Do I Use Data When I Turn on My iMessage for My Verizion iPhone?

By Kammy Pow

IMessage is generally free across Wi-Fi networks, but can count against data plans in certain situations.
i Joe Raedle/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The Messages app handles all messaging functions on the iPhone and connects to the Verizon cellular network or signs into iMessage, Apple's proprietary messaging service. Generally, Verizon users who use iMessage can exchange text messages with other iOS devices for free over Wi-Fi networks. However, iMessage defaults to the data plan when users travel beyond their personal Wi-Fi or free Internet networks, or in the case of non-iOS devices, back to the Verizon cellular network. When this occurs, text messaging rates will apply and any data transmitted will count against the monthly data plan.


Activate iMessage by tapping "Settings," "Messages" and then sliding the iMessage switch to "On." Tap the "Use your Apple ID for iMessage" and enter your Apple ID username and password. Tap "Sign in." Tap the "Message" button to return to the setup screen and select your SMS, MMS and send and receive options.

IMessage at Work

Once you activate iMessage, any text message you exchange with another iOS device through the Message app will appear in blue bubbles. You can see when other iMessage users are actively responding to your messages (illustrated by a word bubble with an ellipsis). Also, any iOS device that uses the iMessage service with your Apple ID and password can follow along on the message trail. Messages that you exchange with non-iOS devices or messages sent when the iPhone cannot connect to the iMessage server will continue to appear in green bubbles.


IMessage is a data-based service. Messages sent using this service count as data. Whether or not you are charged depends on your Wi-Fi connection. Messaging via iMessage is free when used over public Wi-Fi networks or in a home or work-based setting. When you travel beyond the network, it is akin to roaming and any data used counts against your monthly data plan. Text messages make a very small dent in data, but MMS emails and messages have higher data demands because of their multimedia content. In comparison, standard SMS or MMS text messages use the Verizon cellular network and count against text messaging plans.

Financial Impact to Carriers

IMessage has become a revenue drain for telecommunications companies like Verizon, who at one time relied on text messaging plans for 12 percent of its total revenue. With revenue lost to the drop in text messaging plans by customers, cellular carriers switched to offering tiered data plans at higher rates to negate the effects of dropped text messaging plans.

Tech Disclaimer

The information contained in this article pertains to iOS 6.0.1. Details may vary slightly or significantly with other versions of the operating system.