No free service remains free forever. For some apps, such as Instagram, advertising pays the price of your admission — and you’ll likely see more ads the longer the service has been around. Others eventually try to get their users to pay a subscription fee. Telegram, the popular messaging app that competes with WhatsApp, has taken the latter route.
Telegram Premium is a paid subscription targeted at Telegram’s most dedicated users. It adds features such as increased limits for file sizes and groups, dedicated stickers, and verification badges for paid members. However, none of those features will make a difference to people who use Telegram as a messaging app, rather than something more like a Discord server. Telegram is trying to target a small section of its user base to fund its server and developer costs, and most people are better off not paying for the service. Here’s why.
The best features of Telegram Premium (and why you don’t need them)
Telegram has a very generous free tier that lets you chat, upload files up to 2GB, and create groups of up to 500 people. Telegram Premium lets you upload files as large as 4GB, create groups of up to 1,000 members, and connect six different phone numbers to your account. Those added features are nice to have, but it’s clear the free tier is good enough for almost everyone.
A paid subscription also doubles a few other limits that will only be helpful for those who practically live inside Telegram. For example, the premium tier bumps up the number of chat folders to 20 (from 10), lets you store 200 chats per folder (up from 100), save up to 400 gifs to your account (as opposed to 200), and lets you reserve 20 public links (up from 10).
A legitimately great feature for paid Telegram enthusiasts is the removal of download speed limits within the app. You could theoretically use this as an opportunity to stop using WeTransfer or another cloud storage service in favour of Telegram.
The big draw for many will be the ability to better manage your chats. Telegram Premium’s chat management features let you hide chats from people who aren’t in your contact lists and automatically archive chats from people who spam you. (That said, Telegram’s free tier allows you to automatically delete chats, too.)
Telegram Premium will also allow you to transcribe incoming voice messages quickly, but only certain languages are supported.
Otherwise, you get a profile badge to brag to others that you’re giving Telegram money, unique emoji reactions, animated profile pictures, and premium stickers. Still, if one premium user adds a unique emoji reaction to a message, those on the free tier can tap it to “use” the reaction too, and the free version of the app already includes a ton of stickers.
How much does Telegram Premium cost and should you get it?
Telegram Premium costs $US5 ($7) per month, and you can subscribe from the app on all platforms. Based on the feature set that Telegram is offering at the moment, though, most people shouldn’t consider it.
You will be able to continue using Telegram for free, and the ads in Telegram are so few that most of its users won’t be seeing them anyway. In short, the free tier is good enough for almost everyone.
If you’re a dedicated Telegram user who hosts large groups and uses the app to send files all the time, then the paid subscription offers a good value. If nothing else, its chat management features alone are worth the asking price — the ability to automatically archive and hide chats is great if you are a heavy use. But at its current price, Telegram Premium is only worth it for a small subset of its user base. If you aren’t sure if that’s you, it probably isn’t.