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Signal vs WhatsApp: How do they compare?

Last Updated on February 24, 2024
Comparison between Signal and WhatsApp.
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WhatsApp vs. Signal? Want to know which is the right messaging app for you, then you’ve come to the right place. This article will go over all the similarities and differences between the two apps.

WhatsApp and Signal are two of the world’s leading messaging services. On the surface, they may have many of the same features, but when you start digging and getting into the nitty-gritty, some key differences start to appear.

Signal, which was created by the original owners of WhatsApp, has increased in popularity due to WhatsApp starting to share user data with its parent company Meta; also the owners of Facebook and Instagram.

Both messaging apps are very comparable, so it can be a hard task determining which platform is best for you. Fortunately, this article will help you decide, we’ll consider each app’s features, security, and other things to consider.

Signal vs. WhatsApp: Features

EncryptionEnd-to-end encryption by default for all communicationsEnd-to-end encryption by default for all communications
Group SizeUp to 1000 membersUp to 1024 members
Metadata CollectionCollects minimal user dataCollects more metadata (contacts, usage patterns, etc.)
Open SourceFully open-source codeClosed-source, though uses the Signal encryption protocol
Disappearing MessagesYes, with customizable timerYes, with customizable timer
Screen SecurityPrevents screenshots within the appOption to prevent screenshots of chats on Android
Voice/Video Call QualityWidely regarded as excellentGenerally good, can be affected by network connection
File Sharing LimitsVaries based on platformUp to 2 GB
BackupsLocal backups (user managed)Cloud backups (linked to Google Drive or iCloud)
Cross-platform availabilityWindows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOSWindows, macOS, Web, Android, iOS
Here’s a comparison table focusing on the key features and differences between Signal and WhatsApp.


Whatsapp has all the features that you’d expect from a free messaging app. Users can send texts, voice messages as well as have voice calls and video calls with contacts on their phones. Whatsapp also allows users to send photos, videos, GIFs, emojis, and stickers to each other, there is a limit of 16 MB, however, so files to get compressed and lose quality. This can be done on an individual-to-individual basis or in a group chat that can have up to 512 members.

Another handy feature is the ability to send documents up to 2GB in size through the app. Users can send each other files such as PDFs and office files like Word and Excel. Additionally, WhatsApp introduced a new feature called statuses. Similar to Stories on other social media sites like Instagram and Snapchat, users can post videos and images that are available to see for 24 hours. You can also share your location with contacts, this can be a static location or a real-time location that updates as you move.

WhatsApp also allows users to send messages that disappear after a set amount of time, anywhere from 24 hours up to 90 days. This can be done in individual chats or in group chats. However, in group chats, the feature has to be enabled by the group admin.


Similarly to WhatsApp, it offers all the features that you’d expect from a modern messaging app. Including free texts and multimedia messages, sadly these files only have a size limit of 300KB, which is quite small. When compared to Whatsapp’s size limit of 16MB it can be quite restricting. Users can have voice and video calls, as well as share files and locations with contacts and groups. These groups can have up to 1000 members, which is nearly double WhatsApp’s offering.

Signal also allows for users to have self-destructing messages, this can be from 30 seconds up to 4 weeks. Unlike WhatsApp, users can have this feature configured on the receiver end as well, so once a message is read it is deleted after the set time. You can also send view once media and sound messages, which is convenient.

Another feature that makes it distinct from WhatsApp is its note-to-self features. It allows users to send messages to themselves, which allows users to turn their phone into an electronic notebook and help keep themselves organized.

Important considerations:

  • Privacy Focus: Signal prioritizes extreme privacy and minimal data collection.
  • Popularity: WhatsApp has a larger user base, making it easier to find friends already on the platform.
  • Features: Signal and WhatsApp have similar base features, but Signal offers some additional privacy-centric options.

Signal vs. WhatsApp: Security

Security AspectSignalWhatsApp
Encryption ProtocolSignal Protocol (open-source, independently audited)Uses the Signal Protocol (also open-source)
Default EncryptionEnd-to-end encryption applies to all messages, calls, and media by default.End-to-end encryption applies to all messages, calls, and media by default.
Metadata CollectionCollects very minimal metadata (account creation time, last time online)Collects more metadata compared to Signal, including contacts, device information, and usage patterns.
Data Sharing with Parent CompanyIndependent non-profit, not tied to any large tech company.Owned by Meta (formerly Facebook), which has faced scrutiny for data collection practices.
Vulnerability HistoryMinimal known vulnerabilities. Strong commitment to patching security issues quickly.Some past vulnerabilities. While they are often patched, there’s less transparency compared to Signal.
Government AccessOpenly resists government requests for data; built-in features for minimizing digital footprint.More likely to comply with government requests (varies by jurisdiction)


WhatsApp uses end-to-end encryption by default, so all messages can only be seen by those who sent them or are on the receiving end. This means that not even WhatsApp can see the messages. The encryption protocol is the Signal Protocol, which has one of the highest levels of security. It is open source, so anyone can view the code and review it, highlight flaws, and aid in its improvement.

WhatsApp also has two-step verification, helping prevent unauthorized access to your account and the ability to lock messages.

Although the messages themselves are encrypted, the metadata and backups are not and have some vulnerabilities. Metadata which is stored on their servers includes your name, mobile phone number, your contacts, and their details, as well as your IP address. As of May 2021, users of WhatsApp were hit with a new privacy policy that allowed Whatsapp to share user information with its parent company Meta.


Signal Messenger is arguably the more secure messaging app when compared to WhatsApp. It uses the Signal protocol for end-to-end encryption of all messages between users. Each chat also has a unique safety number, allowing users to check the security of these chats. Compared with Whatsapp’s collection of metadata, Signal only collects a user’s phone number as it’s used to link to their profile. Additional data like the time and the location a message was sent from aren’t collected.

Signal also has a blurring tool. It helps protects people’s identities by automatically blurring people’s faces in photos. Signal also provides two-step verification, and you can secure messages with a PIN, fingerprint, or facial identification.

Key takeaways

  • Encryption: Both apps use strong encryption, making content interception difficult.
  • Signal’s Edge: Signal’s independent status, open-source nature, and focus on collecting minimal data give it a significant security and privacy advantage.
  • Meta’s Track Record: WhatsApp’s ownership by Meta raises concerns for some users about data usage even with encryption in place.

Signal vs. WhatsApp Things to consider

PrivacyPrioritizes extreme privacy, collects minimal data.Adequate privacy, but collects more data and is owned by a data-driven company (Meta).
User BaseSmaller user base than WhatsApp.Vast user base, making it easier to connect with friends and family.
FeaturesSimilar core features, but Signal offers more privacy-focused options (e.g., disappearing messages, screenshot blocking).Offers some additional features (e.g., larger group chats, dedicated desktop apps).
FamiliarityLess widely known, which might make it harder to convince others to switch.Extremely popular and familiar to most smartphone users.
Company ReputationIndependent, non-profit focused on security.Part of Meta (formerly Facebook), with a history of data privacy controversies.


WhatsApp is available on both Android and iOS for mobile devices. A desktop version of WhatsApp is also available on Windows and Apple Mac. A browser version is also available, but it is known to have trouble connecting with smartphones due to a QR code scanning error.

WhatsApp is Also available in 60 languages, which reflects its global reach. WhatsApp is used by over 2 billion users, so it has a high degree of familiarity with many people, making it easy to set up chats with people. One drawback is that you can only use one phone number on any device at a time. However, using your phone, you can link WhatsApp with up to 4 devices.


Signal is also available for both Android and iOS. It, too, has a desktop application that is available for Windows and Mac, it is also available for Linux, which WhatsApp is not. There is no web browser version of Signal at the moment. Signal can be linked to 5 devices.

Unlike Whatsapp’s vast option of languages, Signal only comes in 12 different languages.

Final thoughts

Both messaging apps have all the bells and whistles you would expect, so it is challenging to compare them in that regard. If privacy and security are your primary concerns, then making the switch to Signal, as many other WhatsApp users have already done, is the way to go.

However, due to its significantly smaller user base, and lack of familiarity, it can be difficult to convince others to join you on the app. Really, it all comes down to the individual, but we hope this article helps you come to the right conclusion for you in the Signal vs. WhatsApp debate.

Is Signal more popular than WhatsApp?

No, currently signal has around 20 million monthly active users whilst WhatsApp has 2 billion users. Although it is rapidly gaining new users.

Who owns the Signal app?

Signal is owned by the Signal Foundation. Specifically, Brian Acton and one of the original founders of WhatsApp, Moxie Marlinspike. It is a non-profit organization.

Why is signal preferred to WhatsApp?

Signal offers end-to-end encryption, and unlike WhatsApp, it doesn’t collect metadata that is shared with Meta and its subsidiary companies.

Bradley is a long time tech enthusiast and gamer, first picking up a controller at the age of 3. Nowadays, he enjoys finding the best deals and helping out fellow enthusiasts. When he's not at the co