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Difference 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.


iMessages are very similar to text messages, and could be considered a kind of text message or instant message. iMessages are the native messaging technology of all Apple devices, and have more functionality and flexibility than traditional text messages because they are sent over the Internet instead of being sent over a cell phone plan.

Difference between Texting and iMessage

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.

  1. 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. When an iPhone user sends an iMessage to a non-Apple device, it will sent instead in an SMS format that the other device can read. iMessages do not need to be sent just to iPhones, and can be sent to any Apple device, as they are essentially an instant message sent over the Internet. However, if a group chat contains any device that is not an Apple device, all the messages will be sent in SMS/MMS format in order to be compatible with that device.

  1. 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.

  1. 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. 

  1. 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, or for those who want to know what functions of iMessage are being used (like encryption). 

Table of Differences between Texting and iMessages 

Functionality Texting iMessage
Text messages Yes Yes
Media messages Depends on plan/phone Yes
Location data, files, stickers Limited to none Yes
All brands of phones Yes No – just Apple devices
How the messages are sent Cell provider texting plan Data plan, WiFi
Character Limit 160 characters None


  • Texting and iMessages are both common ways of sending messages over phones, tablets, and other devices.
  • Text messages require a cell phone plan, while iMessages use data or WiFi.
  • iMessages can only be written and sent on an Apple device, but they can be sent to any brand of device.
  • Text messages and iMessages can send media like videos, photos, and files, but iMessages have no character limits and extra features like stickers.

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  1. I’m with Ann Irish company called Eir . Com o don’t have internet only 5 gb of data . So I don’t use I messagaes I use msn count on Apple I phone6. Do I get charged for using mms . 2. My mom just recently died. How do I get the videos off the phone to put on USB key please and photos. I don’t want to loose her if I turn off I cloud button do I loose every thing of mom that I have. I can’t afford more data as on-disability please help badly stuck barely surviving so need help ASAP as contract running out. Really down over this I’ve no computer and it costs to bring to city. Very low income. Please help

  2. I have blue, green, and orange colored messages coming in and can’t send any out allot of times. Keeps jumping from LTE to CDMA with unlimited data plan. What’s going on?

  3. Call Apple Care at 1-800-275-2273 and follow the prompts. If your unsure, then just speak with any person and tell them your W the situation and that you need to speak to someone in their “technical department”. Someone in “tech support” (technical department) will be able to help you. If the phone is still connected to a carrier service like Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T, etc., the technical department is then capable of “screen sharing” with you. This allows them to access your phone, but all they can do is see your screen. They control a red arrow on the screen and use it to point to things on your screen that they want you to click on because they can’t do it. I don’t know much about technology and I have to screen share all the time for my iPhone and my HP Laptop. It is very safe and once connected there is an option to “end the screen sharing” whenever you want. I hope that helps you obtain those precious memories of your mom. If your no longer connected to a carrier, still contact Apple’s Technical Department because there still are ways to get things off the phone itself. If you connect the phone directly to your laptop with a USB cord, through the DCMI, you can download the photos directly to your laptop and then save the photos on your laptop to a flash drive. The only way you can lose the photos is if you delete them from the phone, you can still access the cloud for that phone even if the phone was turned off (carrier service cancelled). I had a similar problem and learned all of the above information from research and talking with Apple’s Technical Department.

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References :

[0]Broida, Rick. “Why some iMessage texts are blue and some are green,” CNET, 8 June 2017, “https://www.cnet.com/how-to/why-some-imessage-texts-are-blue-and-some-are-green/.”

[1]Costello, Sam. “Everything You Need to Know About SMS & MMS,” Lifewire, 9 August 2017, “https://www.lifewire.com/what-is-sms-mms-iphone-2000247.”

[2]Payette, David. “What’s The Difference Between iMessage and Text Messages on iPhone?”, Payette Forward, 28 January 2016, “https://www.payetteforward.com/difference-between-imessage-text-messages-iphone/.”

[3]“About iMessage and SMS/MMS,” Apple Support, 20 September 2017, “https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT207006.”

[4]“What is the iMessage character limit?”, AskDifferent, 5 November 2017, “https://apple.stackexchange.com/questions/227009/what-is-the-imessage-character-limit.”

[5]"Image Credit: https://softwarerecs.stackexchange.com/questions/45213/android-texting-app-that-works-like-imessages"

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