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Telegram announces Premium tier, promises new features for free users

Telegram Homescreen Lifestyle
(Image credit: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Telegram founder Pavel Durov announced a new Premium membership on Friday. 
  • Durov cites "unmanageable" server and traffic costs for why it'll charge to "raise our current limits."
  • Referenced new features include larger document uploads and new Premium reactions.
  • Telegram Premium will launch later in June.

Telegram will soon add a Premium tier that will look to remove current limits on chats, media, and file sizes. Pavel Durov announced on Friday that Premium will become available later this month, as a way to ensure that Telegram is "funded primarily by its users, not advertisers."

Durov promises in the post that "all existing features remain free," so free users don't have to worry about losing access to all the features that made Telegram one of the best messaging apps.

Paid users will have access to new Premium chat reactions and will be able to upload larger files. Premium also will offer "additional features, speed and resources," but we don't know any feature specifics or pricing yet. We'll learn more when Premium launches later this June.

Some Premium features leaked last month, with the implication that free-tier users wouldn't be able to access Premium stickers or uploads that exceed their own limits. But Durov says that free users will access extra-large files uploaded from Premium users, and even use the same Premium stickers within that chat despite not paying for them.

In addition, Durov suggested that "there are plenty of new free features coming," though he doesn't specify what. As with Twitter Blue, Telegram Premium will give subscribers "new features first" before they trickle down to free folks. But at least these new features won't all require a monthly subscription to access.

Free users will have the same file limits as before and will continue to see "privacy-focused ads" in public Telegram channels. 

Durov claims Premium will let Telegram mitigate "server and traffic costs" that "would have become unmanageable" if everyone could use unlimited data.

With rival WhatsApp recently challenging Telegram's file size limits, it's unsurprising that Telegram would answer back by offering a limit-hike of its own. The battle between Telegram, Signal, and WhatsApp has proven fierce in recent years, and it'll be interesting to see whether either of those apps follow suit and offer their own "premium" experiences.

Michael spent years freelancing on every tech topic under the sun before settling down on the real exciting stuff: virtual reality, fitness wearables, gaming, and how tech intersects with our world. He's a semi-reformed Apple-to-Android user who loves running, D&D, and Star Wars. Find him on Twitter at @Michael_L_Hicks.