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What You Should Know About the 3G iPhone Before You Sync It With Your Exchange Server

Posted by Keith Elder | Posted in Apple | Posted on 11-07-2008

Today Apple launched their new iPhone.  Countless users are upgrading everywhere looking forward to playing with the new features of the 3G iPhone.  Before you connect your new iPhone toy to your enterprise exchange server there are a few things you need to be aware of.  For some of you these may be complete show stoppers.

I would have entertained the idea of getting an iPhone until I read this, thus I thought I’d pass it along.

Only Sync With One Computer

When you enable Exchange syncing on your iPhone to get emails from work, the phone will no longer sync contacts and calendars with another desktop computer using iTunes.  Windows Mobile allows users to sync with exchange and with another computer pretty seamlessly.  For example, I am able to sync my calendar and contacts with my work via Exchange but I’m also able to open up my home computer and add a new contacts and have it synced with my phone.  Updating the phone, updates Exchange.  The iPhone only gives you one option.  It makes me wonder what setting up the iPhone does with the new MobileMe service.  I guess we’ll find out.  If you know, comment below.

Lose Existing Contacts / Calendar

If you have an existing iPhone and you upgrade it to the new software be careful. When you setup Exchange support on the phone your old personal contacts and calendar items will be deleted from your iPhone and overwritten with your information.

Unsupported Exchange Features Heavy Email Users Need

For those that have Blackberries and or Windows Mobile apps there are some things the new iPhone will not do (at least at the last time this was tested which may have changed with the release today).

Not supported features of Exchange:

  • Folder management
  • Syncing tasks
  • Setting an “out-of-office” auto reply message
  • Create meeting invitations
  • Flagging messages for follow-up (of course this is an unsupported feature for any email on the iPhone)
  • Setting or seeing ‘high importance” emails (you don’t see the red in the inbox), of course this is an unsupported feature for any email on the iPhone

Are any of these major show stoppers?  For those of us that organize lots of email the folder management is a big one.  Especially if you are monitoring different email folders for system alerts and things.  Syncing tasks is not huge but something I use a lot myself.  The biggest one to me is creating meeting invitations.  To me, this one is a show stopper.

Additional Costs

On top of the existing fees you will have to pay an extra $15 for the “Enterprise Day Plan for iPhone” which puts the monthly cost at $45.00.  It makes sense with the amount of data going back and forth for email but that is still very pricey considering.  Information is here:



Let me say up that I have not tested these myself.  These were some of the things that were discovered during testing a pre-release of the iPhone at work.  Thus, some of these *may* have changed since then.  If you find some discrepancies in anything here, don’t get bent out of shape, just politely leave a comment with a correction.

Comments (4)

I wish I’d found this before buying my iPhone. The lack of folder support and inability to create (or even edit) meeting requests are show-stoppers to me, and even my original Motorola Q could do multiple folders and editing meetings (but not creating or adding attendees).

This is really slowing me down – I’ll probably break down and pay for a new phone soon.

The enterprise data plan IS necessary. You can synch for a while without being noticed, but somehow AT&T will find you and they put a stop to it. It has happened to 4 different people I work with.

Unless of course, there is an AT&T/apple NARC in the building who is telling on everyone… an iNARC

Actually you do not need the enterprise plan. They tried to sell that to me, but I was able to get it to work on my wife iPod Touch, so I went the next day. I sync with Exchange at work, no problem. the task thing is a big issue for me!

Keith, thanks for putting this out. You do NOT need the Enterprise Data plan to get Exchange support. It works fine under the regular data plan – save yourself $180 a year. The other thing that I noticed is that my folders did move over and I have use of my folders including my Sync Issues folder. It has been pretty stable. As for the contacts, it didn’t erase my contacts, it merged.

Just my observations!

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