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“Telegram is free forever. No ads. No subscription fees.” That’s the assurance Telegram had always given when you opened its mobile app for the first time. But the messaging app walked back its claim in June 2022 when it announced its Telegram Premium tier.

Telegram Premium is a monthly subscription that includes new features and improves chat download speeds. But are these extra perks worthy — or tempting — enough for you to upgrade to Telegram Premium? And are messaging apps even a necessity now that the Google Pixel 7 Pro and other Android phones include Messages with RCS Chat?

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If you're worried about having to fork up the cash for a telegram subscription, you can relax: Telegram founder Pavel Durov confirmed would continue to be so in the future. That means your group and personal chats will stay as is without changing how you currently use the service. He further affirmed that free users wouldn’t be left out down the line as not all new features will be reserved for paying subscribers.

While Durov’s post only vaguely mentioned what will be covered under the Premium plan, a more comprehensive lists everything you’ll get access to with Premium.

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A significant change is lifting many of Telegram’s limits, doubling most of them. The paid subscription grants you 20 folders, 1000 channels, 10 favorite stickers, and four connected accounts. You’ll also be able to send files up to 4GB with faster downloads instead of the existing 2GB cap. Subscribers also get the ability to transcribe voice notes, remove ads, have exclusive stickers and reactions, a Premium badge, advanced chat management tools, and more.

How much does Telegram Premium cost?

Back in the day, when WhatsApp also required a subscription after the first free year, it would set you back $0.99 for a whole year. Telegram’s Premium offering is miles ahead of WhatsApp’s earlier approach and hence requires a higher fee. While Telegram’s announcement doesn’t mention the exact monthly charge, the users who already have Premium are seeing a price of $4.99 a month on iOS and $3.99 on Android (prices vary by country).

The subscription fee Telegram is asking isn’t that high at either price point, but it isn’t cheap either. Telegram does have an extensive feature list to justify the asking price, but it’s still going to be hard to convince people to pay for a service that’s always been free.

Who is Telegram Premium made for?

For most users, it isn’t common to pay a monthly fee for their messaging apps when the most popular ones like iMessage and WhatsApp are available for free. But in reality, Telegram Premium isn’t meant for “most” users.

Suppose you consider yourself a power Telegram user or are constantly running into the various limits of the messaging app. In that case, Telegram Premium is the way to go. Businesses and managers of large channels and groups will benefit the most from the paid features, from the ability to better organize your chats to exchanging large files. These tools could be immensely useful if you have a need for them, and you probably already know if you do.

Everybody else who isn’t bothered by the caps currently applicable in Telegram chats—which pretty much covers most regular users—can easily get by with the free version. Telegram sweetens the deal for free accounts by letting them interact with several Premium elements paid users have shared. For instance, even non-Premium account holders can download files larger than 2GB and react to Premium-only stickers. Thanks to a monthly cycle, you’ll always have the option to temporarily subscribe to the service for a one-off use, say when you have to send a large file to a large group.

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Perks like going ad-free and getting access to exclusive stickers can tempt you to make the jump. However, ads on Telegram are already privacy-conscious and sparse, and no one needs stickers. Instead of these, you may be better off spending your money elsewhere. But the ability to transcribe audio messages could benefit many hard-of-hearing individuals or those who spend much of their time in noisy environments. It’s worth spending for the paid tier for this feature alone if it can make your life easier.

There will be people who don’t necessarily need any of the Premium benefits but would still want to support Telegram’s independence or generously keep the service free for most other users. Even if you don’t have any such noble objective and are tempted to be a part of this exclusive club or flaunt that Premium badge, go ahead and treat yourself with Telegram Premium.

A subscription model is the way to go

It isn’t a complete surprise that Telegram is going ahead with a paid plan. In 2020, when people started leaving WhatsApp en masse over its controversial privacy policy update, Telegram became the biggest gainer and amassed 500M active users. To support this staggering growth, Durov suggested Telegram's subscription tier was introduced, at least partially, to meet the growing financial needs of the company. The only thing we didn’t know was the timeline.

Close up of a phone with Telegram opened in the group tab.

Privacy experts routinely highlight Telegram’s lack of end-to-end encryption in the default chat mode. Yet, the messaging service is highly regarded because of its founders’ staunch position on user privacy and the company’s independence from Big Tech. If is anything to go by, large advertising companies don’t shy away from harnessing user data to grow their profits.

As in the early days of WhatsApp, a subscription model makes sense for Telegram to maintain autonomy and pay its bills. Telegram’s approach doesn’t force another monthly payment on most users, but it offers many features to the select few who want them.If you're ready consciously uncouple from Telegram, we are happy to recommend a few of our favorite encrypted messaging apps.