How's iOS 4 ActiveSync (Exchange/Google Sync) working for you?

So how's iOS 4 Active Sync working for you? iOS 4 allows multiple ActiveSync accounts, meaning iPhone users can finally have their work Exchange setup alongside Google Sync, for example.

I've got both Exchange (2003) and Google Sync (Google Accounts) set up on both an iPhone 4 and an iPhone 3GS, and both mail and calendar are working fine (I don't sync Exchange contacts, never mind the mess that is Google contacts -- I use MobileMe for that).

Some users over on the Apple Support forums aren't having as much luck. Calendars in particular seem to be giving them problems where they weren't under iOS 3.x.

I did notice that, on my iPhone 3GS, the first time I added the second ActiveSync account the phone got hot and the battery started to drain so I deleted it, rebooted, and added it back and it hasn't happened again -- battery life has been surprisingly good.

What's your experience with ActiveSync under iOS 4?

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, ZEN and TECH, MacBreak Weekly. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter,, Google+.

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There are 57 comments. Add yours.

Adam says:

Works fine over 3G. When connected to WiFi it's hit and miss no matter what WiFi network I'm connected to. Happens with both an iPhone 3G and iPhone 4.
I'm not alone either. There are others on Apple's discussion boards with the same problem:

GlennEU says:

I haven't had any calendar problems, but i've allways been using the CalDev sync option from Google for that and it works great !

Benjo says:

I have a 3rd Gen touch. When I first updated to iOS4, gmail was very slow and the calendar wasn't working. After a few days, everything is syncing just fine: email, calendar, and contacts. I didn't delete my Exchange account at all during that time like a few people advocated for.

Wesley says:

I'm using the same configuration backed up from the iPhone OS 3.1.2 installation, and so far everything is fine, including calendars.
I don't use two Exchange accounts, though.

Jbbarrette says:

Actually working alot better on my 3GS since I upgraded to ios4

David says:

The only issue I have is that when using Google Sync w/ Google Apps Standard account, the iPhone is automatically set to shut down after 1 minute of inactivity. There's no way to override this. More info at

iphonemilk says:

It works perfect!!! I'm getting emails right away :) love it!

Matt says:

My Exchange admin had to make changes on his end to make my iPhone 4 work over wifi. Had no problems on the 3GS with 3.1.2.

Luke says:

Exchange worked fine, but gmail didn't sync all info over to i4hone

(Copy of) Dev says:

When I updated my 3G to iOS4, it took several attempts to sync up all my calendars and contacts fully, but, once completed, there were no problems. The iPhone 4 has had no problems at all.

Juan says:

Had a lot of problems when I first upgraded my 3GS to 4.0.
Seems like the google exchange servers were overloaded so exchange, mail, contacts, and calendars were all screwed up. I was getting mail out of order, my contacts weren't populating, and I was not able to send emails.
Also my battery was draining at an incredibly fast pace. My phone was hot and my battery was draining at about of 1% every 1 or 2 minutes with the phone on standby. Seems like exchange got "stuck" in the background and was constanting establishing a connection.
Since then I switched over to imap with 15 min fetch and it worked fine and battery was back to the pre 4.0 days draining at a normal rate. I will attempt to go back to google sync today and see how it goes.

j says:

Email Name/sender weren't showing up at first with blue bullets and 12/31/xx in the email rows, but after a few days things seemed to be fine. Google active-sync just getting overloaded is my opinion. (3gs iOS4)

TechRunner says:

Exchange sync works well for me but I had one hiccup. When I first set things up, the downloaded contacts included Outlook's memorized addressee list. That's the feature in Outlook that caches outgoing e-mail addresses so that Outlook can quick fill any address you use again. Outlook 2010 has changed so that the cache is now stored on the server while previous versions stored it locally. I don't know all the technical details but it meant those addresses came along for the ride. I suppose this could be considered a feature but I really don't want contacts for everyone I've ever e-mailed. A quick search pointed me to the option to turn off this feature in Outlook and to clear the cache. But that did not remove the extra contacts from the iPhone. I had to to that by deleting each one.

striatic says:

i do mail over IMAP, but contacts and calendars through google sync.
there were some major hiccups on the day that i upgraded my 3G to iOS4, but those smoothed out later in the day and everything worked fine after that.
then i got an iphone 4, and contacts worked but only one of my calendars would sync. i remembered that all the calendars [up to 25] have to be enabled on a device by device basis on the google sync management webpage.
so i enabled the calendars on the new iphone and everything is fine now, no problems.

Maxime says:

Some Google Sync problems here too. Less problems than on monday-tuesday )when iOS 4 got out) but still some Mail sync problems.
I wish the maintenance will fix this.
"This is a notification of upcoming scheduled hardware/software maintenance. During this maintenance event, Google Sync will be down from 6/26/2010 at 10PM PDT for approximately 4 hours until 6/27/2010 at 2AM PDT. For more information please refer here."

Rob says:

I had to delete the account off my 3GS and re-set it up. Since then it's been smooth sailing.

emigna says:

I am having issues sending email from gmail over ActiveSync. It seems that I am receiving email fine, but lots of message's are getting stuck in the outbox.

mongchacha says:

i had issues the very first day of the iOS4 upgrade. figured it had to do with the thousands of phones trying to re-download mail from the servers. who knows, i could be wrong. just to try, i decided to delete the account from my iphone and set it up again. it wasn't 100% right away, but the issues disappeared shortly. now it's working fine.

jasonact says:

I initially had problems with the calendars, but it has mostly sorted itself out after a couple of days. The only exception is that I suddenly can't send email, although I'm receiving emails fine. That might not be a Google Sync problem, though. I'm still investigating. It wa all working fine as recently as yesterday.

Greg says:

I originally had a ton of problems with getting data to sync.
Now data is only synced when i have that app open. Nothing is pushed to my device anymore.

Oliverf says:

I only use exchange for calendars and use my regular google apps email on push

benjimen says:

GoogleApps sync is broken, they've acknowledged that there are issues, however, they don't yet support ActiveSync and iOS4. For me personally; mail, contacts, and calendar all synced fine, but using GoogleSync put's my device in 1-minute autolock, and the option to change autolock is greyed out and not selectable.
There is an Exchange security policy that controls this, and the glitch apparently happens when there is >no< policy setting. I ran into the same thing with my iPhone and a Hosted Exchange service, however, I was able to change the setting myself in the admin control panel; GoogleSync allows minimal user settings for this, and AutoLock isn't one of them unless you want to require a user password to turn on the device, then you can set it to a max of 30 minutes to autolock, but you can't shut it off (or change it from 30 minutes to something else).
It's a pain, but but for now I use the standard Gmail sync for mail, calendar, & notes (a recent addition) and iTunes has an option to sync with Google Contacts (but not mail or calendar).
This is the 2nd time Google Exchange ActiveSync has broken this same way, something they already fixed once about August 2009; it's back for iOS users.
A friend has a Hosted Exchange service, which works fine with her iPhone4.

tut00 says:

When I first did the upgrade, activesync was not working well for me. Right now though it is working great. No complaints.

derk says:

If anyone wants to see your Camera App disappear in iOS4, try adding Google Exchange Activesync account on a domain Google apps manages for you. This was driving me crazy until I realized that it was what was causing it. I thought I had a bad iphone4, bad restore. I restored a new iphone from scratch then it was adding back things where I finally noticed it. If you use a gmail account for Exchange Activesync, you won't see the problem. Google is aware of the problem.

PhxBlue says:

It refuses to push my calendars to me. Mail and contacts are working fine.

lazerbyte says:

I don't see my contacts from my outlook synced with google and vice versa! Am I doing something wrong?

rbjkman says:

Mine is syncing but I now get dup emails not sure why?

Jon says:

I'm using Google Sync for contacts (since this makes the changes on-the-fly, and not everytime i plug my iPhone to the computer), standard Gmail-"application" for e-mail and notes (Google Sync don't have the notes-option) and CalDAV for my calendars (in need of the colors in Google Calendar).

taylorh says:

EAS works fine on iPhone 4. It works flawlessly with a hosted exchange account. Google sync however has been overloaded by the millions o people syncing after. It's a temporary issue.
The problem is google's capacity, not EAS.

Jon says:

But ... ActiveSync, Exchange and Google Sync? I don't get it. Which one is what?

Jon says:

Seems I can't edit my previous post. But Exchange and Google Sync are basically the same thing, right? ActiveSync then?

Glenn#IM says:

Tried to set it up on my iPod touch before iOS4. Never worked right for me. I can access my business exchange via safari. All contacts, and calendar events are there in outlook, so I do not really need it. I do have the basic gmail, and it works fine on iOS4

Jeremy says:

I run two exchange accounts via activesync. Everything works perfect! I wish u could turn off combined inboxes though...
iOS4 needs work but overall it's so much better!

Mike says:

Exchange was working great with iOS4 on iPhone 3GS. Then, someone at work saw my iPhone 4 and IT shut down my exchange access!!! Can anyone offer any workaround solutions or hacks to get my Exchange calendar, contact, and email working again in the corporate environment. We're working with Exchange server 2007. Please help! They want me to go back to a used Blackberry!!! Email me directly at

Justin Gassaway says:

I downloaded it because someone @ work suggested it. So far no problems.

Glenn#IM says:

@Mike, did they give a reason?

Jellotime91 says:

Same as before, spotty at best!
The new automatic imap configuration is sweet though!

C@N says:

Right now, it's working as usual. But at first it was a nightmare since all my contacts, calendar events and mail is up to Google Sync.

ylwdog says:

I'm having no issues with ActiveSync and my Google Apps Premier account syncing (Mail, Calendar only.)
To the poster about his IT dept shutting off his access... Unfortunately, ActiveSync permission is managed on the Exchange server. No work arounds yet...
The only complaint is the fat that Auto-Lock is forced to 1 minute and cannot be changed. I use a GPS app on the golf course and I have to remove my account to set Auto-Lock to "Never" when playing, then add the account back after. I understand the security needs of companies, but this should be optional (especially since it does not force a required pass-code to unlock.)

SKoontz says:

It took 3 hours to get it initially set up. I was initially having problems getting them to sync correctly, but I know have both Gmail and my work email setup on exchange/activesync. I am connected to both the calendars and contacts for each and they are working very well. I did the trial version of mobileme and it works well, but I would'nt pay to use it.

ajb says:

I have not been able to send mail through Google Exchange setup for about 1-2 weeks. This issue occurred on my 3G before and after upgrading to iOS 4, and it's still happening on my new iPhone 4. If I can't send mail, it's useless. Why hasn't this been fixed yet?

Brian says:

I am so angry this is awful. I have a 3G and it is slow, unable to access the calendar, mail is horribly slow and I can't get anything done. Any fixes? Anyone!?

LCW says:

Exchange 2007 working great here.... Mail and calendar syncing great!

LCW says:

And Gmail working well too... Got my mail and calendar syncing through the Gmail account setup, and my contacts through an exchange account setup for Gmail (following google's own instructions)... Working awesome!

Luke Roberts says:

It all works fine for me (but there is one bug). I use multiple google apps accounts (added as exchange accounts). I have no problems with multiple calendars from each account. I have no problems with the e-mail accounts. Contacts work fine too... but when I add a contact, I can't choose which exchange account it should be added to.
This surprises me as it is possible to chose which account to send mail from, or to which calender I add a calendar event.
Hope they address this one in ios4.01

Mike says:

@Glen - They claim it's a massive security risk. I need a workaround.

eprisencc says:

Activesync is the mobile sync protocol for Exchange. You cannot use activesync with Outlook, it is only for mobile devices. Google sync is just Google's name for its implementation of the activesync protocol.

M-T says:

Might be issues related to this, especially with hanging & battery therefore draining;
iOS 4: Exchange Mail, Contacts, or Calendars may not sync after update

Libra56 says:

I, too found active sync to my company's Exchange server broken. I could not receive mail, contacts or calendar items.I'm not sure whether our Exchange server is 2003 or 2008. At first I thought someone had changed the mail server settings somehow. My company doesn't really support iPhones. i checked, though, and no work had been done on the server. I tried adding and deleting the account, restarting, etc., numerous times, and all that got me was no calendar events or contact or aompany email. I began looking through various forums and finally hit upon a solution. Obviously, your results may very, but it's worth a shot...
My company offers Outlook Web Access to enable users to access their mail via the Internet. Some users use only the web mail, while others use Office Outlook at work... When I came upon this fix, I wasn't even at work anymore, so I couldn't double-check the Exchange settings in Outlook; I was at home. After reading some discussions about how to integrate OWA to the iPhone mail settings, I decided on a whim to set up my Exchange account using the address of the company's webmail server instead of the internal mail server address. In my case, it's webmail.(companyname).com. I made sure SSL was on. To my complete surprise, everything began to sync! This had never happened before; even when Exchange worked, I could only sync while connected to the company's wireless network. It took several minutes, but I eventually had all my mail, contacts and calendar events back, and I weas able to send and receive company mail as if I were there.
The above fix might be worth a try. I'll be interested in seeing the results if anyone does try this.

Joshua says:

Having problems with apps such as "iMTasks" and "TaskTask" syncing tasks with exchange server.

Seb says:

Since I have OS4, a lot of my emails get stuck in my outbox.. I constantly have to verify, then reopen the email and do send again for it to really leave ! It use to work perfect on 3.1.3 ... Hope for a fix soon !!!

john white says:

.Email freezes up often I need to either shut down or kill everything multi tasking to make it resume. WE are on an exchange server using active sync. It does seem to be tied to sending and replying to emails. But I'm not sure.

Real Mckoy says:

I noticed running Google sync on my iPhone 4 IOS 4.0.1. I am unable to search my inbox via Continue search on server... option.
Continue to get error message, "The connection to the sever failed."
I wonder if anyone else is experiencing the same problem.

asathavale says:

Exchange is completely broken. Syncs at times, does NOT for the most. Apple need to fix this IMMEDIATELY!

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