iMessages being sent as Text Messages | iLounge Article


iMessages being sent as Text Messages

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Q: All of my immediate friends and family are iPhone users, so we regularly communicate via iMessage, which is great as we’ve been able to cancel our carrier’s expensive text messaging add-on. However, I notice that my Messages app sometimes randomly sends text messages instead of iMessages, with a green bubble and a note that says “Sent as Text Message.” Since I now pay for each of my text messages, this is a bit of a problem and I really don’t know why it’s happening or how to prevent it. Any ideas?

- Wilf

A: Unlike traditional text (SMS) messages, iMessage uses your iPhone’s cellular data or Wi-Fi connection to send and receive messages. This normally bypasses the carrier’s SMS services, which is why you aren’t charged for iMessages in the same way as for SMS.

The downside to this approach, however, is that for two iPhones to communicate via iMessage, they must both have an active data connection, over either a cellular data plan or a Wi-Fi network. If either iPhone is out of data coverage, your iPhone will still try to send an iMessage, however when it realizes that the message cannot be successfully delivered via the iMessage network, by default it will “fall back” to delivering it via SMS. This will result in the green bubble and the “Sent as Text Message” note that you’re seeing.

Fortunately, there is a way to turn this fallback off if you want to avoid unnecessary text messaging charges. Simply go into your iPhone Settings app, select Messages, and then toggle the “Send as SMS” option to OFF.

This will prevent your iPhone from deciding to automatically fall back to sending SMS messages when iMessages cannot be sent. Note, however, that it does not disable text messages entirely; SMS will still be used when sending to non-iPhone users, for example, but this will be clearly indicated by the green “Send” button and title bar in the Messages app.


Further, even with this option off you can individually force an important message to go out as a text message in the event that iMessage is having problems delivering it. To do this, simply tap and hold on the pending message in your Messages window, and a pop-up menu will appear with “Send as Text Message” among the options. Tapping this will send the current message out via SMS as a one-time exception—useful in those situations where it’s worth the SMS charge to ensure the message gets to its recipient as quickly as possible.


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I have set “Send as SMS” to OFF the day I upgraded to iOS 5. While the setting is supposed to prevent SMS fallback, it is very buggy. I have had at least a dozen iMessage sent as SMS, as most recent as January of this year. I have also talked to Apple customer service and they confirmed it as a known issue. But I don’t believe the issue has been fixed on 6.1.2 as my friend experienced the same exact issue recently.

Posted by Phil Kim in Toronto on March 15, 2013 at 12:21 AM (CDT)


My husband and I both have iPhones. Yesterday, all of a sudden our phones quit sending imessages. I’ve rebooted both phones and they are still doing it today. Any suggestions?

Posted by Stephanie in Toronto on April 18, 2013 at 11:32 AM (CDT)


Same problem is Stephanie above me. If I turn SMS messages off, the message will still not send as iMessage. Reboots are not fixing the problem. Thanks for any input.

Posted by Brian in Toronto on April 20, 2013 at 5:16 PM (CDT)


I have had the same problem but only over the past couple if days? What has changed?

Posted by Paul in Toronto on April 21, 2013 at 3:47 PM (CDT)


My friend and I had sent messages back and fourth from our iPhone to each other (back in April). We sent them as texts not iMessages. She recently went out of the country and disconnected her AT&T iPhone plan when she did this. Now when I try to look at those text messages they are gone. But I never deleted them. How can I retrieve them? Why did they disappear after she stopped her phone plan even tho they were already sent between us ? Is there a way to get them back and view them again ? Etc? It’s important

Posted by Danielle Martino in Toronto on June 10, 2013 at 9:05 PM (CDT)



My wife & I have the opposite problem: we have new iPhone 5s on Verizon with unlimited SMS/MMS but metered/shared data plan. So for us it’s most economical to turn iMessage off and just use sms/mms.

But our friends with iPhones mostly are on older, unlimited data/metered messaging plans, so it’s more considerate for us to use iMessage with them than SMS/MMS.

The aggravation is remembering to change the setting depending on who we’re messaging—plus it doesn’t help our friends if we’ve turned iMessage off for ourselves & they message us, because then we force them to pay for SMS, by accident.

Is there a contact-dependent switcher app out there or some other slicker solution?

With the new crop of plans combining unlimited talk + text with metered data the current implementation of iMessage seems like a no-win situation…

Thanks, -Carl-

Posted by Carl in Toronto on July 23, 2013 at 1:11 AM (CDT)


I dont mind it sending as an SMS if needed, but it sends two messages to my iPhone friends….one is the SMS the other is the iMessage. Everytime it sends as an SMS it will do that and they ask me why I keep sending it twice…..ARRR so annoying, so Ive turned SMS off as above :) thanks

Posted by Coz in Toronto on September 14, 2013 at 7:22 PM (CDT)


We don’t txt in our family, avoiding the txt’ing plan charges. Just started to use iMessage to send some quick airline travel progress updates, so we’re in the know, without slow email or having to interrupt the other person’s work day with calls/voice messages.

Both our iPhones have iMessage ON, “Send as SMS” OFF etc.

Despite those settings, according to VZW I sent a TXT two days ago. Checking iMessage, in the series of blue iMessages there is a blue one. It didn’t register with me at the time, but I’m quite sure I did not see a send as txt/sms bubble button at the time, I certainly know better than to hit that as we’re charged for every single one sent & received (which ends up being 50c/msg (25c x2)).

It is far from the end of the world, but certainly unexpected behavior when you have SMS OFF.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the plane was taxiing when I took the phone out of airplane mode, and a data connection was not established yet, when I typed “plane 2 landed”?
Or my spouse’s phone was out of data range?

Who knows.

Looking at Apple’s info it says that iMessages may be sent as txts and carrier charges will apply, without giving further details.

Posted by Frank in Toronto on November 16, 2013 at 9:57 AM (CST)

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