While all smartphones can receive and send standard SMS messages, there’s something different about the iPhone. Apple has a feature known as iMessage, allowing people to send texts to other iPhones that go over data or WiFi rather than using a text allowance.
An iMessage group chat and any single messages sent as iMessage will use up data. If you’re connected to the WiFi, they’ll go through this instead. If no internet or WiFi signal is available, they’ll be sent as standard SMS messages. Active group chats with gifs and videos can use a lot of data.
And it will be noticeable because SMS messages will be green bubbles. But let’s take a closer look at iMessage and whether the group and single chats actually use up any data.
Can You Receive Group Texts on iPhone Without Data?
One of the great features of iPhones is the ability to create group chats using iMessage. This allows multiple people to talk in the same conversation, saving the need for too much back and forth—and meaning you don’t have to download a third-party app like groupme for group messages.
However, group texts on iPhone will use your data or WiFi to send those iMessages. This is true even if you’re trying to create a group SMS message, as this still requires an internet connection. Only singular SMS texts can be sent through a phone without data.
Other third-party apps will allow you to create group texts (such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger), but they all require an internet connection. Data (or WiFi) is required for any group message you could create on the phone, even outside of iMessage.
iMessage vs. SMS on iPhone: What’s the Difference?
iPhones can both use iMessage and send SMS messages, meaning it’s important for owners to know the difference between the two.
What is iMessage?
iMessage is Apple’s messaging system found within the default messages app. Because it uses WiFi or data to send messages, it can also send them to other Apple devices that don’t necessarily have a cellular connection (such as iPads).
iMessage is automatically turned on unless you find it in the settings and turn it off. It’ll automatically send messages to other devices with iMessage enabled as that type, recognizable by its blue bubble.
It may convert to an SMS text automatically if you don’t have an internet connection or the other person doesn’t.
What is an SMS Message?
An SMS message is a regular text, noticeable by its green bubble. If you turn iMessage off, send a message to a device that isn’t by Apple, or try to send a message without an internet single, it should automatically go through SMS.
It uses your cellular connection, so while you need a signal, you don’t need any internet data or WiFi for these to go through.
Which is Better?
Which is better depends on your device, your needs, and the person you’re contacting—however, if you have the choice to use iMessage, there are many advantages to doing so.
With iMessage, you send GIFs, react to messages, and other features that make a more dynamic conversation. You can also see when someone is typing and turn read receipts on to see when someone has opened your message (and vice versa).
You can even send money using Apple Pay, another feature they’ve recently introduced.
Another considerable advantage of iMessage is it syncs to your iCloud account. So if you ever lose your phone, you can download the messages you lost. You can also sync your messages across devices, so your Macbook (for example) can show the same texts as your phone.
While iMessage has many excellent features, you won’t always have the choice to use it. For example, if your texting partner has an Android, it will force you to go through regular SMS.
One notable advantage to using SMS is that it doesn’t use any data. So if you have an unlimited texting plan, but you’re short on data, it may be better to switch to SMS. However, iMessage doesn’t tend to use much, so it’s not a huge concern if you have ample data every month.