RCS is coming to the iPhone: what you need to know about the successor to SMS

In iOS 18, iPhone finally gets support for RCS, expanding Messages to include many more features. These changes are coming.

RCS comes to iPhone

Apple has announced that the iPhone will gain support for RCS, the abbreviation for rich communication services. RCS is a supplement to (or replacement for) SMS (short message services) and is also seen as the improved version of SMS and MMS. With RCS it becomes much easier to send messages from an iPhone to a device running Android.

Starting with iOS 18, you’ll have the option to enable RCS in Messages. You’ll get a lot more options, such as sending high-quality photos and videos, getting read receipts, seeing when a contact is typing, and being able to respond to messages with emoji. These options are already available in WhatsApp, but starting with iOS 18, you’ll also get them with RCS in the Messages app.

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You get these options in Messages

The big difference between RCS and SMS/MMS is the way the messages are sent. With RCS, your iPhone uses mobile data to send text messages, photos and videos. With SMS, you are much more limited, because you can often only send these messages in a certain amount per month. This depends on the subscription with your provider. With RCS, you can not only send larger files, but also much more in one month.

Of course, this also depends on how much mobile data you have per month. In iOS 18, you have three options in the Messages app on your iPhone, because in addition to RCS, iMessage and SMS will continue to exist. SMS is especially useful if you cannot use mobile data, you can still send text messages. With iMessage you retain the same functions, but it is not possible to send messages to Android users.

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RCS in iOS 18

Starting with iOS 18, you can enable RCS on the iPhone. In a conversation, a green bar will indicate whether messages were sent with RCS or SMS, iMessages will remain blue. According to Apple, the function will be available later in Europe, which has to do with European legislation. It is not yet known when exactly RCS will come to iOS 18 for European users, possibly in late 2024 or early 2025.

RCS is not yet available in the Netherlands. Vodafone did support the new standard in 2020, but later stopped doing so. It is expected that it will not be long before more providers offer support for RCS, especially now that the function is coming to the iPhone. You will finally no longer need WhatsApp or another chat service to send messages, photos and videos to Android users.

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