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MMS vs. SMS — What's the Difference?

By Fiza Rafique & Urooj Arif — Published on March 18, 2024
MMS allows multimedia content sharing, while SMS is limited to text messages up to 160 characters.
MMS vs. SMS — What's the Difference?

Difference Between MMS and SMS


Key Differences

MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) enables the sending of multimedia content like images, audio, and video, along with text. It's used for richer communication experiences. Whereas, SMS (Short Message Service) is primarily used for sending text messages, limited to 160 characters. It's a more basic form of messaging without support for multimedia content.
MMS messages can be sent to and from mobile phones over the cellular network, requiring a data plan or internet connection. On the other hand, SMS messages do not require a data connection, relying solely on the cellular network's basic service.
The cost of sending MMS messages is typically higher than sending SMS messages due to the larger amount of data transmitted. Whereas SMS messages are often included in basic messaging plans or charged at a very low rate per message.
MMS supports various multimedia formats, including JPEG for images, MP3 for audio, and MP4 for video, enhancing the way we share experiences and information. SMS, in contrast, supports only text in various character encodings, such as GSM or Unicode for languages that require it.
While MMS provides a versatile platform for expressive communication, sending multimedia files can be slower and less reliable in areas with poor data connectivity. SMS, being simpler and requiring less data, is generally faster and more reliable, especially in areas with limited network coverage.

Comparison Chart

Content Type

Multimedia (images, audio, video) and text
Text only

Character Limit

No specific limit (depends on carrier)
160 characters

Network Requirement

Data plan or internet connection
Cellular network


Generally higher


Can vary with network quality
High reliability

Compare with Definitions


Supports various file formats.
Sending a voice note in MP3 format via MMS.


Uses cellular network only.
Sending an SMS without mobile data available.


Requires internet or data connection.
Unable to send MMS in a no-service area.


Sends text messages up to 160 characters.
Confirming an appointment via SMS.


Allows embedding media content in messages.
Sharing the latest vacation photos through MMS.


Often included in phone plans.
Sending daily updates to family via SMS without extra charges.


Enhances messaging with multimedia.
Receiving a concert clip via MMS from a friend.


Works well even in low coverage.
Receiving emergency alerts via SMS during a network outage.


Enables sending photos, videos, and audio.
Sending a birthday video to a friend via MMS.


Limited to text communication.
Receiving a 2FA code through SMS.

Common Curiosities

Do I need internet for MMS?

Yes, MMS requires a data connection or internet.

Can SMS send pictures?

No, SMS is limited to text messages only.

What is SMS?

Short Message Service, for sending text messages up to 160 characters.

Why use SMS in today's smartphone era?

For its simplicity, reliability, and no need for a data connection.

Is MMS more expensive than SMS?

Generally, yes, due to the data used to send multimedia content.

Can all phones receive MMS?

Most modern phones can, but very old models may not support MMS.

What is MMS?

Multimedia Messaging Service, for sending images, videos, and texts.

Can MMS be sent internationally?

Yes, but it may incur higher charges than domestic MMS.

How can I save on MMS charges?

Use Wi-Fi or messaging apps that don't charge per message.

What's the difference in speed between MMS and SMS?

SMS is typically faster due to lower data requirements.

How long can an MMS message be?

There's no specific limit, but carriers may impose size restrictions.

Are there any privacy concerns with MMS?

Like any digital communication, MMS can be intercepted, emphasizing the need for secure messaging apps.

Can MMS replace email?

For quick multimedia shares, yes, but email is better for longer content.

How has messaging evolved with MMS and SMS?

From basic text to rich multimedia communication, enhancing how we share information and experiences.

Why might an SMS not be delivered?

Due to issues like network congestion, phone being off, or blocked numbers.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.

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