FlexMail 2007 was developed by Web Information Solutions who is well known for its
PIM replacement PocketInformant. FlexMail replaces the built in Pocket Outlook. It is meant to manage your
on the Pocket PC. The protocols POP3, IMAP and MAPI are supported and in addition
you can even connect via a SOCKS proxy server. SSL encryption is of course also implemented.
Those who do not need the SOCKS communications may want to know why they should
buy an additional E-Mail program. This test should answer that question.
First a list of some of the functions which are not included in Pocket Outlook:
- Automatic rules to sort POP3 and IMAP E-Mails
- Manual rules for MAPI accounts
- Searching for items in all accounts and directories (a function even the
PC Outlook has not built in)
- Simpler directory synchronization
- Advanced spelling check
- More options for POP3 and IMAP
- and much more.
For this review, I've used a T-Mobile MDA Vario II with Windows Mobile 5 and
QVGA screen resolution. As a server I used a Microsoft Exchange Server with Push functionality and a public certificate, POP3 and IMAP.
Let's start with the installation of FlexMail 2007. As known from WebIS, the
installation is offered as direct device installation (.CAB) or PC-Installation.
The program is only available in US English.
The installation is as easy as expected. Problems did not occur. It is only
important to use the version 3.1/Build 988 or greater. The previous builds aborted the
program with an expired beta period even when the program was registered.
Starting FlexMail 2007 takes a long time. You have to wait several seconds
and so I recommend to let the program run. So just minimize it instead
of closing it.
An assistant will be opened if you first start FlexMail 2007. You can
decide if you want to use FlexMail as a client for E-Mail, SMS or both.
In some rare cases I got an error when selection the SMS integration.
In this case you have to de-install FlexMail and install it again.
Nevertheless, please note that FlexMail 2007 isn't handling MMS
In my test scenario, ActiveSync was configured and so FlexMail shows the
MAPI account. All directories can also be seen. They are empty, of course,
but can be marked for download as usual.
If some of you are wondering about the Pocket PC 2003 look and feel, it can be
changed to the familiar Windows Mobile 5 softkey menu bar. This is
recommended as described later:
FlexMail 2007 comes with a vast number of settings. Because of this I will
only mention the most important ones.
In the following screen you can select to show the FlexMail icon in the system tray when
minimized. This is also known by other programs e.g. PocketInformant. The second option closes the program instead of minimizing it. As mentioned
before it takes a long time for FlexMail to start. So I recommend
leaving the program running. You can always close the program with menu
These options control the integration of FlexMail. If FlexMail is used
as the default E-Mail program the system shortcuts are also replaced. The default
replaced by the FlexMail shortcut
These changes are also visible in the start menu:
The notification settings can be customized as well - on a very detailed level. The POP3 and IMAP settings
works without any problem. But in the case of MAPI, no notifying
messages appear when new messages arrive. Since Pocket Outlook is replaced
by FlexMail, all Pocket Outlook notifications are deactivated as well. Hopefully WebIS will release a bug fix soon.
The connection settings are very flexible. In my opinion it is an advantage if
you can define the connections settings in each program separately. That way the
user can determine which programs opens a connection which normally produces
In this settings page you can define the way the E-Mail are listed:
The following options how read mails are handled are known from the PC E-Mail programs
already but new for a Pocket PC mail client. As more and more E-Mails are sent
in HTML, they are hard to read
on small devices. FlexMail can reformat HTML mails and show you these
E-Mails in plain text format:
Not much to say. A picture says more than 1000 words:
What shall we do with the deleted E-Mails? Just define it here:
In the last options window you can determine the font and font size for
nearly every element in FlexMail:
The next step is to configure the first E-Mail account.
First you open the list of accounts. In my example both ActiveSync and SMS was
configured automatically. With tab & hold you open the context menu and add a
For this test I configured an IMAP4 account on my E-Mail server. In the next
steps I enter the account data. POP3 configuration is analog:
Now you need to define the type of account. In our example IMAP4. FlexMail automatically
sets the correct port number. Host means the incoming mail server. Here
In the next step you have to enter your authentication data. As you can see, FlexMail
is very structured and asks for the necessary account data step by step. Thus
creating an account is very easy even for beginners:
My outgoing server also needs an authentication. Otherwise everyone could
use this server including spammers. Host again means the FQDN of the server.
In this case smtp.theunwired.net.
If the outgoing mail server needs authentication you need your account data
again. In most cases they are the same as the incoming mail server. Of course FlexMail
has an appropriate option that avoids entering data twice:
Every account or storage can be given its own name:
For every account a separate storage folder can be defined. Of course storage
cards can be used. Thereby not only attachments can be saved on a storage card
but also the E-Mail data itself:
Congratulations from FlexMail for creating a new account. In this step the
account data are not checked whether they are valid or not. Most important is
the "Show advanced settings" options. There you can see additional options:
One of the additional options is the possibility to define a signature.
Import of text files is also implemented:
In the list of accounts the new one is visible now:
To make sure all account data are valid the new account should be synchronized.
If you are wondering about the Pocket PC 2003 look, yes you are right.
The standard view is in Pocket PC 2003 style. Due to some problems with the Pocket PC 2003 style,
I recommend to change to Windows Mobile 5 style:
The first time you receive mail from your account, you also see whether
the account data are valid or not. In the example it worked with the first
Until now there was no major difference between the built-in Pocket Outlook
and FlexMail 2007. FlexMail is very well adapted to small screens. This is one
big advantage for Pocket PC Users. 3 different views are available.
First a short look at the view menu. "Soft Key Menu Bar" switches
from Windows Mobile 5 to Pocket PC 2003 style. In the picture Windows
Mobile 5 style
is activated as you can see on the soft key bar.
In every view a preview can be switched on and off. QVGA screens are
a little bit too small for an additional preview window.
"Multi Pages" view shows two tabs to change between the folder
and the message window.
This picture shows the "Multi Pages" view in the messages tab.
It is very easy to change between the message and the folder view. Very
In comparison, the "Single Page" view. It sure looks a lot like
Last but not least the "3 Pane View" in which all windows are visible.
The folder and E-Mail list and the preview.
In addition, I will show you the Pocket PC 2003 style in a direct comparison
to the Windows Mobile style in the next picture. Actually it is much easier
to handle, if there were not the problems with changing the views. And
this is not the only problem with the Pocket PC 2003 style as will be described
(Who knows Dr. Seuss? Take a closer look at the subject.)
Same view, different style. Windows Mobile 5 this time. Unfortunately some buttons
like deleting or moving E-Mails are missing as seen in Pocket PC 2003 style.
The menu bar from Pocket PC 2003 is replaced in Windows Mobile 5 by the soft key bar. This
is related to Windows Mobile 5. But it is possible to place a menu above the soft key
bar and put the missing functions there. I don't know why the FlexMail
2007 developers haven't thought about this. It is standard on most
Windows Mobile 5
Of course an E-Mail program should notify me when new E-Mails arrive. POP3 and
IMAP4 accounts normally look regularly if the server has new E-Mails. MAPI accounts
do this either with ActiveSync or with the Exchange push function. It is especially
important when you use the Exchange push function to get a notification, because
every new E-Mail will be sent to the mobile device immediately after having been
received by the Exchange server.
Notification functions with every sort of account except MAPI and so except
the communication with the Exchange server. This is of course not acceptable.
So we have this brand new function of E-Mail push to get new E-Mails immediately
on our mobile device after they have arrived at the Exchange server and FlexMail
2007 does not notify us. First I thought I made a configuration error. But a
short look at the WebIS support forum showed me that I am not the only one with
this problem. The previous version did not have such problems. Those who use
the Exchange push services will not enjoy FlexMail 2007. WebIS should fix this
problem very soon. Otherwise it is better to use the built in Pocket Outlook
or an older version of FlexMail.
This brings us to the next problem with the Pocket PC 2003 style. To use the
spelling check function the manual describes that you have to click on menu
and then on "Check Spelling". But there is no menu in the Pocket PC 2003
style! Only after having switched to Windows Mobile 5 style the function like priority, encoding,
check spelling, and others are available.
Maybe I missed something. But I read the manual from the beginning to the end
and did not find a solution. Therefore I must assume that the function is not
available in Pocket PC 2003 style, the manual is not exact enough, or the program is
not intuitive. All 3 cases make us suspect that FlexMail 2007 is not yet completely
FlexMail 2007 is a comfortable and easy to use program. Users sitting behind
a company firewall will be glad about the possibility of using extended security
communication like SSL POP encryption or SOCKS proxy.
The available views in FlexMail 2007 are optimized for small screens. In my
opinion you can't get more out of a QVGA screen.
Unfortunately some functions don't work properly when switching to Pocket PC 2003
style (see Additional Functions). Also the missing menu bar above the soft key
bar makes the impression of "quick, we need a Windows Mobile 5 compatibility".
In Build 988 (which I used for this test) notifying
doesn't work. Especially in times where Exchange push is more and more common
this is not a small error anymore. Additionally new E-Mails are not shown in
the inbox of MAPI accounts. The same goes for the outbox. Sent E-Mails remain
"optically" in the outbox. If FlexMail is closed (not only minimized)
and reopened the view is refreshed and you can see that the E-Mail where sent
This level of quality is normally not known from WebIS especially since we are used
to have a much better quality from PocketInformant.
If you have already bought FlexMail 2007, then use a previous version until
the notify error is fixed. Everyone must decide whether the described features
are needed or not.