What Is RCS Messaging on Android and How Do I Use It?

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What Is RCS Messaging on Android and How Do I Use It?

SMS, or Short Message Service, is ubiquitous. Every day, billions of SMS messages are transmitted throughout the world. Despite its value, there has always been a demand for a contemporary, sturdy substitute. SMS has certain disadvantages. For example, you can’t see when a contact is typing, and messages are still restricted to 160 characters.

So, apart from WhatsApp and similar instant messaging systems, is there a better alternative to SMS on Android? There is one. RCS texting is an alternative to SMS and a competitor to iMessage.

We’ll define RCS texting and show you how to activate it on your Android smartphone.

What Is RCS Messaging on Android?

Google Messages app icon
Image Credit: Google

Rich Communication Services (RCS or Chat for short) is a new messaging system for Android that is designed to replace SMS and MMS.

RCS includes many of the capabilities seen in the greatest instant messaging applications, such as WhatsApp, Telegram, and Signal. In some aspects, RCS is similar to Apple’s iMessage.

RCS Messaging Background

RCS Chat was founded in 2007 by a group of mobile industry professionals. RCS is based on the GSMA’s Universal Profile, which is an industry-agreed-upon standard for RCS deployment.

Google revealed in 2016 that it was working on enabling RCS on Android as an improvement to the widely used SMS communications technology. It would begin with Sprint consumers in the United States.

Years later, after hastening the implementation, RCS is now accessible worldwide.

RCS Messaging Features

Chat has various fascinating features that render SMS obsolete. One of them is the option to see read receipts for sent messages in addition to delivery time. There is also a typing indication, which is a regular feature in current instant messaging networks.

Because you may transmit and receive bigger data (up to 105MB), images and movies will be far better quality than MMS. You may also respond to a received message.

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RCS operates differently than SMS. Messages are sent through mobile data or Wi-Fi as long as the recipient is also utilizing RCS. In contrast, SMS is sent over your cell carrier’s network.

Let’s compare RCS to SMS and MMS, and what makes the former a major changer in communications.


SMS has unique characteristics that distinguish it from newer instant messaging apps and even RCS. SMS, for example, does not need a mobile data or Wi-Fi connection. SMS has a low entrance barrier, requiring simply a cellular connection and signal. To use RCS, you must first connect to the internet.

Another distinguishing characteristic is that SMS does not need the installation of an additional program. Almost all phones, even feature (“dumb”) phones, have a dedicated SMS app. RCS, on the other hand, is not yet supported by every Android smartphone.

And not every Android smartphone comes with Google’s Messages software preloaded. As a consequence, unlike other free messaging applications for Android, utilizing RCS requires more than merely installing a compatible app.

Another distinction between RCS and SMS is that each SMS communication has a character restriction of 160 characters. This explains why lengthy messages are automatically broken into parts when sent by SMS. RCS allows you to transmit messages that are far longer than the 160 character restriction.

SMS cannot be used to share multimedia files. This is accomplished via the use of MMS, or Multimedia Messaging Service. Because MMS has a limited file size, shared photographs are generally grainy. As previously stated, RCS exceeds this restriction, allowing you to email files up to 105MB in size.

Finally, RCS offers group messaging, read receipts, message responses, and a typing indication, which SMS and MMS do not. GIFs, stickers, location, images, documents, movies, and other data types are also supported in chat.

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How Do I Get RCS Messages on My Android Phone?

RCS is not generally supported, therefore your phone may not have it. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to activate RCS if it isn’t available for your device or carrier. It’s a game of waiting.

Before turning on RCS, you’ll need to check the following:

  • Ascertain that your phone is linked to the internet.
  • Download the most recent version of Google’s Messages, or your favorite SMS software if it supports RCS.
  • If you have numerous SIM cards in your phone, be sure the one you use for data is also the one you use for calls.
  • Check your Android version; chat is only available on Android 5 and above.
  • Make Messages your primary texting app.
  • Open Hangouts, press the hamburger menu, and then Settings if you have Google Fi. Then, go to your Google account and disable Google Fi calls and SMS.
  • You must also disable Fi message sync in Messages. To do so, launch the Messages app, press the three-dot menu in the top-right corner, pick Settings, then Advanced > Google Fi Settings to locate the required option.

How to Activate RCS Messaging on Android

With all of that in place, let’s look at how to enable RCS on Google’s Messages app. Remember that depending on your device and provider, this may not work in all instances. If it doesn’t work right now, come back later.

  1. If you don’t already have it, download Google’s Messages app.
  2. Open the Messages app.
  3. Tap the three-dot menu in the upper right corner.
  4. Select Settings from the popup menu.
  5. Choose General, then Chat features.
  6. If Chat is available in your area and on your device, you will see a slider to enable it.
  7. From the popup, tap the slider and choose Yes, I’m in.
  8. Next, input your phone number and press the Verify now button.
  9. Allow the app a few seconds to validate your phone number. If the verification fails after a few minutes, press Retry next to Status.
  10. Once verification is complete, Status will change to Connected, indicating that RCS is active.
  11. Check that read receipts and typing indications are enabled (if desired) so that you may utilize them while talking.
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Once it is completed, you may begin sending and receiving messages and data over RCS. Messaging anybody who has RCS enabled on their phone will use that protocol.

However, there is one more restriction. If you send a message to a number that does not have RCS enabled or does not have the functionality at all, the Messages app will default to SMS mode.

More: Using iMessage on Android with AirMessage and a Mac

Send Richer Messages on Android Using RCS

RCS is without a doubt the future of text messaging on Android. You may instantly transfer high-resolution photographs, your position, movies, GIFs, and other files via Wi-Fi or mobile data. You can also see who is typing, when they see your message, and how they respond to incoming messages.

Unfortunately, RCS has several limitations and may not be accessible on your device. Hopefully, Google will take action to guarantee that RCS is accessible on all Android devices in the near future.

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