Today we’re going to talk about Telegram. You can find lots of free messaging apps out there. However, finding a free messaging app that is also secure, and has enough users to make it worth using, is a lot harder.
WhatsApp used to be the choice of the masses, with over 1 billion users worldwide. Now with their privacy problems, millions of people appear to be abandoning WhatsApp in 2021. Telegram is one of the top alternatives and this Telegram review will give you everything you need to know.
Telegram messenger features
Here are some key features to consider when deciding whether Telegram is right for you:
- Code for the open source parts is available on GitHub
- Telegram apps for Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Mac OS, Windows, Linux, popular browsers
- In excess of 500,000 active users
For this review, we downloaded and tested Telegram desktop and mobile apps.
Telegram company background information
Telegram Messenger was created by brothers Nikolai and Pavel Durov in 2013. With over 500 million active users, it is one of the most popular messaging apps in the world. The company is headquartered in London, with the development team based in Dubai. The company is funded through a donation by Pavel.
Where is your Telegram data stored?
Telegram has a hybrid system for storing your data. By default, all your message data is stored on your devices. However, you can remove data from this local cache, and store it on Telegram’s servers. This allows you to balance your desire for privacy against the need for data storage space.
Those Telegram servers are located throughout the world as part of a distributed network.
Telegram third-party testing and audits
I wasn’t able to find any published third-party audits or other formal test results for Telegram. What I did find was a lot of criticism of the Telegram security model and of Telegram’s MTProto encryption scheme. We’ll go into this in more depth at the end of this post.
This lack of outside audits is somewhat unusual, and it is surprising that Telegram apps have not been subjected to an audit. As we noted in both the Wire review and the Signal review, these encrypted messaging apps have undergone third-party audits.
Telegram messenger hands-on testing
For purposes of this Telegram review, I used the Telegram mobile app for Android, along with the Windows Desktop app. Since Telegram focuses on the mobile experience and requires you to join the service using a mobile device before you can use a browser or Desktop app, we’ll concentrate on the mobile side of things first.
Telegram Android app
Installing Telegram on an Android phone involves downloading the app and registering your phone number. This is similar to Signal messenger, which also requires a phone number to use the service. You can either download the app from the Google Play store, or download the Android APK directly from the Telegram website.
Once you finish installing and registering your account, you will be able to use the Telegram app to communicate with other Telegram users by text, voice, photos, video, group messaging, and channels (subscription broadcasts). File sharing is also supported.