Gene is an emoticon living in Textopolis – a digital city inside the phone owned by an Alex. He is the son of the two “meh” emoticons named Mel and Mary, but Gene is able to use multiple expressions despite the education received from his parents. They are hesitant to allow him to go to work, but Gene insists he is capable of doing good and useful things. When she receives a message from a girl she loves, Addie, Alex decides to send her an emoticon.
When Alex selects Gene, he panic, makes a confusing expression, and spoils the entire message center. Gene is called to report by Smiler, a smiley smile and the message center leader, and it concludes that Gene is a “mistake” and as a result must be erased. Gene is then watched by bots, but he is saved by Hi-5, a once popular popular emoticon that has lost its fame because it has never been used.
He tells Gene that his problem can be solved if they find a hacker so Hi-5 accompanies him and tries to help him regain his fame. Smiler sends more bits to look for Gene when he finds out he’s gone from Textopolis and his actions have made Alex believe his phone is broken and must be repaired. Gene and Hi-5 go to a pirate application where they meet the “escaped jail” emoticon that wants to get to Dropbox and live in the Cloud.