As new channels with advanced features have become more popular online, SMS has found a way to evolve alongside it and appeal to a fast-paced world where information must be kept short and sweet.

5 billion emojis are sent in conversation every day via Facebook alone. It is safe to say the future looks like a smiley yellow icon.

So, can I use emojis in SMS using an A2P messaging or SMS API platform?

Short answer: Yes.

SMS API Integration Checklist

Modern hieroglyphics (Emojis)

Thankfully in 2021, businesses aren’t limited to text-only messages. They can communicate with their customers using modern hieroglyphics (aka “emojis'') to give each customer a fun face-like icon to match the content and images on the text message.

Using emojis makes an average looking text message stand out and provide a much-needed visual boost. Emojis aren't just yellow faces and fruit but instead, it's the best way to raise the standard of your text messaging game.

Here is an example of a text that could create more engagement:

Gift package emoji in a package delivery notification SMS

Instead of getting the same old: “Hi! I’m John from DHL. I’ll deliver your parcel in 1 hour.”  

Texting doesn't need to be boring and using a parcel emoji icon instead of writing the word "parcel" is a new and improved form of communicating to your users.

Let's face it, our modern example is easier to digest and can also have a real impact on younger generations and even encourage a "tap".

As a business, the number one priority is to target your demographic. Emojis are a great way to connect with customers of all ages in the online world and there is usually an emoji for anything.

Young people speak the language of ease and emojis are a great way to target them. A popular emoji can even rival media like pictures and links that we are used to seeing in messages.

What is the long answer? - using emojis comes with cons and it's not as simple as sending a plain SMS text.

The same old problem – character limit

Using emojis in an SMS message reduces the character length limit to 70 characters (from 160) which can affect the SMS budget if you actually need the 160 characters to convey a single message.

This means that the message containing the emoji at the top is 57 characters long, but the message maximum length caps out at 70 characters. So just by adding “see you soon” you’ve gone over the limit and are sending a multipart message that costs twice as much.

If you need more characters and would still like to use emojis, you can, but you’ll need to send it in multiple parts.

Multipart SMS messages

Multipart SMS messages can be tricky. Most smartphones and network carriers can handle multipart SMS messages and will wait for all of them to arrive, putting them in order, before displaying the message to the user.

SMS API Integration Checklist

Yet we’ve had cases with Sprint in the United States where multipart messages can arrive out of order – which is due to Sprint not supporting concatenated SMS. These types of restrictions set by the operators need to be taken into consideration before setting up the notification or campaign as the invoice can grow quickly.

Does the phone support emojis?

The next hurdle revolves around the smartphone itself.

You may ask yourself "Can all phones handle an emoji?". Yes, most can but even a tech-minded person can have problems viewing an emoji on an outdated phone.

If the phone's software doesn't support emojis, they won’t get them. The recipient will be left decrypting an alien-like text message of symbols and markings.

An emoji can look different depending on the phone being used. An iPhone can have a different icon for the same emoji on an Android device.

Smartphones are becoming more and more available - there are currently 6.3 billion smartphone users and it is estimated by 2026 there will be 7.5 billion but there are some people in the world who use feature phones and they won't be able to view an emoji. Knowing your demographic is key.

Getting emojis into the message

Finally, SMS uses text-based standards (UCS-2 and GSM 03.38) and an emoji is considered a character. Yet you need to get that character into the message somehow. The simplest way to do it is to copy and paste the emoji into the message (whether in a service provider's dashboard or through API calls).  

Also, Macs have an emoji-board built into Safari, but if you’re on a PC, add an emoji keyboard extension to Chrome and you’re all set. Make sure you test it first to see if the image is sent properly and go over the message with an SMS length calculator.

SMS API Integration Checklist


Whether you are texting to contact new customers or keep existing ones on their toes, the best way to make sure your business will send a power-packed text is to include an emoji.

People want easily digestible information and from phone to desktop, a text alert with an emoji will distinguish your business amongst your competitors.