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Way Around 160 Chararacter SMS Limit

consultant

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I have an iPhone 4. When I text someone on AT&T if the message is over 160 characters, it breaks the message up. My understanding is that CDMA networks are hard limited to 160 characters, where GSM networks are not. T-Mobile and AT&T are GSM. My friend on AT&T can send texts longer than 160 characters from their Android Phone (Nexus 5) to me and they are not broken up. So I'm wondering is this a software limitation and I just need to use a different SMS app on my iPhone (which one), a setting I can change in my SMS app, or is this a limitation that the T-Mobile network is placing on all outgoing SMS messages of its customers?

Thanks
 

bear7962

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I have an iPhone 4. When I text someone on AT&T if the message is over 160 characters, it breaks the message up. My understanding is that CDMA networks are hard limited to 160 characters, where GSM networks are not. T-Mobile and AT&T are GSM. My friend on AT&T can send texts longer than 160 characters from their Android Phone (Nexus 5) to me and they are not broken up. So I'm wondering is this a software limitation and I just need to use a different SMS app on my iPhone (which one), a setting I can change in my SMS app, or is this a limitation that the T-Mobile network is placing on all outgoing SMS messages of its customers?

Thanks
I copied this from the Sprint Support page. BTW, I believe 160 is the limit for all, iMessages do not count as they are not SMS.



Find out the character limits of text messages


Last Updated: Nov 18, 2013


Text message character limit


If you have a Sprint phone, you can send and receive text messages of up to 160 characters with any major U.S. wireless carriers and many international wireless carriers.


Nextel users have Web-based text messaging and have a 500-character limit.


Note: Some Nextel phones purchased before 2000 have a 140-character limit.


Exceeding maximum character limit


Only the first 160 characters of the message will be received on Sprint phones; only the first 500 characters of the message will be received on Nextel phones.


What’s included in text message character limits?


The character limit includes the composed message and sometimes the recipient's email address, the subject and callback number.


Kilobytes (kb) limits of text messages


Most phones don’t have size limitations in kilobytes; however, older phones support 30kb and newer devices support 100kb. These phones should have a feature that enables users to know the size of the message before sending.








HTH
 

Ledsteplin

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AT&T has nothing to do with it. All SMS texts are limited in character number. iMessage texts offer unlimited characters. And remember, a blank space is considered a character. You can keep up with the character count by toggling it on in settings. Go to Settings>Messages>Toggle on Character Count.


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consultant

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I'm not saying the limit has to do with a specific carrier. I'm just saying there is a difference in how SMS is handled regarding the network: CDMA networks (Sprint and Verizon) versus GSM (AT&T and T-mobile). If you google CDMA GSM SMS Limit you will run across information that indicates GSM handles SMS differently and gets around the 160 limit by re-assmling multiple 160 character messages into one message. It could also be how the particular phone's SMS app handles it too I would imagine but it's not very clear. Hence my reason for posting the question in the first place:

"CDMA and TDMA allow extremely limited SMS capabilities." "Ways of sending multiple short messages are available. SMS concatenation (stringing several short messages together) and SMS compression (getting more than 160 characters of information within a single short message) have been defined and incorporated in the GSM SMS standards."
http://www.activexperts.com/mmserver/sms/smstech/

"SMS period is 160 characters, GSM phones just let you send 'long SMS' by breaking up longer SMS into multiple shorter messages then reassembling them on the receiving phone."
http://www.sprintusers.com/forum/archive/index.php/t-134808.html

In my scenario this is SMS being set from a GSM carrier (T-mobile) to another GSM carrier (AT&T). On my AT&T Nexus 5, I receive long SMS from other AT&T users, but in this case the T-Mobile iPhone 4 user's longs messages are broken up, sometimes coming in out of order. So it's either something to do with how those two carriers handle SMS, or how the iPhone 4 handles it when sending versus Nexus 5 receiving. I would think if say the broken up messages have a date-time stamp in them and you receive several messages one second apart from the same recipient, the SMS app can be smart enough to combine them. There just seems to be limit technical information as to how the two phones/networks talk to each other to explain why sometimes the messages are broken but other senders on other devices or on the same network, they are automatically combined.

Thanks for the info thus far, but any Verizon/Sprint info is pretty much irrelavent regarding this question.
 

Skull One

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To make this mystery even more interesting, is the ability for the cellular device to send the SMS as an actual MMS instead which allows for 1000 character text messages. Android actually has the ability to auto switch to MMS, if the carrier of the phone allows it, if more than 140 characters are actually being sent. Which is what I believe you are actually describing with your scenario.
 
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consultant

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This makes sense and I would bet you are right. So in essesence it's a shortcoming of the stock iPhone SMS app. Does Apple allow replacement (without jailbreak) of the SMS app with a third party app?

To make this mystery even more interesting, is the ability for the cellular device to send the SMS as an actual MMS instead which allows for 1000 character text messages. Android actually has the ability to auto switch to MMS, if the carrier of the phone allows it, if more than 140 characters are actually being sent. Which is what I believe you are actually describing with your scenario.
 

scifan57

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This makes sense and I would bet you are right. So in essesence it's a shortcoming of the stock iPhone SMS app. Does Apple allow replacement (without jailbreak) of the SMS app with a third party app?
The standard apps that come with the iPhone can't be deleted. You can move them around and, in some cases, hide them but you can't get rid of them.
 

bear7962

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How is it a shortcoming of the iphone? Led's post shows where you can have MMS messaging toggled on or off under settings on the iphone. Perhaps it's a carrier choice.
 

thex

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[h=3]Message size[edit][/h]Transmission of short messages between the SMSC and the handset is done whenever using the Mobile Application Part (MAP) of the SS7 protocol.[SUP][39][/SUP] Messages are sent with the MAP MO- and MT-ForwardSM operations, whose payload length is limited by the constraints of the signaling protocol to precisely 140 octets (140 octets * 8 bits / octet = 1120 bits). Short messages can be encoded using a variety of alphabets: the default GSM 7-bit alphabet, the 8-bit data alphabet, and the 16-bit UCS-2 alphabet.[SUP][40][/SUP] Depending on which alphabet the subscriber has configured in the handset, this leads to the maximum individual short message sizes of 160 7-bit characters, 140 8-bit characters, or 70 16-bit characters. GSM 7-bit alphabet support is mandatory for GSM handsets and network elements,[SUP][40][/SUP] but characters in languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, or Cyrillic alphabet languages (e.g., Russian, Serbian, Bulgarian, etc.) must be encoded using the 16-bitUCS-2 character encoding (see Unicode). Routing data and other metadata is additional to the payload size.
Larger content (concatenated SMS, multipart or segmented SMS, or "long SMS") can be sent using multiple messages, in which case each message will start with aUser Data Header (UDH) containing segmentation information. Since UDH is part of the payload, the number of available characters per segment is lower: 153 for 7-bit encoding, 134 for 8-bit encoding and 67 for 16-bit encoding. The receiving handset is then responsible for reassembling the message and presenting it to the user as one long message. While the standard theoretically permits up to 255 segments,[SUP][41][/SUP] 6 to 8 segment messages are the practical maximum, and long messages are often billed as equivalent to multiple SMS messages. Some providers have offered length-oriented pricing schemes for messages, however, the phenomenon is disappearing.

Short Message Service - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 

Ledsteplin

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[h=3]Message size[edit][/h]Transmission of short messages between the SMSC and the handset is done whenever using the Mobile Application Part (MAP) of the SS7 protocol.[SUP][39][/SUP] Messages are sent with the MAP MO- and MT-ForwardSM operations, whose payload length is limited by the constraints of the signaling protocol to precisely 140 octets (140 octets * 8 bits / octet = 1120 bits). Short messages can be encoded using a variety of alphabets: the default GSM 7-bit alphabet, the 8-bit data alphabet, and the 16-bit UCS-2 alphabet.[SUP][40][/SUP] Depending on which alphabet the subscriber has configured in the handset, this leads to the maximum individual short message sizes of 160 7-bit characters, 140 8-bit characters, or 70 16-bit characters. GSM 7-bit alphabet support is mandatory for GSM handsets and network elements,[SUP][40][/SUP] but characters in languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, or Cyrillic alphabet languages (e.g., Russian, Serbian, Bulgarian, etc.) must be encoded using the 16-bitUCS-2 character encoding (see Unicode). Routing data and other metadata is additional to the payload size. Larger content (concatenated SMS, multipart or segmented SMS, or "long SMS") can be sent using multiple messages, in which case each message will start with aUser Data Header (UDH) containing segmentation information. Since UDH is part of the payload, the number of available characters per segment is lower: 153 for 7-bit encoding, 134 for 8-bit encoding and 67 for 16-bit encoding. The receiving handset is then responsible for reassembling the message and presenting it to the user as one long message. While the standard theoretically permits up to 255 segments,[SUP][41][/SUP] 6 to 8 segment messages are the practical maximum, and long messages are often billed as equivalent to multiple SMS messages. Some providers have offered length-oriented pricing schemes for messages, however, the phenomenon is disappearing. Short Message Service - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
What did that say in layman's terms? I could not make heads or tails from that. :)
 

thex

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Basically it says there is a 160 character limit per single message, or a 153 character limit for messages over 160 characters to make room for the UDH, (the bit of information that says there is more than one message and what order they go in). Once they arrive at your handset your handset uses the UDH to combine the messages (to appear as one large message).
 

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