Android phones seem to support 2 kinds of SMS: Text SMS and Data SMS. I think I know what a text SMS is, but what is a Data SMS and how / for what is it used (btw as far as I can tell Data SMS are not MMS)?

I recognize that this might not be Android specific, but I encountered the term first on my Android handset, so here I go. If this is more general and better moved to a different forum feel free to suggest so...

  • I don't seem to find this on my android device. Can you tell the version of your android/model of the phone? Or include the screenshot if you can?
    – Irfan
    Dec 24 '12 at 8:23

Data SMS messages are sent through the data network, over your 2G / 3G data connection, just like all other data such as internet traffic. Normally SMS messages have their own method of transport, the details of which you can check out on Wikipedia.

  • 1
    Thanks. Your answer gets me half way there, but I still don't understand what it is used for. If you can add an example of a real-world service/application that sends data SMS or a common use-case I'll tick your answer.
    – user4188
    May 11 '11 at 1:02
  • @user4188 Data SMSes cost much less... Sep 29 '12 at 19:49
  • Its more reliable, too.. Sep 29 '12 at 19:52

A perfect example for data SMS use is when your recipient must pay to receive your text message even though you may have unlimited texting. By using a data SMS service, all extra charges are avoided and the amount of data used by SMS messages is insignificant compared to even lite web page viewing.


I think Data SMS messages are sent not only through the data network (over your 2G / 3G data connection), but also through GSM as Text SMS. The PDU of a text message has a User Data Headers (UDH) that defines a specific port on a handset. Refer to this link: http://developers.esendex.com/Concepts-and-Patterns/Sending-SMS-to-a-Specific-Port


Data SMS is just like regular SMS. Contrary to what other answers to this question which implies the data smses dont use the 3g/4g data connection at all. You can actually disable both mobile data and wifi on your phone and you can still send and receive data sms.

Data SMS is a feature for app to app communication. Historically it was also used for example to change certain aspects of the phone. For example adding operator logo, ring tones etc.


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