Snapchat vs WhatsApp: The Unique differences

Snapchat and WhatsApp are instant messaging apps that allow users to share photos, text messages, and videos with a given sense of privacy.

Over the years, both applications have gained popularity among users of different age groups for their unique features.  

In this article, I’m going to compare both of these platforms in terms of privacy, types of accounts, privacy settings, and media shared among other factors.

Why compare Snapchat and WhatsApp

There are several reasons why anyone may choose to compare these two applications, some of which include;

  • To decide which one they want to start using 
  • Or maybe the choice could be to uninstall one of them
  • It could also just be to determine which one is better
  • Or for research purposes 

Snapchat versus WhatsApp

Whatever the reason for comparing these applications may be, we are going to look at them side by side using different factors. These are:-

1. Creation of accounts

You can create a Snapchat account using both the app and web version, whereas you can only create a WhatsApp account using the application.

create a Snapchat account
create a Snapchat account
create a WhatsApp account

To create a new account, you will require an email address for Snapchat and a phone number for WhatsApp. 

You can later add a phone number to your Snapchat or an email to WhatsApp for verification and privacy purposes.

Snapchat requires creating a username and password along with other details like dates of birth, whereas, with WhatsApp, all you need is a phone and a one-time password via text message.

create a Snapchat account
create a WhatsApp account

To create a business account on Snapchat, you need to create a personal account first whereas for WhatsApp you can choose to have either of the accounts.

With Snapchat, you can choose whether or not you want to sync your phone contacts while WhatsApp automatically syncs and requires phone contacts.

creating a Snapchat account
creating a Snapchat account

2. Nature of accounts and applications

Both applications have personal and business types of accounts although you may only have one account per phone number or email.

This means that you will need two numbers or emails if you want to have both a personal and professional account on either platform.

WhatsApp has two types of apps that you can download to one device, a business application known as WhatsApp Business and the normal WhatsApp Messenger app. However, Snapchat only has one type of application.

WhatsApp apps

With a recent update, you can manage two WhatsApp accounts on the same device by adding an account whereas that is not possible to do with Snapchat. 

You have to first log out of the current account and then switch accounts.

Snapchat switch accounts
WhatsApp add accounts

Snapchat allows one to log in and out of the application while still maintaining your account, while with WhatsApp the only way to ‘log out’ is by either uninstalling your app or deleting the account.

Snapchat logout
WhatsApp delete account

Snapchat has what is called Snapchat Plus which is a paid account, while WhatsApp is free and has no limited features reserved for premium accounts.

You can use WhatsApp web on all browsers since it requires scanning a QR code, while Snapchat is not compatible with some browsers like Firefox.

Snapchat web

WhatsApp has a desktop application that can be downloaded to any personal computer, unlike Snapchat which only has a mobile application. 

Snapchat web

Snapchat web

WhatsApp web

WhatsApp web

WhatsApp business is available for everyone as long as they can access the application, unlike Snapchat business which is limited to a few countries listed here.

There are other aspects to consider between the two apps like the layout of the applications, and information displayed on the apps that you may consider user-friendly or not, depending on what you are looking for.

Snapchat profile
WhatsApp profile and settings

3. Media shared

Both platforms allow their users to share media like photos, videos, voice notes, and text messages. 

However, the length and size of these files vary per app’s settings.

For example, Snapchat allows sending videos of up to 120 seconds long whereas with WhatsApp you can send videos of up to 6 minutes.

Snapchat media share
WhatsApp media share

With WhatsApp, one can send more types of media like documents, direct external links, contact cards, audio, and music files.

Snapchat media files
Snapchat location share
WhatsApp media share

4. Privacy and security

Both applications have end-to-end encryption for data shared on the platforms and a two-factor authentication system. 

Messages sent on Snapchat are by default erased from the platform although when this is done is determined by the users, the type of message (text, snap, or group chat), and the customized settings. 

A user always keeps their chat history on WhatsApp unless they change their settings for disappearing messages. 

With Snapchat, anyone can search for you using different features like name, username, phone number, or connected accounts. 

Only people who have saved your phone number may contact you on WhatsApp.

When someone takes a screenshot, saves, or downloads a snap on Snapchat, the other person is notified, unlike WhatsApp where the person will be none the wiser.

Snapchat Privacy and security

Snapchat lets its users delete sent messages at any time whereas WhatsApp only permits deleting your messages for everyone within 60 hours of sending. 

All the same, both applications alert the other users when a message is deleted from a chat.

Snapchat Privacy and security
WhatsApp Privacy and security

Snapchat allows for adverts in between stories and on its spotlight page, while you will not find any Ads on WhatsApp.

5. Features

Snapchat and WhatsApp have many similar features; 

  • Media shared for 24 hours known as stories for Snapchat and statuses for WhatsApp
  • Ability to make voice and video calls
  • Communities, groups, and channels
  • Filters
  • Polls
  • Screen sharing
  • Live location sharing

However, the way these features work varies per application for example groups may have up to 200 members on Snapchat and 1024 people on WhatsApp.

They also have some features that are unique to either of them for example;

Snapchat has a feature known as Snapstreak where you can track how many consecutive days you have talked to someone.

WhatsApp has an inbuilt chat locker where you can choose to password-protect some private chats.

Snapchat memories allow users to save previously sent snaps or posted stories and create an album within the application.

WhatsApp enables users to edit text messages they have sent, even though it is for a limited period. 

With Snapchat, you can choose to turn on your location so your friends will know where you are texting them from.

Snapchat Ghost Mode

You can see when the person you are chatting with was last active on WhatsApp and may also choose to customize these settings.

Snapchat has an AI bot feature called My AI that enables you to chat and ask any questions you may have about the platform which is not the same as WhatsApp.

Snapchat AI

WhatsApp has a feature where users can send and receive money from their contacts using the application as well as make payments to businesses. 

However, this is not available in limited countries at the moment.

6. Nature of users

Who is using or what they are using the applications for will also determine the choice between Snapchat and WhatsApp.

Most business and formal setting users may prefer WhatsApp because of its more serious nature, the ability to send raw unedited media, and added features like sending documents.

On the other hand, Snapchat will be more appealing to users sharing pictures and videos for entertainment because of its very well-known and attractive filters.

Likewise, depending on the desired level of privacy, users may choose Snapchat for its disappearing messages or WhatsApp because of the ability to freely customize privacy settings.


How can I lock my WhatsApp chat?

WhatsApp is always rolling out updates to improve its users’ privacy and security, and one such feature is the chat lock.

You can secure one or more of your chats by putting them away in a folder and protecting them with a fingerprint lock and your device password.

Open your application and long press on the chat you want to be private. You can select as many chats as you wish.

Tap on the three dots in the top right corner and select to lock chats. You will be asked to confirm your passcode and add a fingerprint lock.

These conversations will now be moved to a folder pinned at the top of your chats list where you can always access them.

WhatsApp locked chats 2
WhatsApp locked chats

Alternatively, you can also open the profile page of the person or group chat and select the chat lock feature.

Things to note about this feature;

  • Locking chats on one device does not automatically lock them on any linked devices.
  • Secured chats will still appear on the list of archived messages
  • You can unlock these chats at any time if you wish.

What is Snapchat best known for?

There are three things that Snapchat is best known for. These are;

Filters: Almost everyone knows about Snapchat’s cool filters and stickers that can be used with videos and photos. 

Screenshots alert: Another feature is the ability to know when someone screenshots your stories or snaps.

Disappearing messages: If you ask users what they know Snapchat for, one of the things will be the messages that are erased when they are viewed. 

What is the new feature of WhatsApp video?

The new WhatsApp video feature which is commonly known as WhatsApp Snapchat feature among users is called instant video messages.

This feature allows users to send videos similarly using a shortcut in chat to send a voice note.

Unlike the usual videos, these can be previewed within the chat window although without sound. One has to tap on the video to unmute the video.

To turn on this feature, go to Settings → Chats → Chat settings → Instant video messages, and toggle to turn this setting on or off.

WhatsApp  settings
WhatsApp video
WhatsApp video

How do you send a disappearing picture on Snapchat?

All messages and media sent on Snapchat are set to vanish when they are opened depending on your settings.

You may choose for them to be deleted immediately after viewing, after 24 hours, or saved in the chat.

You can customize this by long pressing on a name in the conversations tab. Go to Chat and Notification settings, Deleted chats, and then choose the desired option.

You may then proceed to send a disappearing picture by opening the chat window and tapping on either the camera to take a new photo or the gallery icon to choose an existing one.

disappearing picture on Snapchat

Note that even though these photos will vanish after the chosen period, the other person will still be able to save them.

However, you may prevent this by tapping on the timer icon in the editing window and choosing any time between 1-10 seconds. Choosing the infinity sign will still allow users to save your photos.

Snapchat picture timer
Snapchat picture timer

You should note that this option does not apply to photos that are already in your gallery or that you have saved to your memories or camera roll. 

How does disappearing chat work on WhatsApp?

With disappearing chat, you can decide when your new messages are cleared from your history. You can do this to all your chats or for conversations with specific people.

When this setting is activated, these chats will vanish after they have been viewed depending on the timespan that was chosen.

To use this feature, open your application and go to SettingsPrivacyDisappearing messages


  • There is no option for messages to immediately vanish after opening. The periods given are 24 hours, 7 days, and 90 days 
  • Already started conversations will not be affected by this setting, only the new ones.
  • To apply this setting to existing conversations; open the chat, tap on the three dots in the left corner, and select disappearing messages.
  • Your old messages will not disappear, only those sent or received after the feature is activated.
  • Disabling this feature will not preserve messages that were sent when it was activated.
  • Disappearing messages or profiles are identified by a play icon inside a half-doted circle.
WhatsApp Disappearing messages
WhatsApp Disappearing messages
WhatsApp Disappearing messages

How do I add friends on Snapchat?

There are six ways to add friends on Snapchat, namely;

From Your Contacts: To use this option you need to sync your contacts first. You can do this under settings or by tapping on your picture and going to your profile page.

Scroll down to the Friends section, Add Friends, and select All contacts. If your contacts are not already synced you will see the Invite your friends option. Click Add or Invite to add friends.

Using a Snapcode: This is the alternative to a QR code on Snapchat and you can share it using your other social media accounts or via text message.

Snapchat Snapcode

Anyone who has your profile code, or who comes across an image of your snapcode can scan it and add you as a friend and vice versa.

Subscription to Public Profiles: Snapchat has a feature where both personal and business accounts can create public profiles that people may follow.

Subscribing to any public profile means you are adding them as a friend.

Using Search: Find and add friends using this method by typing names in the search bar on the Chat, camera, stories, or spotlight pages.

Using Quick Add: When you open your chat window, accounts will be suggested to you depending on who you follow and your subscriptions among other factors.

By Mention: You can add people as friends if you find them mentioned in stories that you are viewing. Just tap on their name and click Add to follow them.

Which is the No. 1 messaging app?

According to most statics websites like Statista, WhatsApp is the most used messaging app with over 2 billion users as of 2023.

It also has the most downloads per month standing at over 45 million while its sister application WhatsApp Business stands at a little over 24 million downloads.


Comparing Snapchat and WhatsApp is a broad subject that is determined by different factors like which person is asking and the reason for using the applications.

I hope this article has provided some clarity and answers to deciphering this topic and bringing you closer to your answers.

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Esther is an enthusiastic writer at GoTechUG, she creates practical content that helps people navigate the complex online environment. She is passionate about travelling, meeting with friends, and watching movies in her spare time.

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