What is the Difference Between SMS and MMS Messaging?

SMS and MMS messages are highly essential even in the modern age due to their functionality. Although the development of new communication technologies may lead one to believe that SMS and MMS are no longer in the picture, they still constitute a big part of the frame. These two modes of communication are becoming more popular and are currently on the trends particularly when it comes to marketing communication. However, most people like to use SMS and MMS Messaging in an interchangeable manner and while both these channels share several similar features, they also have many features and functions that create a gap between them. 

Both SMS and MMS are considered to be highly powerful tools for businesses in today’s world who want to establish a contact and connection with their customers instantly and effectively. Moreover, research studies also show that the use of MMS and SMS isn’t limited to this age and will continue to grow in the coming years as well. What’s more is that MMS is also already being regarded as the novel generation of SMS messaging. It cannot be denied that both SMS and MMS messages have become a common and integral part of one’s lifestyle and almost everyone can send and receive a text message without having to download any software. 

Before understanding the difference between SMS and MMS, it is essential to learn about both the modes of messaging briefly. 


Created in 1980, SMS is the abbreviated form of Short Messaging Service. It is often regarded as the oldest form of text messaging and is also widely used on mobile devices. However, one of the major limitations of SMS is its restriction of 160 characters and lacks multimedia features which may hold back the sender from conveying their actual message in one go. If the message exceeds this character limit, the message will be split and be sent in different parts. Fortunately, due to its availability and accessibility in all mobile devices, it is considered to be highly convenient mostly because no application is required for its use. 


Being an extension of the features possessed by SMS, MMS is the abbreviated form of Multimedia Messaging Service. A cellular network is all that is required to use the same. Like SMS, one doesn’t need to download any external application for its use. Unlike SMS, MMS does not have any such character limitations and its length mainly depends on the cellular network. However, it usually has a limitation of 1600 characters. Users can gain access to a wide variety of multimedia features such as GIFs, images, videos including text which are elements SMS does not support. As compared to SMS, the presence of images and videos makes MMS relatively more engaging and appealing. However, one of its drawbacks is that unlike SMS, it is not facilitated by every mobile phone and can only be used by smartphone users. Furthermore, the presence of multimedia files also makes MMS costlier than SMS. 

Key Differences Between SMS and MMS

SMS and MMS are siblings because they’re both birds of the same feather but that’s not to say that there aren’t differences between them. Both have their own set of unique features that set them apart and these are as follows: 

Abbreviated Form: 

SMS refers to Short Messaging Service whereas MMS refers to Multimedia Messaging Service.


Both SMS and MMS are methods of sending text messages but SMS only facilitates text messages whereas MMS facilitates text messages with the inclusion of multimedia elements. Depending on the purpose, one may choose to rely on either of these modes. Although SMS is limited to text messages, sometimes, it can be more handy because everyone has access to it. 

Support of Multimedia: 

SMS only allows one to send text messages and hence, it lacks multimedia features. However, senders can make their text messages more engaging and creative using MMS which facilitates multimedia elements as opposed to SMS. Business owners may choose to rely on MMS messages if they want to attract the attention of their customers and make their brand more appealing to them. 

User Base: 

Most businesses rely on SMS messages due its convenience, high open rate, and high response rate. This is mainly because SMS is limited to text messaging and business owners can convey their message concisely. Due to this, SMS has a huge user base mostly because both parties do not have to put in any external effort. MMS, on the other hand, has a relatively smaller user base even though it has more features mainly because it is not supported by all mobile devices. 

Length Limitation: 

One of the major features that differentiate SMS and MMS is that SMS has a character limit while MMS does not. Most users may have to create and edit their message content multiple times to make their information fit within the limit of 160 characters of SMS. However, MMS allows one to enjoy greater liberty when it comes to character limits. 

Addition of Links: 

One can attach links to their SMS messages and send it to their users whereas in MMS messages, one can attach a link and send multimedia messages directly as well. 

Affordability and Compatibility: 

As compared to MMS, single SMS or bulk SMS messages are considered to be more affordable because they incur less charges and depending on the cellular network server, sometimes, they’re completely free of cost. However, since MMS messages facilitate more features and elements compared to SMS, they also incur more charges. SMS messages are compatible with all mobile devices whereas MMS messages are mostly compatible with smartphones. 

Final Thoughts 

Created many years ago, both SMS and MMS have strongly stood the test of time and aged like fine wine since they are being widely used increasingly. In the coming years, their popularity is only predicted to witness a growth which is a boon for all business owners who rely on these methods of communication for their marketing purposes. However, despite their similarities, one should be aware of the differences existing between MMS and SMS messaging so that both these forms of messaging can be used appropriately. 

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