MMS vs SMS: What the Difference Is and What Customers Prefer

Weighing MMS vs SMS

With today’s technology, there are dozens of ways to send messages. You can shoot off a text, send a Facebook Message, or take a Snap. While businesses can use some of these channels too, most focus their efforts on business text messaging platforms, which prioritize two formats, MMS and SMS. But when it comes to MMS vs SMS, which is better? And which do customers prefer? 

What Is MMS vs SMS?

While MMS and SMS are two acronyms commonly used throughout the business world, they’re rarely explained. Businesses are stuck asking what is MMS vs SMS instead of quickly making a decision on which is better for their campaigns. To help your business decide which type of message to use, we’ve rounded up key information, like: 

  • Definitions of SMS vs MMS
  • Similarities between SMS and MMS messages
  • Differences between SMS vs MMS messages
  • Customer preferences 

Let’s dive in. 

Defining SMS

The first question to answer is what is MMS vs SMS? We’ll start with SMS, since it predates MMS. 

The Short Message Service (SMS) is one of the oldest texting technologies. The first text message was transmitted via SMS in 1992. 

Today, SMS is still the most widely used type of text message. SMS messages can be up to 160 characters. Longer messages up to 918 characters can be sent, too, though they might be split into multiple messages, depending on the recipient’s mobile phone carrier.

Defining MMS

MMS uses newer technology than SMS. It was introduced around 2002. 

The Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) was designed to allow SMS users to send multimedia content—like audio, photos, and videos—over their phones. It was built using the same basic technology as SMS. 

Cell phone users most often use MMS to send their photos from person to person. MMS also allows people to send messages with virtually no limits to length. While the maximum length of texts depends on the carrier and the receiving device, 300 KB is often cited as the largest size most carriers will process.

MMS vs SMS: Similarities

When comparing MMS vs SMS, there are three key similarities. These include:


Because MMS was originally built for SMS users, both MMS and SMS work from the same basic technology. They are both sent via cellular network, too. 

Use Requirements

To use either MMS or SMS, customers only need a cellphone that accepts MMS and a wireless plan from their respective carriers. 


Because their only requirement is a wireless plan, both MMS and SMS are widely available to cellphone owners. If a customer receives a message in either format, it’s likely that they will be able to view it. 

MMS vs SMS: Differences

As you could tell from the definitions of SMS vs MMS messages, there are some differences between the channels, too. The three main differences are:

Message Content

One of the key differences between MMS and SMS is the type of messages that they can send. Simply put, SMS messages can only contain plain text, while MMS messages can contain other types of content, like photos and video. 

Message Length  

Phone users can send long SMS messages of up to 918 characters, but they will be split into messages of 160 characters each. MMS messages are only limited by carrier data limits, which are usually liberal. 

Message Availability 

Almost all modern mobile phones will accept MMS messages. However, there are always going to be exceptions. Some phone users might need to specifically enable MMS messages, too. For example, users who own older Android phone models will need to adjust their settings to receive MMS. 

MMS vs SMS: Customer Preferences

At the end of the day, your business needs to know which is better: MMS vs SMS.

Ultimately, this depends on what your teams want to send your customers. Because successful business text messaging is often customer service-centric, most messages you send will be short, like reminders and notifications. These messages don’t require content like photos or videos. 

However, if you need to offer technical support, sending pictures might be a must-have. If you’re a salesperson, you might want to send check-in videos or training sessions. If your business has a young customer base, you might want to consider sending items like GIFs.

Customers might prefer that your business send both types of messages: MMS for extra phone or video support, and SMS for short, daily conversations and notifications. 

In fact, an advanced business text messaging platform should hide this decision from you. For example, if you send a message with text only, the platform should know to use SMS. If you send pictures to a mobile phone, it should know to use MMS. Advanced platforms can even provide character counts and warn you if a long message might be delivered as multiple messages.

By offering this versatility, you’re more likely to meet your customers’ needs—without reducing the time your team spends providing top-notch customer service. 


Still wondering what is MMS vs SMS? Ask our team

Decide you want to send both MMS and SMS messages instead of SMS vs MMS messages? Try our business texting platform for free to use both.

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