The idea behind taking email with you on your mobile device is to stay productive and keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues easily — but your choice of email client can make your mobile correspondence a pain or a delight. These days, email is hardly ever just about reading and replying to a plain text message; I hardly ever hit Send without sharing a link, attaching a file, jotting down a task, checking my calendar or creating an event. A capable email app should make all these actions easy, rather than forcing you to leave your messages unread till you get to a desktop.
Modern clients do more than fetch your messages — So which is the right email client for you? Everyone’s needs are different, so we checked out a bunch of great email clients for iPhone that offer snappy performance, gorgeous interfaces and clever features to help you get through your email with minimal fuss and maximum efficiency.
When scouring through email apps, we looked for a few key attributes, including support for a wide range of email services and multiple accounts, easy email management, useful features for acting on messages, powerful search capabilities, and deep customization of both your messaging options as well as user experience. Here are our top five email clients for the iPhone.
While iOS’ built-in Mail app isn’t pretty, it makes the list for two reasons: it’s already on your device, and it’s integrated tightly with the OS. This allows you to read and compose emails using Siri, create events in your calendar from dates mentioned in messages. And since you can’t switch to any other email app as your default email handler in iOS, you’ll end up going through Mail when attempting to share content over email using the Share button in other apps.
It’s not all bad though: Mail supports just about any email service you can throw at it, and lets you access all your existing folders from each service. If you’re not too keen on rocking the boat on the email front, this is a fine option for basic users that gets the job done without any hassles.
If you’re serious about staying productive on the go, Acompli’s got you covered. The simple interface packs not only an email inbox, but also a full-featured calendar, file viewer that supports Google Drive, Dropbox and attachments from your messages, and an address book that links messages and files to your contacts for easy retrieval.
With all this in one place, Acompli makes it easy to handle even the most harrowing mobile email tasks — including sharing that file with your client after you’ve left the office, or tracking down that photo your sister sent you last year.
Acompli’s inbox keeps things simple: swipe left on messages to archive or delete, or tap Edit to act on multiple messages at once. You can also sort your emails to quickly view only unread messages, flagged messages or those with attachments.
When composing a new email, you have a wide range of options: attach photos from Camera Roll, files from your cloud storage or received inbox attachments, create an invite to an event or share times that you’re available, or even include your location. For those who want to be able to take their office with them, Acompli is a perfect choice at the great low price of free.
➤ Free – Download Now
On the surface, CloudMagic is a basic email client with a clean interface that supports a range of email services — but this app has a couple of neat tricks up its sleeve. For one thing, you can set reminders to alert you about emails by tapping and holding the star next to each message; you can also use a Passcode Lock to secure your email when you’re away from your device; you can also bulk-edit multiple messages and filter messages by read status and stars.
But wait! I haven’t yet told you about CloudMagic’s piece de resistance: Cards. When you open a message, you can act on it by using any of a list of customizable cards that connect to other apps for increased functionality: create a new note in OneNote or Evernote, save a link from within a message to read later with Pocket, view a detailed sender profile with a photo and social networks links, or add a task to Asana.
There are even more cards to play with in the Card Gallery, with more being added soon. If you’re looking for a simple, elegant email client that plays well with other apps, let CloudMagic cast a spell on your inbox.
➤ Free – Download Now
If you’re a disciple of Merlin Mann and are constantly gunning for Inbox Zero, you’ll find Dispatch to be the perfect tool to reach that goal. Swipe left on a message to reveal actions, or swipe further to quickly archive that message and be on your way towards clearing your inbox for good.
When it’s time to reply to a message, Dispatch automatically fills in a salutation and hides the To/From fields so you get right down to typing out your reply. If you want to speed things up even more, you can quickly insert searchable text snippets to finish replying in a jiffy.
As if that wasn’t enough, Dispatch can also import TextExpander snippets from attachments, which means Mac users can get a head-start on their mobile email duties. The app also allows you to insert links to Dropbox, Droplr and Box files, as well as contacts’ details when composing a message.
For those who use multiple apps in conjunction with their email, Dispatch has a huge list of actions to triage your messages with, including creating events, reminders and text messages with default iOS apps, adding to-dos to a range of third-party apps like Clear and Things, sending content to Evernote, opening links in Chrome or Dolphin, saving articles for later with Pocket, Instapaper and more, and even viewing locations with Google Maps.
If you’re heavily into third-party apps for your productivity needs, Dispatch is well worth its asking price of $5.
➤ $4.99 – Download Now
Email shouldn’t take up all of your workday, and nobody understands that better than the folks behind Boxer: this app is geared towards doing a whole lot in as little time as possible. Hop into the unified inbox and swipe left to archive or delete messages, or swipe right to reveal a bunch of novel actions, including adding the message to an in-app to-do list with due dates, priority hierarchy and assignees, replying with a canned reponse, sending to Evernote, or even Liking the message — tapping this last action will send a concise reply letting your contact know you approved of his/her message.
The app actually begins reducing email stress before you’ve even opened your inbox: Boxer includes its proprietary email filtering system SaneBox, that determines the importance of email based on your past interactions, and automatically archives unimportant messages so you can focus on messages that require your attention. Boxer also connects to Dropbox and Box to let you attach links to files from your favorite cloud storage accounts.
Our only gripe here is the high price of $10 — but this might not worry enterprise users who will be happy to know that the app plays nicely with Salesforce CRM.
➤ $9.99 – Download Now
My pick: Dispatch
After trying several email clients including those that didn’t make the cut (Mailbox, TipBit, Gmail, Seed Mail and more), I found Dispatch to be the most balanced app of the lot. It makes light work of both, tackling a flood of messages and composing emails with attachments, and offers the widest range of email actions for use with third-party apps.
If you’re tired of your overloaded inbox, and want more control over your outgoing messages, give Dispatch a try. For a powerful free option, Acompli does the job pretty nicely, with basic support for gesture-based inbox management, cloud files attachments and its built-in calendar.
What about favorites like Mailbox and Gmail?
Don’t worry, we didn’t skip these heavy hitters in our testing. Mailbox (App Store; free) is actually pretty great — the swipe-to-schedule inbox messages for later is great and it’s very well executed, and since its a Dropbox product, allows you to attach Dropbox files when composing messages.
However, Mailbox currently only handles Google and iCloud email accounts, lacks a search function and doesn’t allow for fine-grained control over notifications or include support for email filters — which means your device will beep for every single message you get, regardless of whether it’s from your boss or from your local pizza shop.
As for Gmail (App Store; free), it’s nice enough for those who use Gmail and Google Apps email accounts, but sadly leaves everyone else out in the cold. What it does well is sort your mail into four categories and allows you to choose to receive notifications only for messages directly addressed to you.
Other than that, it doesn’t offer any real benefits over the scores of email clients out there, and disappointingly doesn’t even allow you to attach files from Google Drive. I can’t say I’d recommend it to even novice users, who would probably be better off sticking with the default Mail app.
What are the features you look for in an email client? Did you find your favorite here on our list? And what are you using for email now? Let us know in the comments below.