LINE vs. WhatsApp

Two VoIP apps worth considering

Both WhatsApp and LINE allow you to make and receive free calls on your mobile phone. These services are among the most popular instant messaging apps. But which one is the best for saving money on calls and for a clear connection? In testing both apps, we reviewed criteria such as popularity, cost, and features.

Line vs WhatsApp

Overall Findings

LINE
  • Free video and voice calling.

  • Excellent call quality.

  • Call non-users on a cell or landline at a low cost.

  • Uses ECDH protocol for encryption.

WhatsApp
  • Huge base of users.

  • Free video and voice calling.

  • Uses considerable data.

  • Can call only other WhatsApp users.

  • Uses Signal Protocol for encryption.

  • Blocked in some countries.

The two apps offer similar features. And, both apps are free to download, offer free voice and video calling, and allow free file and location sharing. Ultimately, your choice might come down to which one your friends and family use and which interface you find the easiest and most enjoyable to use.

Popularity: WhatsApp Is Everywhere (Almost)

LINE
  • Favored in some Asian countries.

WhatsApp
  • The largest base of users worldwide.

  • Blocked in some Middle Eastern countries.

The number of people using an app is an important factor in deciding to use it. Calls are free among users of the same network. So, the more friends and correspondents you have on one app, the more opportunities you'll have to make free VoIP and video calls. 

WhatsApp is the clear winner here as it has the largest base of users worldwide. While WhatsApp is popular worldwide, the Japan-based LINE's popularity is concentrated in some countries of Asia.

Voice and Video: Available on Both

LINE
  • Free voice calling.

  • Free video calling.

WhatsApp
  • Free voice calling.

  • Calls use significantly more data.

Both apps offer free voice calling among users. WhatsApp didn't introduce this feature until early 2015; LINE had this feature before WhatsApp. Perhaps because of this longer-established capability, calls in LINE tend to be of higher quality than those on WhatsApp. This might also be because of the number of users on the WhatsApp network. Moreover, WhatsApp calls tend to consume more data than LINE calls, and subsequently use mobile data quicker than LINE. The winner here is clearly LINE.

Calling Landlines and Mobiles: Call Anyone Anywhere With LINE

LINE
  • Call any cell or landline phone (calls outside the network incur a small fee).

WhatsApp
  • Can call only other WhatsApp users.

On WhatsApp, you can't call someone abroad who isn't connected to the internet, or who isn't registered on WhatsApp. WhatsApp doesn't go beyond its network. However, you can use LINE to make the call to any phone worldwide, whether landline or cellular, at a cheap rate. This is called LINE Out, and the rates are competitive in the VoIP market. LINE scores high here as WhatsApp offers calls only to WhatsApp users.

Group Messaging: LINE Allows Larger Groups

LINE
  • Group calls with up to 200 participants.

WhatsApp
  • Group calls with up to 100 participants.

Both apps offer group communication. LINE groups allow up to 200 participants, while WhatsApp allows only 100. Also, the features in LINE groups are better for management than those in WhatsApp. LINE wins here. 

Privacy and Security: Encryption Is Standard

LINE
  • Uses the ECDH protocol for encryption.

  • Uses a phone number or Facebook account for registration.

WhatsApp
  • Uses the Signal Protocol for encryption.

  • Uses a phone number or Facebook account for registration.

Both apps offer encryption of communications over their networks. LINE uses ECDH protocol, and WhatsApp uses Signal Protocol. 

Both LINE and WhatsApp register you on their network through your phone number. Some may be wary of this and prefer to keep their number private. Both allow you to use your Facebook account to register rather than your phone number.

Other Features: LINE Offers More Flexibility

LINE
  • Lots of free stickers.

  • Offers many ways to connect with other users.

  • Functions like a social network, including a timeline.

WhatsApp
  • Stickers are available through outside apps.

  • Functions like a social network, but doesn't have a timeline.

  • Blocked in several countries, mainly in the Middle East.

The sticker market is developed in LINE with some interesting free stickers. Some stickers depict real-life characters, and others convey emotions in a meaningful way. Stickers can be sent through WhatsApp, but generally, require another app.

Some LINE users may not have a phone number. So, you can have contacts in LINE beyond your phone's contact list. There are some interesting ways of adding friends on LINE. You can scan their LINE QR code, or the two of you can hold your smartphones close and shake your phones to add each other to the LINE contact list.

Both apps can be viewed as social networking apps. However, LINE is more developed in this regard, having familiar social features like a timeline.

Also worth noting is that there are some countries—especially in the Middle East—where WhatsApp calling is blocked, while LINE may not be. 

Final Verdict: LINE Is the Better Choice If Popularity's Not a Concern

Considering the apps and their features, LINE does a better job than WhatsApp in most aspects. It has more features, and in cases where they share features, LINE has the edge.

However, the one big advantage WhatsApp has is that it has a larger base of users. So, while LINE may be a better tool, most people end up using WhatsApp because of its popularity.