I am having an issue with the time stamps of incoming SMS messages when backing up messages. The time stamps of the messages I send out are correct. The time stamps of the incoming messages in the backup files are 8 hours before the correct time. I read elsewhere that this can happen when you are roaming. I have a Motorola XPRT on Sprint and I live in California.

I downloaded and used about 5 different SMS backup applications (both free and paid) to try to archive my messages. They all have this problem.

Now here's the interesting part. The time stamps rendered in the stock SMS application are correct. I tried 2 third-party SMS applications with different results. Handcent SMS shows the time stamps correctly. Go SMS Pro show the incoming messages with the same incorrect time stamps as the backup files.

This leads me to a point of reevaluation. The database that stores the messages on the phone is storing multiple time stamps. I'm guessing they have sent time (the time that is 8 hours behind what it should be) and received time fields. The backup applications and Go SMS Pro are probably using the sent times. The default SMS application and Handcent SMS are probably using the received times.

Ok so now I need a way to solve this issue. To do that I need answers to some questions:

  1. Does Android use SQLite to store SMS messages?
  2. Where is the SMS database is located?
  3. How and where are MMS messages stored?
  4. How can I copy the database to my computer?
  5. Do I have to root my phone? How do I do that? Does doing this affect my warranty with Sprint?


It looks this is a known problem where the time zone offset is applied 2 times instead of 1. There is a ticket for it here http://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=1305. This ticket is more than 3 years old and is still open.

  • I am surprised the issues is still open. the way the issue is reported is that it is basically saying that t-mobile is handling the timezones differently then everyone else. if the issue is not directly code related, google usually closes the ticket. Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 16:45
  • It's not clear to me that it's a T-Mobile issue. I'm on Sprint and I see the issue too. My previous phone was a Palm Pre on Sprint that had no issues with SMS time stamps. As far as I can tell this happens when I am on Sprint's towers. In other words, the phones that Sprint sells do not work with Sprint's network correctly. This suggests software is the culprit. Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 18:39
  • The way the issue was worded specifically states T-Mobile. even the title of the issue is : Recieved SMS timestamps incorrect on non-tmobile networks. That is all I was saying. I believe you that it happens on other networks, I was just saying that when an issue is pointing to something that is not software related (by how it is described) then they usually close them. Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 18:42

1 Answer 1


What timezone are you in? It sounds like when you back them up, it is saving them in a different Timezone (maybe UTC).

to answer your other questions:

  1. Yes, SQLite is used for the messages
  2. /data/data/com.android.providers.telephony/databases/mmssms.db
  3. Same way as SMS messages : /data/data/com.android.providers.telephony/databases/mmssms.db
  4. You can use ADB from the android SDK and copy it to your PC by doing: c:/android-sdk/tools/> adb pull /data/data/com.android.providers.telephony/databases/mmssms.db c:/users/my-account/desktop/mmssms.db
  5. Yes, you will have to root your phone to get access to that directory.

maybe check out SMS Backup + in the android market. It will backup your sms messages (doesn't do MMS yet) to your GMail account and put them in an SMS label. It will also restore them too.

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