What's the Difference Between SMS and MMS?

Dec 12, 2023 · 3 min read
What's the Difference Between SMS and MMS?

You might be sending and receiving SMS (and MMS) on a daily basis. However, you still might be wondering, what are SMS and MMS? Here we will give you all the information you need to understand what SMS and MMS are and how they differ.

What is SMS?

SMS stands for Short Messaging Service. The technology was created in the 1980s; however, the first real use took place in 1992 when a test engineer for Sema Group sent a “Merry Christmas” message to a colleague. It was rolled out commercially on many mobile provider networks in the 90s and became popular worldwide as a method of text communication.

SMS is also simply referred to as text by many users and mobile service providers.

What is MMS?

MMS stands for Multimedia Messaging Service. Multimedia messaging service was built using the technology of SMS messaging. Unlike SMS, which is text-only, MMS can deliver a variety of media, including video, image, audio or other files. It was commercially introduced to the customers in 2002.

MMS is also referred to as PXT, a picture message, or a multimedia message by some users and mobile service providers.


  • SMS is used for sending text-only messages.
  • MMS is built on top of SMS technology.
  • MMS is used for sending media messages (such as image, video, audio and other files).
  • Unlike SMS, MMS does not have a predefined maximum size limit. Maximum allowed data size is dependent on the carrier providing the mobile service, but 300kb is generally considered an acceptable limit by all the carriers.

Frequently Asked Question about SMS and MMS

What does SMS stand for?

SMS stands for Short Messaging Service.

What does MMS stand for?

MMS stands for Multimedia Messaging Service.

What’s the SMS character limit?

SMS is designed to support 160 7-bit ASCII characters, however, longer messages are automatically chained into multiple 160 character messages (also known as segments) automatically by most carriers and delivered in correct order. Modern phones are able to combine or stitch those segments together to show as a single long message.

How is SMS different from instant messengers?

Instant messaging applications such as iMessage, WhatsApp, Telegram, Viber, Facebook Messenger, Signal etc. are built to work over the internet. SMS uses wireless cellular network, and doesn’t require any internet connection and hence offers a better availability. Instant messaging applications requires both sending and receiving users to have the same application installed, while SMS doesn’t have any such requirements.

How is SMS different from RCS?

RCS stands for Rich Communication Services, a newer communication technology developed with the aim to replace SMS. It offers a richer set of mechanisms and serves as an alternative to instant messengers without tying you to a specific messaging application.

Is SMS going away?

Experts predict that SMS may be replaced by RCS messaging one day, which is planned as a newer go-to messaging protocol to replace SMS.

Can a business send SMS to customers?

Yes, absolutely! A business can send SMS to customers using a mobile phone or utilize the A2P (Application-to-Person) route. A2P offers many advantages over using a mobile phone, as you can use applications like Sociocs to share the inbox with team members, send bulk marketing messages, and connect with other communication channels. Different compliances and restrictions need to be followed when sending messages as a business and using the A2P route, such as 10-DLC registration in the US.

Check out our related articles: