Why Are Videos Sent via Text Message Blurry on Android?
Are you wondering why your videos are blurry in text messages on Android? It’s been this way for a long time, but with the recent push from Google for other companies to implement RCS, and because the best Android phones have superb cameras, people are starting to question why things are the way they are instead of simply accepting the situation. So, why is media blurry on Android devices when sent via the default Messages app?
Why videos sent via text message look awful
Text messaging is more complicated than it used to be, especially when iPhones and Android devices are mixed. Due to a few factors, media attachments like photos and videos can become degraded in quality when sent over text messages, depending on the recipient and their phone.
Multimedia Messaging Service, or MMS for short, is how phones send media content to other phones over text messages. This standard was created in the early 2000s, a time when the photo quality of most phones was only a few megapixels. So perhaps it’s not too surprising that smartphones have outgrown the technology.
MMS has a strict file size limit. The main problem with MMS is that most carriers have a strict limit on the size of files that can be sent. For example, Verizon only allows images up to 1.2MB to be sent over text messages and videos up to 3.5MB. AT&T is even stricter, only allowing videos up to 1MB in size. If an image or video is too large, it is compressed automatically.
With RAW images and 4K video recording becoming the norm even on the top budget Android phones, you shouldn’t need to deal with the glaring limitations of carriers and MMS.
What does the compressed video look like?
Wondering how different a video sent via text looks versus one posted on YouTube? Take a look at the two videos below. The first video is the original 54MB recording (only affected by YouTube’s compression), while the second is an AT&T text message video downgraded to 348KB.
How to work around the problem
There isn’t a fix that can improve videos sent over MMS because the carriers enforce the file size limits. However, there are workarounds that involve using different messaging protocols.
WhatsApp, the de-facto messaging standard in many parts of the world, allows you to send videos up to 16MB. Still, if you select to send videos as documents (by selecting Document instead of Gallery in the paper clip menu), you can send up to 2GB of video without further compression.
- Open WhatsApp on your Android phone and select a conversation.
- Tap the attachment icon in the message box. Select Document.
- Tap Browse other docs. Filter your media files from the top.
- Select a video you want to send as a document, add a caption, and Tap Send.
Telegram is another popular option for sending messages between phones, and it has the same 2GB file limit as WhatsApp. However, you can purchase Telegram Premium and extend the file-sharing limit to 4GB.
- Open a chat thread in Telegram.
- Tap the pin icon in the message box and select File.
- Select Internal Storage.
- Find a video and select it to send over the conversation.
Skype is available on Android and iOS (as well as PCs) and allows you to send files up to 300MB in size.
- Open a conversation on Skype.
- Tap the + icon in the lower-left corner.
- Select File.
- Find and send a video file from the following menu.
You can also share messages via Google Photos if both parties installed the app. Choose the desired video or photo from the Photos app, press the Share button, and select one of your contacts (or create a link, then send that to the recipient).
RCS on Google Messages
Another option is to use Rich Communication Services, or RCS for short. It’s the intended replacement for MMS, with support for larger file sizes. Carriers are slowly caving in to use Google’s implementation as the unifying standard. Google Messages offers RCS functionality, and the three major U.S. carriers are adopting the RCS standard.
If you and the recipient enabled the Chat features in the default Messages app, you can send images, videos, and file up to 100MB in size.
- Open the Messages app on your Android phone.
- Compose a new message. If you send a message or video on RCS, you will see a small lock icon indicating end-to-end encryption and an active RCS function on both sides.
- Tap + in the lower-left corner and select Files.
- Select a video up to 100MB and share it with the recipient without compromising the quality.
The trick above doesn’t work with an iPhone. Apple hasn’t implemented RCS in the default Messages app and doesn’t intend to in the near future. If your friend uses an iPhone, use third-party apps like WhatsApp, Telegram, or Skype.
The big picture
With parts of the U.S. still relying on text messages and MMS for communication, it’s a bummer that carriers have been slow to embrace RCS. Outside of carriers, it’s unlikely we’ll ever see Apple adopt RCS. We would like it to, but Apple isn’t going to do something that helps its competitors more than it helps itself.
If you’re looking for a secure alternative to sending messages to your friends and loved ones, you may want to explore end-to-end encrypted messaging apps.