Difference Between SMS and MMS

Aug 26, 2019

Text messaging has become a common part of people’s lives. Nearly everyone sends text messages multiple times on a daily basis. With so many messaging apps available on both iOS and Android devices, it is almost a guarantee that you have used a couple of them in one way or another. Considering the majority of mobile text messages are sent from a phone’s default messaging system, in this article we will cover the differences of MMS Vs. SMS.

There are two types of text messages on mobile phones—SMS and MMS. The differences between the two are not substantial, albeit there is a need for some explaining. The acronym SMS stands for short message service and is a communication protocol intended for sending and receiving text messages through cellular networks. MMS, which stands for multimedia messaging service, is an extension of the same protocol SMS uses that allows for the transmission of multimedia files over text messages.

So beyond that, what is the difference between SMS and MMS?

SMS messages have a restriction of 160 characters per text message, whereas MMS messages allow for unlimited characters. Another difference, much more significant in essence, is that MMS—as opposed to SMS—allows you to embed media files on a text message (i.e. images, audio files, clips, and gifs).

SMS, on the other hand, can only support embedding a link with a text. Of course, in case of MMS, the number of characters is often restricted to a specific character count but that varies from carrier to carrier.

It goes without saying that the added benefits that MMS provides over SMS come with an upcharge. Basically, MMS messages cost 2-3x more than SMS messages on average (check prices per SMS here). The only downside with MMS is that it is not supported by most telecommunications service providers and is not available globally like SMS is. As things stand, the United States is currently one of the few notable countries that MMS is almost fully available in.

As far as marketing goes, the debate over MMS Vs. SMS has no clear cut answer. While MMS is proven to increase customer engagement by a good margin over SMS, its unavailability (or limited availability) in most countries is a bit concerning in terms of its full marketing capabilities and usefulness. So in this regard SMS comes victorious.

So what would be the difference in short?

SMS (short message service) is the most popular text messaging channel for mobile devices. It is restricted to 160 characters and strictly texts. MMS (multimedia messaging service), on the other hand, can send long messages with attachments such as audio, video and visual content to other mobile devices.

SMS Vs. MMS Android/iPhone

Both mobile operating systems support full functionality of SMS and MMS messaging capabilities through their default messaging apps. Needless to say, whether or not MMS will work your mobile device completely depends on your operator.

Compared to Android, iPhone has an iMessage feature that uses Apple’s servers to transmit SMS and MMS messages as opposed to your provider’s network, which means you can easily send multimedia files with ease. Android has a similar feature which is RCS messaging.

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