Text messages converted to Picture messages

Many smartphones allow you to send messages that can include pictures, animations, emojis and lots more besides. Some phones automatically convert some text messages, particularly those containing emojis, to picture messages.

Picture messages are not included in your tariff plan and every time you send a picture message you will be charged a fixed fee for each message you send to each recipient. For Pay Monthly customers, these charges will appear on your bill as picture messages. Pay As You Go customers will have the fee for these messages debited from your balance.

 When do devices convert text messages to picture messages?

  • When your text includes a emoticon or emoji
  • When your using iPhone Messages features and effects (such as Digital Touch, handwritten message, images and videos) to a non-iPhone user or when iPhone Message is unavailable
  • When you’re sending a group text message
  • When your message has a subject line
  • When your text message exceeded the maximum character limited (on some phones this is 160 characters, on others it can vary)
  • When your text is sent to an email address instead of a phone number

Sending a picture message instead of a text message is down to the phone you are using, the messaging platform and the person you’re sending it too. It is not because of the Sure network, and isn’t something Sure has any control over.


How can I make sure I’m not accidentally sending picture messages?

Turn off picture messaging on your phone

If you want to turn off the picture messaging function on your phone, instructions on how to do this can be found in your phone’s instruction manual and user guide

Have you updated your device software?

Recent device software updates will usually (but not always) warn you when a text message has been converted to a picture message. Making sure you have the latest version of your phones software will decrease the chance this conversion will happen without your knowledge.

Are you using an iPhone?

If you’re sending messages using the iMessage features and effects (such as Digital Touch, handwritten messages, videos and images) to a non-iPhone user or if iMessage is not available, the iPhone can convert these to picture messages.   Other instances where the iPhone may convert text message to picture message include and are not limited to:

  • Using animations
  • Sending a message in your own handwriting
  • Sharing a website address within a text message
  • Sharing music content from within a text message or from the Apple Music app

Are you using an older Samsung Device?

Some older Samsung devices convert text messages to picture messages when they contain emoji. If you are using an older Samsung device, follow the following steps to ensure messages containing emojis are sent via a text, rather than a picture message:

Messaging > Settings > Text Messages > Input Mode > select Unicode instead of Automatic

Are you sending a group message?

Some devices will automatically convert group messages to picture messages. Consult with your device manual to check how your device behaves when sending group messages. It may be possible to change how your phone sends group messages.

On iOS, if the “Group Messaging” option is on within the Messages section under Settings, then group messages will be sent as picture messages.

On Android, if the “Group Messaging” option is turned on within the Messaging Settings, group messages will be sent as picture messages.Are you added a subject line or a picture in your message?

If you have added a subject line or have included a photo in your message, your device is more likely to send a picture message rather than a text.

Are you sending a message to an email address rather than a phone number?

If you are sending a message to a contact who has an email address but no phone number, then your device may send the message as a picture, rather than a text.

Are you using any third party emoji applications (apps) or third party keyboards?

Some third party emoji apps and keyboards send emojis as picture messages. Please check the terms and conditions of any third party apps you may have downloaded onto your device.

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