What is the Difference Between iMessages and Text Messages? Explained

Understanding the difference between iMessages and text messages is essential for anyone who uses an iPhone to communicate with others. This article will provide an overview of how to distinguish between these two types of messages, what happens when you send each type, and why this distinction is important for iPhone users.

After completing the action of sending a message, the recipient will either receive an iMessage or a text message, depending on various factors such as the devices being used and the network connection.


In the world of instant communication, we often take for granted the technology that allows us to send messages in a blink of an eye. But have you ever stopped to wonder what the difference is between an iMessage and a regular text message? If you’re an iPhone user, you’ve likely noticed that some of your messages are blue while others are green. This isn’t just for aesthetics; it signifies two distinct messaging systems. Understanding the difference between iMessages and text messages is vital, especially since they can affect your data usage, the features available to you, and whether or not your message will be delivered.

This topic is relevant to anyone who uses an iPhone to communicate with friends, family, or colleagues. Whether you’re a teenager who loves to keep in touch with friends or a professional who needs to stay connected for work, knowing the ins and outs of your iPhone’s messaging capabilities is crucial. It’s not just about knowing which is which; it’s about making informed choices about how you communicate and potentially saving money on your phone bill in the process.

Related: Why is My iMessage Sent as a Text Message on iPhone? Common Causes

The Step by Step Tutorial: Understanding iMessages and Text Messages

Before diving into the differences, let’s clarify what we’ll accomplish in the following steps. We’ll outline the key factors that distinguish iMessages from text messages and how these differences impact iPhone messaging.

Step 1: Identify the Message Color

iMessages are displayed in blue bubbles, while text messages are in green bubbles.

When you open your iPhone’s Messages app, the first thing you might notice is the color of your message bubbles. This is the most immediate way to tell if you’re sending an iMessage or a text message. But why the color coding? The reason is that iMessages are sent over the internet, using Wi-Fi or your cellular data, while text messages are sent through your cellular provider’s SMS service.

Step 2: Check for Delivery and Read Receipts

iMessages can provide delivery and read receipts, while text messages typically cannot.

One of the perks of iMessages is the option to see if your message has been delivered and read (if the recipient has enabled read receipts). Text messages, on the other hand, usually only offer delivery confirmation, and they don’t tell you if the recipient has actually seen your message.

Step 3: Observe the Messaging Features

iMessages allow for a variety of features that text messages do not, such as reactions, full-resolution photos and videos, and more.

iMessages come with a host of features that make messaging a more immersive experience. You can send animations, use various apps within the conversation, and share your location, among other things. Text messages are more limited, offering a basic, no-frills communication experience.


No Texting FeesiMessages are sent over the internet, so they don’t count against your texting plan.
Enhanced FeaturesWith iMessages, you get access to a wide range of features that aren’t available with regular text messages.
End-to-End EncryptioniMessages are encrypted from sender to receiver, offering better privacy and security compared to text messages.


Requires InternetYou need a data connection to send iMessages, which can be an issue in areas with poor internet coverage.
Apple ExclusiveiMessages can only be sent to and from Apple devices, limiting communication with users on other platforms.
Can Cause ConfusionThe differences between iMessages and text messages can be confusing, leading to potential issues like messages not being sent if the user misunderstands the system.

Additional Information

When discussing iMessages and text messages, it’s vital to touch upon the issue of international messaging. If you’re traveling abroad or communicating with someone in another country, understanding which service you’re using can have significant implications for costs. iMessages, being internet-based, are generally free or incur minimal data charges. Text messages, however, may come with hefty international fees.

Another point to consider is the impact on your device’s battery life. iMessages, with all their features and capabilities, can be more power-intensive than plain text messages. If you’re running low on battery, sending a regular text message may be the more energy-efficient choice.

Lastly, remember that if you’re sending an iMessage to someone who doesn’t have an internet connection at that moment, your iPhone will automatically revert to sending a text message to ensure your communication isn’t hindered.


  1. Identify the message color to determine whether it’s an iMessage or a text message.
  2. Check for delivery and read receipts, which are available for iMessages but not for text messages.
  3. Observe the messaging features available, noting that iMessages offer a richer experience than text messages.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if I send an iMessage to a non-Apple device?

If you send an iMessage to a non-Apple device, it will automatically be sent as a text message instead.

Can I disable iMessages and only send text messages?

Yes, you can disable iMessages in the Settings app under Messages.

Will I be charged for sending iMessages?

No, iMessages are sent over the internet and do not count against your texting plan. However, they may use your data if you’re not connected to Wi-Fi.

Can I send iMessages from my Mac or iPad?

Absolutely, iMessages can be sent from any Apple device that is signed in to your iCloud account.

Do iMessages work when I have Do Not Disturb mode on?

Yes, iMessages will still be delivered to your device, but you won’t get a notification until Do Not Disturb mode is turned off.


Understanding the difference between iMessages and text messages is more than a trivial tech detail; it’s about optimizing your communication experience. Whether you’re looking to save money, take advantage of the latest messaging features, or ensure that your conversation remains private, knowing how to use each service effectively is key.

So, the next time you pick up your iPhone to send a message, take a moment to consider whether an iMessage or text message is the best choice for your needs. Happy texting, or should we say, iMessaging?