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10 Major Differences Between Texting and iMessage

Filed in Education by on March 25, 2020


10 Major Differences between Texting and iMessage

Difference between Texting and iMessage: If you use an iPhone, you might wonder why some of your text messages are in a blue bubble and others are in a green bubble. This isn’t for looks; it’s how Apple indicates you’re sending an SMS text message (green) or an iMessage (blue).

Underneath the surface, iMessages and text messages are fundamentally different technologies, even though they both live in the Messages app on your iPhone. I think it’s important for every iPhone owner to know the difference between text messages and iMessages because that knowledge can have a significant impact on your phone bill.

10 Major Differences between Texting and iMessage


Most people today are familiar with SMS and MMS, better known as texting. For many cell phone users, texting refers to all messages (barring email) they send on their phones, regardless of the brand of phone they’re using. Texting today is available on virtually every phone and tablet.

Regular text messages use the text messaging plan that you purchase through your carrier. There are two kinds of text messages:

SMS (Short Message Service): The original text messages that we’ve been using for years. SMS messages are limited to 160 characters and can only contain text.

MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service): MMS messages extend the capability of original text messages, and support sending photos, longer text messages, and other content.

Carriers used to charge more to send MMS messages than SMS messages, and some still do. Nowadays, most carriers most charge the same amount for SMS and MMS messages and count them as part of a single text messaging plan.


iMessages are very similar to text messages and could be considered a kind of text message or instant message. iMessage is Apple’s instant messaging service for devices like iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Released in 2011 with iOS 5.

iMessage has more functionality and flexibility than traditional text messages because they are sent over the Internet instead of being sent over a cell phone plan. And lets users send messages, photos, stickers, and more between any Apple devices using Wi-Fi or cellular data

iMessage only works when you have an Internet connection. To send iMessages, you need a data plan, or you can send them over WiFi. If you use WiFi, there’s no cost, but if you use your cellphone’s data, it’s deducted from your data plan. Sending pictures or videos over iMessage can use a lot of data very quickly.

Differences between Texting and iMessage 

1. How the Message is Sent

Text messages are sent through a text messaging plan as part of a contract with a cell phone provider. Today, text messaging is often unlimited and is calculated separately from the data/Internet usage parts of the monthly cellular contract. Text messages usually cannot be sent over WiFi or data without the assistance of other applications.

iMessages are not traditional text messages and are instead sent over WiFi or a data plan. You do not need a text messaging/SMS plan to send iMessages, but because they will use data, users without unlimited data plans will need to track their data usage every month. iMessages are encrypted as well.

2. Devices Used

Text messages are generic and the technology is not specific to any phone manufacturer or cell phone contract provider. Therefore, most modern phones and tablets are built to be able to send both SMS and MMS messages. However, without a contract with a phone company, these messages cannot be sent.

iMessages are specific only to Apple devices like iPhones and iMacs. They are not SMS or MMS messages, and perform best when sent between Apple devices – their functionality is perfectly compatible then.

3. Types of Messages that Can be Sent

Text messages can be divided into two basic formats: SMS (Short Message Service) or MMS (multimedia messaging service). SMS refers to standard messages over a cell phone service that contain just text. MMS is based on SMS and also uses a cell phone service, but allows users to send videos, pictures, and other media.

iMessages have the built-in technology of both SMS and MMS, and allow for even more functionality when sent between Apple devices. Along with sending files and media, iMessages can send stickers, location data, and certain app info.

4. Length of Messages

SMS messages are a standardized medium. Messages can only reach 160 characters before the phone will break the text into a new message, however many times it needs to in order to keep the 160-character limit. 

The character limit on iMessages is somewhat nebulous. There is no official character limit, although some users have received error messages when approaching 20,000 characters. If an iMessage is being sent to a non-Apple phone, the message will be truncated at 160 characters, like a traditional SMS text. 

5. Status Indicators

Text message status indicators are not identical across brands and models. Many Android smart phones allow users to turn the “read” functionality on and off, which informs the sender whether or not their message has been read by the recipient. There can also be indicators for the delivery status, whether the recipient is typing, and more.

iMessages have the “read” status indicator, and can show whether the other people in the conversation are typing. iMessages have an extra indicator, however, to show whether the recipient is also using iMessages.

If the text bubbles are blue, everyone is using iMessages, and if they are green, SMS is being used. This functionality is useful for people who want to know if they are using data or their messaging plan.

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