What is a Text Message Segment?

All phone carriers (AT&T, Verizon, etc.) measure text messages in character batches called segments. SMS Text messages are limited to a maximum of 160 characters. Since 160 characters often are not enough, the phone carriers break your text messages into 160 character sections (segments) and send them as multiple messages. When they are received they are then reassembled and displayed as a single message. All of this occurs behind the scenes so you never have to worry about it. However, when the phone carriers charge, they charge for each segment.

For example, if you send a text message that is 70 characters, the phone companies will charge for one SMS Segment. If you send a message that is between 321-480 characters long then they charge for three Segments (three messages).

Another issue that impacts the number of segments is the character set that is used. Most of us love emoji’s, however, emoji’s, and other special characters are not included in the standard character set. Therefore, when sending these special characters it takes more bits which results in segment max size being lower.

This means, for example, if you send a message that’s 80 characters without an emoji, it will be considered one segment, but if you add an emoji it will be two segments.

If you’d like to investigate this further, here’s a handy little text segment calculator you can use.