What you need to know
- T-Mobile now has a full standards-based RCS implementation for cross-carrier advanced messaging.
- Full RCS chat features are now available to customers chatting with people on other carriers globally.
- Nearly 40 phones T-Mobile sells support RCS Universal Profile.
T-Mobile has led the charge in the rollout of RCS messaging features in the U.S., and has now reached a big milestone with an announcement that it is now using a complete standards-based RCS implementation. This has the important effect of meaning T-Mobile customers can now have rich RCS chats with people on other carriers around the world that also comply to the standard.
One of the biggest ongoing issues with RCS messaging is its cross-carrier compatibility, with different carriers using their own slightly tweaked version of the protocol. It means that there are often disconnects in the features available when texting with people on different carriers — and things get extra messy when you start using group chats. But if every carrier just followed RCS Universal Profile 1.0, like T-Mobile now does, we'd all live happily ever after with true universal messaging. It'll surely never fully happen, but we're at least heading in the right direction.
Now you have one less hurdle in your way if you're on T-Mobile. You just have to be using a compatible phone (T-Mobile has nearly 40 it sells) with a compatible messaging app, which is easier than it's ever been now that Samsung's default messaging app supports it and anyone can download Google Messages. If you're on T-Mobile, you're in a great position to have the best chance of having a fully-featured RCS conversation with someone. There's nothing else to do — just chat with your friends, and if they also check all of the boxes you'll start to see advanced messaging features like typing indicators, read receipts, and high-resolution photos and videos.
Google has been spearheading the effort to get carriers using fully standards-compliant RCS implementations, but obviously it's been a tough road to navigate since compliance is fully voluntary. But at least if you have T-Mobile you know you're not the one with the problem when a one-off chat or a group chat ends up defaulting back to the super-basic SMS of old.
Sign up for Black Friday email alerts!
Get the hottest deals available in your inbox plus news, reviews, opinion, analysis and more from the Android Central team.
Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.