SMS stands for Short Message Service. While a standard SMS message can contain up to 160 GSM-7 characters, most modern devices are able to receive messages of up to 1,600 characters in length by receiving a series of split messages which the device then rebuilds into the correct sequence. This is called a multi-part SMS.
Messages with over 160 characters will be split after 153 characters, as there is a 7 character "header" at the beginning of each one to enable correct reassembly on the recipients end.
For example, a 161 character message will be sent as two messages, one with 153 characters and the second with 8 characters.
Emojis & Eastern Characters
If your message contains non-GSM characters (such as eastern characters or emojis), these messages are sent using UCS-2 character encoding instead of the usual GSM-7 character encoding.
As a result, they are limited to just 67 characters and will be concatenated into 67 character message segments. Even using just one non-GSM character will cause this to occur - so keep an eye on the character counter in our SMS editor when creating your message.
Extended Alphabet Characters
Phones which support latin based languages such as English, use the GSM alphabet. Some characters in the GSM alphabet (such as the € symbol, for example) require 2 characters because they are extended alphabet characters.
These extended characters are taken into consideration when deciding how to split the message into different parts. The full GSM character list can be found here.
Maximum SMS Lengths (Examples)
The following character limits apply when using a standard SMS (ie. GSM-7 character encoding). Different limits apply if your message contains eastern language characters and / or emojis.
- A single SMS offers a 160 character length.
- Two SMS messages will provide a total of 306 characters.
- Three SMS messages will provide a total of 459 characters.
A multipart SMS is billed by the number of individual SMS messages used. For example, if you send a 459 character message, you will be charged for 3 SMS.
All the work to split up the messages into smaller segments will be done automatically for you. However, to find out more about our multipart SMS feature, or how this will affect your billing, contact our customer success team.
With an open rate of over 99%, SMS is an effective way to increase your digital marketing impact and get your message read.