Good-bye Blackberry. Hello...what?
November 20, 2012 1:58 PM   Subscribe

Using Exchange email on Windows Phone 8, Android, and iPhone

I need to swap out my BlackBerry for a new phone and am having trouble determining which platform will best meet my needs.

My number one concern is Exchange email integration since my business runs on email. Windows Phone 8 would seem like a logical choice since it is a Microsoft operating system and has Outlook built-in, plus a lot of people have said good things about the user interface and the stability of the operating system (I'm not too concerned about the dearth of smartphone apps available).

I have determined that I would be able to limit how much existing email a brand new Windows Phone downloads when I first set it up, but I have been unable to determine whether I will be able to set up email to work in both of the following ways:

1. When deleting an email, always prompt whether to delete the email from the Exchange server too.

2. When deleting an email, never delete the email from the Exchange server.

Does anyone know what is the default setting and what other settings are available? Does it depend at all on the service provider? (I would most likely be using T-Mobile.)

For other email like Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, etc., will the same options be available?

Would I be able to easily set up Exchange email to always prompt whether to delete from the server, and/or to never delete from the server, on Android or iPhone?

Thank you.
posted by Dansaman to Technology (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm pretty sure the only way to do this is with an old-fashioned POP connection. Both Exchange and IMAP provide a completely synchronized view of your inbox on all devices that you use. Both Gmail and Yahoo provide POP access; it's up to your company's IT whether they will enable POP or not in your Exchange server.
posted by zsazsa at 2:08 PM on November 20, 2012

The latest version of Android should support Exchange natively. You add it as another account then then emails, contacts and the calendar are integrated into native apps.*

I actually use an Android app, Touchdown, to access Exchange. It works just like Outlook, with proper syncing of all features, even specific Outlook ones like flag for follow up, which I never got working on a BlackBerry. By default, delete syncs with the server, but there's an option to turn that off. I don't see one to ask for confirmation. Touchdown is pricey, but you can try the free version to verify it works. I'm sure other apps are available, but I just went with the first one that worked.

* Caveat: I've not got the native implementation working myself, which I think is due to my company's security policy --- they require the phone to enforce various security rules (such as minimum password difficulty, password changing frequency and permission to remote wipe). In Android 4.0 the security policy seemed to confuse the things and prevent syncing, but 4.2 seems to be working; however I've refused to authorise the security rules.

posted by matsho at 2:41 PM on November 20, 2012

I have used Touchdown on Android for a couple of years due to the crap support of Exchange. It free to try, then something like $25 but I found it a worthwhile investment in a hassle-ectomy.
posted by trinity8-director at 2:55 PM on November 20, 2012

I'm pretty sure on iOS and Windows Phone 7, deleting an item sends it to the trash. You have to manually go to the trash to actually remove them from the server.
posted by wongcorgi at 3:28 PM on November 20, 2012

As zsazsa said, your requested functionality goes against the very nature of a synced account. POP access would be your only option. But you'd have to manually choose which folders to sync to the phone; searching for emails on the phone would be for local messages only and wouldn't search your full account on the server; and newly created folders wouldn't automatically sync to the phone until you go into your phone settings to include that folder too.

Since you're coming from Blackberry, and based on your criteria above, it seems like your primary concern is saving storage space - Blackberries are notorious for either running out of dedicated email storage space or slowing to a crawl with too many messages stored locally. Modern mobile OS's don't have those same problems that Blackberry has had for years. You can practically read entire novels within an email thread if you're willing to scroll - no truncated messages. Also there isn't dedicated storage space just for email - the account will take as much space as it needs from the phone's total memory. And since you stated you aren't that concerned with apps, you probably won't be installing apps and games that will eat up all the memory anyway.

Android user here - native Exchange sync on 4.0 and above is pretty good, but if you're an Exchange power user (task flags, follow-up reminders, etc) Touchdown is a great investment as indicated above. Unfortunately I have no firsthand experience with Exchange on iOS or Windows Phone.
posted by trivia genius at 7:39 PM on November 20, 2012

Disclaimer: I work for Microsoft.
Why are you concerned with deleting locally from your phone? As trivia genius says, the storage space is not an issue at all with the current generation of smartphones. I have my Exchange (work) & IMAP (personal) on my Windows Phone set to download the last 2 weeks of email; I could set it to longer. It really is not an issue. It is a true relief to not have to worry about local storage and always have my laptop, desktop, phone, etc., email in sync without thinking about managing storage locally.
posted by girlhacker at 11:08 PM on November 20, 2012

I use an app also: EnhancedEmail. It was around $10 but there is a trial version. I use it because I like that it is HTML and therefore doesn't screw around with embedded images and formatting when I reply to emails (something the Android mail client would do, although I haven't retried since I upgraded to ICS). It is also properly integrated with Exchange so it queries Exchange for contacts etc.

More importantly, the developer was very responsive to a request of mine to allow me to set the font for outgoing messages--so that it appears the same as if I had replied from Outlook. He did it in a day or two I think. I mention this because, if it is possible to have a "delete on phone only" option he could probably implement it for you very quickly.
posted by NailsTheCat at 1:05 PM on November 21, 2012

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