I use a pre-paid cellular service from T-mobile. Each text message is deducted from my account at a preset rate.

Too often, a text message I receive of 100 or less characters and spaces is broken into two texts, meaning I get hit for 2 texts instead of one. So for example, a 100 character & spaces text will arrive as a 60 character text and a 40 character text.

Is there anything I can do about this and still keep the same service? Why are texts being divided if they are under the total character & spaces length of 130?

  • 1
    Does this always happen, or only from certain senders? Does the text message include non-ASCII character, like emoji, or foreign characters like Arabic/Russian/East Asian? This might be related: Adjust SMS length limit? and SMS Message Size
    – Andrew T.
    Jan 29, 2019 at 16:35

1 Answer 1


A single SMS can hold up to 160 characters. But that's only for text. Since smartphones make a lot of use of emojis, the SMS cannot hold 160 characters anymore if you include an emoji. AFAIK, the default emoji (smiley) will take 2 characters, but the one with a custom skin tone can take 4 characters. Similarly, it varies from device to device and what kind of emoji it supports.

  • AFAIK your "smiley approximation" is too short. An SMS uses 7bit characters and a regular smiley requires 16bit. Therefore it uses more than two SMS characters, usually 4: Read nowsms.com/emoticons for details.
    – Robert
    Jan 31, 2019 at 12:35
  • @Robert I just tested this up on my SMS app (I'm using SMS Organizer from Microsoft if that matters) and the regular emojis (the yellow ones) are taking up 2 chars. However, for ones that I long tap and choose skin color, they consume 4. Probably things have changed. Yes, if I'm not wrong, the emojis used to consume more for me in the past. Else this Microsoft app is counting characters wrongly.
    – singhnsk
    Feb 1, 2019 at 18:06

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