What Is RCS Messaging & RCS Chat? What to Know for 2024

April 18, 2024 (Updated) | By Sam Pelton
Cartoon example of people texting including images

For over 20 years now, SMS and MMS have dominated the text messaging landscape.

Sure, WhatsApp is popular as well—but it hasn’t caught on in the US.

Sure, iMessage is another widely used messaging app—but only Apple users can take advantage of it.

But now there’s RCS.

RCS has been championed by Android as making SMS more or less obsolete. And recently Apple made the surprise announcement that they will begin supporting RCS in fall of 2024 as well—which likely means it’s here to stay.

So what is RCS messaging? What is RCS chat? Does RCS have the potential to give iMessage a run for its money? And does RCS spell the end for traditional SMS?

Let’s dig in and find out.

What Is RCS Messaging?

An “RCS” message is a “Rich Communication Services” message. RCS is Android’s text messaging option allowing people to send “rich” messages to other devices.

By “rich” messages, this is referring to text messages that include expanded features. Some examples would include being able to share PDF documents or other media files with a high resolution and the ability to see when someone is typing.

“Rich business messaging” (RCS for businesses) allows for further “rich” features such as pre-filled “quick reply” options and carousels.

RCS is currently available for virtually all Android phones (including Samsung) via the Google Messages app. (Android users who don’t have Google Messages can download it for free in order to access RCS messaging.)

Apple has announced that iPhones will support RCS in the near future.

What Is an RCS Chat?

An RCS chat simply refers to a conversation that includes one ore more RCS messages.

In other words, when you send or receive an RCS message, an RCS chat opens up and you're able to chat back and forth via RCS messages.

What Are the Key Features of an RCS Message?

Infographic with H1 “What Are the Key Features of an RCS Message?”

An RCS message goes beyond the limitations of traditional SMS and MMS, providing several features to help make the user experience more like iMessage or other chat apps such as Facebook Messenger. Here are a few of the features available to the average user:

1. High Res Multimedia Messaging

RCS allows users to send multimedia content seamlessly within conversations without the file size limitations of MMS. Most smartphone users can attest, for example, that sending a video more than a few seconds long isn’t a user-friendly experience via MMS. With RCS, this isn’t as much of a concern.

2. Read Receipts

You’re used to seeing read receipts when you send someone a text message via Messenger or if you have an iPhone, and RCS now adds this functionality to texting from Android devices. That way, you can see if someone has actually seen your message. (Although sometimes you may not want to know because it makes you wonder why they didn’t reply!)

3. Typing Indicators

RCS also provides real-time typing indicators. When someone is composing a response, you'll see a "typing" notification, giving you instant feedback on the progress of the conversation. This can sometimes be helpful—although it can also sometimes put you in crisis mode when you keep seeing those “dots” appear and disappear and you wonder… “Why aren’t they texting me back?”

4. Group Chats

RCS supports dynamic group chats, allowing more seamless management of group messaging. With RCS, you can create, name, and manage groups, or remove yourself from groups. If you use apps like Messenger you may already be aware of how this works and how helpful it can be at times in regards to keeping your group messaging more organized.

5. Secure Communication

RCS messaging allows for end-to-end encryption, to help keep your conversations private and secure—which, obviously, is especially important for sensitive or confidential discussions. SMS messages, on the other hand, are not encrypted.

6. Easy Implementation

Since RCS is now integrated into an Android user’s Google Messages app, there's no need to download additional applications. So you can start using it right away. The flip side of this is that RCS may not be supported on every single device, and is not supported on Apple phones. (However, Apple phones will support RCS in the near future.)

7. Wi-Fi Usage

RCS messages can be sent over Wi-Fi, providing flexibility in how you send messages to people. This can be particularly helpful when traveling or in areas with limited cellular coverage.

8. Enhanced Business Options

Businesses looking to use RCS can get access to more options, such as:

  • Branded messaging
  • A “verified sender” checkmark
  • “Suggested” reply and action bubbles recipients can tap
  • QR code capabilities
  • “Rich” info cards that can provide branded or detailed information
  • Carousels that recipients can scroll through

Benefits of Sending an RCS Message

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Because of the key features mentioned above, RCS messages offer several advantages for both individuals and businesses…

1. Enhanced User Experience and Communication

The idea behind RCS is to make texting a richer, more interactive experience. The added features such as high res multimedia messaging, read receipts, and typing indicators help make conversations more dynamic and engaging. This kind of enhanced experience can help lead to more expressive communication.

2. Increased Engagement for Businesses

For businesses, RCS messages potentially offer a direct line to customers with richer (and branded) content. Interactive messages with images and buttons can boost customer engagement and help drive action, such as making a purchase or scheduling an appointment.

3. Versatility in Messaging

Like SMS, RCS isn't just for one type of communication; it's a versatile channel. You can use it for personal chats, group discussions, business marketing, customer support, and whatever other communication needs you may have.

4. Seamless Integration

Also similar to SMS, RCS is typically integrated into a user’s messaging app, making it convenient to use (as long as the user has an Android device). As mentioned previously, users don't need to download separate apps or sign up for additional services; it's right there in their messaging app.

5. Peace of Mind

Because of the end-to-end encryption offered through RCS, users can have more peace of mind that their messages will be sent privately and securely. They can put to rest concerns that their messages are being stored in unsecure places.

6. Future-Proofing

The idea behind RCS is that it will become the “new” SMS. If this is true, it means that by adopting RCS messaging now, you're future-proofing your communication strategy, helping ensure that you stay up-to-date with the latest messaging trends and capabilities.

These potential benefits definitely make RCS messages an intriguing tool to look into.

RCS vs. SMS and MMS

For the reasons listed above, some people consider RCS to be the future of text messaging and believe that SMS and MMS are on their way out.

But what actually are the differences?


  • Even when Apple begins supporting RCS at some point in the future, SMS and MMS are still the most widely supported messaging option for mobile phone users. When you send an SMS/MMS, you can be fairly confident that your message will be able to reach the intended recipient.
  • SMS and MMS require little to no data processing in order to use - which means you can still send and receive text messages when you don't have internet service available. RCS, on the other hand, requires internet to use.


  • SMS and MMS have a lack of "rich" options as described in the "Benefits of Sending RCS" section above.
  • SMS and MMS are less secure because they aren't encrypted.
  • SMS and MMS require network access so they can't be sent or received if you don't have service.

How Is RCS Different from Other Instant Messaging Apps?

So what actually makes RCS different from using other messaging apps like Messenger or WhatsApp?

One feature that sets it apart is universality - especially with Apple's impending adoption.

RCS will be wide accepted by a vast numbers of phones, which means the recipient doesn't need to have an app such as Messenger installed on their phone in order to receive your message.

Another thing that sets it apart is that, similar to iMessage, RCS messages show up in the same messaging app as your "regular" SMS and MMS.

That means you can keep all your conversations in one place, so you can have better organization.

How to Send and Receive an RCS Message on Your Phone

If you don’t already have it enabled, you can enable RCS on your phone by…

  • Going to your Google Messages app
  • Selecting the icon or image in the top right corner
  • Selecting the “Message settings” option
  • Selecting the “RCS chats” option
  • From here you’ll be able to toggle RCS messaging on or off

Many Android phones are now able to support it, and Apple phones will soon follow suit.

What’s the Future of the RCS Message?

cartoon person looking at their phone with question marks and the H1 “What’s the Future of RCS Messages?

The future of the RCS message is up in the air but is promising in light of Apple's impending adoption of the feature.

Although Android phones now largely have had access to it for a while, RCS didn't take off as quickly as some may have hoped. It still seems unlikely to replace SMS (or iMessage) anytime soon, although this may change as Apple users begin adopting it once Apple releases support for it.

One report from Apple Insider suggested that part of the adoption problem with RCS is that it’s not clear what devices are actually supported—probably because there are just simply so many Android devices out there. (This article has since been removed from Apple Insider.)

But likely the primary reason for the hesitating adoption is the obvious issue that Apple offered no support for it—because they already had a similar solution that’s working very well for them in iMessage. (And the advantage of iMessage is that it works seamlessly across all iPhones and Apple devices.)

Widespread adoption of RCS is most likely dependent on Apple, and Apple has only recently announced that they will soon support it. Once RCS is incorporated into iPhones, it's likely that RCS will see a huge spike in adoption.

It's also probable, however, that SMS will remain relevant for a long time to come. SMS is simply so ingrained in society that it will be difficult for it to be fully replaced, and it still offers the benefit of being able to send messages without internet access.

The Bottom Line: Keep an Eye on the Pulse

At this point, we’re in a “wait and see” period as we observe how the Apple adoption of RCS is going to play out.

The future is unknown, but in the meantime, for text marketers, you can keep your primary focus on the tried-and-true methods of SMS and MMS.


What Does “RCS Message” Mean?

“RCS message” means “Rich Communication Services.” It refers to Android’s relatively new texting service that offers some features unavailable using traditional SMS or MMS. (See sections “What Is an RCS Message?” and “What Are the Key Features of an RCS Message?” above.)

What Is RCS Message on Android?

“RCS message” means “Rich Communication Services” and is a messaging service available on Android devices. It allows you to take advantage of enhanced “rich” features as you message people. (See “What Does ‘RCS Message’ Mean?” above.)

It is not currently supported by Apple devices.

Do iPhones support RCS messaging?

iPhones do not currently support RCS messaging. However, there are plans to implement support in the near future - as early as fall of this year.

Instead of RCS, iPhones use Apple's messaging service iMessage, which offers similar functionality.

How to Turn Off RCS Messaging (Samsung, Android)?

If you want to disable RCS Messaging on your device, you can do the following:

  • Go to your Google Messages app
  • Select the icon or image in the top right corner
  • Select the “Message settings” option
  • Select the “RCS chats” option
  • From here you’ll be able to toggle RCS messaging on or off

How to Turn On RCS in Google Messages?

If you want to enable RCS Messaging on your device, you can do the following:

  • Go to your Google Messages app
  • Select the icon or image in the top right corner
  • Select the “Message settings” option
  • Select the “RCS chats” option
  • From here you’ll be able to toggle RCS messaging on or off

Is RCS Messaging Safe?

Since RCS messaging allows for end-to-end encryption, it is a safe way to send messages. You can send messages without much concern that your texts will be intercepted and read by unauthorized parties.

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