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SMS vs MMS Messaging- What’s the difference?

by Ashishguni
SMS vs MMS Messaging- What's the difference?

Everyone uses SMS daily, however, they might not be able to answer the question,

“What is SMS? “. 

SMS is merely the abbreviation of short message service.

People might be confused when it comes to understanding two terms namely SMS and MMS. Even though used simultaneously, both are not the same. They refer to different types of messaging.

In simpler terms, SMS means text messages and MMS means messages with pictures and videos.

If one understands how SMS and MMS work and their differences it will help them connect to their audience better and improve their sales.

What is SMS?

Let’s begin with the definition. SMS is a text message. It was developed in the 1980s. It is one of the oldest techniques and is widely used to date even though new technologies have developed. However, there are many other communication methods available. 

We consider all the messages as text whereas there is a difference in terminology. SMS contains only text and not images or video links and is limited to 160 characters. 

For instance, iMessages are not text messages.

  • If SMS exceeds more than 160 character limit

In this case, messages will be broken into several message chains. In the year 2020, most carriers chain the SMS so they arrive in order.

  • Popularity of SMS

SMS is Highly popular. In the USA there are around  6 billion SMS circulated daily.

 How is SMS different as compared to WhatsApp messages and iMessages?

In the case of messaging applications such as Facebook, WhatsApp, and iMessage users converse ‘ Over The top’ (OTT) applications. We don’t need a cellular network to send these because they are sent via the internet. The only requirement is that both sender and recipient must have the same application downloaded on their phone. 

But when it comes to text messages (SMS) we need a cellular network.

Will SMS service ever stop? 

Yes, there are chances that RCS messages will replace SMS but that not gonna happen for the next few decades.

What is MMS? 

MMS means multimedia 

Messaging service. One can think of it as an enhancement to standard SMS messages. In other words, the major difference between SMS and MMS Messaging is that multimedia can be sent via MMS. This includes media such as videos, images, audio clips, GiFs, and more. Moreover, MMS allows for up to 1600 characters of text in the message which is far more than SMS.

What type of files are included in MMS? 

MMS can include the following file types GIF, PNG, JPG/ JPEG, MP3, MP4, and GIF animations.

 Can MMS be sent all across the world?

Presently MMS is best circulated in the USA only, however, if someone wishes to send it anywhere across the world it’s best to send the file link as MMS is not very popular in other countries.

Is the cost of MMS more than SMS? 

MMS requires more work to encode the message. The delivery cost is higher which implies that MMS requires more cost than SMS.

Comparison of MMS and SMS

By now one can easily understand the difference between SMS and MMS especially because we probably send messages in our daily life. Visually one can easily understand the difference between SMS and MMS. Simple text is SMS and text with media is MMS.

Pros and cons

Even though both SMS and MMS are the best ways to communicate, there are pros and cons to both. In some places, only SMS gives the best results, on the other hand only MMS might convey some messages. Read further to know about the advantages of SMS and MMS.

Advantages of SMS

  • SMS are short with just 160 characters and require very less cost and energy.
  • SMS requires less cost as compared to MMS
  • Most of the carriers provide unlimited SMS service offers and thus are cheaper for the users.

Disadvantages of MMS

  •  One cannot send videos, images, audio, etc in a traditional text message. I suppose we need to grab consumer attention. MMS is far more effective.
  • SMS has a limit of 160 characters, which restricts any long message and can prove to be a hindrance. 

Advantages of MMS

  • MMS is eye-catching and grabs recipients’ attention. Users tend to click on the MMS links as they convey the message more effectively
  • If there is a requirement of sending text blasts to send a larger amount of content to the users MMS is the best alternative. 

Disadvantages of MMS

  •  MMS requires more cost to send. In the case of startups and small businesses, it is not feasible for the owners to invest in MMS because of the higher cost. 
  • Every user cannot receive MMS messages. Most people have smartphones but they don’t need to have MMS-enabled plans
  • To send the custom design and videos one needs to hire someone who is an expert. This increases the cost of MMS. 

The cost difference between SMS and MMS

MMS will always cost more, despite the SMS service being used. The reason is that it requires the carriers to send a lot more data than required. However, pricing varies from service to service depending on the plan that is used.

Suppose, if we are having a plan of 1000 text messages per month and there are 200 on our messaging list then 200/1000 SMS will be used. 

However, for instance an MMS is sent to the same list 400 to 600 messages will be used depending on the plan. 


After knowing ‘what is SMS ?’ and ‘ what is MMS?”, one needs to decide which one serves their purpose and will be best for them. To choose between two one needs to analyze their audience. If one needs quick communication and to make people follow the link, SMS is best. If there is a need to grab attention and can afford the cost. In that case, MMS is the best option. 

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