A Quick 2-Minute Overview Explaining SMS vs Text

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Almost everyone uses a mobile phone for decades. But it is still understandable that there is a blurred line that separates SMS and text. Businesses and individuals use it every day to the point that it led to confusion between the two.  Discussed below is a basic comparison of SMS vs text.

SMS And Text Usage

People use these terms the same way. These example messages will help you understand more:

  • “You need to send an SMS to get the promo.”
  • “You need to text the keyword to get the promo.” 

The first sentence uses SMS as a noun. The second sentence used text as a verb. But an alternative message May look like this:

  • “You need to send a text to get the promo.”

Notice the difference? You can use ‘text’ as a noun, substituting SMS. Using different words doesn’t change the meaning. But you can’t use SMS to replace the word text. It will blur the intent and the technical aspect of the language.

  • “You need to SMS the keyword to get the promo.”

So it means that there is a difference between the two words. The usage depends on the context, so understanding each word’s real meaning will help you use them appropriately.

SMS Explained 

The acronym SMS stands for short message service. It supports sending 160 alphanumeric characters per text message. This form of communication started in 1992, widely used for straightforward messages since then. It means that SMS is a term used to define the channel of communication.

SMS is a communication medium that allows its users to form a two-way communication. Using SMS requires a mobile phone, phone number, and SMS subscription (or access to a SMS marketing platform like Txtra). Even the oldest mobile phones can open SMS, so its widespread use can benefit individuals and businesses.

Some laws regulate the use of SMS for businesses throughout the country. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) protects consumers from the invasion of privacy by using SMS. For example, a company that sends an SMS to a customer without explicit consent already violates the law. 

When in doubt, ask the dictionary to explain the differences between SMS vs Text messages.

According to dictionary.com, the formal definition of SMS is:

  1. short message service: a system for sending short text messages, from one cell phone to another or from a computer to a cell phone. Compare EMS (def. 2).
  2. a message sent by SMS; a text message.

Text Messaging Explained

According to dictionary.com, the formal definition of text message is “an electronic message sent over a cellular network from one cell phone to another by typing words, often in shortened form, as “l8t” for “late,” on the phone’s numeric or QWERTY keypad”.  It means that SMS is a form of a text message.

Text services also include MMS, which stands for multimedia services. Through MMS, its user can send audio, phone contacts, pictures, and videos. Thanks to its 1,600 character limit, users can send longer messages through MMS.

Here is a quick side by side comparison of MMS and SMS:

  • SMS are short and straight to the point when MMS can show audiovisual representations.
  • SMS is cheaper, but MMS is more cost-effective
  • Older phones can receive SMS but not MMS.
  • SMS has a broader coverage compared to MMS 
  • Most carriers offer unlimited texting through SMS but not MMS.

Here’s a helpful article that provides guidelines of when to use SMS or MMS for business text messaging.

Using messaging platforms on mobile devices does not necessarily mean texting. For example, messages sent through Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp are not text messages. What makes them different is their need for an internet connection. SMS and MMS only use a cellular network, which is entirely another type of technology. Introducing these additional messengers to the conversations complicates the topic to SMS vs text vs OTT messaging  We’ll save OTT messaging for another post.

Business Applications Of SMS And Text Messaging

OK let’s set aside the differences of SMS vs Text and talk about how they both help businesses grow. There are several ways to use text messaging for business purposes. But it boils down to sending updates and running marketing campaigns. Have a look at the typical uses of SMS to benefit businesses.

  • Targeting audiences to expand marketing list
  • Running promotional marketing campaigns 
  • Building relationships with clients or customers
  • Providing SMS-based discounts to boost sales
  • Boosting the overall ROI of the business
  • Collaborating internally with business team members
  • Sending time-sensitive messages such as alerts and notifications
  • Sending appointment reminders and delivery updates
  • Sending confirmation codes such as one time pin
  • Offering subscriptions and customer service

Text Messaging Statistics

SMS has been around for about 30 years. Being aware of what it can do today will potentially benefit your business. Here are a few SMS facts that show the widespread use of SMS.

  • Almost no SMS is left unread before deletion because its open rate is 98%.
  • It only takes 90 seconds for an SMS to receive a response.
  • Around 85% of customers prefer receiving a text message to phone calls or emails.


Comparing SMS vs text messaging doesn’t significantly matter if you benefit from them. Nobody will correct you if you don’t use them exactly as intended.  Heck… our entire business is about leveraging this technology and even we don’t go out of our way to correct each other.  Even newer technologies sprout today, they still cannot replicate the convenience and popularity of using SMS. Businesses can leverage the power of text messaging by using it to run marketing campaigns.

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