RCS vs. SMS: How is RCS different from SMS?

Phone images with RCS icons in a circles

In the changing world of online marketing, deciding between Rich Communication Services (RCS) and Short Message Services (SMS) for text marketing can make a big difference in how well your campaigns work. This article talks about the details of RCS and SMS, looking at what they can do and how they’re different. We’ll see how both can help you get customers more interested, make more sales, and improve your marketing overall. We’ll also talk about what might happen next in text marketing and how RCS could really shake things up for businesses trying to stand out in a busy market.

Table of Contents

What is RCS Texting?

RCS, or Rich Communication Services, is a type of messaging technology that makes texting more fun and interactive. RCS allows you to send multimedia files such as high-quality pictures, videos, audio recordings, and even interactve buttons in your messages. Think of it as a fancy upgrade to regular texting that adds more features and makes your conversations more exciting.


RCS makes texting more like using fancy messaging apps such as WhatsApp and iMessage. You can send bigger files, chat in bigger groups, and use many different media.

RCS offers a more interactive and engaging user experience compared to traditional SMS, with capabilities such as rich media sharing, read receipts, and interactive buttons.

Pros of RCS Texting for Businesses


1. Rich Media Support 

RCS messaging allows transmitting rich media content such as high-resolution images, videos, and GIFs, enhancing the overall messaging experience.


2. Enhanced Interactivity

 RCS offers interactive features such as read receipts, typing indicators, and response buttons, enabling more dynamic and engaging conversations.


3. Improved Group Chats

With RCS, you can make a group chat with customers and the internal team. You can name those groups, add or remove people, and share pictures and videos with everyone in the group.


4. Increased Message Length 

Unlike traditional SMS, which is limited to 160 characters per message, RCS messaging does not have a character limit, allowing for more extensive communication.


5. Seamless Integration

RCS seamlessly integrates with other messaging apps and services, providing users with a more versatile texting platform.


6. Enhanced Branding Opportunities

Businesses can leverage RCS messaging to create branded experiences with custom colors, logos, and interactive elements, strengthening their brand identity.


7. Enhanced Security Features

RCS messaging offers improved security features such as end-to-end encryption, ensuring that user data and communications remain safeguarded from unauthorized access, and maintaining confidentiality and privacy.


8. Improved Delivery and Read Receipts

RCS messaging provides more reliable delivery and read receipts, giving users confidence that their messages have been sent and received.


9. Simplified Multimedia Sharing

With RCS, users can easily send and receive rich multimedia content, including images, GIFs, videos, and audio files, directly within the messaging app, eliminating the need for third-party apps or services.


10. Enhanced Customer Engagement

RCS messaging enables businesses to engage customers more effectively and personally, increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty.

A screenshot of an RCS texting conversation on a smartphone. The chat displays an airline or travel agency sending a mobile boarding pass to Estelle. The boarding pass details the flight from Cado De Ach Resort to PH departing on May 30th.

Cons of RCS Texting for Businesses


1. Limited Reach

RCS messaging is only available on Android devices, excluding iPhone users. This limitation restricts the reach of RCS campaigns, potentially reducing their effectiveness in reaching a diverse audience using different devices.


2. Manual Configuration

Enabling RCS messaging on Android devices requires manual setup, which can be time-consuming and inconvenient for users. The need for manual configuration may deter some individuals from adopting RCS, affecting the overall reach and engagement of business communications.


3. Technical Complexity

Implementing and managing RCS campaigns can be complex, requiring additional technical expertise and resources. This complexity may pose challenges for businesses, particularly those with limited technical capabilities, in effectively leveraging RCS for communication and marketing.


4. Compatibility Challenges

While RCS is supported on many Android devices, compatibility issues may exist with older devices or devices from certain manufacturers. This lack of uniform compatibility could limit the reach of RCS messaging campaigns and create inconsistencies in the user experience across different devices.

How is RCS different than iMessage?

The main difference between iMessage and RCS is who can use them. iMessage is exclusive to iPhones and has already been installed on every iPhone. It’s a special messaging service made by Apple for iPhone users. When iPhone users text each other, they use iMessage. iMessage has cool features like reacting to messages, seeing when someone reads your message, and sending fancy media.


On the other hand, RCS is a different messaging system. It’s not just for iPhones; it’s meant to replace regular texting, called SMS. If Apple decided to use RCS, it would improve regular texting between all phones, especially when texting from Android to iPhone. But right now, only Android phones can use RCS. RCS has features similar to iMessage, like reading receipts and sending engaging stuff, but it still needs to be added to Android phones; users must add it themselves.

RCS vs. SMS and MMS: Understanding the Differences

In the world of text marketing, the choice between RCS and SMS depends on what your business needs and aims to achieve. RCS allows you to send rich media, engage in interactive chats, and captivate customers excitingly. It’s excellent for creating engaging marketing campaigns. However, SMS remains effective for delivering quick messages and ensuring everyone receives essential information.


As RCS gains popularity, it becomes increasingly essential for engaging customers. Nevertheless, SMS retains its utility for specific tasks. Therefore, concurrently utilizing RCS and SMS might be the most strategic approach to connecting with your audience in today’s diverse messaging landscape.


Another traditional option, MMS, or Multimedia Messaging Service, enables the transmission of pictures and videos but lacks additional functionality.


Let’s take a closer look at the comparison between RCS, SMS, and MMS:

FeaturesRCS (Rich Communication Services)SMS (Short Message Service)MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service)

Users can send multimedia content and enjoy advanced features like read receipts and group chats within the messaging app.A text-based messaging service that allows sending short messagesA messaging service that allows sending multimedia content like images, videos, websites, and audio files along with text
FormatSupports rich media and interactive elementsLimited to plain textSupports multimedia content
Character LimitNo character limitLimited to 160 characters per messageCan contain up to 1600 characters per message
Media file sizeup to 100MBCannot include multimedia filesMost carriers limit MMS to 3.75MB
Sent viaData networks (e.g., Wi-Fi, mobile data)Cellular networks (GSM, CDMA)Cellular networks (GSM, CDMA)
Delivery CompatibilityPrimarily available on Android devices only, Not available in iOSAll phones with mobile network can receive SMS messagesOnly smartphones with internet connections can receive MMS messages
CostNeed Data networks, cost is based on various data planGenerally cheaper than MMS (In between $0.01 and $0.05 per message)Typically between $0.04 and $0.20 per message
SecurityOffers encryption and secure messaging featuresLimited security features Limited security features
Send read receipts or See typing indicatorsSupportedNot supportedNot supported

Connect easily with your customers using TruText!

Whether your customers have iPhones or Android phones, TruText’s business texting platform has you covered. With features like MMS, mass texting, SMS templates, referral messaging, and automation, you can reach your customers efficiently.


Try TruText for free for 14 days or book a demo to see how it works!