Exchange / Push email on the Apple iPhone

Back in January I wrote that Apple iPhone Push Email is probably not for me. I get a ton of email each day — it’s a critical element of my business.

This is why I carry a Nokia E61i running Good Mobile Messaging (or, actually, a Motorola Q9 running version 5.0 beta of Good Mobile Messaging — but more on that soon) — that is, a proper email device that can cope with emails arriving every minute.

Well, I’ve been trying out the iPhone’s email functions recently. I’ve been using it in anger, as the phrase goes — I’ve dumped it straight into the deep end and swapped temporarily to using the device full time.

The email system is nicely rendered. It’s gorgeous. The UI is wonderful. I’m getting really good at using the on-screen keyboard too.

But.

Yes, the iPhone was not built as an email-on-the-go device. It does not compare to Good Mobile Messaging. It has some brilliant features, but it is, I think, a weekend phone in the context of the heavily optimised messaging experience I need during the day when I’m out and about.

A fatal flaw for me is the T-Mobile GRPS network. I use 3.5g on my Nokia N95 and the data flies to the handset really fast. GPRS ain’t good. Not when I expect and demand my mails to arrive quickly and in real time. Often my time is limited during the day so I need near real-time for my mail. The iPhone can’t deliver this when it’s working via GPRS. Put it on WiFI and there’s no issue.

I am still very much used to using a QWERTY keyboard to write long replies. The iPhone is, at the moment, best for one or two line replies.

I managed to get my Fasthosts Exchange Server account to work with the iPhone easily. I just entered my server details, username, password and bish-bash-bosh, we were live. It’s effectively emulating IMAP, I think. That’s fine. I have email on the go with the iPhone… just, not entirely business critical, I don’t think. It is often having to …. tick… tock… check… for… email….. via the dead slow GPRS network. Stick a Blackberry or an E61 on the same connection and, particularly with Good Mobile Messaging, the messaging service is really fast.

But there’s nothing sexier than an iPhone. Not at the moment.

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11 Responses to Exchange / Push email on the Apple iPhone

  1. Dan Lane September 18, 2007 at 1:36 am #

    Based on the recommendation of someone in the comments on this very blog I’ve stopped using Good and have been using a ZimbraCS solution from SimplyMailSolutions.com.

    Zimbra has excellent support for Exchange Push (so you can use Nokia’s Mail For Exchange) as well as a sync service for OSX as well as support for IMAP and POP3.

    Since we all know Nokia’s mail client is utter pap I’ve been using Mail For Exchange to sync my phone’s contacts and calendars with the server and Profimail to read my mail over IMAP (it just checks for new mail every 5 mins… not exactly push but it works). The iPhone syncs my address book and calendar when I dock it and mail is downloaded OTA via IMAP and My desktop runs the Zimbra sync agent and Thunderbird downloads my mail via IMAP.

    What I end up with is three different mail accounts, calendars and contacts lists, three nokia handsets, one iPhone and two desktops that are all syncing in perfect harmony (except the iPhone which needs a quick dock to get contacts and calendars)

    it’s not the most elegant of solutions and it won’t suit everybody but neither Good nor BlackBerry handle multiple accounts in any sensible form!

    Also, as I’ve found out this morning, the support at SimplyMS is far superior than that of Fasthosts!

  2. tim rodgers November 12, 2007 at 9:31 pm #

    Hi;
    we are unable to get iPhone and fasthosts exchange server to talk; tried all the various settings with no joy; can you please elaborate on the process?

    Thanks

  3. Ewan November 13, 2007 at 2:31 pm #

    Sure thing Tim — simply set it up as you would a normal IMAP account and it should work perfectly fine!

  4. Brendan January 1, 2008 at 2:30 pm #

    Hi Dan,

    Could you elaborate a little further on setting up your fasthost email on the iPhone.

    Did you have to tweak any advance settings, get them to change anything and what did you use for the server addresses?

    Many thanks,

    Brendan

  5. Oliver Yeates January 17, 2008 at 6:29 pm #

    Love to know how to get it working on Fasthosts exchange mail boxes?

  6. Eliot February 2, 2008 at 2:08 pm #

    Me too! Have tried setting up my Fasthosts Exchange account using the IMAP form but no luck yet…

  7. Matt February 20, 2008 at 12:15 pm #

    Please can you verify the settings used to connect to the fasthosts server,

    are you using the imap, pop,or exchange tab?

    i have tried all threee, i can make a mac aconnect but not an iphone

    Any more advice would be great

    Server : exchange.livemail.co.uk

    Username : robin.bright@*****.co.uk

    Password : as per exchange account

    Outgoing Server : smtp.livemail.co.uk

    Username : robin.bright@*****.co.uk

    Password : as per exchange account

    Set outgoing mail authentication to yes.

    Using SSL to connect

  8. Matt February 20, 2008 at 1:19 pm #

    ok people – use the above setting but set up as pop

    so on thje other screen when you set mail accounts up you have the choice of

    imap – pop – exchange

    just put in the setting from my last post into the pop tat and boom all working

  9. Simon April 17, 2008 at 9:43 am #

    Matt,

    I’ve got this working as POP as you mention but this is a poor shadow of IMAP, and ever poorer than Activesync to Exchange (coming in iPhone firmware v2).

    Has anyone got the iphone to do at least IMAP properly for now?

    I spoke to Fasthosts buy they said the normal IMAP settings should work on an iphone (which I agree with, but they don’t seem to).

    Thanks

    Simon’s last blog post..2.4Ghz Spectrum Analyser/ WiFi/ WiSpy

  10. Ben Smith April 17, 2008 at 10:24 am #

    Not on Fasthosts, but I have an iPhone happily doing IMAP to 3 different accounts (2 of them GMail). It doesn’t do push e-mail via IDLE but I can live with that for the moment…

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  1. The Big Website » Exchange / Push email on the Apple iPhone - September 18, 2007

    […] Philip Elmer-DeWitt wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptBack in January I wrote that Apple iPhone Push Email is probably not for me. I get a ton of email each day — it’sa critical element of my business. This is why I carry a Nokia E61i running Good Mobile Messaging (or, actually, … […]

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