What’s the difference between a Text message and iMessage

A lot! While on the outset both the services may seem strikingly similar, there are glaring distinctions in the way they operate. The fact that both are available through the Messages app results in confusion. As you may know already, iMessage is one of the most popular messaging services for the iOS and Mac users. This service allows you to share text, audio, video and documents with the other iMessage users. Text messages are fundamentally different. They use a completely different platform. In this article, we will understand the difference between the two services and how they truly function. Keep reading!

Text Messages are Billed by the Mobile Carrier, iMessage uses Data

One of the biggest differences between the two services is that SMS messaging is the service offered through the server of mobile service provider. This is why they are within their rights to bill you for it as per the telecom regulations and usage. Typically, the mobile provider charges you for per message sent or received. Some operators do not bill for incoming messages depending upon the country you live in. There is a character limit to each SMS, which we will talk about later.

iMessage on the other hand is provided by Apple and functions regardless of the mobile carrier. It uses data instead of the SMS server. While your phone carrier may charge you for data depending upon your connection plan, if you are on a Wi-Fi network, you don’t even need to be connected to the mobile network.

Text Messages have a character limit, iMessages do not

As aforementioned, text or SMS messages have a character limit. Usually, there is a limit of 160 characters. The limit does not mean you cannot send text messages longer than 160 characters or the additional characters will be truncated. It simply means that once you exceed 160 characters, you will be billed for the additional message. For instance, if the SMS length is 161, it will be considered as two messages. If the message is 321 characters long, it will be counted as 3 messages.

iMessage does not have any character length. That’s probably because it uses data instead of messaging server.  You can type a message of any length and it will still be counted as one.

Multimedia Support

SMS only supports text based messages. You can send the multimedia content using SMS server, but it will no longer be called text message; it will be called MMS or Multimedia Messaging Service. With MMS you can send longer messages and multimedia content. However, usually MMS doesn’t use data services and there is fixed per message charge with limit to how much data you can send in one message.

Multiplatform Support

iMessage is supported only on the Apple platform. You can send iMessages only to the other Apple users. On the other hand, SMS is device and platform independent. If you are using the Messages app to send messages to the non-iOS users, know that it is SMS and not iMessage.