Zivame Ad

    Buzz 46Buzz 46: Choosing WhatsApp vs Signal For Privacy, Safety & Usability

    Buzz 46: Choosing WhatsApp vs Signal For Privacy, Safety & Usability

    The beginning of 2021 has seen a surge of downloads for Signal as Whatsapp has sent a notice to its users about a change in their privacy policy. Signal has seen 2.3 million new downloads between January 6 and January 10 alone, while WhatsApp’s downloads fell by 35% during the same time, with 1.3 million new downloads between January 6 and 10, according to Sensor Tower. 

    Signal is run by a non-profit and its co-founder, Brian Acton was also one of the founders of WhatsApp. Signal Foundation aims to provide its users with an encrypted messaging app. The application is open source and seems to have become the top alternative to Whatsapp, with droves of people both young and old, circulating forwards among friends and family on Whatsapp to download and move to Signal. 

    Ironical, right?

    So, How Are Signal’s Next-Level Privacy Features Being Embraced?

    1. The app offers end-to-end encryption, ensuring that nobody can access or store your private chats or media, business or sensitive personal exchanges too.

    2. The messaging app also allows users to set a registration lock PIN and a ‘screen lock timeout’ interval as an additional protection in case the user loses the phone. 

    3. Signal has said that it only stores the users’ phone numbers, and nothing else. 

    4. It also offers a feature that disables screenshots.

    5. Signal also has a feature where one can blur out faces of people in photos to protect their identities.

    What Makes Signal Different From Whatsapp?

    The privacy feature of Signal is the main reason for its rising popularity. Messages sent through Signal are said to be encrypted, meaning the platform cannot access private messages or media, or store them on their server. However, if the devices are offline, Signal will store certain messages on its server until messages are delivered.

    Signal also allows setting a registration lock PIN, which helps users protect private profile information. This number can also be used to retrieve profile, settings, contacts if a user loses the device or switches to a new one.

    While WhatsApp also provides end-to-end encryption for messages, it can access other private information like IP address, group details and status. The company also does not encrypt messages stored on the cloud. 

    Signal V/S WhatsApp: How Do They Compare On

    1. Money Matters

    Both the apps, Signal and WhatsApp are free to download and use. There are no hidden charges to access certain features and they’re readily available on both Android and iOS.

    2. Features 

    Signal lets users send messages, make audio and video calls to their friends, share photos, videos and links, similar to how WhatsApp works. Both apps let you individually reply to messages, send emoji-based reactions to a particular message, and even delete a particular message from the chat by choosing the ‘Delete for Everyone’ option.

    Signal also has an additional disappearing messages feature. You can set disappearing messages on for each individual chat and choose the time ranging from 5 seconds to one week.

    While WhatsApp easily creates and adds people to groups, on Signal, not everyone is easily added. People are sent an invite and they have to accept the invite to join the group.

    3. Usage On Other Devices

    Similar to WhatsApp, you can use Signal on your laptop device. It is the same as linking the account to your phone. But the difference is that Signal does not transfer the chat history to the secondary device, unlike WhatsApp that transfers the messages. 

    The account will be synced but the chats won’t appear because all message history is stored on the individual device itself, which is your primary device – the mobile phone. 

    4. Backup On Cloud Or Drive

    WhatsApp has an option to backup your chats on to your cloud account or google drive. So in case you lose access to your phone, you could get your chats easily on your new phone. 

    Unlike WhatsApp, this feature is not available on Signal. If you have no access to your older device or phone, you cannot revive your chat history. All your messages, images, and other information stored locally shall be erased. The similar situation will arise in case you change your number or clear all your data. 

    But if you have your old device, you can transfer the data. 

    5. Privacy Features

    Signal has plenty of privacy-focused features. It has an option of ‘Relay Calls’ where the calls go through a Signal server to avoid revealing your IP address to your contact. Signal also offers the option to turn on or off read receipts and gives an option to turn on or off typing indicators to show when a message is being typed. Plus there is no feature like status as seen on WhatsApp, which can show when you are online.

    Signal also lets users turn off link previews from websites if you send those in messages. There’s also a security PIN you can set up to keep your account safe. If you forget the PIN though, you might lose access to your account.

    Signal has a Screen Lock feature, where you can rely on Touch ID, FaceID or your iOS device’s passcode to access the app. However, incoming calls and message notifications can be answered even if the Screen Lock is enabled.

    6. Scope For Business Contacts

    Signal is meant for direct communications between people. It does not have dedicated business accounts for small, medium enterprises or larger enterprises. But the business can join Signal as a regular account and connect with the user.


    1. Signal and WhatsApp do not have any download charges

    2. Signal and WhatsApp have similar features of messaging, audio and video calls.

    3. Signal And WhatsApp can be linked and used on other devices like iPad or laptop.


    1. Signal has a more advanced disappearing message feature that gives you an option to delete the message within the given time range.

    2. WhatsApp allows you to backup and transfer your chat history. 

    3. Signal’s Relay Call feature allows you to avoid revealing your IP address, set a PIN code, and turn off link previews. 

    4. Signal has an option to disable screenshots and blur our faces for security reasons.

    5. Signal doesn’t store any of the date or messages and ensures us that they do not “sell, rent or monetise your personal data or content in any way – ever.”

    Other Alternative To WhatsApp Worth Exploring 

    1. Telegram

    An instant messaging service, it is the closest match to WhatsApp launched for iOS and Android in late 2013 by two Russian brothers – Pavel Durov and Nikolai Durov. The instant messaging software can be used on both mobile platforms and desktops. One of the interesting features of Telegram is its ‘Secret Chat’ mode. 

    2. Viber

    Another instant messaging app that supports end-to-end encryption where your messages, videos, photos, video and voice calls are protected. It is a cross-platform operated by Japanese firm MNC Rakuten, that lets you back-up your data from the app to your drive. It has features similar to Signal like screenshot lock and disappearing messages. 

    Communication apps are always improving. While WhatsApp has its fair share of pros, it’s a well-known app and its user friendly. Signal has its benefits too! As working women and moving into a completely  technological age, a lot of sensitive information like pin codes, passwords are given out via apps. Now you are equipped with all you need to know to choose between Signal and WhatsApp, or any other preferred form of communication.

    Let us know in the comments section, which one do you trust with your information.

    Stay in touch

    Join us to stay connected with a community of power women just like you.

    Zivame Ad

    Related Articles

    Latest Articles

    More article