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Apple iPhone Email with Vodafone, Virgin Media and Outlook 2003

–> See An Update on iPhone Email Settings with Vodafone and Virgin Media for a better and more up to date solution!

It’s taken a while, but I’ve finally managed to get my email working properly (send and receive) on my iPhone.  The initial setup was relatively easy (my teenage daughter did it for me) but all the messing about at Virgin Media and the problems of mixing so many different suppliers have made the job much more difficult following that initial brief success.

My setup consists of a Virgin Media email account and an iPhone provided through Vodafone.  I use Outlook 2003 with SP3 as my email client and don’t have any problems with that.  I also have a “3” broadband dongle which I have used with no problems on both my laptop and my wife’s netbook – I’ll explain why that’s relevant later.

Initially, the MS Outlook email accounts were copied across automatically to the iPhone and they worked OK – but I could only receive emails, not send them. 

However, once Virgin Media shoved my account onto Gmail it all became much worse and  I started to receive all my old emails every time I opened Outlook – building up to over a thousand emails in my inbox!

So, I asked around (several colleagues had iPhones through various different operators, but the only one with anything like my combination – with Virgin Media – hadn’t suffered the migration so far).

A further problem I noticed was that the iPhone clearly confuses email account settings where they share the same POP3 server name – I had three with different SMTP (for sending emails) but the same POP3 account (for receiving the emails) and it kept mixing them up.

One good point – all my email clients got all the messages – even if some got them umpteen times over!

After scouring the internet for solutions – including the rather disjointed Virgin Media coverage at the time – I finally found an explanation and a combination of fixes that resolved the problems.

The problem

To clarify, here are the problems I had to solve: –

  1. Outlook was filling up with all my old emails – so many that it never got around to the new ones.
  2. I couldn’t send emails from the iPhone.
  3. The iPhone mixed up the multiple accounts.
The cause

I identified the following causes:

  1. Virgin Media is busy migrating all it’s customers to Gmail which has a broken POP3 service (that’s what you use to get your emails) and different rules and settings for logging in.  It also doesn’t delete your old emails unless you really work at it – the POP3 service ignores deletes and even when you delete them using the online service, it only moves them to an archive folder.
  2. Mobile operators block access to other SMTP servers – and therefore provide there own internal servers – often with different port addresses (the last missing detail…). I had the same problem with the “3” broadband dongle – and found the solution to that (I told you it was relevant).
  3. The iPhone has a bug.
The resolution

The fix involved several changes in various places.

  1. Virgin Meda (Gmail) – I had to change the user ID I login with from the original alphanumeric email address “S001…..” and so on to my “friendly” email “alias” that I normally use (simon.j.williams@…etc).
  2. Next, using this alias email address, login to your virgin media email account ( and click the email link at the top right). Then go to the settings page (link at top right) and select the Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab. On there, under “POP Download” you need to select “Enable POP for mail that arrives from now on”.
  3. You could also click the links on that page to setup your email clients…
  4. In Outlook and the iPhone, the user id used for the POP3 settings need to have “recent:” at the start – so in my example, the user ID is “recent:simon.j.williams@…”.
  5. Finally, you need to change the SMTP server to “” and the Port to 143. This works for me!

The last point I realised when I solved a similar problem for the “3” dongle – I had to setup the SMTP server as “” (port 25) or I couldn’t send emails, but I was still using the same Virgin Media POP3 server.

And finally,

As a result I now have three email accounts specified in Outlook – the normal Virgin Media account, the “3” broadband dongle, which has the same POP3 server but a different SMTP server, and the Vodafone account which also only has a different SMTP server.

When setting up the iPhone, iTunes picks up the three accounts and you can select the correct one to upload (it keeps forgetting this setting, but shouldn’t affect the phone – just another apple software bug).

Also, at first I had all three accounts copied to the iPhone to see if any of them worked and the iPhone kept mixing them up. I can only assume they use the POP3 server name as the key – a particularly bad choice given the problems mentioned above.

7 comments on “Apple iPhone Email with Vodafone, Virgin Media and Outlook 2003”

  1. rob says:

    i have a e-mail account and an i phone thru vodaphone. did you eventually get incoming ands outgoing mail via phone and wi fi? if so what settings did you end up using on the iphone. i am a complete novice and may need therapy after this 🙂 thanks

  2. simon says:


    It now works perfectly for me – See the settings in the second article (

    You need to make sure you enter the correct username and password for both parts – SMTP and POP.

    I’ve added a more obvious link at the top.

  3. Ciaran says:

    Simon, I too have mail via Virgin Media, an iPhone 4 on Vodafone(as of yesterday) and use Outlook 2007 as my mail client at home.

    First off, I set the mail account up on the iPhone with the same settings as my Outlook 2007 mail account on my PC (Except for the smtp settings, only put the smtp server name in, you don’t need the username and password, leave blank). The wife then sent me an email, which I received and replied to and it works fine.

    Am I being really stupid? I would like my mail at the address to download into Outlook and to my iPhone. The first few messages I received last night were received in Outlook and on the iPhone, but from about midnight they are now only coming into the iPhone and not into Outlook.

    Don’t know if you or anyone can help, but it would be ideal to receive to both devices.



  4. simon says:


    OK, I know it works fine for me – I’m on an iPhone 3GS but it shouldn’t be too different. So, looking at my later article ( make sure you have the Incomming Settings/Delete from server:Never set.

    Next, look at your online settings (see The resolution, 2nd point above) and go through them to ensure you haven’t configured it to delete emails once downloaded. It didn’t work before (the gmail POP3 didn’t delete) but they may have fixed it.

    Other than that…?

  5. Angie says:

    I have problems with, I cant seem to send emails from my iphone 4 (T-Mobile), I can receive them fine but not sending. T Mobile have tried everything, so have Apple. who forwarded me onto Virgin, which proved pointless as I just went round and round the system. Any help?? Before this phone needs wings :o)

    1. simon says:

      I don’t have a T-Mobile phone myself but I do have a couple of suggestions.

      First, if you look at the top of the article I have a more up-to-date description of the settings I use on my iPhone 3GS – this might help.

      Second, I also have a 3G broadband dongle for my laptop (though I haven’t used it since I got the iPhone) but when I set this up I needed to use different settings to send emails. Some of the mobile providers allow you to receive emails from any email provider but block sending. You need to use their outgoing email server (the SMTP server). for T-Mobile I believe it is in place of the virgin media one.

      I found an article about it at which might help.

      On the iPhone, if you set both the Virgin Media and T-Mobile SMTP servers up, with the T-Mobile one as the default, it might work both on Wi-Fi (if you’ve got Virgin Media broadband and Wi-Fi at home) and off.

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