Imagine if our world was required to only speak 2 languages. One language is called GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications). This language is made up of the 128 characters including the alphabet (A-Z), numbers, and common symbols such as ?,!,@.
The other language is called UTF-8 (or Unicode). This language is made up of 1,920 characters which covers every other language such as Latin, Arabic, Chinese, Greek, Hebrew, Japanese, Korean and more along with emojis. You can see the entire list of Unicode scripts here.
SMS technology speaks in these two languages. Text messaging was originally built using GSM and its 7-bit technology. This 7-bit technology is what leads to the 160 character limit for a text message. As the need for other languages grew, developers needed a way to expand beyond GSM. While Unicode is the most successful standard to extend SMS beyond GSM, there are limitations… the most prominent is the fact that it GSM uses a 8 bit-bytes instead of 7-bit. In plain english, that means 2 things for you:
- Each Unicode Character is “larger” than a GSM character
- A single Unicode Character will cause your entire message to be treated as unicode
Because of this, your message limit drops from 160 characters to 70 characters. Learn about why one SMS message (or credit) is 160 characters by clicking here.