Comparisons4 min read

What’s the Difference Between SMS and RCS Messaging?

SMS vs RCS messaging what's the different

Table of contents


Mobile messaging technology has grown significantly over the last few decades, transitioning from mobile network messaging systems to modern IP messaging platforms. Mobile network messaging systems like SMS (Short Message Service) have been widely popular among businesses and individuals for their quick and convenient communication capabilities. IP messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Slack have gained popularity due to their interactive and better functional real-time communication features.

Recently, when Apple announced the incorporation of RCS (Rich Communication Services) in iOS 18, many questions emerged about its adoption. RCS messaging is an IP-based messaging service developed by GSMA to overcome the limitations of SMS, offering better group chat features and high-resolution video sharing.


What is SMS?

SMS is a text-based messaging service that allows users to send and receive text messages of up to 160 characters using mobile phone numbers. The character limit decreases to 70 when you add special characters and emojis or write messages in languages that do not use the GSM 7-bit character set. SMS operates over a mobile network and charges some amount as a carrier fee for message sharing.

What is RCS?

RCS is an interactive messaging protocol that provides a more dynamic and rich messaging experience than SMS - it shows if the recipient has read your message and that they are typing. Besides, there is no character limit to text, and you can share multimedia files of larger sizes. RCS messaging works over the Internet, and if the Internet is not available, you can still send plain text messages as SMS using your mobile network.

Comparing SMS and RCS Messaging

While SMS has been a prevalent messaging approach, RCS messaging is gaining popularity rapidly, with Apple introducing RCS to iPhones recently. Both SMS and RCS messaging systems are relevant today, but the constant advancements in messaging technology favor RCS slightly.

Difference between sms vs rcs


Being an IP-based service, RCS depends on the internet, while SMS uses mobile networks to send and receive messages. SMS does not support media files, but RCS can share up to 100MB. Unlike SMS, RCS offers real-time interaction with delivery and read receipts.
 

Features

SMS

RCS

Character Limit  160 charactersNo character limit
Network RequirementMobile networkInternet 
Media File SharingNot supportedSupports high-quality media files
Read ReceiptsNot availableDisplays read receipts
Typing IndicatorsNot availableShows typing indicators
Delivery statusDepends on mobile device typeShows delivery status

Advantages of RCS Over SMS

1. Business growth

RCS helps you promote your business, offering rich messaging options like product catalogs, video demos, interactive virtual assistance, and even transactional messages. It allows consumers to identify genuine business providers and discourages scam activities. 
 

2. Real-time information

RCS gives users real-time information on message delivery, typing indicators, and reading receipts. It keeps the sender and receiver engaged for an improved communication experience. 
 

3. Group messaging

With SMS, the number of members you can add to a group chat is limited from 15 to 20. In addition, all the messages in a group chat are sent individually. RCS overcomes these issues, allowing users to add 100 members to a group chat and allowing everyone to access all messages in the group. 
 

4. RCS Over SMS for Businesses

In 2023, the adoption of RCS business messaging grew by over 40% compared to 2022, underscoring its ability to improve business promotion and revenue generation. While SMS is still useful for business promotions through text alerts and reminders, RCS messaging allows customized messages, engaging interactions, and actionable content that can result in increased engagement and sales. You can also send QR and barcodes using RCS, elevating the payment and verification method. Besides, RCS allows users to view external sites with URL previews.

Limitations of RCS

Despite its promising features in overcoming the limitations of SMS, RCS has a few limitations.
 

  • RCS is not compatible across all devices, causing compatibility issues. You must have Android 5.0/iOS 18 or higher for RCS to work on your device.
  • RCS requires an internet connection for full functionality. It limits its usage in areas with poor connectivity.
  • RCS does not support end-to-end encryption unless the sender and receiver have the upgraded RCS service, requiring users to use a single device to access messages.

Conclusion

SMS has been a dominant way of sending mobile messages for a long time. However, the adoption of RCS by tech companies shows that the users are ready for a significant advancement. RCS addresses many of the limitations of SMS by offering a richer and more interactive communication experience. Yet, other issues such as compatibility problems, internet dependency, and the absence of end-to-end encryption, need to be addressed.

RCS has the prospect of becoming the new popular mobile messaging means, bringing the best of traditional SMS and modern OTT messaging apps. The preference of a messaging system depends upon its usage. A thorough comparison of messaging systems based on significant features might help you decide the right one.

Calilio is a business phone system that works on IP technology and allows you to send and receive text messages over the Internet with all RCS capabilities. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you improve your business communication.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I use RCS chat?

RCS chat offers a richer and more interactive messaging experience than SMS. If you enjoy features like multimedia sharing, read receipts, and typing indicators, and your device supports RCS, then you should use RCS chat.

What is the difference between RCS chat and SMS?

RCS chat is an advanced messaging protocol that supports high-quality media files, read receipts, typing indicators, and no character limits. On the other hand, SMS is limited to text messages of 160 characters, doesn’t support media files, and lacks interactive features.

Is RCS better than SMS?

RCS is better than SMS due to its multimedia support, real-time interaction indicators, and enhanced group chat capabilities. However, SMS still has its place due to its universal compatibility and simplicity.

Should I turn off RCS?

Turning off RCS depends on your preferences and needs. Consider turning off RCS if you experience compatibility issues or poor internet connectivity.

How to send SMS instead of RCS?

To send an SMS instead of RCS, open the Messages app > Tap on your profile picture > Select Messages Settings > Tap RCS Chats > Toggle on the RCS Chats.

Will RCS replace SMS?

As RCS, with advanced messaging features, eliminates all the limitations SMS has, it can potentially replace SMS in the long run. However, SMS remains widely used because of its simplicity and compatibility with all mobile devices.

Does RCS count as SMS?

RCS messages do not count as SMS. RCS uses the internet to send messages, while SMS uses the mobile network. It affects how messages are delivered.


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