What Does “Sent as a Text Message” Mean on iPhone? [2024]

February 23, 2024 (Updated) | By Sam Pelton
Cartoon text message conversation showing blue bubbles and then a green one from the sender that shows “Sent as text message”

Over 1 billion—by some estimates, that’s the number of iMessage (Apple’s chat app) users in the world. Presumably this estimate comes from the number of iPhones there are in the world at large.

In the US alone, iPhones account for 48.7% of the smartphone share.

And if you have an iPhone, you’ve probably experienced the following at some point…

You send a text message, and you’re used to the text bubble being blue. But the text bubble is suddenly green with the notice “Sent as a Text Message” underneath.

What gives? Why is the text bubble suddenly green? What does “Sent as a Text Message” mean? And how do you fix it?

Never fear! This article will walk you through the answers to all of those questions and more.

What Does “Sent as a Text Message” Mean? Explanation…

When your message shows “sent as a text message,” that means it sent as a “regular” SMS or MMS instead of via iMessage.

You may or may not be aware that when you send or receive texts to or from other Apple users, your messages usually aren’t coming through as “regular” text messages. Instead, those messages are coming through Apple’s messaging service iMessage.

That’s why your text bubbles are blue when you text people who also have iPhones. Blue means the message was sent as an iMessage.

A green bubble with the “sent as a text message” notice indicates that your message attempted to send via iMessage but was unable to, so instead sent as a “regular” SMS or MMS.

What Is the Difference Between an iMessage and a Text Message?

What is the difference between an imessage and a text message

SMS/MMS, or “regular” text messages, are sent via mobile carrier networks and are delivered to recipients’ mobile devices because those recipients have a cell phone plan. SMS (text-only messages) and MMS (multimedia messages) work for any cell phone that has text messaging enabled—which includes the vast majority of phones in today’s world.

iMessages, on the other hand, are sent among Apple users via the internet, so they can be sent as long as the sending and receiving devices both have internet access and both have Apple devices. A few benefits of iMessages include being able to send messages from any device (including phone, computer, or tablet) and the ability for more robust messaging options such as reactions, delivery receipts, Animojis, location sharing, and many other features. The primary downside of iMessage is that it is only available on Apple devices, so you aren’t able to use it to contact people with non-Apple devices.

As mentioned above, when you send or receive an iMessage, the text bubble will appear blue on your Apple device. If you send or receive an SMS or MMS (either because you’re interacting with an Android user or iMessage isn’t being used), the text bubble will appear green.

Does “Sent as a Text Message” Mean My Number Is Blocked?

No, “sent as a text message” does not mean your number is blocked.

If your number is blocked and you attempt to send an iMessage to the recipient who blocked you, the blue bubble will still appear and it will look like your message actually was sent (although it won’t show a “Delivered” confirmation).

Why Is My Message Getting Sent as a Text Message Instead of an iMessage?

There could be several reasons why your message is getting sent as a text message instead of an iMessage

The Recipient No Longer Has an Apple Device

In some cases, someone retains their phone number but switches from an Apple device to a non-Apple device.

In a case like this, you may have already had an open thread with this recipient, so your phone may have historically sent iMessages. However, when you attempt to send a new message, the user is no longer able to receive that message via iMessage. Hence, you may see the “sent as a text message” notice.

Unfortunately the only remedy for this type of situation would be for the recipient to get an Apple device.

iMessage Is Turned Off on the Recipient’s Device

The recipient may have turned iMessage off on their device.

This is an option that’s configurable in an iPhone’s settings under “Messages.”

If this is the case for your recipient, all that they need to do in order to start receiving iMessages again is to switch on the “iMessage” toggle

Screenshot indicating iMessage toggle, which is found in Settings→Messages

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iMessage Is Currently Unavailable

As discussed in an Apple community forum, there may be times in which iMessage is unavailable on either your or your recipient’s end, and thus your messages will send as a text message instead of an iMessage.

This would most likely happen if either you or your recipient are in an area with a poor internet connect, or no internet connection. Without access to the internet, iMessage is unable to process the message and so your phone defaults to sending as a text message instead.

To resolve this issue, both you and your recipient would need to be in a location that has access to either Wi-Fi or a strong data connection.

You or Your Recipient Need to Update After Getting a New Device

Another reason why you may run into the “sent as a text message” notice is if you or your recipient just set up a new device.

Here are a few steps Apple would suggest if you have messaging issues in general after setting up a new phone:

  • Make sure you have the latest update of iOS (you can go to your “Settings” and if your phone needs to update you’ll see a notice that says “Software Update Available”)
  • Go to your “Cellular” section within your “Settings” and try turning on “Cellular Data,” if it’s not already toggled on
  • Go to your “Messages” section within your “Settings” and toggle iMessage off and back on – then select “Send & Receive” and make sure the phone number you want to use to send and receive iMessages is selected.
Why Is My Message Getting Sent as a Text Message Instead of an iMessage?


Here are some answers to frequently asked questions…

Does “Sent as Text Message” Mean Delivered?

No, “sent as text message” does not necessarily mean “delivered” but rather that the message was successfully sent via the regular mobile network routes. SMS does not always provide delivery receipts.

That being said, it is highly likely, though not guaranteed, that the message was successfully delivered.

What Does the Green Text Bubble Mean?

The green text bubble means that the message was sent via SMS or MMS (“regular” text messaging) rather than through iMessage.

If you’re an Apple device user, you’ll see the green text bubble anytime you send texts to Android users, or if you send texts to an Apple user under any of the scenarios mentioned in the “Why Is My Message Getting Sent as a Text Message Instead of iMessage?” section above.

So Don’t Panic…

Now that you know what “Sent as a Text Message” means on your iPhone, you don’t have to panic when you see it. It’s nothing to worry about!

In most cases, your message was still successfully received by the recipient. The issue will probably fix itself and if you continue to experience issues, you can go through each of the explanations mentioned above to try to diagnose and fix the problem.

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