Hints & Tips, Travel

What does send as text message mean on iPhone?

Have you ever sent a message to your friend or colleague, but instead of the usual blue text bubble, you’re greeted with green. This is because your iPhone has sent your message as an SMS over your mobile network, rather than iMessage on an internet connection.

Why would I want to send as a text message?

There are situations where it will be preferable to send a text as SMS and not via iMessage. If you want to text someone that is not connected to the internet, an iMessage will send but not deliver until the recipient turns on their connection. By forcing your phone to send as a text message, the recipient will be able to receive the message as long as they have a mobile network connection.

When traveling abroad, you may not have a data plan and therefore would have to pay large data roaming costs if you sent an iMessage. By selecting Settings > Messages > Turn off iMessage, this enables you to text and call abroad without worrying about a large data bill. If you’re looking to only use calls and texts abroad then you can benefit from a local SIM card and save when traveling.

Can I use iMessage abroad?

Yes! The great thing about iMessage and FaceTime is that they operate over an internet connection and therefore only need a WiFi or mobile data connection. To ensure that you only send via iMessage select Settings > Messages > Turn off Send as SMS. Please be aware that when messaging a non-Apple device, your phone will still send as SMS unless using a free internet messaging service such as WhatsApp. Here’s the great news… using mobile data abroad doesn’t have to result in expensive bills! An International Data SIM card combines both high speed mobile data worldwide with worry-free billing. Mobile data is now more popular than ever as it lets you communicate worldwide using iMessage, WhatsApp, Skype and FaceTime without having to pay roaming fees for calls and texts.


What do the green and blue colors mean on iPhone Messages?

What do the green and blue colors mean on iPhone Messages?
(and how can this save me money when roaming abroad?)

When you message someone on an iPhone you’ll notice that sometimes the messages are blue and sometimes they are green. Why the different colors? Well, it’s all to do with something that Apple calls iMessage.

Green means the message was sent via SMS/Text across the mobile phone network
Blue means the message was sent via iMessage across the internet

When you write a message, the iPhone will first check to see if it can send the message using data (across the internet). If your phone is connected to the internet and the person you are messaging is also connected (and using iMessage) then the message will squirt across the internet. This is what makes iPhone to iPhone SMS free – it’s not really using SMS at all! If the message is green then it means you aren’t connected to the internet and the message will instead go by traditional SMS.

So how can this help you save money roaming? Well – when you’re roaming abroad, SMS can become pretty expensive. You might find yourself spending 50c per message in some countries. But, if you connect to local free WiFi or get yourself  something like a roaming data bundle and MiFi Device then the iPhone will do the rest and attempt to deliver your messages over the internet instead. And it uses next to no data.

You can even change the settings on your iPhone to ONLY use iMessage and not use SMS at all. Just go into Settings/messages and change “Send as SMS” to Off. If you combine this with the setting to turn off Cellular Data (and only use wifi) then you will protect yourself from most of the “easy” ways to run up large bills when abroad.