spyware, which may not be entirely WhatsApp’s fault, but is still worth noting. For these reasons, we have to go with Signal as the more secured messaging app.

Fun Fact: Not only is Elon Musk the only famous person recommending Signal as his go-to messaging platform, but also Edward Snowden, the person famous for leaking highly classified information from the National Security Agency. Signal has also gotten some love from the Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey. (Source)

User Interface

As one of the world’s most popular messaging apps, WhatsApp is very easy to set up and use. You can chat and share things instantly, you can also make voice and video calls. It also supports GIF and has photo and video editing features like those in Snapchat. The app is available for download on both iOS and Android devices and can also be used on desktops. It automatically syncs your contacts from your phone to the app itself. You can easily hold group chats for up to 8 people and even make free international calls using Wi-Fi.

Similar to WhatsApp, Signal is also available for Android and iOS can be used on desktops. It can be used to do voice and video calls and share photos and documents through Wi-Fi, however the app has more of a utilitarian tone to it. Compared to WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Telegram, Signal are lacking some messaging features that can add fun and excitement while you chat with other people.

Users of both Signal and WhatsApp may notice that the former is less customizable than the latter. However, this may be for your advantage as well since it’s easier for Signal developers to keep your data private and secure when it has a simple user interface.

One phone messaging app has all the fancy features you need to communicate with your friends, colleagues, and family while the other has some room for improvement, so in terms of ease of use, the winner here is WhatsApp.

Support

Signal’s support system is a collection of articles addressing the frequently asked questions about the app and topics a user might be interested in. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, you can go ahead and open a ticket so their support team can address your concern promptly. This is highly similar to what you can expect with WhatsApp.

You can contact the WhatsApp support team here. While you can submit your request for the Signal support team here.

In terms of who has a better support system in place, since they almost have the same ticketing system, I have to side with WhatsApp because they offer a better help center to guide people who are using their services. You can compare them yourself by clicking on the following links:

An In-Depth Comparison: WhatsApp vs Signal

Both free messaging apps have their pros and cons, and it may all come down to your personal preference and how you value your privacy. If you’re still having a difficult time choosing between the two applications, here’s our in-depth comparison between WhatsApp and Signal.

    FEATURES

WhatsApp

Signal


End-to-end Encryption


Supported devices

Android, iOS, Web, Mac, Windows, Windows Phone

Android, iOS, Linux, Windows, Mac OS


Voice and Video Calls

International Calls

Group Members

Up to 256

Up to 1,000

Status Updates

Live Location Sharing

Secret Chats

Personalized QR Codes

Customized Wallpapers

Final Thoughts About Choosing Between WhatsApp and Signal

Signal and WhatsApp are both great messaging apps. Both are secured and the main differences between the two are their user interface and privacy features. If you’re more confident using a messaging app similar to Viber or Telegram, then WhatsApp is a better option with much more security. But if you’d like to keep your data private and secure, there’s no better messaging app today than Signal.

If you can bear the simple interface that Signal offers, it may just be the best messaging app that you can use and download for free since it’s the only app that can make assurances of security and privacy that other companies cannot simply do.

Leave a Comment