That octopus or winky face emoji you just texted to your friend may not be as harmless as you think – especially if you have an older Samsung phone. CNET reports that Samsung Galaxy S, S2, S3 or S4 and the Galaxy Note, Note 2, Note 3 and Galaxy Ace could be converting emojis into more expensive picture messages.
Most phones come equipped with both the classic QWERTY and an emoji keyboard, and more recent models just read and send those emojis as the intended text messages. But these older phones, depending on which carrier you use, can take the tiny images and change the SMS (short messaging service) text into a more expensive MMS (multimedia message service) messages without warning. How high can the bills get? A Scottish customer of British mobile carrier EE racked up a bill equivalent to $1840 sending emoticons with an unlimited plan.
Samsung told CNET that since April of 2014, every Samsung phone automatically regards emoji’s and emoticons as an SMS, but for older phones, if an emoji-laden message is about to be changed into an MMS, a warning message should pop up to let them know. HTC, Nokia, Apple and Sony mobile users should not run into these issues or jacked-up phone bills.
While one option for older Samsung phone owners is to leave symbols and smiley faces out of their communiqués until their next upgrade, downloading a free messaging app like Facebook Chat could be a fair stop-gap measure.