WhatsApp vs. Signal
With so many messaging apps available, it’s important to evaluate what options are the most important to you when choosing an app. Due to their popularity and features, WhatsApp and Signal are among the most popular chatting apps. They each have strengths, but they’re not perfect.
This article with compare the two apps to help you decide whether to use WhatsApp or Signal.
Signal is available on Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, and Linux. WhatsApp is available on the same, but is also compatible with Chrome OS due to having a web-browser version. However, you’ll still need to download the app on the phone to verify a phone number.
WhatsApp also has recently included an option to move chat history between platforms in case you use more than one. In this category, WhatsApp has the edge over Signal.
Device Number Limitations
Some third-party messaging applications limit how many devices you can connect to their service per account. Signal puts that limit to five devices. Although you can access your Signal account from five devices, you can only be logged in to one phone at a time.
WhatsApp limits each account to four devices. WhatsApp allows each device to be logged in independently, and each will receive messages simultaneously. If you’re a small business owner, you can have an employee answer WhatsApp messages from their phone without you needing to log out from yours. However, if the main device becomes inactive, all other devices will automatically log out.
Ease of Use
WhatsApp has long been known for its straightforward and intuitive user interface, making it an excellent first chat app. Signal is less customizable and isn’t as user-friendly, but contains more features overall. WhatsApp wins in the ease-of-use category, but might not be able to achieve everything you need it to do.
WhatsApp has added offline support, allowing you to see your messages even when your phone is in airplane mode or disconnected from Wi-Fi. Signal does not have this capability yet, so WhatsApp takes the edge here.
Signal boasts that no matter what, “no one can read your messages or listen to your calls,” including Signal themselves. All messages are encrypted “end-to-end,” which means they are secure on both the sending and receiving end. Even group chats are securely encrypted in this way. Signal doesn’t store delivered messages on servers and keeps undelivered messages for a much shorter time than WhatsApp. Signal also accesses no personal information but your phone number.
Though these security concerns have caused many users to flee from WhatsApp to other third-party messengers, it remains to be seen whether the concerns are founded. If privacy is of utmost concern to you, you may be swayed in the Signal direction.
Signal’s Extra Privacy Options
Because of Signal’s concern for privacy, you can lock the app with a biometric or algebraic password. There’s also an option of adding two-factor authentication (2FA). Screen security is maximized with a feature that causes the Signal app to appear blank to others when you switch to another app.
IP addresses are hidden automatically, and you can hide your identity on voice calls if you wish. An interesting addition to Signal is a photo editor. You can blur any faces or information in photos before you send them. Signal is overwhelmingly the most secure messaging app available. Interviews with their president and board show consistently that security and privacy are their top priorities as a company.
Since design is a matter of personal preference, it’s not easy to say which app has the “best” home screen. We can say that Signal has a very clean look, popular with users who like a streamlined interface. WhatsApp is not as clean but has more functions available from the home screen.
With Signal, the app’s theme can be in Light or Dark mode. For message text, there are four preset options for font size. WhatsApp is very similar. Light and Dark modes are available, as well as three font sizes for messages. You can also change the wallpaper behind the conversations.
Most of the group chat options on Signal and WhatsApp are very similar. One difference is that Signal limits group chat size to 1,000 members. WhatsApp only allows 256 people in one group chat, although this limitation won’t bother too many users. Signal allows invitations via QR code or link and administrative controls of group chats. WhatsApp also supports administrative functions.
The messaging apps tie in this category unless you think you’ll need groups bigger than 256. In that case, Signal is the winner.
Both Signal and WhatsApp support voice and video calling. Both apps offer the same great end-to-end encryption on video calls as they do on messaging. Group calls are allowed, but both apps limit group calls to a maximum of eight people. With video calling, the process is a little different in the two apps, but the specs are about the same.
WhatsApp allows the sending of files and media. You can share your location, but only if you specifically give the app permission to keep track of your location. Disappearing messages are an extra function of WhatsApp in case you’d like the record of a message not to be kept indefinitely.
Signal also allows file and media sharing, but images won’t send if they’re larger than 6MB and files must be less than 100MB. Signal also offers a low-data call mode as an extra perk in case you have a monthly use limit.
While WhatsApp offers cloud and local backup, Signal only offers backup locally. This is a benefit of WhatsApp unless security is your primary concern, because WhatsApp does not encrypt the backups it makes. The meta data used to communicate is not encrypted either. Signal encrypts meta data and local files with a passcode of four digits. Depending on your privacy concerns, this could be a plus or a minus for WhatsApp.
Signal is owned by the nonprofit Signal Foundation, so it doesn’t use ads to boost its profit. Their main goal is to normalize technology that doesn’t collect customer data or use targeted advertising.
WhatsApp is operated by Facebook, so ads and data collection are a given.
The current user base is much larger for WhatsApp than for Signal, but if WhatsApp continues to have privacy issues, that definitely could shift. When WhatsApp privacy information became publicly known, Business Insider reported a 4,200% increase in Signal user downloads in one month.
WhatsApp vs. Signal – Verdict
Any third-party messaging app can keep you in communication with your contacts. Depending on what is most important to you, the pros and cons of each app might tip the balance in which one you choose.
If you need better privacy, more features, or larger group texts, Signal is the app for you. If offline support, web browser options, larger file sharing, or disappearing messages matter most to you, WhatsApp benefits outweigh its challenges. Neither app is a bad option for a third-party messaging application.
Has this list helped you select a messaging app? Tell us what you chose and what options are most important to you in the comments below.