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iPhone/iPad and Contacts: Duplicates, Triplicates, and more

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I have exchange online as a part of MS365.  I have set up a fresh/new local copy of Outlook on my fresh/new PC -- and have set up a fresh/new iPhone and an iPad as my mobile devices.

Most everything is working beautifully together.  The one problem is CONTACTS.

I imported a have a good, single list of contact into my local copy of outlook.  There are no duplicate entries there.  I have set those up to sync through Exchange online.  And there are no duplicates when I access my account online.   However, on both my ipad and iphone, many entries show up twice, three time . . . sometimes as many as 5 times.  

I have tried to isolate the problem (e.g., are there separate entries for every phone number associated with a single contact).  But there does not APPEAR to be a pattern.

How do I solve this problem?

All ideas welcomed!

All Replies
  • Hello Everyone,

    Just wanted to inform everyone here that this issue is currently under investigation on Apple's side. If you can, please contact Apple Support to report this issue to them. At this point, we are not aware of any reason that Exchange or Exchange ActiveSync protocol which is utilized by iOS devices to connect to Exchange mailboxes is playing any role in this issue. We are also looking into it for root cause analysis to expedite resolution for our customers. If someone here wants to help us out with repro and is willing to share the contacts from an affected user's mailbox with us, please contact me by sending a private message. Thank you.

  • Is there a Microsoft or a Apple article which would list out the bugs with iOS 5.1 and contacts....My quick search on Google shows there are some issues with Contacts part of iOS 5.1.  Atleast an article showing that a Contacts have issues in iOS 5.1 from Apple should be a good this.....or else something to that extent from Microsoft.  

    For iPhone 4 and so on Microsoft had a article and same was the case with Apple...It helps.

  • Hello Everyone,

    Microsoft has published a KB article on this issue, it's here:

    Contacts duplicate when you synch with mobile devices using EAS

    This issue is being reported by customers using our Office 365 Service and the ones who have Exchange Server running in their own companies (on-premesis). As noted in the article the issue is being investigated by mobile device vendor for root cause & fix.

  • Hello everybody,

    The issue has been solve by Apple with their latest update for ios 5.1.1

  • and you know this how, arik g? there is no mention of this problem being fixed in apple's description of the 5.1.1 release.

  • We have many clients who are suffering from this issue for more than 3 months , we tried everything including exporting contacts to pst and importing them to a new mailbox, nothing was helpfull.

    since the 5.1.1 update was released few days ago I applied it to 3 of the "problematic" devices and had no problems until now.

    will post about if the situation will change...

  • great news arik g.,  thanks for the update. it unfortunate that apple won't acknowledge that this patch fixed the problem

  • Any news on the iOS 5.1.1 update? does it do the work?

  • This problem is NOT solved.  I still have the issue on my IPAD.

    It may be only an issue with WiFi.  My iPhone seems to be stable if I turn WiFi off.

    I have also noticed that extraneous contact entries appear that are only email addresses.

  • We see something else going on here.  We have seen this problem for 1 user for months now.  Of course, it is the owner of the company - and he is ready to kill someone over this. (me for starters).


    5.1.1 makes no difference.


     It appears to occur when using the contact 'search' funtion in the contact app or phone app on the iphone (or ipad, I believe)

    1) User uses contact search funtion by typing text into the search field  This works most of the time.

    2) Periodically, the search function sort of locks up - and instantly - the phone starts downloading - what looks like and entirely new set of duplicate contacts from the server.

    3) Duplicates are not created on the server (so far).  They appear on the mobile device only.

    4) Disabling the account on the phone, or simply turning off contacts and 'deleting' them on the phone and then turning contact sync on again resolves it temporarily.  When the search function crashes again, the same thing (dupes/trips) happens again.

    5) deleting the device and adding the account from Office365 and removing the accont on the iphone and setting it up again of course fixes it temporarily.  When the problem is encountered within the contact search function again... the same thing happens. again.

    We have wiped the phone before and it again fixes it temporarily.  The contact search function - seems to me.. can trigger this at any time.

    1900 contacts or so for this user, in a couple different 'groups'.  I thought groups may have something to do with it (including 'suggested contacts' from Outlook 2010) but I am not convinced of this.  It is almost like the contact app is having a soft crash (not closing)... getting confused... and assumes it needs to re-download everything at some points... and it is triggered by searchng contacts.  Not 'almost'.. I have watched this happen while using the device: as you are searching the phone suddenly starts downloading all contacts a seccond time.  Seaching contact from within the phone app, or seaching for contacts withing the contacts app.

    We may wipe the phone again today, but I am pretty sure this does not fix it.  I am beginning to suspect that it is a contact sync problem triggered by searching on the device.


    I believe it happens on the iPad too, which is wierd because it seems to me the ipad contact app is very different... but perhaps the 'searching' and 'contact sync' functions are the same.


    can anyone confirm this behavior?


    Other users on this apple thread have confirmed this behavior: 

  • experiencing the exact same issue as well. Funny that it is only an issue with 1 person (so far) out of the 150+ we have.

    i read that it might be because the contacts are over 1100+

    anyway, thank you for all the contributions. i will continue to keep an eye on this thread as well as search the net for answers..

  • I am experiencing the exact same issue. I phoned apple - they effectively had "no comment"

  • I thought I would share my experiences with this issue, so others don't waste time trying things that don't work :)

    All the suggestions mentioned above do not work.

    As to the question regarding the idea of this coming from the search function of iOS 5, this seems to be exactly the case.

    I had the advantage of testing with serval iPad, one with iOS 4.2, one with 5.0.1 and one with 5.1.1.

    iOS 4.x does not seem to give any issues with O365, since my own iPad was 4.2 and worked 100% fine.

    iOS 5.0.1 seems to give issues on both iPhone as iPad as soon as you use the search function

    iOS 5.1.1 seems to give the same issue on iPad, however not on iPhone.

    Which one will duplicate seems to be at random, usually it APPEARS to be first the first that were found in the search, however this is perhaps only an impression.

    However, I can contradict the idea of only having this issue with contact that only have an e-mail adress in them (as suggested previously) since I see it happen to all types of contacts: only e-mail, only phone, both, other information in them...

    It would thus seem that users with an iPhone 5.0.1 which had the issue now no longer have this issue due to the update 5.1.1 and the same bug is still in the iPad release... this is due to, as suggested in one of replies, the fact that iPad and iPhone contact program are two slightly different programs, however the iPad version was originally based of the iPhone version (after research i found a few post of coworkers at Apple who unofficially claimed this to be true).

    From what I can tell , this issue is not only related to Exchange or O365, some IMAP mailboxes have the exact same issue, which I tested on my server by creating a full acces IMAP account and then syncing contacts. As soon as you use the search function, you get duplicates (i've also seen comments on google accounts that have the same issue...)

    So, basicly we all have to wait until iOS 5.whatever come out with the problem solved... contacting Apple seems to have no use, nor e-mailing them on this issue.

    I received responses ranging from, "you're the first to tell us this issue exists" to "this issue is already solved in iOS 5.1.1" or "currently we can not comment on this issue"

    Currently working on testing the 1100+ contacts being the reason for this issue to occur, as soon as I myself find anything extra, I will most certainly add it here.

  • I have over 1200 contacts and DO experience this issue on both my iPhone and iPad with IOS 5.1.1.  For now I just live with it and turn off contacts to clean my devices periodically,  I sure hope Apple comes to thier senses and fixes this issue. I find this rather poor behavior for such an impressive company. Steve Jobs would be furious!!!

  • <rant>

    I just want to make sure we keep this in perspective.  People aren't losing contacts, they just have multiple copies of it.  I know it's not ideal but it's something that we will just have to deal with for the time being.  I love reading the "My CEO is ready to kill over this!"  Maybe he needs a better grasp of technology & how an imperfect world works especially when it comes to how Apple & Microsoft aren't the best of friends.

    If you're company is ready to jump ship over a contact glitch, maybe you need to do better at managing your companies expectations of IT and the technologies they support.

    It's our job to manage these glitches, not run from them.  Man up!


    (don't work for either Apple or Microsoft)