Comparing Messengers: Which One is Right for You?

In the last 2 years, I've used a lot of different messengers to find the best one for me. However, I found that there aren't many options for most users. In this post, we'll take a look at some of the most popular messengers and compare them based on encryption, open-source status, cost, and number of users.
a person holding a phone with the signal splash screen in a grey room

Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash


namecompanyencryptionopen-sourcemoney to payusers
SignalSignal Messenger, LLC4yes5yes6Free420M7
ThreemaThreema GmbH8yes9yes10$3.99810M9

Only messengers that encrypt messages by default are shown in the table above. There are other apps for sure but they don’t have as many users as of now.


When it comes to encryption, all of the messengers listed above are similar. WhatsApp has adopted the encryption method used by Signal, but as WhatsApp is not open-source (meaning its source code is not available for public scrutiny), it’s hard to prove that WhatsApp’s encryption is secure or that it’s encrypted at all. On the other hand, you can verify that Threema and Signal encrypt messages securely.


You might be wondering why Threema isn’t free. All of the services listed above need servers and have high server bills that need to be paid. So, the real question is: How can WhatsApp and Signal be free? WhatsApp is owned by Facebook, and they make money by selling your data. Signal, on the other hand, is a nonprofit that runs entirely on donations, as of 2020. “As of 2020, Signal ran entirely on donations, as a nonprofit.”11.

Number of Users

When using a messenger, you probably expect to have all of your contacts available to chat with. While this is most likely the case with WhatsApp, as they have 2 billion users, you can’t expect that with Signal or Threema. You will need to invite users to use these messengers. This may be a problem for children or older people who may not want to pay for an app. That’s why I currently use Signal. However, you can choose whatever service(s) you like and take a look at what your friends use.


WhatsApp and Signal require a phone number to use them. This makes finding your friends easier, but it also makes your phone number available to either service. There are many alternatives though. Threema, Session, Matrix, and XMPP won’t require any personal information at all. Instead, you can choose a username when using Matrix and XMPP or choose to create a random ID with Threema or Session. Session is a fork of Signal (Meaning they copied the whole project and changed it, to make it work the way they want.). It’s also onion-routed. However, it’s still in early development. XMPP and Matrix have been around for a while now. They are decentralized, which means you can choose from many servers or even host your own one. However, encryption is not enabled by default with XMPP as of right now.

All information is supplied without guarantee.


You can comment anonymously or using your matrix account.


Why Monero?