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Can I send and receive emoji with Twilio?

Yes, emoji (such as πŸ˜€) are supported in all Twilio Messaging channels, including SMS, MMS and WhatsApp.

Article contents:

Do emoji influence the price of messages sent through Twilio?

In SMS messaging specifically, yes – while there is no direct cost per emoji, including emoji in message bodies can affect message encoding and segmentation, which affects the price of each message. See below for details.

In MMS, WhatsApp, and other messaging channels, no – including emoji in messages does not impact message pricing. There is no concept of message segmentation in non-SMS channels.

How do emoji affect my SMS character count when determining message encoding segments and price?

Emoji affect SMS message segmentation and character count in a few key ways.

Emoji are Unicode characters and require UCS-2 encoding

Emoji are Unicode characters, so Twilio will automatically send any SMS message containing emoji using the UCS-2 encoding, rather than the default GSM-7 encoding.

Message segmentation determines the price of an SMS message

When looking at Twilio SMS pricing, please note that the prices are listed per message segment. The number of message segments required to send a certain number of characters is influenced by its encoding, and UCS-2 encoding has a lower per-segment character limit.

Message segmentation and how it impacts pricing is explained in detail here.

Emoji consume multiple characters' worth of data in an SMS message

Emoji require twice as much data to encode than a standard alphanumeric character (like "t" or "1"). A single UCS-2 message can contain up to 70 standard characters before becoming multi-segment, but an emoji in the message consumes 2 characters of this limit.

Emoji modifiers (such as skin tone) double an emoji's character consumption in an SMS

Some emoji also support modifiers, which further double the encoding size of that emoji to 4 characters' worth of data in UCS-2 encoding. For example, a thumbs-up emoji πŸ‘ is typically displayed as yellow by default, but can be modified to a different skin color, for example: πŸ‘πŸ».

Emoji "modifiers" require additional data to be encoded, so while  πŸ‘ would take up 2 characters out of the 70 available in a single Unicode message, πŸ‘πŸ» would consume 4 characters' worth of data.

Twilio handles emoji encoding automatically, but be aware that emoji do affect message segmentation and could impact message price.

How will the emoji I send from Twilio appear on recipients' devices?

The exact appearance of specific emoji can vary from one mobile device to another. For example, Samsung, Apple, and WhatsApp each have a different visual style for emoji. You can browse emoji on a website like Emojipedia to see examples of these differences.

The commonly-used emoji, such as smiley faces πŸ˜€, hand signs πŸ‘, and symbols like πŸ’― have been part of the Emoji standard for many years and will be supported by almost all devices and apps. However, older mobile devices or messaging apps that have not received software updates might not properly support newer emoji. For example, the Emoji 15.0 standard was approved September 2022 and includes several new emoji, but mobile OS developers, app developers, and platforms might not make these emoji available to their users until 2023.


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