What Is Telegram Premium and Can You Get It Free?

The private messaging app offers a lot of features free, and even more with its Premium plan.

The messaging service Telegram stands out for its security measures: Users can instant message each other across many platforms, all while protected with end-to-end encryption.

The service is free, but a Premium version comes with extra features and expanded data file sharing caps. This higher-end version costs extra.

US users are charged $4.99 per month for the Premium service – at least, typically.

The recent rollout of a path towards a free Premium subscription has raised eyebrows in the cybersecurity community, with some arguing that the method offered for nabbing the free Premium subscription – which involves forwarding one-time login codes to their intended recipients – is a big security snafu waiting to happen.

What’s the Telegram App?

Telegram launched in 2013 and has since grown to more than 900 million monthly active users. While US citizens might be more familar with rivals like Whatsapp and Signal, Telegram remains one of the most popular messaging services worldwide, with particularly huge userbases in India and Russia.

Once you’ve signed up, your message history is tied to your phone number and your custom username, rather than your device, allowing for seamless functionality across platforms.

However, if you want even more privacy and security, Telegram offers special secret chats to all users: These use end-to-end encryption, aren’t recorded on Telegram’s servers, can’t be forwarded, and can be set to self-destruct.

You can auto-delete chats on Telegram

Users can auto-delete chats on Telegram, in another example of the app’s focus on data security. Image source: Telegram.

These secret chats can only be accessed on their devices of origin, too, making Telegram an attractive pick for those hoping to combat the utter lack of data privacy that you’ll definitely find with most mainsteam social platforms.

Take Facebook, for example, which was recently accused of giving Netflix access to its users’ private message inboxes. Telegram’s values for data security protect its users from similar practices –although the app itself isn’t fully above scrutiny either, as we cover at the end of this article.

Standard Telegram Features

The free version of Telegram has plenty of features, and is constantly adding more. Here are the key features you’ll get with a sign-up that requires nothing but your phone number:

  • Unlimited cloud storage
  • File sharing for files of any type, up to 2 GB in size each
  • Large groups and channels
  • Voice calls
  • Video calls
  • Support for multiple devices and accounts
  • Lots of stickers
  • Bots and custom bots created with the Bot API

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Telegram messages can be grouped, giving group chats a unified history across platforms, are searchable, and support pinnned messages.

Users can view and send messages from iOS, Android, iPads, PCs, Macs, Linux, and the mobile web as well as web browsers. The service has a “Telegram Tips” bot feed within its platform that alerts users to new features.

Telegram Premium Features

Telegram Premium offers all the features you’ll get with the standard free version, and adds these extra functions as well:

  • File sharing for up to 4 GB in size each, up from 2 GB.
  • Faster Download Speed
  • Voice-to-Text Conversion
  • Premium Stickers and Unique Reactions
  • Advanced Chat Management
  • Animated Profile Pictures
  • Profile Badges
  • Premium App Icons
  • No Ads
  • Custom Emoji
  • Voice Message Privacy Settings
  • Voice-to-Text for Video Messages
  • Emoji Statuses
  • Real-time Chat and Channel Translation

Non-premium users can still benefit from being on the receiving end of some Premium features, too, such as being able to download those 4 GB files that Premium users can upload.

Premium costs $4.99 per month in the US, though the exact price will vary depending on what app store or country you are in.

What Is Telegram Business and What Features Does It Have?

Telegram just debuted Telegram Business in a blog post on March 31, 2024. The term refers to a collection of features that is now available for Premium users.

Business is not a separate paid plan, it’s mode that Premium users can use to convert their account to a business account, opening up these functions and abilities:

  • Hours and Location: Display your hours of operation and show your location on a map.
  • Start Page: Choose which text and sticker people see before they start a conversation.
  • Quick replies: These shortcuts for sending preset messages can contain several messages, with links, files, and more.
  • Away Messages: Send these when closed or on vacation.
  • Tags: Add colored labels to chats based on the chat folders they’re in.
  • Chatbots for Business

These tools make it easy for a Premium user to interact with customers through pre-set chats and prompts, and could make the platform attractive to an audience of internet side-hustlers.

Check out a few examples of the Telegram Premium service and its Business tools:

Telegram Business features include locations, away messages, tags for groups, and prescheduled Quick Replies. Image source: Telegram.

How to Get Telegram Premium Free

Trying to get Telegram Premium gratis? Thanks to a new program, that’s actually possible for some. But it’s location-dependant, it requires users to do a little legwork, and it may even open up security concerns as well.

A new TOS update has the details: A new “Peer-to-Peer Login program” gives users access to Premium for free, provided they agree to accept one-time password codes intended for different Telegram users and forward them along to the users who are supposed to be getting them.

The opportunity is limited: It’s only for Android phone users and only available for specific countries, Indonesia among them. Meet the monthly minimum (no more than 150 codes), according to sources, and you’ll get a free month of Premium, although you’ll have to do it all over again the next month.

What’s the reasoning behind forwarding these codes? According to the Telegram TOS, it’s to combat unreliable SMS provides and “ensure that users in all areas can reliably receive OTPs.”

“Users sign up and log in to Telegram by receiving a verification code (“OTP”) that is sent via SMS. These messages are sent via enterprise SMS operators that, depending on the region and other factors, have varying degrees of reliability.”

The idea may not make it beyond this stage, however, as it opens up multiple security concerns that may not be accepted by the platform’s security-loving community of users. Most obviously, it’s a violation of how security codes are supposed to work. But it also lets the users who receive the codes you send to view your phone number, and allow you to view their phone numbers.

On the whole, it seems unlike that this program will be a viable long-term way for you to get a free Premium subscription: We’d recommend sticking to paying $4.99 per month as usual.

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Written by:
Adam is a writer at Tech.co and has worked as a tech writer, blogger and copy editor for more than a decade. He was a Forbes Contributor on the publishing industry, for which he was named a Digital Book World 2018 award finalist. His work has appeared in publications including Popular Mechanics and IDG Connect, and his art history book on 1970s sci-fi, 'Worlds Beyond Time,' is out from Abrams Books in July 2023. In the meantime, he's hunting down the latest news on VPNs, POS systems, and the future of tech.
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