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iMessage vs Text: The Ultimate Comparison Guide 2018

In today’s life, we spend more time on our mobile phones than anything else.

Keeping this trend in mind, Apple has recently incorporated a new iMessage service in the Messages app. This new instant messaging service allows users to go one step ahead and benefit from its advanced features.

Now, you don’t have to depend on the age-old text messages to send short messages to your friends. iMessage has all the features that you’ve seen while using the text messages and video messages.

Then, what’s the difference between conventional text messages and iMessage?

If you’re a new iPhone user, I’m sure you might have wondered about these two similar-looking features in the iOS system. In the following post, let’s dig deep and try to understand the different aspects of these features.

iMessage vs. Text Message

As you know, iMessage is an Apple’s answer to some of the popular instant messaging services like WhatsApp and Messenger.

This integrated iOS feature enables users to send and receive digital world messages in the form of texts, images, videos, and other files whereas the text messages are for textual conversations only.

And that’s the simple difference between these two services!

Of course, you can get a value-added MMS package from the service provider, but iMessage is a lot ahead in the competition as far sending and receiving of the media files is concerned.

Have a look at this table to understand the comparison between iMessage and Text Message –

 Text MessageiMessage
First Usage19922011
Character Limit160 Characters (918 characters max.)No Limit
Network RequirementCarrier's Cell NetworkInternet
Ease of UseVery EasyFairly Easy
Message ColorGreen BubbleBlue Bubble
Apps SupportNoYes
Digital Touch SupportNoYes
Games SupportNoYes
Stickers SupportNoYes
Group ConversationsNoYes
SecurityNo encryption to the messagesEnd to End Encryption
ActivationNot RequiredRequired
International MessagingRequires international data planFree of cost
CompatibilityWorks on all operating systemsLimited to iOS only
Cost per MessageHighLow

As you can see above, iMessage is far superior to the text message services. It has got so many more features that you can’t imagine on the simplistic form of textual conversations.

Features Comparison

Now, let’s learn more about some of these features in detail.

Privacy & Security

Privacy and Security are two major concerns in the digital world, but Apple has tackled this issue in its iMessage service.

The iMessage feature uses the End to End Encryption (E2EE) to safeguard all your messages. Whenever you send an iMessage, it gets automatically encrypted so that no one else can look into your message.

And the same thing gets repeated when you receive a message from your friend.

This way, the E2EE ensures that there is no third party involved in the communication, which is an impressive aspect of this technology.

As far as text messages’ privacy and security are concerned, you don’t get the same encryption for such communication.

The messages you send using the SMS facility are not encrypted using any secured technology, which means anyone can sneak into the system and look at the message details.

Therefore, iMessage is a better communication medium than SMSes for those who care about the privacy and security of their messages.


There’s nothing much to compare in the usability factor of these two services.

Both the services are easy to use. For iMessage’s features, you might need to go through them a couple of times, but it’s not that difficult at all.

The iOS system also offers the Send as SMS feature to all its users, which can be used to send the iMessage messages as SMSes when the device is offline, or if you’re visiting a place with no/low network coverage.


Apple has provided two different colors (Green and Blue) to distinguish between the iMessage and Text message.

Green color, a traditionally associated color, is given to Text messages whereas the iMessage messages appear in Blue Bubbles.

While sending any message from the Messages app, you will need to remember these two colors. Otherwise, you may get a surprise with an unexpected bill amount at the end of the month. (Find more about this issue in the Data Usage point below.)


Connectivity is probably one of the most distinctive factors between these two services.

When it comes to the SMSes, you don’t require any Internet connection to send your messages. It relies on carrier’s network. If there is enough network signal strength, you can send or receive the message without much issue.

However, in case of iMessage, you do require Internet access in the form of Wi-Fi or Cellular Data to send and receive messages. If you don’t find any Internet around you, it’d be difficult to use this service on your iPhone.

The only way through which you can use this feature in such situations is by sending them as text messages.

Data Usage

Since the text messages do not use Internet services, the carrier will ask for standard SMS charges as mentioned in your tariff plan. There won’t be any data usage in this case.

For those who use MMS service, you might have to pay the 3G or 4G usage charges along with SMS charges.

Regarding iMessage, it can’t work without the Internet. So, you may have to pay data usage charges accordingly. If you use Wi-Fi over mobile data, you can use iMessage for free.

One more thing!

Even though the above scenarios are quite simple and obvious, there’s another feature that can be a deciding factor in your iPhone’s monthly bills.

And this factor is known as the ‘Send as SMS‘ feature.

As pointed out earlier, this feature gets activated when there is no Internet connection (Cellular Data or Wi-Fi) to send your pending iMessage messages. It means your SMS count will go up without any prior notice, and you will keep wondering the excess SMS charges in your bill.

Of course, you can disable this feature from the Settings app, but make sure you learn the color combinations of these services. It’d be much easier to curb down your SMS usage this way.

Advanced Features

iMessage and all other similar instant messaging/chatting services have become popular because of their advanced features, which are not present in any other old messaging platforms.

So, here’s a quick list of those features that keep iMessage way ahead in this comparison –

  1. Tapbacks
  2. iMessage Apps
  3. Read-receipts
  4. Stickers
  5. Games
  6. Drawing Keyboard
  7. Digital Touch

Drawing Keyboard on iMessage


Text message/SMS is almost a forgotten service in this digital world. So, there are a lot of limitations to this service as compared to iMessage.

Let’s take a brief look at the limitations of both these services –

Text Message Limitations

  • Character Limit
  • No multimedia support without MMS
  • No support for Apps
  • No support for interactive elements
  • High cost per message
  • No encryption
  • Requires carrier network signal

iMessage Limitations

  • Takes more space to store all the chat information
  • Uses Cellular Data if there’s no Wi-Fi connection
  • Less user-friendly as compared to other IM apps
  • Requires activation on both the devices (Send and Receiver)
  • Requires Internet access every time

Well, these are some of the limitations/drawbacks of these services. I’m sure you’d come across many more if you use them frequently.

If you find any other noteworthy comparison points, do leave a comment below. And don’t forget to share this post if you find it useful.

Happy Chattin’!

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