SMS Vs. iMessage: Everything You Need to Know

Sep 14, 2021
SMS Vs. iMessage

As the world progresses further and further to the digital era, we see a huge demand in new communication ways and methods that will satisfy just about anyone. Companies create communication strategies that will help select the best methods for their businesses.

Before selecting any type of communication method or even researching it, it’s important to understand what strategies are needed, as it will help your organisation communicate effectively and reach potential goals.

When the case comes to individual usage of communication, it basically has the same means to determine the best methods. Whether you are a sole proprietor or a solopreneur, you not only need to select a communication method that is preferable for your clients, but at the same time makes matters easy for you.

So, any research will eventually bring you to terms with text messaging and the many options that are in place. Messaging provides fast, easy, and accessible pricings for you to reach your target audience and increase your conversion rates. It’s becoming one the fastest growing sectors in technology due to its high demand and, interestingly, gaining popularity for individual use as well due to its awesome characteristics.

So, whether you want to connect to a friend, a family member, or your gym, you can do it with text messaging, all the while resting assured that no Wifi issues can stand in your way for your daily communication. The benefit of having the message immediately delivered is what makes it preferable for individual use as well.

There are several messaging methods that can be suitable to you, but it’s important to determine prior what exactly it will be used for as the extent of usage will help you select the right type of method to go with.

Another advantage is the budget: location-based, the SMS and data plan prices differ, but with little research it’s easy for any individual to make the decision which communication method to choose.

So let’s have a look at a few.

What is Text messaging?

It’s a message sent over a cellular network, as for instance SMS (Short Message Service) and MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service). The text messaging requires no Wifi connection or a data plan. The message gets transmitted as a binary code from cell tower to cell tower.

Since it uses a frequency of radio waves the sender/receiver doesn’t necessarily need a smartphone to send messages. Basically, any cell phone will do the trick. However, it requires a specific international carrier plan for the mobile number to be able to send messages around the world.

The main advantages of Text Messaging are:

  • Doesn’t require Wifi or data plan
  • Competitive pricing

What is SMS?

SMS stands for Short Message Service and is a text messaging service which uses standardized communication protocols that let mobile devices exchange short text messages. The service allows users to send and receive messages of up to 160 characters.

The main advantages of SMS are:

  • The open rate is as high as 98%, while email being only 20%
  • Doesn’t require Wifi or a Data plan

What is iMessage?

iMessage is an instant messaging service that was developed by Apple. Since it’s a native messaging technology of Apple itself, it functions exclusively on Apple devices (i.e. iMac, iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone, iWatch). All the devices have the functionality which allows the users to send texts, photos, videos, emojis to other Apple devices over the Wifi or cellular-data networks.

All you would need to do is activate (if not already done so) it from the Settings. It sends real-time messages through the given software app or platform; other examples include Facebook Messenger, Viber: they in turn also require Wifi.

The main advantages of iMessage are:

  • Create group chats
  • See and read receipts, typing indicators
  • Include imagery, emojis, stickers
  • Send audio, video & attachments
  • Names group messages
  • Add or remove members
  • Share locations
  • Send walkie-talkie style messages
  • Send money with Apple Pay

The iMessage has another benefit that stands above all, and that is the Apple Business Chat feature. Businesses can integrate the feature into their communication strategy and reach their customers through iMessage. While, individuals can also benefit with the feature and communicate with businesses in turn. It may look a bit tricky at first, since you would need to opt-in to the business conversation, but don’t worry, you can opt-out of the conversation any time you want.

11:58The benefits of using the feature in iMessage are:

  • Personalized customer service
  • Select and place orders
  • Make transactions with the aforementioned Apple Pay
  • Use virtual assistant

The characteristics of instant messaging in general are:

  • Both the sender and the receiver must use the same application (i.e. if you are using Facebook Messenger, you cannot send a message to someone using Viber, if you are using iMessage through an Apple device, you cannot send it to a device that is not Apple)
  • Requires internet connection for devices and you can communicate with anyone around the world

Android Messaging

In 2018 Google launched its own version of the Apple iMessage called RCS, which stands for Rich Communications Service. It’s a native technology of Google and can only be integrated with Android. It’s also a type of instant messaging.

At the moment this service is available in only 9 countries: the USA, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, the UK, Spain, France, the Philippines, and India. The character limit for RCS is 8,000 as opposed to SMS with 160 characters.

The main advantages of the RCS are:

  • Create group chats
  • See and read receipts, typing indicators
  • Include imagery, emojis, stickers, GIFs
  • Send audio, video & attachments
  • Names group messages
  • Add or remove members

Basically, the most important difference at hand between iMessages vs. SMS is how the data is sent.

So, with SMS the cellphone connection is used and the data transfers from cell tower to cell tower, whereas with iMessage cellular data or Wifi is needed. Keeping in mind that even though iMessages are free to send, it uses your data allowance (no Internet, no iMessage).

If we look at the specifics of iMessage vs. Android messages, the advantage will definitely go to the iMessage. Businesses regardless of scale, need a bigger exposure to target audiences and based on the current availability of the countries supported for the Android, it wouldn’t be the best way to go.

Within 3 years since the launch of the product Android messages has had a huge success, to the extent of course, however in the next few years Android messages vs. iMessage will gain an advantage, as they are here to stay.

SMS has been widely used since the beginning of the 90’s; whereas iMessage was launched in 2011 and has gained much popularity and success ever since. So, if we look at SMS vs. iMessage, in this case, whether the advantage would go to the SMS or iMessage, will solely depend on the business, the company strategy, budget and the communication requirements.

So, let’s dive into the main differences and figure out which of the options would go best for your communication needs:

SMS vs. iMessage: The Differences

Devices supported

SMS is available on virtually every phone and tablet in the world. As SMS is a generic text message the technology plays no decisive role over the transfer of the SMS. Basically any modern phone or tablet can be used and you don’t need smartphones to send a simple SMS.

iMessage, on the other hand, is available only & on all Apple devices. However, if the iPhone user sends an iMessage to a non-Apple device, it will be converted and received in the SMS format so that the message can be read.


SMS is sent over a cell phone network as text messages use your cell connection, bouncing from cell tower to cell tower. SMS requires you to have a cell contract allowance. The phone the SMS is sent to doesn’t necessarily have to be a smartphone, if the device has cellular connection, the message can be delivered.

iMessage on the other hand requires an internet connection, so it can be sent over Wifi or a data plan. If you have neither, you won’t be able to use iMessage as the Internet is used to transfer the data of the iMessage.

Character Limits

SMS has a character limit of 160. If you send more than the estimated limit, the system counts it as additional messages, hence you will be charged for the additional ones separately.

iMessage officially has no character limits. Although, some users have come forth having message errors when approaching 20,000.


iPhone users will have noticed that some of the messages sent are in green and others are in blue. The colors indicate which message sent is a text message (in green) and which one is an iMessage (blue).

With that being said, basically iMessages vs. SMS holds several advantages due to the characteristics of the technology created.

iMessage vs. SMS: the Advantages


Each iMessage has an end-to-end encryption built in, so the security issues are resolved themselves. Given, if you add extra security with a VPN, you can rest assured that there will be no hacker attack to your messages.


Since the iMessage is a native messaging technology of Apple, it’s a default functionality of all Apple devices, so you can send and receive on all your Apple devices simply by syncing them: i.e. you can send the message from your iPhone, and as the response is received you can read it from your iWatch.


With iMessage, you can read receipts and see the status change. So if the message is received, you see “Delivered”, when it’s read, you will see “Read”, and you can also see when the recipient is typing live with a “...” notification.

Group chats

Apple device holders can have group conversations with iMessages as with the app you can tag certain group members to the chat and respond to messages with inline replies.

At a first glance of course, between iMessage vs. Text, we see that the latter does have advantages over the formal. However, there are many characteristics to consider before selecting whichever way to go as your main communication method and the most important one- company strategy!

Another thing to consider before making the final decision is the budget you will be most comfortable with.

Some SMS providers provide competitive prices that will suit any user, iMessage is free of charge, but since it requires the use of a data plan, you would need to consider the monthly data plan that you are on.

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