Can you use emojis in SMS?

Using emojis in SMS 

This article discusses the use of emojis in text messages sent using an SMS API. It doesn’t cover any issues you may have sending emojis from one phone to another (P2P SMS).

Can I use emojis in SMS messages using an SMS API?

Yes, it is possible to send emojis in a text message. 

Although it’s not quite as simple as adding an emoji and sending your text in the normal way.

Using an emoji will require the whole text message to be sent in unicode. Unicode is an encoding standard that allows you to send characters that are not part of the standard character set that you would normally use. (The standard characters are known as the GSM character set.)

When sending a text in unicode you have fewer characters per text credit to play with. 

A standard text allows you to send 160 characters per text credit. When you send an emoji (and send using unicode), this is reduced to just 70 characters.

So you either have to reduce the length of the message or use more text credits.

There’s no standardisation for how emojis are handled

Surprisingly, there’s no common standards to the way in which emojis are displayed on your phone.

So depending on your mobile phone or your network, emojis could be displayed in different ways.

Even different messaging platforms like WhatsApp and iMessage display emojis differently or possibly not at all.

How emojis appear on texts

How many characters are used to send a text with an emoji?

Sending a text with an emoji reduces the number of available characters from 160 characters to just 70.

Max number of characters permitted in a single text

Standard GSM characters 160
Sending a text with an emoji 70


The full list of emojis that you can send using SMS

The Unicode Consortium that oversee the release of emojis for use in texts are frequently updating the range. There are currently a staggering 1852 emojis available!

A full list of emojis showing how they display on different operating systems is also provided on their website.

Some of the latest emojis to be released are ‘melting face, face with peaking eye and face holding back tears’.

emojis for SMS

Do I have to change anything to send a text with an emoji?

You don’t need to make any changes to your code to send an emoji using an SMS API. 

If we detect that your text contains emojis or any unicode characters, we will automatically send the message as unicode and deduct the correct amount of sms credits.

Can I check my message for unicode characters before sending?

We’ve created a unicode detector tool that allows you to check your message for unicode characters before sending.

You simply copy and paste your message and the detector will identify and highlight any emojis. The number of text credits required to send the message will also be calculated.

Unicode detector

Can I remove emojis from my SMS campaigns automatically?

Yes you can.

We’ve developed an emoji removal tool that will automatically remove emojis from all your texts before before being sent.

This is a great peace of mind tool that makes sure you not wasting money by inadvertently sending expensive emojis in your campaigns.

Is it a good idea to send my customers texts containing emojis?

We don’t recommend using emojis in your customer texts for a few reasons…

1. It will cost you more to send an emoji than a standard character text.
2. Emojis can be seen as unprofessional. Emojis are best used when sending to friends and family, not customers.
3. There’s no real tangible benefit to sending emojis to customers. No one’s going to be impressed or find they add charm.
4. There’s no guarantee that your emoji will be displayed in the same way across all devices, networks and messaging apps.

Related Articles

What does SMS stand for? 

What is P2P SMS? And how is it different from A2P SMS?

SMS Unicode Detector Detect and remove unwanted Unicode characters from your texts.

SMS AI optimisation Shorten your text messages using ChatGPT so that they use fewer credits and you reduce your SMS costs.

author avatar
Henry Cazalet Managing Director
Co-founder and Director of The SMS Works, a low cost and powerful SMS API for developers. About Henry