SMS vs MMS: What is the difference?

In the digital age, we have several different ways to send messages regardless of the type of phone we use. You can find hundreds of different texting applications that allow you to send SMS or MMS anywhere in the world. SMS and MMS are two different acronyms that you may be familiar with but in this article, we are going to discuss in detail what these terms mean. Moreover, we will talk about the difference between SMS and MMS in terms of technology, statistics, impact, use cases, and current trends. This guide will cover the following

  1. A Brief History SMS and MMS Technology
  2. Global Usage Statistics of SMS and MMS
  3. Advantages of SMS
  4. Disadvantages of SMS
  5. Advantages of MMS
  6. Disadvantages of MMS
  7. Comparing SMS and MMS
  8. Commercial Applications and Trends of SMS and MMS
  9. How to use SMS for marketing
  10. How to use MMS for marketing
  11. Who won SMS vs MMS?
  12. Begin SMS or MMS with ExpertTexting

A Brief History SMS and MMS Technology

SMS stands for Short Message Service. Its development began in the 1980s with the idea of adding text messaging functionality to mobile devices. The SMS concept was developed in the Franco-German GSM cooperation in 1984 and the first text message was sent in 1992. Earlier GSM mobile phones did not have the means to send SMS. In 1993, Nokia introduced devices that supported user-sending options. SMS is one of the oldest texting technologies and after decades, it is still the most widespread and frequently used. The limit of a text message was set to 160 characters based on analysis of typical lengths of Telex messages and postcards, which suggested that this length was sufficient to express any message.

MMS, on the other hand, stands for Multimedia Messaging service and it was built using the same technology like SMS. However, it can deliver a range of media, including a short video, image, phone contacts, or audio files. The technology came into existence following the introduction of MMS-supported phones in conjunction with the 2g and 3g networks in the ’90s and early 2000s. The growth was slow in the beginning. However, more supported devices began to hit the market in 2004. MMS does not have a standard limit, so the size depends on the carrier and device receiving the message.

Global Usage Statistics of SMS and MMS

SMS is a universal technology, which is supported by every mobile device and network in the world. You simply need another person’s phone number and you are good to go. This makes SMS extremely popular especially in the US since most carriers offer unlimited texting plans. Let’s take a look at some incredible statistics of SMS and MMS


Advantages of SMS

SMS or texting is one of the oldest forms of text communication. Moreover, it is more commonly used than MMS. Here are some of the advantages you can enjoy when you use SMS.

  • Discretion

    One of the biggest advantages of using SMS is that they are like written notes. Conversations that you cannot have over phone calls, can easily go through with texts.

  • Records

    Another reason why SMS is very convenient is that they keep records. No matter if you use a feature phone or a smartphone, text messages are automatically saved on the phone. Moreover, your replies are also saved. This helps refer to them later. On some smartphones, you also have the option to mark important messages so that they are archived.

  • Anytime, anywhere

    Sending an SMS does not require an internet connection, an application, or even a fancy phone. All mobile phones support text messages as an inbuilt feature. All you need is the number of the recipient and a place where you get network signals. You can send them instantly. This is the reason why texting works best in emergencies.

  • Cheaper

    Perhaps the biggest advantage is that SMS is much cheaper than anything else. Even if you use instant messaging, you have to pay for the internet that you use. Almost all around the world, texting rates are very affordable.

Disadvantages of SMS

While sending SMS has its advantages, there are some disadvantages too. Here are a few limitations that come with sending text messages.

  • Length

    Perhaps the biggest disadvantage of sending SMS is the length. The standard character count of text messages is only 160 characters. However, modern phones allow you to add more characters. As the number of messages increases, the character count decreases. If you add Unicode to this equation, the character count decreases further. In most cases, you can send multiple page messages as one. However, only smartphones can concatenate these messages into one long message. Feature phones may still receive it in parts. Moreover, your carrier will charge it as multiple messages.

  • Media content

    The initial reason for introducing MMS was because of this disadvantage. SMS does not support rich media. In modern days, you can incorporate emojis into texts. However, these come under Unicode and reduce the character count.

Advantages of MMS

MMS was a revolutionary change in how people sent messages. Here are a few advantages that MMS has.

  • No character limits

    One of the best things about sending MMS is that you do not have character limitations. Almost no limitations! You can send very long texts with emojis and animations too.

  • Works on all phones

    Just like SMS, MMS also works on almost all phones. Yes, even some feature phones support MMS. Unlike with instant messaging, you do not have to download an application. The receiver’s number is enough to send out an MMS.

  • Delivery report

    One of the biggest advantages that MMS brings is the delivery report. Almost all networks in the USA give out delivery reports of MMS. Even though delivery reports are also there in SMS, but they can be quite rare.

Disadvantages of MMS

Like SMS, MMS also comes with a few limitations. The following are the disadvantages of MMS.

  • Cost

    Against SMS, MMS is much pricier. Moreover, the receiver may also be charged incoming according to the network charges.

  • Inconsistency

    The type of phones matters a lot when you send out MMS. Different phones may change the resolution or quality of the multimedia in the message.

Comparing SMS and MMS

MMS is an enhanced version of SMS. However, SMS is still more commonly used and has been fine-tuned for a longer time which makes it supported all on phones. However, let’s take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of each messaging feature in terms of relevant factors that apply to both of them;


The most significant advantage of MMS over SMS is the multimedia content. SMS only supports text and Unicode characters whereas MMS supports videos, images, and audio in the messages which allows a higher level of personalization and context in the message.


MMS is dependent on the quality of the recipient’s phone; what may be a smooth playback on an iPhone may not be that playable on a feature phone. Pictures taken with different resolutions or camera quality may be hard to view on different displays. The sound may also not be clear. SMS on the other hand does not have these issues and will remain equally consistent on all devices.


There is no way to tell if the recipient has a phone that supports MMS unless you explicitly ask. Even though smartphones are becoming common around the world, a huge number of people still use feature phones. Plus, not everyone may have MMS enabled on their plan and different phones may support different types of media files. SMS again remains consistent on smartphones and feature phones.


Exchange of MMS messages may cost more on your plan and the recipient’s plan, especially if they have pay per messages plans. Costs vary from carrier to carrier and maybe in terms of size or message. Plus, they are charged to both the recipient and sender. SMS is much cheaper and only the sender is charged for them.

Commercial Applications and Trends of SMS and MMS

Consumers are spending a significant amount of time on their phones in this digital age with an average of over 3 hours daily. Since a major percentage of this time is spent in texting, many businesses now consider SMS to be one of the most effective channels for them to communicate with prospects and existing customers. Statistics indicate that majority of people prefer to communicate by text as it is faster and more convenient for them.

With open rates higher than 98 percent, SMS marketing and supporting features become more attractive especially when used for customer service. Hospitals and appointment-based businesses send alerts and reminders to clients and organizations use it for internal communication. This means that a large number of industries use SMS and MMS. To use SMS for your marketing, you need a service like ExpertTexting. Watch the video below to know everything about ExpertTexting.

How to use SMS for marketing

The main commercial application of both comes under marketing. Hence, using it to market your brand is one of the most effective strategies you will find. Here is how you can use SMS and for your marketing effectively and how you can begin with ExpertTexting.

  •  Focus on your list

    Before you begin using SMS for marketing you should know that this is a permission-based marketing channel. This means that the people you send out messages to should give you prior consent for receiving messages. Hence, your list is your audience and it becomes the first and foremost priority.

    Make sure you do everything you can to build an organic list. ExpertTexting helps you in this regard by giving you features that make it easy to build your list. You can create a keyword and ask people to send it to your number to simply opt-in. Moreover, we also have a QR code generator. Simply put this code up everywhere. All your customers will have to do is scan the code and be a part of your list.

    If you have a website for your business, then you can also invite people to join your list through that. ExpertTexting allows you to create a widget that you can place on your website. A simple form will allow your subscribers to join the list.

  • Create exclusivity

    SMS is one of the best ways to promote your business. However, you need leverage on customers so that they stay on your list. The best way is to create exclusivity. Give out offers, promotions, and other benefits that only subscribers can enjoy. This way, your customers will get promotional messages along with special benefits that keep them on your list.

  • Use SMS as Omni Channel

    One of the best things about text marketing is that it is an omni channel. You can incorporate almost anything in SMS including links to social media. Moreover, you can link text to downloads, links to your website, and even a map. SMS is versatile like that. The only concern you will have left is the number of characters that go out. Even that is easily manageable if you use ExpertTexting’s link shortening feature.

  • Immediate Results

    One of the best things about SMS is that it is immediate. You do not have to worry about promoting and waiting for it to retain in your customers’ minds before they make a decision. Since SMS is instant, the result is also almost instant. Hence, you can use it to create urgency. On a dinner promotion offer, you can send a message at breakfast and you still may get better ROI than through other means.

How to use MMS for marketing

MMS is almost like SMS when it comes to using it for marketing. However, it may have a slight edge in terms of visual appeal. Here is how you can use MMS vs SMS marketing.

  • Visual Marketing

    The biggest advantage of MMS is that it allows you to visually market your brand or business. Visuals tend to have a bigger impact on consumers. Moreover, they enhance engagement by up to 250% compared with SMS.

  • Show and tell

    For marketing your new products and services, instead of just raving about it, you can show your customers. Simply attaching a couple of pictures allows your customers to see the real deal behind the newness in your business.

  •  When you have more to say

    Since SMS are short and a standard one only has about 160 characters, you can use MMS. If you think you have more to say then you can simply use MMS for a bigger word count. Instead of being charged for multiple messages, you can get charges for one MMS and have plenty of room to say a lot.

Who won SMS vs MMS?

Considering all the facts above and looking at the way top-tier companies operate in terms of business communication and marketing; SMS is certainly preferred over MMS. This is due to the most outstanding drawback in MMS regarding the subscription plan for recipients with the carriers.

However, local businesses that cater to small communities or specific audiences prefer MMS over SMS as they look to directly interact with them with superior personalization options. Furthermore, MMS has been declining since the emergence of social media and instant messaging apps like WhatsApp which caters to small connected groups of audiences with far more options.

We have a comprehensive guide on which one is best for marketing. Click on the image below to read it.

Begin SMS or MMS with ExpertTexting

Whether you want to send MMS or SMS, ExpertTexting caters to both of your needs. Our pricing is one-third of what others offer in a pay-as-you-go service.

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