Text messages converted to picture messages

Many smartphones today allow you to bring your messages to life with pictures, animations and many more features. When you send messages containing such features to other phones, they are sent as picture messages (or MMS).

iPhone and Samsung are devices that will convert text messages to picture messages.

Picture messages are not included in your standard tariff plan but if you send a lot of these types of messages you may want to buy add-ons which give you an allowance every month to send picture messages at reduced rates. If you don’t have an allowance, every time you send a picture message you will be charged a fixed fee for each message you send to each recipient and these charges will appear on your bill in the picture messages section.

More information on the charges for picture messages can be found within our pay as you go and pay monthly price guides.

Some phones also automatically convert some text messages, especially emojis, to picture messages. So if you’ve been charged for sending a picture message when you didn't intend to send one, this might be because your device has automatically converted a text message (SMS) to a multi-media message (MMS).

When do devices convert text messages to picture messages?

This can happen when:

  • you’re using iPhone Messages and sending features and effects to a non-iPhone user, or when iMessage is unavailable
  • your text includes a non-standard smiley or symbol such as an emoticon, emoji, or iPhone X's Animojis
  • your text is sent to an email address instead of to a phone number
  • you're sending a group text message
  • your text exceeds the character limit (on some phones this is 160 characters, on others it can be higher)
  • your message has a subject line
Sending an MMS instead of an SMS is down to the phone you’re using, the messaging platform, and the person you’re sending to. It is not because of the EE network.

What alternatives do I have?

Cover yourself with an add-on so you can enjoy sending them at your heart’s content. Buy 200 MMS for £6 a month (only 3p per MMS)

TEXT 200MMS to 150*

*only available on PAYM, not on PAYG or SB

If you are a small business customer you can get 200 MMS for £3.33 ex vat per month. Please call 150 to add this to your number.

More information about picture messaging and further detail on buying a picture message (MMS) add-on is available on our picture messaging help page. PAYM customers can also buy an add-on of picture messages in My EE.

If you are a small business customer and want more details on picture message it is available in the EE small business price guide.

How do I make sure I’m not accidentally sending MMS?

When an MMS is sent instead of an SMS, it's because of the device you’re using, the device you’re sending to or the messaging platform you’re using, and isn’t something that EE has any control over.

Here's some more information to help you avoid further charges:

Have you updated your device software?

More recent device software will usually (but not always) warn you when an SMS has been converted to an MMS. Ensuring you have the latest updates applied to your device will decrease the chances of the conversion happening without your knowledge.

Are you using iPhone?

If you’re sending messages using iMessage features and effects (such as Digital Touch, handwritten messages, images and videos) to a non-iPhone user or when iMessage is unavailable, they can be converted to “MMS” (picture messages), which will have a charge for each message sent.

Features and effects include things like:

  • changing the way your message bubbles look
  • sending a message in your own handwriting
  • sharing a URL (website) link  in a message
  • sending a message or photo in invisible ink
  • tapback responses from preselected animations
  • sharing music content, either from a message or from the Apple Music app
  • animations such as: fireballs, heartbeats, sketches or stickers
  • and more
If you want to switch the MMS function off on your device, instructions on how to do this can be found in our phones and device guides.
Note: Disabling MMS messages means you won’t be able to send or receive picture messages unless they’re sent via iMessage.

Are you using an older Samsung device?

Some devices, such as older Samsung devices will convert SMS into a MMS when an emoticon/emoji is used, resulting in a picture message charge for each message sent.

If you are using an older Samsung device follow these steps to ensure that emojis inserted using the standard keyboard on your device do not convert the SMS to an MMS.

Messaging > Settings > Text Messages > Input mode > select Unicode instead of Automatic

Do any of your contacts have only an email address and no phone number?

When composing a message, if you select a contact which has only an email address and no phone number associated, the some devices will convert the message to MMS. When sending a SMS, be sure to select only contacts with phone numbers as recipients.

Are you sending a group message?

Group messaging allows multiple recipients to be sent the same message. Some devices will automatically convert group messages to MMS. Consult your device manual to check your device’s behaviour and whether there are any settings which may be adjusted to alter this behaviour.
On Android, if the "Group Messaging" option is turned on within Messaging Settings, then group messages will be sent as MMS.
On iOS, if the "Group Messaging" option is turned on within the Messages section under Settings, then group messages will be sent as MMS.

Have you added a subject line or included a picture in your message?

If you have added a subject line or included a photo in your message, then your device will more than likely send an MMS because these are not features of SMS.

Have you downloaded any third party 'emoji' applications or third party keyboards?

Check the terms and conditions of any third party emoji applications and keyboards downloaded from application stores. Some third party applications and keyboards will send emojis as MMS messages. If you are only inserting emojis using the keyboard on your device as part of a SMS, then a SMS is usually  sent as long as you have the latest software for your device.

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