SMS (Short Message Service) and MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) are two different messaging services commonly used on mobile phones and other devices to send messages and multimedia content. Here's an explanation of each and difference between them in tabular form.


SMS stands for Short Message Service, as the name suggests SMS mainly used to send text messages from one mobile device to the other mobile device or from mobile to computer using email option.
Maximum size of SMS usually will be either of the following.
• 160; 7-bit characters
• 140; 8-bit characters
• 70; 16-bit characters

If the other side of the mobile is not reachable or if it is switched off, in this case SMS will get stored in the SMS server often called as message server as per the time of expiry of the SMS set in the message settings of the mobile which in turn communicated to message storage server linked to the network.

Typical SMS settings in Mobile

Sending Options:
Network Selection: Cicuit Switch/Packet Switch
Character Support: GSM Alphabet/Unicode/Automatic OR Full/Enhanced
Relay path: Yes/No
Get Delivery Report: Yes/No
Keep a copy:Yes/No
Text Message Center :
• Text Message Center Number: +919886005444(For example used in VODAFONE)
• Validity period: None/1 Hr/6Hr/12Hr/1day/3day/1Week/1month
• Default type: text/voice/Fax/X.400/Email/ERMES
• Name of the Center: SMS center-1

SMS protocol stack

SMS Protocol Stack

SMS is part of CM (connection management) layer i.e. layer-3 in GSM protocol stack. Text or multimedia Messages from one mobile are sent to SMSC (short message service center). This SMSC has store-and-forward mechanism. Transmission of SMS/MMS between these SMSC and mobile device (TE-Terminal Equipment)) is done using MAP (mobile application part) of SS7 protocol. SMS protocol stack is mentioned in the figure-. It is defined in GSM Recommendation-3.40. SMS can also be delivered using GPRS protocol. For more on GPRS refer GPRS tutorial in Tutorials section.


MMS stands for Multimedia Message Service, as the name suggests MMS mainly used send multimedia messages which include picture, video, voice.
Maximum Size of MMS usually is about 300KB as per MMS standard 1.2 and is about 600KB as per MMS standard 1.3.

Similar to SMS, MMS can be sent from mobile to mobile or from mobile to fixed telephone(with SMS feature) or from mobile to computer.

If the opposite side of device is switched off or not reachable, MMS like SMS will be stored in the MMS server. W hen network found the device on or reachable it delivers the MMS to the device.

Typical MMS settings in Mobile

Sending Options:
• Priority: Urgent/Normal/Low
• Expiration:Max/1day/2day/1week/2wk/custom time
• Delivery Time: Immediately/1Hr/1D/1Wk/custom time
• Get Delivery Report: Yes/No
• Get Read Report: • Keep a copy:Yes/No
Receiving Options:
• Home Network: Auto download/Manual/Reject
• Foreign Network:Auto download/Manual/Restricted
• Send Read Report: Allowed/Never/Always Ask
• Send Delivery Report: Yes/No
• Reject Unknown:Yes/No
• Reject Advertisement:Yes/No
Message Size- 30KB/100KB/300KB, one can select any one as per need.

Difference between SMS and MMS messaging

Parameters SMS MMS
Full name Short Message Service Multimedia Messaging Service
Type of messages Text only messages Messages can include text, images, videos, audio and more
Message length Limited to 160 characters per message in most cases Can be much longer and is typically limited by carrier or device capabilities
Multimedia content Supports only plain text Supports a wide range of multimedia content, including images, videos, audio, contact cards and more
Group messaging Limited to sending messages to one recipient at a time Allows sending messages to multiple recipients or groups simultaneously
Cost Usually cheaper than MMS Can be more expensive than SMS due to data usage for multimedia content
Delivery confirmation Supports delivery receipts, indicating if the message was successfully delivered. Supports delivery receipts and read receipts for multimedia content
Internet connection required No, SMS works over the cellular network and doesn't require an internet connection. May require an internet connection for downloading multimedia content.
Compatibility Compatible with nearly all mobile phones and devices. Requires a device and carrier that support MMS functionality.
File size limit N/A Limited by carrier and device, but typically larger than SMS.
Use cases Commonly used for simple text messages, alerts, and notifications. Used for sharing multimedia content such as photos, videos, and audio messages.

Conclusion : From the comparison between SMS vs MMS, we can conclude following. SMS (Short Message Service) is a text-only messaging service limited to 160 characters per message and does not require an internet connection, commonly used for sending simple text messages and notifications. In contrast, MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) allows for the transmission of multimedia content such as images, videos, and audio, with a higher character limit and may require an internet connection to download and view multimedia files, making it suitable for sharing rich media content and enhancing communication.

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