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Review: SwirlyMMS vs. Flutter (Real iPhone MMS)

September 19, 2008
SwirlyMMS 1.2 | Published by | Via Cydia | $8.00 USD | Released: 9-16-08 Flutter 1.0 | Published by Juice Wireless, Inc. | Via App Store | Free | Released: 9-12-08


Our goal for this week was to find a true MMS solution for the iPhone. I know what you're thinking: "But Nic, the iPhone can't do MMS!" To be honest, I was thinking the same thing, but then I read about Flutter which was recently released in the App Store. After reading most of the comments my attention was also drawn to a jailbreak app called SwirlyMMS. What was I to do? Try them both of course, and let you guys know how they fair.


Both Flutter and SwirlyMMS promise to bring MMS to the iPhone. Upon closely reading the descriptions of the two applications, however, we found they work in two entirely different manners. SwirlyMMS requires you to input your phone carrier's settings, upon which it directly sends messages through your carrier. This means per message charges unless you have an unlimited messaging plan. Flutter on the other hand sends messages through a web server that relays the message to an SMS server to send on to the recipient. What does all that mean? Let's compare the two to find out.


We can start off with giving credit where credit is due. In the category of accessibility Flutter is the clear winner. Flutter is available in Apple's official App Store as a native application, and on top of that, has a price tag of free. SwirlyMMS on the other hand, due to the type of functionality it provides, will not likely ever be seen in the App Store and is therefore only available to those with jailbroken iPhones. SwirlyMMS (also due to the functionality it provides) is not free; they charge a very conservative $8.00 USD.

Flutter: +2

Ok, now that we have that out of the way, let's get to the features. I'm going to throw in a little spoiler here as well: Flutter won't be receiving any more points from us here on out. Other than being freely available to all iPhone users, it has nothing to offer over SwirlyMMS and can not in our mind be even closely considered as a true MMS solution. Here's why.. First of all we'll talk about sending. Both applications are intuitive and easy to navigate. Upon launching Flutter you are taken to the new message screen where you are asked if you would like to include your current location with the message. Hitting yes or no gives you the option to take a picture or choose from your existing photo library on the phone. You can then select a contact from your contacts list. You can see in our screenshot below we have attached our location and a picture to send in our test message. SwirlyMMS is more like a real messaging client and upon launch you are taken to a screen with your inbox, outbox, sent box, and trash. When tapping the new message button at the bottom you get a very similar screen with a box that lets you choose a number from your contacts, or type in a number directly. As with Flutter you will notice I have sent a small text and picture message to myself.


Here is where the two differ greatly. Flutter works by taking our message, uploading our pic to their web server, and sending me a regular SMS with a web link to go look at the message. Now I must have both a data plan and the ability to click on links within an SMS to view the message. This also leaves our pic up on the web to potentially prying eyes. SwirlyMMS, in contrast, has sent the message as a real MMS through our carrier. I received the message in my picture messaging box, and was able to see the picture and message without clicking on any external links.


SwirlyMMS: +2

And this is where the review ends for Flutter. Flutter has no capability to receive MMS messages at all. In fact, the message sent from Flutter doesn't even come from my phone number, so technically those who I send messages to have no simple way to reply. From here on out it's all SwirlyMMS. SwirlyMMS is what we can call a 'True MMS Solution'. I received the SwirlyMMS message I sent in realtime with an accompanying alert and properly updated SpringBoard badge that signifies my message count. The messages can be replied to, forwarded, and deleted from the inbox. Once I started using the application I instantly felt like my iPhone was (finally) complete. Here are some screenshots of the rest of SwirlyMMS in action.

SwirlyMMS: +6


Flutter has definitely carved out a niche for itself being the only MMS option for stock iPhone users. It also has that eye-catching price of 'Free', but it falls alarmingly short on functionality. Even if my phone wasn't jailbroken, I doubt I'd be using Flutter. I hate the idea of my pictures being uploaded to a server where they could potentially be harvested for some other use. I doubly hate the idea that my friends would have to have a data plan, and also follow an external link to view my message. And my last gripe? Not being able to reply to the messages. What good is messaging without the ability to reply to the person that sent you one? SwirlyMMS has won its way onto my SpringBoard and will happily live there as long as the ability to jailbreak my iPhone exists. It's a bit of work to get set up, including having to call AT&T and, in some cases, having additional options added to your account (explained below). However, after the initial setup work is done, it fills a key void that the iPhone has been missing since day one, and I feel that the minimal $8.00 USD fee to the developer for continued full use is well worth the cost. **Please read below the ratings for important information on getting SwirlyMMS to work for you.


Bonus Feature Rating: +2
  • Usability: 3 / 5
  • Value: 1 / 5
  • Utility: 1 / 5
  • Aesthetics: 2 / 5

Overall Rating: 1.75 / 5


Bonus Feature Rating: +8
  • Usability: 5 / 5
  • Value: 5 / 5
  • Utility: 5 / 5
  • Aesthetics: 3 / 5

Overall Rating: 4.5 / 5

Important Notes: SwirlyMMS requires you enter the connection details specific to your carrier. The link below contains carrier information for most carriers worldwide: Worldwide Carrier Settings List AT&T users have seen problems with the iPhone not being able to connect to the MMS server. I called AT&T and told them that I sometimes use my SIM in my old RAZR, and would like to add the "Media Net Per Use" plan to my phone. On a family plan this needs to be added to each line. This will not affect your unlimited data, and the per use feature has a $0.00 monthly fee. I currently have an unlimited messaging plan on my phone, and was told that the MMS messages I send from another phone will not have a charge. If you don't have a messaging plan there may be a per message charge for each Multimedia Message sent and received (I believe it's $.25 per message).

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