Real-time communication apps like Discord and Telegram have become increasingly popular, providing ways for people to connect and collaborate online. But which one is right for you?
This comprehensive guide compares Discord and Telegram across key factors like features, security, platforms, use cases and more. I’ll provide an in-depth look at the pros and cons of each service to help you decide which best fits your needs.
Staying connected with friends, family and coworkers is easier than ever thanks to messaging apps. What started with basic texting has evolved into robust platforms for everything from casual chats to large conference calls.
Two of the most widely used options today are Discord and Telegram. At first glance, they seem quite similar – both provide free messaging and calling. However, there are some important differences that impact the user experience (Discord vs WhatsApp, Discord vs Twitch, Telegram vs Signal). This guide will break down how they compare.
This guide will break down Discord and Telegram in detail, comparing:
- Origins and history
- Ease of use
- Calling and video chat
- Platforms and devices
- File sharing
- Group sizes
- Integrations and bots
- Use cases
By the end, you’ll have a clear understanding of the pros and cons of Telegram and Discord. You’ll know which one better suits your needs based on factors like privacy, group sizes, integrations, video quality and more.
Discord vs Telegram: History and Origins
Before diving into the details, let’s take a quick look at where Telegram and Discord came from. Their origins provide context on who each app was designed for.
Telegram launched in 2013 as a messaging app focused on speed and security. It was founded by Pavel Durov, who also co-founded the Russian social network VK.
Telegram gained popularity thanks to its emphasis on privacy and encryption. In recent years, it has positioned itself as a secure alternative to WhatsApp.
While Telegram doesn’t disclose active user numbers, recent estimates put it at over 500 million monthly active users.
Discord launched in 2015 as a communication platform aimed primarily at gamers. The founders wanted to provide a better alternative to existing chat clients like TeamSpeak and Skype.
The app quickly became popular within the gaming community. Today, Discord has over 150 million active users. While gaming is still the core use case, many non-gaming communities have adopted Discord too.
Discord vs Telegram: Features Comparison
Discord and Telegram share many common messaging features, but also have some key differences. Let’s compare the core features and capabilities of each:
Both Discord and Telegram support text messaging between users and groups. You can send messages, links, emojis, GIFs and more.
On Telegram, all chats and groups are private by default. You control who can message you (how to use Telegram without phone number). Discord conversations happen within servers and channels, which may be public or private.
A unique Discord feature is message threads, allowing you to branch conversations off the main channel. Telegram doesn’t offer threaded messaging.
Voice and Video Calls
Discord and Telegram allow free voice calling between users. On Discord, VOIP calls take place within voice channels on servers.
Both also provide video chatting capability. Discord supports up to 50 participants in a video call, while Telegram goes up to 1000.
Discord offers video calls with screen sharing as well. This makes it easy to collaborate on projects or view content together. Telegram doesn’t have screen sharing.
Groups and Channels
In Telegram, you can create group chats with up to 200,000 members, or broadcast channels with unlimited subscribers.
On Discord, conversations happen within servers that contain multiple text and voice channels. Discord servers max out at 250,000 members.
Discord channels offer more granular control over permissions and moderation. Telegram groups don’t have hierarchical admin roles.
You can share files and media on both Telegram and Discord.
Telegram has a higher file size limit of 2GB per file. Discord caps individual files at 8MB.
For videos and audio, Discord channel streaming supports up to 96kbps quality, while Telegram has a maximum of 768kbps.
Both apps provide search to find messages and files shared within conversations.
Telegram offers more advanced search operators for filtering results by sender, date range, media type and more. Discord search is more basic.
Telegram and Discord support chatbots that can provide automated functions like news updates, translations, moderation and more.
Discord bots are more fully featured, with thousands of options. Telegram bots capabilities are more limited but you can create custom ones.
Security and Encryption
For many users, privacy is a top concern when choosing a messaging app. Discord and Telegram take different approaches to encryption and security.
Telegram emphasizes privacy and security as major selling points. All chats use end-to-end encryption by default. This means messages can only be read by the sender and recipient. Even Telegram itself doesn’t have access.
For extra security, Telegram offers Secret Chats. These chats use end-to-end encryption with the added protection of auto deleting messages after a set period of time.
Telegram also supports anonymous channels, which obscure the publisher’s identity.
Overall, Telegram prioritizes giving users control over privacy protections.
Discord uses enterprise-grade encryption to secure chat data as it moves between the app and Discord’s servers. Messages are not end-to-end encrypted.
This means Discord has access to chat logs and content on their servers. However, they have policies against reading user messages or sharing data without permission.
Discord servers, channels and DMs offer adjustable permissions so you can control access. While conversations aren’t hidden from Discord itself, you can restrict them from other users.
For privacy-focused use cases like banking or medical discussions, Telegram’s default end-to-end encryption has an advantage. Discord offers more flexibility for open communication within larger communities.
Ease of Use
Both Telegram and Discord aim to provide intuitive interfaces that are easy to navigate.
Telegram follows the familiar setup of most chat apps. The main screen shows your conversations, contacts and profile.
Menu options are clear and concise. Tapping on a chat opens the message thread, along with buttons for quick access to photos, files, muting and more.
The interface works seamlessly across Telegram’s mobile and desktop apps. The consistent layout makes it easy for new users to get started.
Advanced features like bots, channels and sticker packs are accessible without cluttering the clean design.
Discord uses a sidebar interface that’s intuitive once you understand the hierarchy of servers, channels, threads and DMs.
The app can appear dense and confusing at first to new users. The gamer aesthetic of neon colors and server icons adds to the learning curve.
However, once you get the hang of it, Discord’s roles, permissions and organization options provide more ways to manage conversations. The multitude of bots and integrations add possibilities, at the cost of simplicity.
For non technical audiences, Telegram may be easier to pick up and start using productively. Discord rewards investment in learning the more complex capabilities.
Platforms and Devices
You can use Discord and Telegram across a range of devices and operating systems. Here’s an overview of what’s supported:
- Mobile: Telegram apps for iOS and Android
- Desktop: Native Mac, Windows and Linux clients
- Web: Full featured Telegram web app
Telegram also provides a Telegram CLI, Tablet OS app, and Telegram for Wear OS smartwatches (Telegram not working? fix it here).
- Mobile: iOS and Android apps
- Desktop: Windows and Mac apps
- Web: Discord web app and browser versions
- Gaming: Apps for Xbox and PlayStation
Discord is accessible from a slightly wider range of platforms. In particular, the integrations with Xbox and PlayStation make it convenient for chatting while gaming.
Both provide robust support across mobile, desktop and web, so the majority of users can easily access either platform.
Group Size Limits
For large discussions, Telegram and Discord both support groups with thousands of members. However, Telegram offers unlimited group sizes, while Discord has caps.
- Groups: Up to 200,000 members
- Channels: Unlimited members
- Live Video Calls: Up to 1000 participants
Telegram places no limits on channels, so they work extremely well for broadcasting to massive audiences. Even gigantic groups up to 200,000 are possible.
- Servers: Up to 250,000 members
- Text Channels: Up to 5000 members
- Voice Channels: Up to 50 participants
A single Discord server can have up to 250,000 users. Within that, text channels max out at 5000 members. For comparison, Telegram groups can be 20 times larger.
For video calls, Discord allows up to 50 people. Telegram hits 1000, enabling larger conferences and events.
For community servers and small group chats, Discord’s limits are fine. But Telegram can handle exponentially bigger crowds.
Integrations and Bots
Thanks to open APIs, both Discord and Telegram support third party integrations and bots to extend functionality:
- Custom bots: Build using Bot API and Python
- Webhooks: Create for external services to send messages
Developers can create custom Telegram bots for unique needs. There are also some pre-made bots available.
Integrations are more limited compared to Discord, with no official platform. Workarounds like webhooks allow connecting with external services.
- App integrations: First party integrations with 100+ apps
- Bots: Massive directory of third party chatbots
- Webhooks: Develop custom integrations and bots
Discord provides its own integrations with popular apps like YouTube, Reddit, Trello and more. These make it easy to embed and share content from those services.
There are also hundreds of third party Discord bots available to add new features, from music to polls to moderation.
Overall, Discord offers far more integrations and bots “out of the box”. Telegram has an open API for creating custom solutions, but no centralized platform.
Let’s compare some of the most popular use cases for Discord and Telegram.
Discord Use Cases
Discord’s gamer centric origins make it ideal for the following:
- Gaming communities: Chat with fellow gamers and coordinate online play
- eSports teams: Practice, analyze matches and build team spirit
- Streamers and fans: Engage with your community and supporters
- Gaming events: Host game tournaments, conferences and watch parties
- Gaming media: Share reviews, news, strategies and gaming content
Telegram Use Cases
Telegram tends to excel for more personal and professional uses like:
- Private chats: Encrypted messaging with family and friends
- Peer groups: Secure forums for topics like health, finance, parenting etc.
- Teams and companies: Internal communication and file sharing
- Public figures: Broadcast channels for entertainers, influencers, politicians
- Community building: Group admins can easily manage large groups
- Delivering services: Customer service bots, payments, registration flows
Both apps are general purpose enough to work for many use cases. But their respective strengths make each better suited for some scenarios more than others.
Pricing and Plans
Discord and Telegram both offer their core messaging features for free. However, they differ in premium offerings:
- Free: Apps, messaging, voice and video calls
- Nitro Basic: $2.99/month. File size boost, custom emoji
- Nitro: $9.99/month. Higher quality streaming, server boosts
Discord makes money through its optional Nitro plans. These provide some benefits like increased file size limits and higher quality voice and video.
- Free: Apps, messaging, voice and video calls
- Premium: $4.99/month. Faster downloads, expanded limits
Telegram Premium provides some upgraded limits and speeds. But messaging and calling features are otherwise the same for all users.
For most personal use cases, the free plans are fully functional. Larger servers or groups may benefit from upgraded plans. But they aren’t required to use the apps’ core features.
Key Takeaways and Recommendations
To wrap up this extensive Discord vs Telegram comparison, let’s summarize some key differences and recommendations:
- More features tailored to gaming and geekier audiences
- Highly customizable roles, permissions and moderation
- Unmatched selection of bots and integrations
- Excellent for engaged niche communities
- Simpler and more mainstream interface
- Leaders in encryption and privacy features
- Support for groups and channels orders of magnitude larger
- Better fits professional use cases
- For large public groups or broadcasts, Telegram is likely the better fit
- Discord excels at building active communities around shared hobbies and interests
- If privacy is paramount, Telegram’s end-to-end encryption provides confidence
- Evaluate group size limits, video calling participants supported and encryption offered
- Try both free versions to experience the interface and features firsthand
- Consider the audiences you want to engage with, and which platform suits them
Discord vs Telegram: FAQs
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions comparing Discord and Telegram:
Is Telegram safer than Discord?
Generally yes – Telegram offers end-to-end encryption by default, while Discord leaves messages accessible to them and server admins. For privacy-sensitive conversations, Telegram is more secure.
Can you delete Telegram contacts?
Yes, Telegram allows you to delete any contacts from your friends list. On mobile, tap and hold a contact, then choose Delete. On desktop, right click their name and click Delete Contact. This removes them from your contacts.
Does Discord delete messages?
No, Discord stores all messages permanently on their servers by default. Server owners can choose to automatically delete messages after a set time period.
What does Telegram not have compared to WhatsApp?
Telegram lacks WhatsApp features like statuses, live location sharing, and participating in groups via invite links. Telegram chats and groups are not discoverable – you need a user’s specific contact.
Can you chat on Telegram without giving your number?
Yes, Telegram offers username-based contacts as an alternative to using your phone number. You can control who can see your phone number after signing up.
Is Discord really free?
Yes, Discord’s core features are completely free including apps, messaging, voice and video chat. Optional Nitro plans provide some expanded limits and perks but aren’t needed to use basic functionality.
Is Telegram safe for business?
Yes, Telegram is generally safe and secure for business use. Default encryption gives confidence for sensitive communications. Larger group sizes also suit corporate teams and internal messaging.
Can you use Discord on multiple devices?
Yes, Discord syncs across mobile, desktop and web with one account. You can be logged into up to 5 devices simultaneously, with the ability to switch conversations seamlessly between them.
Does Telegram have video call?
Yes, Telegram has robust support for 1-on-1 video calls, as well as group video chat supporting up to 1000 participants. Discord also provides video calling, but maxes out at 50 members per call.
How old do you have to be to use Discord?
Discord requires users to be at least 13 years old. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) prohibits services from knowingly collecting data on children under 13.
Can you use Discord for dating?
While not specifically designed as a dating app, some people do end up using Discord to meet and chat with romantic interests. However, it lacks features tailored for dating, and conversations aren’t private by default.
How do I recover a deleted Discord account?
If you permanently deleted your Discord account, the only way to recover it is to contact their support team. They may be able to restore the account if provided with proof of ownership. But there are no guarantees.
Discord and Telegram both provide excellent options for messaging, calls and building online communities.
There are clear differences that make each service better suited for some use cases over others. Gaming and hobby groups gravitate toward Discord, while Telegram leads for public broadcasting and privacy.
This guide covers the key strengths of each platform across factors like features, security, file sharing, video chat, group sizes, integrations and ease of use.
Evaluating these details will allow you to determine if Discord or Telegram is a better fit for your specific needs. In some cases, you may even want to use both, since signing up is free and easy.
Messaging apps will continue advancing capabilities and experiences. But Discord and Telegram provide capable solutions for the vast majority of consumer and business communication needs today.