Difference Between SMS and IM

The world has digitalized and communication has reached its highest speed. Right from instant messaging to instant location, the world has revolutionized.

Sending messages to other people across various parts of the world has not only become quick but also cheap. The two common ways of message transfer are SMS and IM.


The main difference between SMS and IM is that SMS stands for Short Messaging Service while IM stands for Instant Messaging. SMS is referred to the feature of sending messages in cell phones or mobile phones while IM refers to the feature of sending messages over the Internet across computers.


SMS is a feature that was developed as an add-on on the services of regular cellular. It was an alternative to the calling facility provided by the telecom sectors.

Initially, SMS was free of cost and later companies started to charge extra or minimize the amount of SMS on a daily or monthly basis. SMS is also widely used as a marketing and promotion tool.

On the other hand, IM is referred to as the feature of sending messages from one computer to another through the internet is called IM. The feature is easy and does not charge any additional charges.

IM is however not compatible with every application.

Comparison Table Between SMS and IM

Parameters of Comparison SMSIM
DefinitionThe feature of sending messages from one phone to another is called SMS The feature sending messages from one computer to another through the internet is called IM
Medium of transmissionThrough the telephone network of a company Through stable Internet connectivity
Cost of servicesPaid servicesFree services
Location limitation SMS plans usually allow messages to be sent across the same country and extra charges are deducted for international messages IM allows messages to be sent across any part of the globe
Software limitationThere is no software limitation on SMS There is a software limitation in IAM as applications like Skype, GChat, or YM are not compatible with IM

What is SMS?

SMS stands for short message service. It is a messaging service feature available on most devices like telephone, mobile, and other Internet-related systems.

It follows protocols of standard communication that allow devices to exchange messages in form of short texts. SMS is the most popular and common method for text communication.

The first definition for SMS was given in 1986 which was a part of GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) standards. The first SMS in the form of a text message was sent in 1992. SMS cannot only be sent from one mobile phone to another but also to other mobile technologies like ANSI CDMA networks and Digital AMPS.

The concept of SMS was brought forward by Friedhelm Hillebrand and Bernard Ghillebaert of the Franco-German GSM cooperation.

The global and International SMS messaging business is worth over UDD 100 billion dollars, according to a report of 2018 market research.

The GSM laid out two main services that could be provided in SMS. The services are Short Message Mobile-Terminated (SMS-MT) and Short Message Mobile Originated (SMS-MO).

The messages in SMS operate on the mechanism called “store and forward”. Initially, the length of messages in SMS was 128 bytes and was later increased to 160 seven-bit characters.

The limitation on the character made people come up with acronyms or abbreviate the terms by removing vowels, to shorten their messages and fit in the limitation criteria.

What is IM?

IM stands for Instant Messaging. The main function of IM is to send messages or information across personal computers.

IM operates on the route called the Internet to pass the messages across the corrected network. IM allows users to send messages across various parts of the globe through the Internet.

The other end of the user also requires a similar application to receive IM.

IM does not put any restriction on the character of the messages. Users of IM usually use acronyms and abbreviations to shorten the length of the messages and increase the speed of typing.

There is no additional fee by the ISP for receiving or sending any IM.

Messengers applications like Google Talk, Yahoo messenger, MSN messenger, Skype, AIM (AOL Internet Messenger) have to be downloaded first to operate IM.

Through IM, users can send images, attach files, or share videos with other people across the world. The other person can view and access the media instantly while chatting.

To operate IM, users require stable Internet connectivity, a computer, and the same messenger. Also, the users have to be online at the same time to chat instantly in real-time.

It allows the users to know that the person on the other end is online or offline, and therefore provides control over the timing of the messages accordingly.

Main Differences Between SMS and IM

  1. SMS operates on the telephone network of a company while IM operates on Internet connectivity.
  2. SMS is limited within a country while IM can be sent to any part of the world.
  3. SMS may or may not be free depending upon the service provider while IM is free of cost.
  4. SMS can be sent only within a certain range while IM can be sent across any part of the globe.
  5. SMS has a limitation of 160 characters while IM has no character limitation.
Difference Between SMS and IM


Communication and transmission of information are pivotal among mankind. Sending information from one place to another has evolved in stages.

The current stage involves complete digitalization and technologically equipped media. The two most common forms of communication are SMS and IM.

Both the features – SMS and IM are convenient and fastest methods of communication. Both the features have distinct features, advantages, and disadvantages.

Both platforms are commonly used worldwide. Every user needs to evaluate all the parameters before making a final choice of decision with the medium of communication, as every medium suits different needs.


  1. https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/07419050910979955/full/html
  2. https://digital-library.theiet.org/content/journals/10.1049/iet-rpg.2009.0019
Search for "Ask Any Difference" on Google. Rate this post!
[Total: 0]
One request?

I’ve put so much effort writing this blog post to provide value to you. It’ll be very helpful for me, if you consider sharing it on social media or with your friends/family. SHARING IS ♥️

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments