Uh Oh: iPhone OS 3.0 Never Fully Deletes Your Emails

The iPhone is no stranger to gaping security flaws, but this one's a doozy: You know how when you delete emails, you expect them to be, well, deleted? On iPhone 3.0, that's just not how things work. This is bad.

You can watch the whole insincere deletion process play out above, but here's a handy guide so you can follow along at home. Turn off your device radio and Wi-Fi connection for maximum OH GOD:

1.) Find a message with a memorable subject line, and delete it. 2.) Go to your trash, and remove the message from there. 3.) Check whatever IMAP folders may be listed on your device—this works with POP too — and make sure your message is really not there. 4.) Flick over to the main Spotlight search screen, and search for the subject line on that message that shouldn't exist 5.) Be shocked and confused when you find that not only can you see the subject line in a simple search — you can still view the entire message.

I've tested this, and it works. I even restarted my iPod for good measure, and the message was still in the index, and still accessible by search, despite not appearing anywhere in the main Mail interface. As far as I can tell, there is no way to completely delete emails from iPhone OS 3.0, which isn't just strange, it's a disastrous security flaw.

Still, a few things don't really add up here. The video submitter says he can find emails from months ago, but surely this would result in creeping storage consumption, and has to stop sometime. I mean, doesn't it? And even if these messages are just hiding out in some secret folder or something, and can be delete by some obscure method, this isn't how a mail client should behave, at all.

Try this yourselves and see if you can find any clues as to what's going on here: I'm as alarmed as I am stumped. [CultOfMac]



    I just tried this .... same thing happened to me I can read all my deleted mail

    Just tried this too.
    Mine didn't come up with an unreadable message at first after the crash, but instead already showed me the whole message from the start (embedded adds included). Deleted from every possible angle,
    message is still there. 0__0


    Here's something interesting I tried.
    Go to your general settings>home>search results, and turn off 'MAIL'. Do the same thing as in the video with that turned off. Obviously nothing pops up in a search now.

    Turn MAIL back on. And do the same thing in the video. Your deleted mail will still be found but now at the end stage when opening it, it will keep crashing and not display the mail but
    You can still search the title and subject though.
    Anyone else tried this?

    Come on guys, this is just Steve "thinking differently". You really don't have to delete emails now do you ? And Apple products don't really have security threats... Yes, thats sarcasm. :)

    I found out bout this flaw a couple of weeks ago but thought nothing of it. Most probably apple will have this fixed in the next update. Fingers crossed!!

    Hey Guys

    iPhone technician here again :)

    Just thought i'd point out that this isn't a flaw with 3.0, it's a flaw with the whole operating system of the iPhone.

    This is obvious, as it will bring back emails deleted from 2.2.1 and earlier OS versions. All 3.0 does is allow us to realise the flaw.


    I never understood what was soo bad about web based email (like hotmail was) no local copies, just log in anywhere and view your mail then just log off and your done.

    If you do a restore the emails will be gone (this I know). I have a different problem which I havn't seen anyone comment on which is my iPhone keeps duplicating contacts (Mac doesn't) and if I delete the duplicate the whole contact is deleted when I back up. Anyone else had this problem? Is it something I have done?

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