System comparison

- Reading time: 6 minutes / whole rubric: 42 minutes -

This is about basic comparison and features of messengersystems as well as supplementary information.

This is something different than function comparisons of messenger apps/programs! There are many such comparisons of individual messengers, where functions are compared and partly also (often subjectively) evaluated. For the (actually) unique “overview of comparisons” go >> here <<.

Quick reference

This concise page answers questions such as:

  • Is there a dependency on one vendor?
  • Which system has freely viewable source code and which has a corporate secret?
  • Is that the same for the software used by users (e.g. “messenger app”) and the server software or not?
  • What is the network structure and is one independent here as a user?
  • Is the possibility of end-to-end encryption available?

The quick overview is optimized so that it remains readable and meaningful even when viewed and printed in black and white (PDF files approx. 0.5 MB):

German (PDF)

Chinese (PDF)
zh-TW (traditional/long script)

English (PDF)

French (PDF)

Hindi (PDF)

Dutch (PDF)

Russian (PDF)

Spanish (PDF)

Ukrainian (PDF)

Further Spanish information: (external)

Comparison of WhatsApp with free, decentralized systems.

WhatsApp is by far the most popular messenger with the widest distribution in Europe. It has a great feature set, is easy to use and very convenient in terms of contact management. But …

Suggestion and request:
There is no need to have only one messenger (usually WhatsApp) installed. In addition to the previously appreciated, central messenger (this can also be Signal, Threema, Telegram, etc.), a free messenger can also be used and at least offered as a contact option.

There are major conceptual differences between the two vendor-independent systems Jabber (XMPP) and Matrix (Matrix protocol) - nevertheless they can be considered together in the following overview.

Characteristics WhatsApp
Chatstandard (XMPP) /
Matrix (Matrix)
E-Mail (IMAP) Briar

Island system ("walled garden" [^1]) yes no no no
Free use (no "terms and conditions" no time limit yes yes yes
Open source code of messenger program(s) ("open source") - code can be reviewed no yes yes yes
Open source code of server program(s) ("open source") no yes yes no server
Public encryption protocol no yes yes yes
Free use yes yes yes Yes
Own messenger required for communication yes no no yes
General terms and conditions yes none none none
Minimum age for use 16 without without without
Registration and use

Multiple accounts possible no yes yes no
Anonymous name possible no yes conditional [^2] conditional [^3]
Can be used on several devices at the same time (multi-client synchronization) no yes yes no

Maximum number of participants in groups 256 unlimited unlimited unlimited
Authorizations in groups/conferences few various no various
- Owner no yes all equal no
- Administrator yes yes all equal yes
- Member yes yes all equal yes
- Participant/Reader no yes no no
Public rooms/groups no yes no no
Data protection/privacy

Independent of phone number no and yes yes
Central collection and evaluation of metadata yes no no no
Fully usable without address book synchronization no yes yes yes
Can be used on Android devices without a Google account yes yes yes yes
Can be used on Android without Google Cloud Messaging (GCM) yes yes yes yes
Online/offline status possible yes yes no no
Online/offline status can be switched off yes yes no status no status
Central recording of online/offline status yes no no status no status
Read and receipt confirmation can be switched off partly yes Yes Yes
Tip notification can be switched off ? yes yes yes

End-to-end encryption ("e2e") Yes yes yes yes
"e2e" encryption in groups Yes yes yes yes
"e2e" encryption automatically/mandatorily activated yes yes [^4] yes [^4] yes

Infrastructure centrally decentralised decentralized decentralized
Choice between different messengers (client software) possible no yes yes yes
Storage location of contacts central server by server operator on end device on end device
Can be archived (e.g. for companies) ? yes yes no
Own server possible (e.g. for companies) no yes yes no
Other options

Financing model Trade with data / advertising XMPP: Donations Matrix: Investments donations donations
Special function "Telephone/video telephony" yes yes no no
Special "group call" function (encrypted) no no no no
Direct communication without Internet (LAN/WLAN/Bluetooth - p2p [^5]) no no no yes
Can be called up in the browser yes yes yes no

[^1]: Walled garden = Deliberately demarcated systems with which money is earned by offering free/cheap services that is generated in other areas
[^2]: Restriction: Anonymous e-mail accounts (without providing personal data) are rarely possible
[^3]: A direct contact knows the identity - From the perspective of other people
[^4]: e2e = end-to-end encryption is possible
[^5]: p2p = peer to peer = direct connection of the clients

Table: Status 07/2022 (texts marked in blue = changes since 07/2020)_

The table can be downloaded as a print file: system comparison (PDF file)

To compare Jabber (XMPP) and Matrix (Matrix protocol): >> here <<

Of course there are also many other comparisons of messengers: >> here <<