Featured image for RCS vs SMS in Text Messaging: What's the Difference?

RCS vs SMS in Text Messaging: What’s the Difference?

Rich communication services (RCS) messaging allows you to send high-quality large attachments, whereas SMS does not. Additionally, RCS provides read receipts, while the latter cannot.

Want to start a text message conversation with our customer service team? Just enter your number here.

Powered By TextSanity Logo

What does rich communication services (RCS) mean?

The rich communication services messaging protocol is similar yet different from SMS and comes with several added benefits. Mainly, content sent and delivered via RCS can be of much higher quality than SMS, and users can opt to receive read receipts and delivery reports.

RCS messages are sent using data and wifi. Therefore carriers are kept out of the loop, so to speak. Apps like Google Messages and WhatsApp can send and receive messages outside of the carrier’s network, making them more private and secure.

Learn what RCS means

iMessage, for example, is Apple’s answer to RCS; however, it is restricted only to Apple devices, such as the iPad and iPhone. Android users cannot use iMessage or send and receive messages with it. Therefore, text messaging between an Android and iOS device will always be reduced back to SMS.

What does short message service (SMS) mean?

SMS simply means short message service and is the standard messaging protocol for nearly every device capable of sending text messages. From iPhones to flip phones, SMS is the default method of sending text anywhere in the world with any carrier or device. 

SMS relies on your cell network to send and receive messages and is highly limited in its capabilities. Image and video attachments sent via SMS are limited to just 3.5 Mb’s, and you don’t have the option to send or receive read receipts or delivery notifications

Being the universal standard texting messaging protocol, SMS comes with the benefit of knowing that you can send a text to anyone worldwide as long as you have their phone number. However, due to inadequate security, it would be wise not to send personal or compromising information.

Additionally, SMS messaging protocols are stored by wireless carriers who can use this info within the confines of the law in any way they see fit. Despite the privacy and security concerns, SMS is available on both iOS and Android devices and doesn’t require any downloads of apps or special settings; therefore, it is likely not to go away anytime soon. 

Learn what sms means

What are rich cards?

Rich cards provide users with a more enhanced search experience and allow you to stand out on Google search results by creating a greater visual mobile experience. As Google explains, a rich card could be used to display a prominent dish at your restaurant as part of your company’s search result, giving potential customers a quick preview of what you offer.

By creating a more visual experience, you are likely to find that you will see higher open and engagement rates with your company, which tend to drive up conversion rates.

What RCS offers that SMS doesn’t

RCS offers consumers security, privacy, and a greater visual experience with texting. This is especially important in regards to your business texting marketing. The greater the visual experience is for your customers, the more likely they are to remain engaged with your marketing efforts.

RCS’s greatest advantage is that it has minimal limitations on the quality of content sent and received between two mobile devices. Both Android and iOS phones manufactured today come with 4k and even 8k cameras. Without RCS, the richness of the content captured by these cameras would be difficult to share between users.

Similar to Apple’s iMessage, many RCS applications allow users to download the app on different devices and access their servers via websites. Therefore, RCS users can send and receive messages with other RCS-capable devices across many of their devices. 

Google Messages, for instance, has a web-based site where messages can be sent and received. SMS typically does not offer this functionality.

Learn what RCS has to offer text message marketers

Is RCS the future of text marketing?

RCS lacks the universality of SMS because it’s maintained and administered through its developers, such as Google, Apple, Facebook (Meta), or a host of other companies. Making a quick search on the app store will provide you with hundreds of RCS messaging apps.

Due to this lack of universality, RCS will not be the replacement for SMS, despite its aspirations to be just that. In other words, SMS will likely remain the standard messaging protocol across all devices and platforms for the foreseeable future.

Moreover, nearly half of all phones being used today in the U.S. are iPhones, and that number is not likely to go down anytime soon. Apple knows that iMessage is a major reason why many users ignore the urge to switch to Android. If everyone in your circle has an iPhone except you, it can become a problem when sharing high-resolution content.

Because RCS does not play well with iPhone and requires a data or wifi connection to function, RCS will most likely never become the future of text marketing. Maybe a version of it will, but SMS is the OG of text marketing for now.

What are the benefits of RCS for your business?

As you can see, RCS offers your business many benefits, most importantly, in the realm of feature-rich content. However, due to its inability to communicate with iOS devices, and with half of your customers statistically having iOS phones, you may see mixed results on the ability to deliver this content as intended fully.

What are the benefits of SMS for your business?

While the SMS messaging protocol may not offer the same richness of content as RCS, it does guarantee that you will be able to reach your entire audience regardless of whether they use iOS or Android devices.

Ensuring all your customers receive the same content of the same quality is crucial to creating consistent marketing and is why SMS is still the gold standard for SMS business texting.

Learn the benefits of sms for your business text messaging

Which devices are compatible with RCS?

Almost all Android devices are compatible with RCS; however, no iOS device is. We have mentioned this a few times, but it is a very important fact to remember when learning about and implementing your business texting marketing strategy. 

Will Apple ever add RCS support?

Like it or not, iOS makes up half of the mobile phone market, and Apple has no intentions of letting that number decrease; if anything, they want to see it increase. Additionally, Apple is one of the few companies developing its hardware and software under one roof. The Google Pixel phone is the only other smartphone available in America whose software and the same company develop hardware.

Google, however, does not have the market share that Apple does. RCS will likely never become available on iOS simply because iMessage already delivers the same benefits, and Apple has no relatively close competition.

Why it’s important to stay compliant with SMS regulations

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 regulates the usage of SMS texting for marketing and protects consumers’ privacy by requiring companies to adhere to strict rules.

Failing to adhere to these regulations results in substantial fines and a loss of the public’s trust in your company’s integrity and business practices.

Learn why it's important to stay compliant with text marketing

What to do next

The thought of federal regulations may scare you, but don’t let them. At TextSanity, we have developed a system and platform that ensures you remain TCPA compliant.

With TextSanity, you get TCPA compliance and simple-to-use automated SMS marketing tools that will take your marketing to the next level. Contact TextSanity today to learn more!