SMS vs. MMS: Distinguishing the Differences

Image is showing Phone frame in a background and their is SMS vs MMS icons

Many people use text messaging nowadays to talk to each other. That’s why many businesses are using SMS marketing and other marketing strategies. SMS is the usual way of sending text message marketing, and it’s the most popular way for businesses to talk directly to customers on their phones. But there’s another incredible messaging strategy called “MMS.”


If you aren’t tech-savvy, you might wonder: what’s MMS? Is it different from SMS? And why does it matter? Well, yes, MMS, also known as Multimedia Messaging Service, is an important way of sending messages, and it’s different from SMS.


Businesses use both messaging services for different purposes. SMS can be used for regular communication with customers in departments like sales, marketing, and customer service. On the other hand, MMS can be used to send pictures, videos, GIFs, and other cool stuff to run visual text messaging campaigns.


This article will explain the differences between MMS and SMS messages, when to use each one, and more.

Table of Contents

What is SMS (Short Message Service)?

SMS, or Short Message Service, is a foundational technology in mobile communications, enabling users to send and receive short text messages. It operates within a 160-character limit, which has shaped how we communicate succinctly using mobile devices.


SMS has been integral to personal and business communication, offering a quick and reliable method to exchange information. Despite its limitations, SMS remains widely used for its simplicity and broad reach.


SMS’s simplicity and reach have made it a staple in communication, particularly in scenarios where brevity is essential or when the recipient’s device capabilities are unknown.

Text messages have an incredible read rate, with 98% or 99% of them being read. Additionally, 90% of texts are read within just 3 minutes of being received.

What is MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service)?

MMS Services, also known as a PXT, a picture message, or Multimedia Messaging Service, is an enriched messaging service that allows users to include multimedia content. This services enable users to send multimedia that contains images, videos, GIFs, website links, and audio clips in a single message, surpassing the text-only limitations of SMS.


MMS benefits businesses because it lets them share more engaging and visual messages. Multimedia messages helps make messages more memorable and exciting, which is excellent for effectively marketing and promoting products and services.


What’s the main difference between SMS vs. MMS?

SMS lets you send messages with written characters and links, while MMS allows you to send videos or audio files up to 30 seconds long and up to 500MB of data. Plus, you can include up to 1600 characters in an MMS message – that’s ten times more than the 160-character limit for SMS.


The main difference between SMS and MMS is that Multimedia messages is more versatile. With MMS, you can do much more, like sending longer messages or messages with videos and audio that grab people’s attention in a single segment.


However, MMS usually costs more to use because you’re sending more significant amounts of data over carrier networks. That’s why, even if you like MMS’s versatility and bigger capacity, you might still use SMS for some of your text marketing.


Use Cases for SMS and MMS in Communication

When it comes to choosing between SMS and MMS for communication, understanding the specific use cases for each can guide the decision-making process. SMS is great for transactional messages that need to be scanned, such as OTPs (One-time passwords), alerts, and appointment reminders. These messages are concise, making SMS an efficient and cost-effective option.


On the other hand, MMS offers a richer communication experience by allowing the inclusion of multimedia content. This is particularly useful for marketing campaigns, where visual impact can significantly enhance the message. For instance, a real estate agent might use MMS to send property photos to potential buyers, or a retailer could send promotional videos to showcase new products.


The flexibility of MMS makes it ideal for more engaging and informative content, while SMS excels in delivering brief and urgent communications.


Here are some common scenarios where SMS and MMS are used:

  • SMS: Transactional updates, two-factor authentication, quick polls.
  • MMS: Product launches, event invitations, educational content with visuals.


Side-by-side comparison of SMS vs. MMS:

Side-by-side comparison of SMS and MMS messaging. SMS (left): Text message with 160 character limit. Text content is a promotional message for spring-themed desserts with a 10% discount and a link. MMS (right): Text message with image and 1600 character limit. Text content is the same as the SMS message, but it also includes an image of a slice of cake.

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
LimitationsLimited to 160 characters per messageCan contain up to 1600 characters per message
Media file sizeCannot include multimedia filesMost carriers limit MMS to 3.75MB
CostGenerally cheaper than MMS (In between $0.01 and $0.05 per message)Typically between $0.04 and $0.20 per message
SegmentsTypically delivered in a single message segment includes 160 charactersMay require multimedia messages (segments) to deliver larger content along with text characters
EngagementLimited to text-based communicationOffers richer engagement with multimedia content
Delivery compatibilityAll phones with mobile network can receive SMS messagesOnly smartphones with internet connections can receive MMS messages

Use TruText to Reach your customers with SMS and MMS Messages

Businesses are using SMS and MMS to connect with their customers effectively. Although they’re both types of text messaging, they have unique features. Understanding the distinctions between these two services is essential for choosing the most effective way to communicate for your businesses.


With TruText, you can harness the potential of both SMS and MMS broadcast messages to engage your audience like never before. Ready to elevate your communication game? Sign up for TruText today and unlock a world of possibilities for reaching your customers.


Most frequently asked Questions Answered


The main difference is that SMS (Short Message Service) is limited to text messages of up to 160 characters and cannot include multimedia content. MMS, on the other hand, supports multimedia content like pictures, videos, and audio clips, as well as longer text messages.

OTT stands for Over-the-top, which refers to internet-based messaging apps like WhatsApp, Telegram, iMessage, WeChat, and Facebook Messenger that allow text and multimedia messages to be exchanged using the Internet.

MMS messages typically include a media file and are sent as a single segment, unlike segmented SMS text messages. Your mobile carrier’s usage analytics or billing information can help you identify MMS messages.

Yes, with TruText, you can utilize MMS for mass texting, enabling you to send multimedia content such as images, videos, and GIFs to a large group of recipients simultaneously. However, it’s crucial to consider the potential cost implications, as MMS typically costs more than SMS due to the larger data size being transmitted.

MMS messages can usually be received by smartphones with internet connections. However, older or basic mobile phones may not support MMS or may have limitations in displaying multimedia content.