Adding special characters to your SMS message will affect how your message is encoded. If you only use characters that fall within the standard GSM-7 alphabet, it is possible to send up to 160 characters in a single SMS. However, adding a special character that is not included in the GSM-7 character set will require USC-2 encoding instead, which will limit the number of available characters within a single SMS to 70 characters.
The message above includes the special character “á”, thus USC-2 encoding is required. Using special characters, such as non-latin characters as well as emojis in your message, can therefore increase the amount of SMS messages you need to pay for. When using languages that don’t use the latin alphabet, such as Mandarin or Arabic, USC-2 encoding is needed as well.
If we use the above message as an example, it counts 122 characters. If it only included standard characters, it would have a character limit of 160, thus it could be sent in a single message. However, as it includes special characters, USC-2 encoding is used, which means that the message will be divided into two SMS messages.
Quick Send tool offered by RelationCity
When using the Quick Send function at our sister platform RelationCity, you get a clear overview of character count, which encoding is used and which characters in your message are special characters. This is a great tool to determine whether your message will be encoded with GSM-7 or USC-2.