SMS or iMessage? All You Need to know About Both

SMS or iMessage

iMessage is one of the most popular messaging services among the iOS users. It lets you send pictures, videos, texts and documents over the internet to other iMessage users. SMS is the oldest form of text communication, which has been around ever since the mobile phones came into existence. These two services can be accessed through the Message app on your iPhone and other iOS devices. In this article we learn more about the two features. Get complete detail about how to get iMessage on Windows.

imessage or sms

Understanding the Differences Between the Two

The primary difference between the two is how they are sent or received.

When you send or receive a text or SMS message, it uses the server of your mobile carrier or network provider. This mean you need to have mobile services active in order to use short messaging service. When you send a message, your phone is connected to the mobile network and from there it is delivered to the recipient. Short messaging is an uncomplicated service that lets you quickly send and receive messages. Also, SMS does not require the data or internet service to be active.

SMS is billed depending upon the service plan with your mobile carrier. Incoming messages are usually free. Users are typically billed for the outgoing messages on the per message basis. Some service plans include unlimited messaging or limited number of messages after which you are charged for every message sent. There are some countries where the incoming messages are also charged.

SMS service is normally restricted to 160 characters (including spaces) per message. You can send a longer message, but you will be billed per message in the multiples of 160. Let’s say you send an SMS with 320 characters; you will be billed for 2 messages (160 x 2). If you send a message with, supposing, 161 characters, you will again be charged for 2 messages as it will be the second message after 160 characters.

SMS service is cross platform and you can also send inter-carrier messages. For example, if you have an iPhone, you can send the SMS to Android users as well.

iMessage is a different ballgame altogether. You must have noted that both SMS and iMessage appear in the Message app of your iPhone (or any other iOS device you may be using). But, both these services are poles apart. Also check how to fix waiting for activation iMessage error.

First of all, iMessage is exclusive to iOS devices. In other words, you can share iMessages only with those who also have an iOS device. You would not be able to share the messages with Android or users of any other platform. iMessage is also available on Mac computers.

Another glaring difference between the two is the transmission mode. Unlike SMS, iMessage does not use the carrier network. Instead, it uses the data/internet services. Of course, you could use the mobile carrier’s data services but that is not essential. Even if you have no mobile network connection but you are connected to Wi-Fi, you can use iMessage service.

As far as billing is concerned, it completely depends upon the data or Wi-Fi plan you have. For instance, if you have unlimited data with your mobile carrier service plan or with your Wi-Fi connection, you will not be billed for iMessages ever. In case you have limited data, iMessage will remain free as long as you have not exceeded the limit. Once you have consumed the allotted data, you will be charged according to the data plan.

The good news is iMessage doesn’t use a lot of data. Pictures and videos are compressed before they are transmitted.

iMessage also does not impose any per message character limit. You could send a message with any number of characters. Since the services uses data instead of mobile carrier network, long messages aren’t a problem.

Note: iMessages are sent to the Apple Ids (which could be the person’s email address). SMS messages are always sent to a Phone Number.

How Do I Tell One From the Other?

Both iMessage and SMS services are available through the Messaging app on your iOS device. This is why it becomes a little confusing to the users sometimes. It is important to know which one is iMessage and which one is SMS so that you don’t end up incurring additional charges.

This is not really a problem if you are sending the message to another iOS user also using iMessage. By default, all your messages to the other iMessage users are sent as iMessage. You have no reason to worry here.

But, it gets a little tricky when the other user does not have an iOS mobile device or has disabled iMessage.

When you send a message to the iOS user who has disabled iMessage they may not receive it at all. This is because iMessages are sent to Apple ID and not the phone number. When you send the message to a non-iOS user, it is always transmitted as SMS.

Thankfully, differentiating between the two is incredibly easy. iMessages are enclosed inside the Blue bubble or background. SMS messages, on the other hand, use the green bubble.

A quick glance and you know which is which.

Is It Possible to Disable These Services?

Both iMessage and SMS are quick and easy way to communicate with others. But, in certain cases you would wish you could disable them. Probably because you don’t want to be disturbed.

Usually, the Short Messaging Service (SMS) cannot be disabled completely. But, you may call your mobile carrier and inquire about the options. If you cannot get the service disabled, you can still block specific numbers individually. Just look up for the ‘Block’ option in the Settings.

You can disable iMessage completely however. Once you disable this feature, you will not be able to send iMessages to other users and also receive from them. In order to turn this feature off, go to Settings and tap Messages. Move the slider next to iMessage to the left to disable it.

You can follow the same steps to turn it back ON.