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My iPhone eats draft e-mail--yours could too

iPhone users with a MobileMe account should be aware of a serious bug that results in loss of message content when editing MobileMe draft e-mail messages on their iPhone.

I discovered a serious bug recently on my iPhone 3GS after it lost the entire contents of two different e-mail messages I had sent to my CNET editor. The bug appears to be caused by a problem between my e-mail accounts on MobileMe or Gmail and accessing them later on my iPhone.

The steps that I have used to demonstrate the bug, which I've been able to successfully replicate every time on my iPhone running OS 3.1 and my MobileMe account are shown below. I've submitted a bug report to Apple engineering.

  • Log on to MobileMe on the Web from your computer.
  • Create a new e-mail message addressed to your MobileMe account. Save it as a draft.
  • Launch Mail on your iPhone.
  • Go to your MobileMe account and look for the Drafts folder and access it.
  • Locate the draft e-mail message you created and open it.
  • Add an additional sentence or other text to the e-mail message.
  • Send the e-mail from your iPhone.
  • You should receive the following error message:
  • Tap OK to clear the error message.
  • Hit the refresh button in Mail on your iPhone. You should hear the swoosh sound representing that your message was actually sent.
  • Go to your MobileMe in-box on your iPhone and either wait or press refresh.
  • Your e-mail will be delivered with all your content missing. Here is an example:

I've asked a number of friends and colleagues to attempt to recreate this bug on their phones and many of them couldn't. I do know this: the problem presents itself randomly affecting my Gmail accounts, but it is always consistent with my MobileMe account. So far, deleting these accounts individually or all accounts from my iPhone, then adding them back doesn't resolve the problem.

A Google search using the terms "lost draft email iphone" resulted in three posts by markw10. One of Mark's posts appeared on AppleInsider and reiterates the problem I've encountered with drafts that are not created on an iPhone. Mark lost e-mail on his iPhone just as I had--even though the e-mail was eventually sent, it never reached its destination, and no copies of the sent message were to be found. His recipient complained about receiving an empty e-mail.

I've been working with Apple to find a solution to this problem for a week, but so far, a solution has proven to be elusive. If I find a solution or work-around then I will update this post.

Are you experiencing this problem on your iPhone or iPod Touch? Let us know in the comments.