iMessage vs. WhatsApp: Which Is Better? – MUO – MakeUseOf

If you have an iPhone, should you stick with the default iMessage or try WhatsApp? We compare them to help you decide.
Choosing the right messaging app for you can become overwhelming, especially when you have to consider security and privacy, data usage, and other general features. If you have an iPhone, you've likely had to choose between iMessage and WhatsApp.
So which service is better? There are several factors to consider when analyzing whether to use iMessage or WhatsApp. So to help you out, we'll do a comprehensive comparison of both messaging services.
Apple takes its typical closed-off stance towards iMessage—only iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac users can message people using the service. If you try to message an Android user with the Messages app, the bubbles will turn green, meaning you've sent an SMS instead of an iMessage.
WhatsApp, like iMessage, also uses cellular data or Wi-Fi to send and receive messages, but the difference is that anyone can download the app and use it. iMessage comes preloaded on all new Apple devices, but WhatsApp requires you to download it (for free). Currently, you can use WhatsApp on devices running these OS versions:
WhatsApp takes the edge globally with its universality, but iMessage is significantly more popular in the US. Our look at why WhatsApp is so popular has more background if you're interested.
Both iMessage and WhatsApp claim to be completely safe and secure to use. There are pros and cons to both services, though.
First, iMessage only kicks in if you're using the Messages app when whoever you're messaging also uses an Apple device. If your messages have blue bubbles, then that means they're protected by end-to-end encryption. Sending a message to an Android device with the Messages app uses SMS, which isn't encrypted at all. That means that anyone could hypothetically access those messages. To combat this, many people without an iPhone use apps like WhatsApp or other third-party choices.
So how does WhatsApp fare in terms of privacy and security? The service also has end-to-end encryption, but there have been multiple issues surrounding this. For example, WhatsApp allegedly suffered a major security breach in 2022. There are also a few ways your WhatsApp messages can be hacked.
In terms of keeping your data safe, both services seem equal. WhatsApp may be slightly better than iMessage simply because anyone can download it for encrypted messages.
Sending pictures, videos, links, and miscellaneous files all takes up space, and iMessage and WhatsApp have different server capabilities.
With iMessage, you can usually send files up to 100MB. iOS users might prefer iMessage to send pictures and videos because they retain their quality when sent. Despite what seems like a 100MB cap, some users claim they can still send videos with file sizes near 2GB.
According to WhatsApp as of July 2022, WhatsApp users can now officially send 2GB files protected by end-to-end encryption. This is a noticeable increase from the previous 100MB limit. The company cites this change as a benefit for small businesses and school groups for collaboration and work-related activities.
Officially, WhatsApp has much better file-sending capabilities and server capacity. Unofficially, both services have more or less the same limits. What makes WhatsApp better here is that you don't have to consider whether your files will be sent over an insecure protocol, like you do with iMessage.
Both WhatsApp and iMessage have expanded their group messaging services significantly to compete with other apps.
With iMessage, you can create a group chat of up to 32 Apple ID members (blue chat bubbles). For MMS group chats in the Messages app (without iMessage), the limit is 10 people.
WhatsApp supports groups of up to 1,024 people. This capability is due to the service working to better serve small businesses and educational groups, and is a way to compete with workflow apps like Slack. WhatsApp Communities are a separate function and have a few differences from normal group chats—we've compared WhatsApp Communities with WhatsApp Groups if you're curious.
As we can see, if you're interested in group chats, then WhatsApp is the better choice for you.
While you are likely familiar with Apple Pay, WhatsApp also has its own proprietary payment system. Currently, WhatsApp Pay is limited to Indian and Brazilian users only, whereas Apple Pay operates in numerous countries and continues to expand. It's currently unclear if WhatsApp Pay plans to expand into other markets.
If you do live in India or Brazil, then you can link your bank account to WhatsApp, then receive and send money to contacts. This service is more of a bank-to-bank transfer facilitator than a comprehensive payment platform like Apple Pay. For example, if you wanted to send your friend your part of a split bill, you can do it quickly via WhatsApp Pay.
Apple Pay is much more fleshed out and comprehensive. Since Apple encourages users to stay within the company's digital ecosystem, you can send and receive money via Apple Wallet in iMessage. You can then store that money on your Apple device and use it as you wish, such as for contactless payments. That's just one of the many reasons to start using Apple Pay.
Although paying your contacts isn't a primary feature of a messaging service, you can't go wrong with using iMessage and Apple Pay if it's something you do often.
iMessage puts a lot more focus on quality-of-life features like message effects, handwritten messages, and games. When you open an iMessage chat, you'll see a navigation bar full of cool iMessage apps with a host of icons where you can send GIFs, music, and content from linked third-party services.
WhatsApp doesn't host as many aesthetic or entertaining features and opts for a more simple and functional approach. You can't play games or make your chat rooms fun with effects, so some may see WhatsApp as the more "boring" option.
For additional features, iMessage is definitely the better choice, as it integrates a lot more third-party applications.
If you're wondering whether you should choose iMessage or WhatsApp, it primarily comes down to what you'll use the messaging service for. If you like functional applications, you might favor WhatsApp with its 1,024 group size limit and 2GB file transfer cap.
For a more aesthetic, dynamic, and entertaining experience, iMessage makes the most out of the Apple ecosystem and allows you to link different services and features. This is great for communication between iMessage users, but we would recommend you exercise caution when sending SMS texts to Android phones, as there's no end-to-end encryption for your messages or files.
In some cases, your choice of messaging app might also come down to which service most of your friends use, as it's tough to get people to sign up for an app just to message you.
Aaron is an experienced tech writer who has a deep knowledge of Apple products. He’s been a freelance writer across multiple tech publications since 2020 and has continued to produce high-quality content wherever he goes. He has an authoritative yet easy-to-understand writing style that helps iOS users, both new and old, understand more about their smartphones. 


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