December 09, 2004

How to browse the web via email on your 3 UK phone with my new phone application, www3mail

Ive written a web page application that you can use on your 3 phone, it will let you grab web pages and files from the internet, thus getting around 3's "walled garden". I have so far only tested this application out on an NEC e616v, so dont know if it will work on other 3 handsets, I dont see any reason why it shouldnt also work on other 3 handsets, please let me know your experiences, cheers.

The way it basically works is it lets you enter a URL, and you send that URL by email to a web service that grabs the Web page or file that you have requested from the web and emails it straight back to you.

Installation of my www3mail application is easy, just save the www3mail web page to your computer then send it as an attachment via email to your 3 phone's 3mail account.

Now you need to open your phones email client and open the email attachment. The problem is the phones built in email client, which is accessible by clicking the Msg softkey and then clicking on 3mail, doesnt let you view html attachments, so the solution is to open the phones "web browser" and go to the services page where you can check your 3mail via a webmail type interface. To do this you need to click the triangle button on your 3 phone which opens the phones browser, now go to the services page, then select Mail. To make this process of opening the webmail client quicker in future its a good idea to bookmark this page, then in future you can just open the browser, select bookmarks then select Mail. Anyway you should by now have a new mail in your Inbox. Open it then drill down to the attachment and click on the attachment and it should open the attached www3mail web application in your phones browser. You should also bookmark this page, as the process of opening the mail and then drilling down to the attachment is a bit long winded, so if you bookmark the attachment, you will be able to return to it much quicker in future :)

Once the www3mail application page has loaded, you are presented with a number of options.

First you need to select the retrieval service, next you need to select what type of web query you want to make. The default selection is "grab this url", which lets you enter a full URL into the text box below, and when you submit the page to the webgrabber service, it will grab that page and email it back to you.

The other options basically let you enter search terms for various search engines, thus saving you having to type in extra long URLs. The search options available at present are: Search Google, Search Google (alt), Search Google News, Search Google Groups and Search

After entering your query and pressing submit, you will be presented with a choice of either sending the message as an SMS, an MMS or an email, you need to select email. After you do that, you will be in the email sending window, with the email you are about to send ready assembled. All you need to do now is click the send button then wait for the service to send back your requested page or file.

Though this system works, theres a number of flies in the ointment:

1) 3 started charging to send emails on 1st December, I think it now costs 25p to send an email, even if its just 1 or 2 lines long! Imagine trying to surf the web at 25p per page! it would soon work out rather expensive, though i guess it might be useful in emergencies. But if it was an emergency, the second fly in the ointment wouldnt help much.

2) The amount of delay between sending out your request and the reply coming back can sometimes be quite long, you would need to find a faster grabbing service, as the current one is quite slow to respond. Anyone fancy offering such a service to 3 UK users? :)

3) There is no instant notification of emails arriving in your inbox, well there doesnt appear to be any on my NEC e616v handset, perhaps other handsets do have this feature. So you wont know if your request has been answered or not.

I will leave you with this extra tip. Go into the phones settings and make the font smaller, this will mean you can fit much more text on the screen. Quite handy for reading long emails or web pages.

Another tip is I suggest you try out the www3mail application in your web browser on your pc before installing it on your phone. Just to familiarise yourself with how it actually works.

Anyway I hope someone finds this article helpful, perhaps if you are still getting free email on your three UK phone, it could be of some use.

Oh BTW i should point out the agora webpage grabbing service is only meant for research purposes, so bear that in mind. Someone should set up a similar service just for 3 UK users, would be cool! :)


Just had some more ideas, another thing to be aware of is that you could use this application to retrieve other types of files eg multimedia content, so it could actually work out cheaper, than downloading 3's own content. For example say someone encoded a video and put it on the web somewhere, you could download it via this process for 25p whereas 3 would charge you 1.50 or whatever the rate is for video downloads.

*Just had another Brainwave!*

Another idea that would make it even cheaper (free even), if you could get the application to work via SMS it would work out even cheaper, as the requests that are sent by email are quite short, the info that is sent could fit in an SMS, if someone were to setup a service where you could SMS your request for a webpage or file, and the service would then email the webpage or file back to you, (you would need to register your number with the service first so they know what email address to send the files to) then it would work out at 10p a page, or if you had inclusive text messages on your contract completely free!!

If you liked this article you might also be interested in an earlier article i wrote which was about connecting your PC to your NEC e616v mobile phone so that you can send and receive 3mail directly on your PC. You can read that here:

YET ANOTHER UPDATE Ive heard rumours that sending mail via the phones built in email client is still free, people in various forums have noticed that they can still send emails via the built in email client when they have run out of credit on their pre-pay phones. If you try to send email via 3's webmail client, you will still be charged. And the good news is that my www3mail web browser uses the phones built in email client to send webpage requests, so in theory you shouldnt get charged for using it :) !!!!!

Further Update
I have done some research into what browser the nec e616v phone is using, it appears to be NetFront3 by a Japanese company called Access. A list of phones with the NetFront browser in it is available here: in theory my application should work with most of those phones...

Posted by steeev to 3 - UK Mobile Network | Mobile Communications | NEC e616v Mobile Phone | Tutorials

at December 9, 2004 08:22 AM

I cant get this to work!! Help, have follwed above#1

Posted by: fraser at December 10, 2004 02:22 PM

could u be a bit more specific as to what your problem actually is?

for instance what phone model are you using and what happens when you try and use it?

Posted by: steeev at December 10, 2004 03:02 PM

Im using lg u8120 on 3 uk, no luck when I followed your instructions. I just got the screen but it wont go any further than that. Not sure why?

Posted by: fraser at December 15, 2004 10:15 PM

i dont have an lg u8120 to test it out on, so i cant help you, sorry. ive only tried it out on a NEC e616v.

Posted by: steeev at December 16, 2004 12:19 AM

This is a great idea..... I have a suggesstion, you mentioned you may be able to use txts as a cheaper way..I have seen on the net a program for my Motorola A1000 that allows free MSN messaging, could this be used?

Posted by: Steve Renolds at January 10, 2005 05:25 PM

Thx for this ive got it working on my phone and yeah emails are free for me!. Only problem is getting images to come up in the browser?

Posted by: Mjay at January 14, 2005 03:25 PM

I have the NEC e616v though when I try and download the attachment it says 'unable to connect'.


Posted by: Rik at January 20, 2005 07:23 AM

Rik, theres sometimes a problem with 3's webmail service, try it again a bit later and it should work ok. or if that doesnt work, try following my instructions again as you might have missed something.

Posted by: Steeev at February 1, 2005 11:15 PM

I dont understand how to use the thing, I sent it to my phone but my phone cannot read the file type.

Posted by: Jordan at February 14, 2005 10:54 AM

Jordan what phone are you using? and are you trying to view it in the phones built in email client or the webmail client in the phones web browser?

Posted by: Steeev at February 15, 2005 06:02 AM

this is great, any ideas about makin the java games work via 3mail? and wat about msn messenger on e616V?

Posted by: Daredevil at February 15, 2005 05:29 PM

Steve Reynolds, did you manage to get the program for msn messaging to work on your a1000?
i dont understand how it could work as 3 seem to block the rest of the internet...

if it does work, then yes it could be used to request web pages, you would have to write a program that logs in to MSN as a user, and if u sent a URL in a message to that user it could email you back the webpage that you requested.

nice idea, but i dont think it would work, due to 3 blocking out the rest of the web...

Posted by: Steeev at February 15, 2005 06:17 PM

Daredevil, sorry i dont have any ideas on how to get java working through 3mail or msn messenger working on the e616v :(

Posted by: Steeev at February 15, 2005 06:28 PM

From the 28th of febury Ive just started being charged for sending Emails. Dont matter how I send them.

Posted by: jas at February 28, 2005 06:25 PM

jas, that sucks dude. can anyone else confirm that Three have started charging for emails sent via the built in email clients?

Posted by: Steeev at March 2, 2005 10:49 PM

I Have the same problem as Rik it is saying that it is unable to connect and it is doing the same with wave files that are sent to me. i first saved the web page as .html then sent it via mozilla thunderbird and i recieved it. As i was going to download the file it gave me the error message (Attention Unable to connect.) Also when i go to the options menu and i save the page i cannot find it in saved pages. Is it something that i am doing wrong.

Posted by: Daniel at March 13, 2005 06:13 AM

hey does this give actual web pages or just their text.

i would also like to point out that without colour pages or the ability to run java this is pointless. a cheap $20 AUD cable can be used to put pics and vids on your e616 (hell mine came with it 4 free), this costs you zippo to do.

i hate how prepaid is normal 3 with all the good features hacked out and the crap left in

Posted by: bojo at March 30, 2005 01:25 PM