Telegram VS Whatsapp VS ICQ New – Desktop and mobile ultimate comparison 2020

Instant messaging service is almost a must requirement for our daily digital needs. Communicating with friends, families, and other important things like communication with the office, chatting with customers, sending memes, etc. Instant messenger allows you to achieve these by providing a usable chat client. Some have additional features but fundamentally they are all the same.

You can see hundreds of thousands of IM apps lurking on the App Store and Play Store. Not all of them are popular. So we have compared the 3 most popular and functional IMs in this article so you can finally get the debate done with your friend James about which one is the best. Let’s start by looking into a brief description of each app.

Read the full article so you can know how I rated the apps and there will be a table for feature comparison, so don’t skip any part


Overall:     ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆     Usability :     ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Privacy:     ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐     Popularity :   ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆

Telegram is a popular Secure Instant Messaging Service available for almost every platform. I actually use this as my primary IM. I may be a bit biased but I think if you use it for a while it will get better and better. With every new update, Telegram brings unique things that are carefully chosen to make usability better. The team behind Telegram is brilliant and friendly. Some of the features, like cloud sync, ability to send or save large files, ability to share any kind of files, large catalog of bots, and ability to make supergroups are so important to me.

Telegram is superior at providing feature-rich experience while protecting users’ privacy. In fact, Telegram is the most balanced IM in the market as it successfully provides security, privacy, and features. Fewer apps offer this much with zero cost and much versatility.

Also, there are lots of small features that make messaging much more easy and efficient. Text formatting, forward to saved messages, editing media before sending, and animated stickers and lots of other small things. These are life-changing for me. Like there are advantages, there are limitations.

So here are the top features

  • Cloud messaging. No more manual backup. Chat history and files stay on the cloud and can be accessed from any device.
  • Best collection of both official and custom stickers that can be downloaded and managed right from the app without downloading anything externally.
  • The only app that has the world’s best Animated Stickers that are vector-based and runs at 60 frames per second. Better than GIFs in every way possible. Search stickers via emoji and GIF search are available in the app.
  • Better Polls with Quiz and Anonymous mode built-in.
  • Theme your Telegram in every way possible including color scheme, dark mode, the roundness of chat boxes, the layout, and more using either theme editor or external theme file. You can also export, share, and install themes from theme files.
  • Rich Bot catalog that can help you by providing various extra features including music download, wiki search (type @wiki and hit space), inline image (@pic) searching and sending right from the app, and even Gmail has a Telegram bot and more.
  • Better privacy features and better TOS, strong security. Encrypted call and secret chats. You can also edit and delete your send messages from both sides.
  • You can add a password to secure your account from SIM cloning and illegal access to your device
  • Unlimited storage where you can keep your files, chats, and contacts
  • Send large size files up to 2GiB. You can send any file. You can use it as a file-sharing medium too if you want.
  • Supergroup with better management, spam protection bots. You can add a custom title to the admins, manage members, and restrict them if you need to.

And lots of lots of other great features. And it’s improving in every update. Something is being added every time.

Here are the lackings

  • No video calling, group calling, and video conferencing (Telegram is testing a beta version of Video calling officially)
  • Telegram is blocked in many countries due to Telegram denying any government agency that wants access to its user’s data.

With these very little lackings, I think I can still manage to live with Telegram. But we should move on to the other app.


Overall:     ⭐⭐☆☆☆     Usability :     ⭐⭐⭐☆☆

Privacy:     ⭐⭐☆☆☆     Popularity :   ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Whatsapp is a super popular End to End Encrypted, owned by Facebook, secure (questionable) instant messaging app. It is currently used by 1.6 billion people. It’s one of those apps that people first think when it comes to instant messaging apps thanks to its huge market share and heavy marketing. Whatsapp is currently owned by Facebook and is Facebook’s flagship product.

Although Whatsapp advertises itself as a secure, private messaging app, it has been proved otherwise. After the whole acquisition thing by Facebook, WhatsApp has changed a lot. Well, under the hood, the app stayed just as it was years before with too little changes. There are no extraordinary changes or features yet. But it does deliver what it promises feature-wise, not security-wise.

Whatsapp is currently facing several public concerns about privacy and its ability to protects the user’s data. Which it failed to maintain again and again. A few months ago, account of Jeff Bezos was hacked by sending a media file. And instead of investigating the issue and fixing it, they blamed Apple, the device vendor for it. The parent company Facebook has its own book of horrible history.

Top features of Whatsapp

  • Send secure end to end encrypted messages with text, emoji, GIF’s and stickers
  • Secure audio calling, video calling and video conferencing with many people at once
  • Simple UI with less bloat and easy to use
  • Share documents with friends

Here are the lackings

Oh boy, here we go again (takes a breath)

  • UI is too simple and lacks customization. No theming, no control of any sort
  • Shared files are categorized yet unaccessible some time and it’s too bad compared to other IM’s such as Telegram
  • Fully closed source, so not only you are stuck with its crabby UX, you can’t improve it, neither use a third-party client with better UX. Whatsapp bans if anyone tries.
  • Stickers look like they are from 2001 and you have to install external apps to enable additional stickers which are terrible. Why though?
  • Facebook keeps the encryption key to themselves and hands over it to government, law enforcement, and probably third parties. They collect usage data, logs metadata and usage pattern
  • Cant hide mobile number or set usernames, cant add people via username
  • The desktop version does not work on its own thus making it mostly useless. You have to sign in via your mobile phone. Also, there is no client for Linux.
  • File sending size limit is 200MB and you can add 256 people to a single group compared to 200,000 members in Telegram and 2GiB file sending limit.

And lots of smaller problems. As you can see, there are lots of cons than there are pros. That makes me hard to choose WhatsApp over other truly secure apps such as Telegram. I think the only reason someone would use WhatsApp over anything is just that many people use it and that’s it. But I still find WhatsApp a good choice for those who want a good video calling apps as Telegram yet to add one. But they promised to add it this year, so WhatsApp might get in trouble soon.

ICQ New Messenger

Overall:     ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆     Usability :     ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆

Privacy:     ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆     Popularity :   ⭐⭐☆☆☆

Though not popular, ICQ is been here for a while. It wasn’t as good as now. Its been redesigned recently, adding tons of new features and improvements. It is available for almost every platform. And the desktop version of it is open source. So even if you don’t have it for your OS, let’s say BSD. You can compile it yourself. I hope they open-source mobile app too like what Telegram did.

Though it lacks some features from Telegram, it actually adds more. Like video calling, conferencing, and group calling. The desktop app looks similar to a mobile app that I like. And it works on its own without requiring you to sign in via mobile, similar to the Telegram. It also has better privacy as the company behind it is trusted by many. Although there is no guarantee. You decide if you trust them.

Top features of ICQ New

  • You can send quick replies just like in Linkedin, this feature is very handy.
  • Voice records can be converted to texts with a single tap. Again, a very handy feature.
  • Video calling one to one and conferencing with up to 50 people at the same time. Up to 500 people can listen to the conference.
  • Cloud messaging enables you to access chats and files from any device just like Telegram
  • A fully-featured desktop client. If you decrease the window width, it will be converted to a single row layout which is convenient for Linux phones
  • Up to 25K members per group, confirm members before entering the group. You can do the same in Telegram with bots but users still can see chat history and the built-in feature is always better.
  • Ability to reply to multiple messages at once., also edit and delete messages and see who has seen your messages in group
  • There is a well-documented bot API for developers.

Pretty big list huh?

Here are the lackings

  • The privacy policy isn’t as good as Telegrams. You have to trust and agree to their terms in order to proceed using it
  • Few customizations and theming capabilities. You can only enable dark mode and pick accent color (still better than nothing)
  • There is no Reply from the notification feature or mark as Read button. Only an awkward OK button
  • The desktop client seems to be a bit buggy at this moment. It takes few restarts to make a change if you delete a chat
  • ICQ seems a bit heavy on mobile compared to WhatsApp and Telegram.
  • The Discover feature feels useless and incomplete at the moment.

And some other small problems. These can be easily improved and I hope they will. Since they update it pretty regularly. Unlike WhatsApp that haven’t seen any new changes for years except small improvements

So let’s summarize the whole comparison using a table

Comparison table

App name

Video conferencing

Privacy level



Desktop support





Very good












Very good

Very good


All of what I wrote in this article is based on my personal experience, you are always welcome discuss further in the comment.

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