The Ultimate Guide and Comparison of SMS vs. MMS

Today, one of the most widely searched questions about telecommunication is this: SMS vs MMS?

And why is that? It is because of the advent of smartphones and mobile internet technology and the emergence of online messaging apps. Nowadays, people can easily exchange text messages and even attachments such as photos and documents at a relatively lower cost.

This might lead some to think that text messaging is obsolete this is not close to being true.

But guess what?

This is absolutely far from being true at all! Fortunately for you, we just got the answer.

So what are we waiting for? Let’s get down into it!

History of Text Messaging

We cannot just go straight to discussing the two when we don’t know how they both started, can we?

Let me explain how they were developed first.

The earliest mobile phones are actually miniature two-way radios aimed for portability. The development began after World War II with many countries joining in the race. The end results were big, bulky, handheld radios that were too far from the slim, handy devices that we have today.

Yet, these were very expensive and were meant for taxi drivers and emergency services.

Nokia-SMS-vs-MMS
The Nokia 1011-essentially a brick.

In 1992, Nokia launched the Nokia 1011. It is essentially a brick with a simple keypad, a monochrome LCD, and an extendable antenna. This was the first mass-produced cellular phone that uses GSM or Global System for Mobile Communications.

Related: Why Does Android Break Up Text Messages?

This means consumers can finally communicate in a more convenient way, although the price of each is still a bit hefty for the common persons. The result?

The first phone to send and receive SMS messages was born. Albeit the MMS feature would arrive a little later. Today, SMS and MMS go hand in hand in our communication. Just go take a look and compare it with the Samsung Galaxy S20!  Yes, we know right!

The functionality is just insane!

Now that we know how they started, let’s start to dig a little deeper. Shall we?

SMS vs MMS

SMS-vs-MMS-fighter
SMS vs. MMS – choose your fighter!

As I was saying, this three-letter matchup still remains one of the most asked questions about telecommunications.

Believe me. I know the feeling.

When I got my first Nokia when I was still a kid, I was already asking this question. Whenever I send a message, the phone always asks whether to send it as SMS or as MMS. I asked my Dad and fair enough, he couldn’t also give a clear elaboration on the subject. And he seemed to know a lot!

But that’s another story.

Keep reading and you’ll know the answer without even finishing the article.

SMS vs MMS: The Showdown

Here’s a gist of the key differences between SMS and MMS.

SMS vs MMS comparison

1. What is SMS?

SMS-vs-MMS-Texting
SMS? Isn’t just the same as texting?

SMS means Short Messaging Services. It is used to exchange short text messages over two devices. Neil Papworth sent the world’s first SMS to Richard Jarvis on who was enjoying his office Christmas party.

Well, guess what the text message read.

If you answer “Merry Christmas” then you’re absolutely right!

The Franco-German GSM team of Friedhelm Hillenbrand, Bernard Ghillebaert, and Oculy Silaban developed the concept of SMS in 1984 and has come a long way since.

Want to here something amazing?

4.1 trillion SMS were sent in 2008 alone and the number will continue to grow as long as phones are available in the market. Seems like text messaging won’t be gone a little too soon then!

Must read: 7 Best SMS App for Android for an SMS Shooting Spree

2. What is MMS?

SMS-vs-MMS
With MMS, you can have other options!

MMS means Multimedia Messaging Services. It is an extension of the SMS protocol and was developed to transmit multimedia content through text messages and it’s popularly used to send images but can also be used to send audio files, video files, or even phone contacts.

What’s more? The first MMS capable phones were introduced in 2002.

That’s right! INTRODUCED IN 2002 and still remains relevant today even with the internet is at its height.

Amazing, isn’t it? This brings us to the next question.

Related: How to Fix MMS Download Problems

3. SMS vs. MMS–What are the similarities?

While SMS and MMS are widely different when it comes to their own respective functions, they are more similar than you might think. This is mainly because the same protocol and technology were used to make the SMS and MMS.

And the bottom line?

SMS and MMS give users an easy and convenient method of communicating with each other.

They are also capable of sending text messages and both are also transmitted through the cellular network. In other words, they only require a wireless plan from your service providers to be sent.

SMS-vs-MMS
Same, but different… Yet still the same!?

4. SMS vs. MMS–What are the differences?

Now, it gets a little bit trickier from here on. And as such, we have prepared a table to make it more convenient and understandable for you.

The table is divided into two columns: the SMS and MMS. Below them are their key differences as compared to the other. Get it? Great! Then let’s dive in!

SMSMMS
Can only send messages 160 characters long. Longer messages will be broken up into segments of 160 characters each.There is no specific character limit.
Can only send text messages.Let’s you embed photos, audio files, videos, or even a shott slideshow presentation!
SMS is cheaper. It usually costs 1 credit per message.A bit pricier with its 3 credit per message cost.
Can be either sent through the SMSC or over the internet depending on the recipient.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can all phones receive MMS?

No. Not every mobile phone can receive multimedia messages. What happens is this recipient will be sent directed to a webpage where the item can be viewed by using the internet.

Does MMS cost extra money?

Yes. As we have discussed above, MMS costs little extra credits depending on the file you are about to send.

Does Emojis count as MMS?

Yes and no. The standard emoji will be counted as plain text while some fancy emojis, like stickers and GIFs, will be counted as MMS.


SMS vs MMS–No Need to Panic!

So there you have it!

Now that you know the difference between SMS and MMS, there’s no need to worry anymore. You can finally rest easy and join the talk whenever your techy-friends get into a conversation about Text Messaging.

Just remember that SMS can only send texts while MMS can send texts AND photos, videos, audios, and even that Cat GIF you’re hiding in your gallery!

So what are you waiting for!?

Give it a try and share your experience with us at the comments below!

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