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iPhone: SMS messages may display incorrectly on other devices

Symptoms

When sending SMS messages between different carriers or phone models, the received message may not appear as originally sent. Symptoms can include:

  • Long SMS messages are split into multiple parts or appear out of order.
  • Received SMS message contains additional or unexpected characters.
  • Text displays upside-down question marks: C¿a¿f¿e¿.

Resolution

This issue can occur when sending SMS messages between carrier networks. For example from carrier A to carrier B, not from carrier A to carrier A. These issues are dependent on how each carrier handles the transfer of SMS messages. It may not occur on all devices or between all carriers.

Follow these tips to avoid inter-carrier SMS issues:

  • If the person who receives your SMS says that it doesn't appear correctly, try sending a simple SMS like "Test" to verify that you can send and receive standard text.
  • Try to limit use of non-ASCII characters and symbols. These can include:
    • Characters in some languages, including Russian, Greek, Chinese, Japanese, and Arabic.
    • Letters with accents (å, é, ö, and so on).
    • Non-ASCII symbols ( ● ¢ ¼ ).
    • Emoji.
  • Limit SMS messages to the standard length supported by your carrier. You can enable the display of the character count of an SMS message in Settings > Messages > Character Count.

Additional Information

Note: The ability to send SMS/MMS messages to an international number may be limited to certain countries/carriers. If an SMS/MMS message to an international number fails, verify with your carrier that they support sending SMS or MMS to that country/carrier.

This document will be updated as more information becomes available.
Last Modified: Mar 12, 2012
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  • Last Modified: Mar 12, 2012
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