Eighty-one Chars for an apostrophe!?
June 24, 2014 7:01 PM   Subscribe

My cel is an LG with AT&T pay-as-you-GoPhone. When I text, an apostrophe or a double quote 'costs' me 81 characters! Does this happen to other people?

Only the first time I enter ' or ", 81 is deducted from my message character count. So tired of the lame semi-colon substitution... is there a solution? Or should I complain to AT&T?
posted by Rash to Computers & Internet (3 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Not a complete answer, but it appears certain characters do require more than one 'character' to encode. This page demonstrates punctuation taking 3 characters, while this guy goes into why foreign characters will drop the character count from 160 to 70. (In short, regular letters can be encoded in 7 bits - adding a special character requires a switch to 16-bit encoding for the whole message.) Unfortunately, both those pages indicate that ' and " are 'normal' and shouldn't require extra encoding...

I note your profile says your are an ESL teacher - are there any language settings on your phone that may be switching things up?
posted by quinndexter at 9:40 PM on June 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

My guess — without proof, which would be hard without actually being sent a message from you — is that when you think you're sending the " character, you really aren't sending ASCII 0x22, what you're actually sending is some character that looks superficially like the double quote character but is actually in a different character set, and the phone is doing some really klunky 8-bit conversion on the backend to shoehorn it in.

This document suggests that while a standard SMS is 160 characters of ASCII, it's only about 70 characters of Unicode. In other words, the first Unicode character you type can appear to take up to (160-70)=90 characters worth of space in the worst case, by forcing the whole message into Unicode and wasting a bunch of characters with escape chars.

Somewhere in your phone, perhaps it's switched into a non-ASCII character set somehow. If it's a phone you bought internationally, it might do that by default; if it's a US phone you might be able to fix it (absent any obvious settings) by doing a factory reset. My guess is that if you complain to AT&T, that's all they're going to do for you.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:25 PM on June 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

Had a hunch it was akin to your answer, Kadin2048 -- thanks. Yes, the phone is originally from China and the apostrophe is really a quote-left and the double quote is actually a quote double left. Don't see anything in the settings about Unicode.
posted by Rash at 10:36 PM on June 24, 2014

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