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Brad Fitzpatrick

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iphone's SMS quota ... wtf? [Nov. 3rd, 2007|10:53 am]
Brad Fitzpatrick
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Everytime I use the SMS app on my iphone, I get a stupid little pop-up which says:
Your SMS mailbox is almost full. Please delete some messages.

Except for one thing.... I have 6.96 GB of free space!

And now I find out it's been silently dropping incoming text messages, even though new outgoing ones I write go into my history, which made me think either 1) I haven't hit the limit yet, or 2) they, despite the 7GB of free space I have left, are using a queue for my SMS quota, pushing out old ones.

But no.

Silently dropping incoming texts, and annoying me with an alert box.

In conclusion, my dearest Apple, I'm disappointed. Anybody but you would've got my standard "eat a dick, learn to write some software" answer.

[User Picture]From: chris
2007-11-03 06:05 pm (UTC)
i'm sure it's some arbitrary limit that has nothing to do with free space. whats screwy is that it's dropping them. I hit my limit all the time on my phone but the new msgs queue up server side and get delivered later.
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[User Picture]From: brad
2007-11-03 06:10 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I just deleted a bunch and then they started flowing in. Damn, and they're still flowing in.

Still, I don't buy any "arbitrary limit" argument. Maybe if that limit were 4.2 billion texts I'd go, "Ahh, how cute... Apple used a 32 bit int for their SMS ids on the phone.... okay, that's a reasonable assumption." But anything else? No. Incompetence.
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[User Picture]From: brad
2007-11-03 06:12 pm (UTC)
char sms_buffer[160*1000];

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[User Picture]From: ydna
2007-11-03 06:46 pm (UTC)
Cute. I clicked the, "No, this article did not solve my problem," link and offered the following feedback:
It would have been much more helpful if this article said, "Yes, we realize that only allocating storage for 1,000 SMS messages on a device that can store gigabytes of data (email, music, videos, oh my) was a bit short sighted. But we're hard at work correcting the problem in an upcoming firmware upgrade that will allow you to use your SMS mailbox just like you use the mail application or iPod functions of your iPhone."

Not that Apple will give a shit.
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From: nbarkas
2007-11-03 06:27 pm (UTC)
They probably use different memory than the main flash of the phone for SMS. Every phone I've used has been like this. My last Sony Ericsson phone would run out of space for new texts even if my 2GB memory stick had nothing on it. Some phones just store all the SMS messages on the SIM card only. Old Sidekicks were this way, and could only store 30 messages at a time!

Why this limitation exists though, I have no idea. Especially on an iPhone, where they have gigabytes of fixed storage that is never going to be removed.
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[User Picture]From: brad
2007-11-03 06:42 pm (UTC)
Perhaps the SMS functionality runs on the radio chipset, independent of the phone's operating system, thus needs its own dedicated chunk of memory.

But even if that were the case, obviously the iPhone's operating system can still access that chunk of memory (otherwise we couldn't see SMSes we got, or delete them), so then the question would be why Apple didn't implement some async copy-from-SMS-storage-to-main-storage thread, cleaning up the limited 160k buffer. I'd also like to sync my SMSes to my computer, which I don't think you can do right now.
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[User Picture]From: ydna
2007-11-03 06:49 pm (UTC)
The SMS messages are synced to the computer. But only for the purpose of backing up the data. When you do a restore, all that data goes back onto the iPhone. If not, then the claim that the restore resets the device to factory condition would be a lie. Apple wouldn't lie to me. Would they?
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[User Picture]From: supersat
2007-11-03 07:52 pm (UTC)
I think that's the most likely explaination. My Sidekick (and many other phones) store SMS messages on the SIM card, which is supposedly the "right" thing to do since it allows you to access them on any phone. I'm guessing the iPhone's radio module writes the messages directly to the SIM card, and drops them if there isn't sufficient space. You could always pop your SIM into another phone and see if this is the case (assuming the other phone also uses the SIM card for SMS).

It would be nice if Apple offered an option to archive old SMS messages on the phone itself, and leave only the most recent messages (plus some free space) on the SIM.
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[User Picture]From: robflynn
2007-11-03 11:14 pm (UTC)
I love that the Sidekick has a limit amount of space for e-mails even if you have lots of space available, similar to the SMS scenario above.

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[User Picture]From: supersat
2007-11-03 11:29 pm (UTC)
The email limit is pretty ridiculous, but AFAIK, they're cramming everything into the small amount of RAM it has. Only apps (and ringtones) get saved to the flash.

I know there's a secret console command that lets you adjust the photo capacity...
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[User Picture]From: derleiermann
2007-11-03 06:46 pm (UTC)
SMS messages are stored in the system partition in a sqlite db file called sms.db

The system partition is around 300Mb, with the 1.1.1 software there's not too much free space, but still... it's kinda weird since being text messages and everything it should have plenty of space.

Oh yes, iPhone SMS system drops SMS in which the ID of the incoming sender is a text instead of a phone number, in 1.1.1 the situation is a bit fixed but it still has lots of bugs, hope they fix this soon!
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[User Picture]From: loic
2007-11-03 07:52 pm (UTC)
Perhaps they're just using the storage on the SIM. We used that plus main phone flash on the hiptop/Sidekick so we had a slightly higher low arbitrary limit.
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[User Picture]From: robflynn
2007-11-03 11:15 pm (UTC)
Other than this post, how are you liking your iPhone?

At first I was off put by the fact that I wouldn't be able to get MMS or 3G... However, My town doesn't have 3G anyway, and my phone refuses to do MMS properly already, so, it's not like I'm missing out there.
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[User Picture]From: robbat2
2007-11-04 12:13 am (UTC)
I know on older phones, the SMS ARE stored on the SIM directly - which is dumb when they could be synced to the device instead, which has more space. Just has the downside of making you need to sync the device for a backup instead of being able to switch your SIM to a new phone and have all the data still.
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[User Picture]From: taral
2007-11-04 07:13 pm (UTC)
I'm willing to bet it's a workaround for a performance issue in the SMS app. :D
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[User Picture]From: grumpy_sysadmin
2007-11-05 05:48 am (UTC)
Huh, I thought I was a fairly heavy user of SMS (mostly automated notifications from home, the day job, and the side job, but also real human beings) and I haven't seen this problem yet (and it's been my phone since two days after release).

What generates so much traffic for you?
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[User Picture]From: beausmith
2007-11-06 06:01 pm (UTC)
I got this message too. Seriouly WTF! I don't have 7GB of free space... but still plenty of space for SMS msgs.

I'm really looking forward to more SMS features on my iPhone. I want:
- datetime stamps for all msgs
- ability to send to multiple people
- ability to send & receive MMS
- confirmation of msgs sent

These were all features I had on my last Nokia.
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