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Apple iPhone Shortcoming to Some: No MMS (Multimedia Message Service), Workaround

Thu July 19 2007 2:19 pm
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MMS allows cellphone users to take pictures and send pictures to each other, just like a text message. Whenever you are sending a picture with a non-PDA cellphone, you are probably using MMS. Unfortanately, Apple iPhone users don’t have an easy way to do this, but it can be done. As you will find below, sending a picture to an MMS recipient can be simplified quite well after a little bit of work at first.

Apple iPhone supports SMS (Short Message Service) text messages, but the iPhone does not support sending or receiving MMS (Multimedia Message Service) messages. Apple iPhone users can send or receive photos as attachments in emails to e-mail recipients. But,  what about sending and receiving pictures with cellphone subscribers? Cell phone subscribers actually do have an email address associated with their SMS and MMS messaging. So the big question is, ‘can you see a picture that a cell phone subscriber sends to an iPhone?’ And, ‘can an iPhone send a picture to a cell phone subscriber that they can see on their MMS messages?’

We did two tests: What happens when a cellphone user sends an MMS message (a picture) to an iPhone phone number? And what if you want to send a picture from your iPhone Photo Albums section or your Camera Roll to a phone subscriber?

In the first test: Sending an MMS message with a picture taken from a Motorola phone from a Verizon Wireless customer, an SMS message was received on the iPhone.

The automated message said:

I sent you a multimedia message. You can view my message via the internet at using Msg ID x17jijxxl Password cantXxxx

[The password and user name have been altered for security]

Unfortunately, you can’t copy and paste, but you can switch over to Safari on your iPhone, go to and enter your MSG ID and password. The picture that was sent to you is then displayed. A reply button causes an iPhone New Mail form to appear and displays the following address in the TO field: ‘sender’s phone number’

The sender does not receive the reply on their cell phone with that address unless they are an ATT subscriber.

Here is the hard part: (1) you have to know what phone service your SENDER uses and (2) you have to add the respective address from the list below:

United States Carriers Listed

Alltel = [email protected]

AT&T = [email protected]

Boost Mobile = [email protected]

Cingular (AT&T) = [email protected]

Einstein PCS = [email protected]

Sprint = [email protected]

T-Mobile = [email protected]

US Cellular = [email protected]

Verizon Wireless = [email protected]

Virgin Mobile = [email protected]

You replace the x’s with the 10 digit phone number (no hyphens, no parentheses, no slashes and no dashes). If you follow the instructions described below to enter any of your friends’ or business contacts’ in CONTACTS in advance, you can simplify the reply when it comes time to reply to an MMS from one of your contacts.

In the second test: Using iPhone’s capability to Share or Send photos from iPhone’s PHOTO ALBUMS or the CAMERA ROLL, you can send a photo to a phone subscriber by SHARING the particular photo and then adding the appropriate phone number and cell carrier suffix as the e-mail address. The photo is received by the MMS capable cellphone subscriber (sometimes in parts).

Both processes are not as easy as using an MMS capable phone. The worst part is that the MSG ID and the password contain a lot of characters — in some cases hard to decipher if the characters are an ‘l’ and ‘I’ or a ‘1’.

You might want to create entries in your address book with an extra e-mail address specifically for the contact’s cell phone MMS address. This makes the process of sending a picture to an MMS receiver quite simple because once the MMS email address is entered for your business or friend contact, you simply SHARE the picture from the PHOTO ALBUM or CAMERA  ROLL and then enter the MMS email address of that particular contact. Hit send from iPhone’s MAIL application and the picture is on its way.

You may also want to enter each of these carrier MMS suffix addresses in one CONTACT:

[email protected] and so on for each carrier (‘tx’ for telephone number) …

For reference you can have this CONTACT ENTRY with all of the MMS email addresses listed under one contact — for example, name your contact ‘MMS’ then list all of the cell phone carrier email addresses. Add each one with a name such as ‘[email protected],’  [email protected] and so on.

With all of this knowledge you can make your iPhone or Mac even more capable. You now have an effective way to get photos from cameras or websites to an MMS receiver: Take a picture or save a web photo in Safari on your Macintosh, import it to an iPhoto Album that you have set to synchronize with your iPhone and then share/send the photo to your MMS recipient. Or share/send the photo right from iPhoto using its share capability with the MAIL application. Use your contact’s MMS address and the photo can be sent to an MMS capable cell phone right from your computer. You might even save a little money on SMS messaging on your side, anyway.


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