The Difference Between SMS and MMS

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Aug 26, 2019

Table of Contents

How Different Is SMS from MMS?

SMS Vs. MMS on Android and iOS

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 Android and iOS, you’ve definitely used a couple of them in one way or another.

There are two types of text messages on mobile phones: SMS and MMS. The two aren’t too different from each other; however, there are a few elements that stand out. SMS stands for short message service—it’s a communication protocol intended for sending and receiving text messages through cellular networks.

MMS stands for multimedia messaging service. It is an extension of the same protocol that SMS uses, which allows the transmission of multimedia files over text messages.

How Different Is SMS from MMS?

Although SMS and MMS aren't polar opposites—you need phone numbers for both cases—they have certain elements that make one stand out from the other. MMS allows you to embed media files in a text message; you may send pictures, videos, audio files, as well as text gifs. SMS, on the other hand, can only support embedding a link within a text as well as emojis.

SMS supports only 160 characters per text, whereas MMS has no character limit—however, this varies from carrier to carrier.

As for the cost, SMS has the upper hand. SMS messages come at a significantly lower price than MMS. In fact, sending MMS messages costs double or even triple the amount of a single SMS.

The downside of MMS is that it is not supported by most telecommunications service providers. Moreover, MMS is not available globally like SMS is. Currently, the United States is one of the few countries where MMS is almost fully available. On the other hand, the average person receives an SMS 41.5 times a day.

As far as marketing goes, the SMS vs. MMS debate has no clear-cut answer. While MMS increases customer engagement by a good margin, its limited availability poses a concern regarding its marketing capabilities and usefulness. Therefore, text marketing takes the lead in this regard.

While MMS can increase customer engagement, its limited availability may pose a concern regarding its marketing capabilities and usefulness. Therefore, businesses should consider using SMS for text marketing to ensure that their messages are delivered quickly and effectively without the risk of text messages being delayed.

SMS Vs. MMS on Android and iOS

Both Android and iOS support the full functionality of SMS and MMS through their default messaging apps. Nevertheless, MMS still heavily depends on your operator.

Compared to Android, iOS has an iMessage feature that uses Apple’s servers to transmit SMS and MMS messages, as opposed to your provider’s network. This means that you can easily send multimedia files. Android has a similar feature called RCS messaging. RCS seeks to replace SMS messages with a richer text-messaging system that includes phonebook polling and the ability to send in-call multimedia.

iMessage and RCS share a lot more than you would think. Both messaging services offer texting over data and Wi-Fi, along with read receipts, typing indications, and exchanging high-resolution images and videos. iMessage has the advantage of having been around for nearly a decade, giving it a more well-rounded feel. In any case, RCS is showing a ton of potential in its early stages.

Unfortunately, neither accomplishes anything for true universal texting. The reason behind this is that iMessage is only available on iOS, and RCS is currently only available on Android phones. Nevertheless, with an ever-evolving digital world, it's only a matter of time before iMessage and RCS feature global business texting.