"SMS" has proven to confuse some younger users in usertesting. The envelope icon is reserved for email. Is there an established or emerging standard that says "send this by text message"?

3 Answers 3


I think the use of a speech bubble is fairly common, however android seems to have stuck with an envelope (I'm an iOS man so forgive me if this is wrong)

A quick search shows mostly speech bubble related icons, some using text to further clarify.


SMS IconSMS Icon

If I were designing from scratch I'd consider a speech bubble coming from a mobile phone screen - this shows it's 'chatting' (text message) and that it's something done via mobile.

Quick mockup of that:

Example mobile phone SMS icon

  • 1
    Speech bubble seems standard for sms, and envelope for email. I can't find in android (froyo to ics) where they use an envelope, all I'm seeing is speech bubbles.
    – drawtheweb
    Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 20:50

To distinguish a SMS message from an Email message iconographically I'd say you need to have that labelled in the icon.

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The use of an envelope that is conventionally used on mobile devices, Android at least, groups both SMS's and Emails together, and would therefore not be a suitable choice.


There seems to be a trend with using some sort of speech bubble incorporated into it, looking at some of the SMS apps that are available on android we can clearly see:

Default Android SMS app

Handcent SMS


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