iMessage is the name of the alternative to SMS and MMS that Apple released alongside iOS 5. The aim of this alternative is to enable you to bypass the fee-based options of your network provider and send text and multimedia messages free of charge. But: iMessage messages can incur costs and can only be used with iOS.
With iMessage you can exchange messages with other users – you can send both text and multimedia messages such as images via iMessage free of charge. At least in most cases, because if the recipient of your message uses a different operating system, iMessage can become a cost trap. With iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, you can send your messages via iMessage without the usual fees from your network provider, if you and the recipient also have the required Internet connection.
Requirements for free iMessage use
You can only use iMessage for free if you and the message recipient work on iOS and have an Internet connection. Ideally, you should send your messages via WLAN. This is particularly recommended if you have not booked an Internet flat rate for the iPhone with your provider.
When you send large files via iMessage, your internet connection could quickly throttle from 3G mode to GPRS levels . In the worst case, you have not booked a flat rate at all and the fees that your provider charges for data are incurred.
iMessage is free for iOS devices only
Who do you want to send a message to? If you’re not sure the recipient is also using an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, be sure to ask first. Because iMessage is only free under iOS and also clever enough to automatically redirect to SMS or MMS if the message recipient works with another operating system such as Android. After a short wait, this happens automatically – even without an Internet connection and even if you are on the phone.
Messages with pictures can incur high costs
Once you attach a photo to your message, your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch will send the message as an MMS if the conditions above aren’t met and the message can’t be sent via iMessage. While iMessage itself is perfectly happy with WiFi connections, sending MMS only works via your GPRS or UMTS connection. If you don’t use a flat rate because you otherwise rely on your WLAN, you are reliant on this moment – there are definitely costs.
How to avoid high costs through iMessage
There’s no denying that Apple’s iMessage is a perfectly viable way of avoiding the charges that network operators charge for SMS and MMS. Under the circumstances just mentioned, there may still be costs that you can easily avoid with the following steps.
Disable paid iMessage alternatives
To prevent iMessage from redirecting to SMS and MMS on demand, go to the Settings menu and go to Messages. On the one hand, you can switch the iMessage service on and off here, but on the other hand you can also prevent the service from using paid alternatives. Although MMS is not specifically mentioned, turn it off together with SMS delivery.
Send MMS only via iMessage
In the same configuration menu, you can set whether you want to do without MMS altogether in the future – you can then only send multimedia messages via iMessage, but you can be sure that you will no longer incur any costs for this. Please note that after this configuration you will no longer be able to enter email addresses as recipients.
Only use paid messages when you need them
If you have switched off the automatic redirection of iMessage, you can still use it just in case and manually redirect messages via SMS that cannot be sent via iMessage: Click on the entered text message as soon as it is displayed as undelivered. You can now choose whether your message should be sent to the recipient “as a message”.
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