Friday, 14 July 2006

Mobile Mail

I've just been accused of showing off with my Mobile Blog entry. Although, I can rightfully be accused of that on occasion, it was not the intention in this case: I was just trying it out. But this brings the question: why does it sound like I'm showing off? Because I am sending an email from my mobile phone? If this is the case then let's have a look at how anybody can do the same. To send an email from a mobile phone, you need:

  • an Internet Service Provider,
  • a phone line,
  • a handset that comes with an email application that supports standard protocols such as SMTP for sending and POP3 or IMAP for receiving.

The Internet Service Provider

If you have Internet access at home, you already have an Internet Service Provider. If you don't, you mobile phone company should be able to provide the service.

The phone line

If you have a mobile phone with a SIM card, you have a phone line that you can use. In practice, it would be preferable to have a 3G contract with an operator like 3 but it is not essential and all other UK operators now offer 3G anyway.

The Handset

The handset is the complicated part. The first handset that ever had email capability was the Nokia 9000 Communicator, a large brick that appeared in 1996 and was targeted at professionals. Such a service was not available on smaller handsets because it required a large screen and the ability to send and receive data. With the arrival of camera phones and 3G, most modern handsets are now technically able to support an email application. You just need to choose one that has. You could get a handset like mine, a Nokia 6234, which is the Vodafone custom version of the Nokia 6233, and is free when taken with a contract. If you want something more complicated, there are tons of alternatives but you might have to pay for them.

After that, it is just a matter of configuring the phone properly and your mobile operator will be happy to help you do this. Getting email on your mobile is easy. Do you need it? Maybe. Maybe not. Do I need it? Not really but I'm a geek and it's fun to be able to send email from anywhere.

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