Stop Using Emoticons In Texts To Save Money

You might enjoy adding emoticons and symbols to your text messages, but did you realise that if you do that, your potential message length drops? Because emoticons require 16-bit characters rather than 8-bit, the maximum length of your message drops from 160 characters to 70.

Picture by Andy Kropa/Getty Images

In practice, that can mean you'll be charged for two text messages rather than one with a message you might think is within the 160-character limit.

The issues was highlighted yesterday after a caller contacted Melbourne radio station 3AW yesterday to complain about how he was being double-charged by Telstra for texts that included emoticons and bullet points.

The problem won't occur if you're sending very short messages, but phones vary in their ability to recognise the limitation. If you're on a plan with unlimited texts, you're unlikely to care, but if you're paying per text, consider cutting back on the symbols for safety's sake.


    If you pay per text and don't have character count on, you're an idiot.
    If you have character count on and don't notice it switch from 160 to 70 when you add an emoticon, you're an idiot.
    If you call 3AW to inform the people of the dangers of texting bullet points, you know where I'm going with this.

      If you leave a comment on an article without reading it, you're an idiot.
      "phones vary in their ability to recognise the limitation"


    Shouldn't really matter these days with people being on unlimited texting plans mostly or texts being cheap enough it doesn't matter.

    So does this mean :) or the proper apple type emoticons?

      the 3AW caller was using a bullet point in his emoticons =●)
      i'd imagine that the :) would be fine.

    Most phones now will convert to MMS once you hit the sms character limit now, that gives you 1000characters of text in UTF8. In fact since sms is actually 7byte ascii you will switch over to the 70 character or MMS version of sms quite easily if you use other languages.

    Stop using SMS. Get a data plan and then install your favourite Instant Messenger. I like Trillian, but half the world seems to use Whatsapp.

      Because everyone can receive those!

      I've been predicting the death of SMS for the last five years. And, realistically, I'll be predicting the death of it for at least another five. :-(

    The emoticon issue is imediatly resolved by shortened text speak, so argument void.

    Isn't the issue emoji (little proprietary cartoon faces), not emoticons (sideways use of colons and parentheses)?

    can't count how many spam texts i've sent to all my friends of rediculous amounts of smileys copy/pasted. Thankfully I have an unlimited text plan

    It doesn't bother me, my plan has unlimited texting.

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