MetaTrader 4 or MetaTrader 5? A Guide for New Online Traders

Apr 17


Viola Kailee

Viola Kailee

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If you start trading and investing online, whether that’s experimenting with buying some stocks or crypto for the first time or fancy trying your hand at some real trading of stocks, forex, and commodities, sooner or later, you will come across MetaTrader 4 (MT4) and MetaTrader 5 (MT5). They are trading platforms; software packages that allow traders to execute their trades. They are free to use, but usually these platforms are accessible via an online broker’s platform.

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Other trading platforms exist,MetaTrader 4 or MetaTrader 5? A Guide for New Online Traders Articles of course, and MT4 and MT5 aren’t the only game in town, yet they are the world’s most popular online trading platforms and the number one choice for both professional and retail traders. Ostensibly, MetaTrader 5 is the successor to MetaTrader 4, so you might initially think of it like choosing between an iPhone 14 and an iPhone 15 – an upgrade, so to speak. Yet, it is not just that simple. A better way of thinking about it is that the two platforms have different target markets, designs, and features. In short, neither is objectively better than the other overall. 

Trading Platforms Overview 

The fintech revolution of the 2000s saw a mass movement of trading activity online. Major online brokers launched, offering services to retail and professional traders alike. Those brokers would usually offer their own proprietary trading platforms -  many still do – to their clients. The platforms are software packages, suites of tools that allows traders to execute trades, access data, charts, educational resources, and so on. 

MetaTrader was first launched by MetaQuotes Software in 2002, releasing several versions until catching lightning in a bottle with MT4, which was released in 2005. By the late 2000s, many online brokers added MT4 to their platforms due to its popularity and the fact that it had a keen focus on algorithmic trading. MT5 was launched in 2009. It, too, was hugely popular, and it was picked up by brokers. Almost all major brokers will now offer both MT4 and MT5. 

From the above, you will note that MT4 is almost two decades old (predating the iPhone) and MT5 is 15 years old. But it’s important to note that they are not clunky old software packages; they have evolved in that time through updates from MetaQuotes Software and third-party developers through open-source architecture. As such, there is a reason we haven’t seen MetaTrader 6 yet – there’s effectively no reason for it. 

MetaTrader 4 

As mentioned, MT4 was released in 2005 and soon became the world’s most popular trading platform. It retained that distinction for many years, although it was recorded in 2021 that MT5 officially passed it in terms of the number of brokers offering it. MT4’s main focus is forex trading, and it was designed for that purpose. It is also a superb choice for those who wish to trade CFDs (contract for difference). You can also trade commodities, metals, indices, energy assets, and cryptocurrencies with MT4. It’s easy to use, and it is a firm favourite for those who like to use automated or algorithmic trading. One of the key attractions is MT4’s vast community, which has been built over the years through millions of users. 

MetaTrader 5 

MT5 is, in a nutshell, broader in terms of scope and tools than MT4. On the surface, using MT5 is just as easy as MT4. In fact, the UX of both platforms is fairly similar. MT5 offers a broader choice of assets, with stock trading a particular highlight that is lacking on MT4. More charts and chart drawing tools, built-in and customisable indicators than MT4, and it has more advanced order types and execution models. It is, as such, an upgrade on MT4. Although, as we shall argue below, that does not mean it is objectively better. MetaQuotes also has more focus on updating MT5 than its predecessor. 

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The Community Aspect  

We mentioned MT4’s community earlier, and that is the difference-maker for many traders. When we talk of community, we mean the body of traders, fintech programmers, and other experts that maintain that enrich and inform the trading experience. Each platform has a different programming language (MQL4 and MQL5). While The MQL5 community is also vast, the MQL4 community is larger and more established. In the simplest terms, MT4 has more support from other users and third-party programmers. These resources – accessing trading ideas, support, and so on – can be indispensable for any trader. 

Which Is Better?

As we said, there is no objectively better platform. MT5 has more features and a broader range of asset classes to choose from, but MT4 has certain elements that distinguish it, notably its focus on the multi-trillion-dollar forex markets and the support of a more established community. Overall, we would say that MT4 is a better option for new forex traders, whereas MT5 is superior for those who are more experienced. In the end, though, most of the very best online brokers will offer both for free to new clients. Moreover, you can practice on both MT4 and MT5 with a demo account before making a decision as to which you’d like to use for your primary trading account.