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SMS messages, 160 characters

Created by Friedhelm Hillebrand, SMS messages first appeared in 1985, when mobile phones didn’t have the technology that exists nowadays.

Hillebrand decided to limit SMS messages to 160 characters for one reason: to be concise. He tested some common questions and answers and came to the conclusion that the maximum length of an SMS message should not exceed these 160 characters.

3 minutes of reading
Publication: 04.25.2018
Última modificación: 10.13.2022
Categories: SMS servicesWebSMS

The first message was sent from a computer in 1992. It was only 15 characters long and simply said, "Merry Christmas." 26 years have passed since this message, and since then, our lives have been marked in many different ways thanks to SMS.

160 characters – what to take into account

There are a number of things to consider within the 160 characters of an SMS message:

  • Accents and symbols count as a character. This is something that many people don’t know. You have to be careful not to exceed the character limit by using accents and symbols in your text.
  • GSM and Unicode: There are two types of format for text messages. Most terminals use as the default GSM 3.38, which has 138 characters and allows you to send messages with a limit of 160 characters. When you write a symbol that isn’t recognized by GSM characters, the mobile jumps to Unicode text format. Unicode limits the message to only 70 characters. In LabsMobile you can see this before you send the message.
  • Examples of characters that are encoded in Unicode: The characters that you must pay special attention to are: á, à, ú and í. These characters are not recognized within the 138 GSM characters, and mobiles will automatically change to Unicode text format, limiting messages to a maximum of 70 characters.

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