SMS vs iMessage

Profile Headshot of Aayush Bangali
Aayush Bangali

mins read

May 3, 2024

SMS vs iMessage

Key Takeaways

  1. iPhone's increasing usage has made iMessage very popular especially in geographies like the US. iPhone penetration in India is also rapidly increasing
  2. An SMS uses cellular connection to send text messages while iMessage uses internet and is only available on iOS devices
  3. SMS has a wider reach than iMessage since iOS users have access to both SMS and iMessage both but android users only have access to SMS
  4. iMessage allows multimedia content in a message while SMS is only text based which makes it appropriate for use cases like OTP SMS
  5. Both are suited for different and specific business cases. Cybersecurity considerations is also a crucial metric when deciding a channel of business communication

61% of USA’s smartphone users i.e. 153 million are iPhone users. This gives us an idea of the penetration of iMessage in the US. This trend is rapidly growing in other developing countries like India. iPhone penetration is increasing at a rate which is much faster than any other gadget.  

This brings us to the question – SMS vs iMessage. While SMS and text messaging has the worldwide reach, iMessage has its own perks. The article here dives deep into the differences between the two and their suitability in different business scenarios.  

What is SMS?

SMS, or Short Message Service, is a ubiquitous text messaging service that allows users to send and receive short messages between mobile devices.  
It is a standard communication protocol that enables the exchange of messages up to 160 characters in length, including spaces. Unlike some messaging services, SMS does not require a Wi-Fi connection or a data plan, making it widely accessible across various mobile networks. Although you can still send SMS over WiFi, it is not a requirement as such.  

What is iMessage?

Introduced by Apple in 2011, iMessage is an instant messaging service tailored exclusively for Apple devices such as the iPhone, iPad, iMac, and Apple Watch. Integrated into the iOS and macOS operating systems, iMessage enables users to send text messages, photos, videos, and other media content seamlessly over Wi-Fi or cellular data networks. Its integration across Apple's ecosystem ensures a cohesive messaging experience for users within the Apple ecosystem.

With RCS in picture, it will solve for the rich media problem of SMS. Although, businesses are still considering RCS vs SMS for different scenarios.  

SMS vs iMessage

While SMS and iMessage both serve as messaging platforms, several key distinctions set them apart.

1.Reach and Access

SMS is universally available across a wide range of mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets from various manufacturers. This accessibility makes SMS a reliable choice for communication especially for businesses and their SMS campaigns.
On the other hand, iMessage is exclusive to Apple devices, limiting its accessibility to users within the Apple ecosystem. This exclusivity can be a barrier when communicating with non-Apple users.

2.Utility and Functionality

SMS primarily facilitates text-based communication, offering a straightforward platform for sending and receiving messages. It is a reliable and widely supported messaging for basic communication needs and use cases like user authentication with OTP SMS.  
In contrast, iMessage extends its functionality to include multimedia content such as photos, videos, and audio recordings. This enhanced functionality enhances the user experience and allows for richer communication.


One of the most significant differences between SMS and iMessage lies in their security features. iMessage employs end-to-end encryption, ensuring that messages are securely transmitted and can only be decrypted by the intended recipient. This security measure protects user communications from interception by hackers or unauthorized third parties.  
In contrast, SMS messages lack end-to-end encryption, potentially leaving them vulnerable to interception or surveillance during transmission over mobile networks. Now, RCS is also coming with end-to-end encryption.  

The Advantages of iMessage

iMessage offers several advantages over traditional SMS messaging:

1.Enhanced Multimedia Capabilities

iMessage allows users to go beyond simple text messages and send multimedia content such as photos, videos, and audio recordings. This feature enables users to express themselves more creatively and share moments in richer detail.

2.Seamless Integration with Apple Ecosystem

iMessage is seamlessly integrated across Apple devices, allowing users to access their messages from their iPhone, iPad, iMac, and Apple Watch. This integration ensures a consistent messaging experience across multiple devices and enhances convenience and accessibility.

3.Read Receipts and Typing Indicators

iMessage provides read receipts, indicating when a message has been delivered and read by the recipient. This feature eliminates the uncertainty of whether a message has been received and read. For SMS, sometimes your messages do not get delivered. The chances of the same happening with iMessage are way lesser.
Additionally, iMessage offers a real-time typing indicator, showing when the other person is composing a message. These features enhance communication by providing immediate feedback and reducing miscommunication.


As mentioned earlier, iMessage employs end-to-end encryption, ensuring that messages remain secure and private. This encryption prevents unauthorized access to message content during transmission, providing users with peace of mind when sharing sensitive information.

Cybersecurity Considerations for Mobile Messaging

While iMessage offers enhanced security features, it's important to remember that cybersecurity is a shared responsibility. There might be SMS phishing attacks. Here are some additional steps you can take to ensure the security of your mobile messaging:

1.Use Strong Passwords

Choose strong, unique passwords for your messaging apps and enable two-factor authentication whenever possible. This adds an extra layer of security to your accounts.

2.Keep Your Operating System and Apps Updated

Regularly update your device's operating system and messaging apps to ensure you have the latest security patches and bug fixes. Developers often release updates to address vulnerabilities and enhance security.

3.Be Cautious of Phishing Attempts

Remain vigilant against phishing attempts, which often disguise themselves as legitimate messages or links. Avoid clicking on suspicious links and be wary of unsolicited messages asking for personal information. Sometimes, there are also silent SMS attacks.

4.Protect Your Device

Keep your device locked with a PIN or biometric authentication to prevent unauthorized access. Enable remote tracking and erasing features to protect your data in case of loss or theft.


SMS and iMessage are two prominent messaging platforms that have revolutionized the way we communicate digitally. While SMS offers accessibility across various platforms, iMessage provides enhanced functionality and security within the Apple ecosystem. Understanding the differences between these platforms allows users to make informed decisions when choosing a messaging service that aligns with their needs and preferences.  

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