Remember when email on your phone was a revolutionary, ground-breaking feature? It may not be as impressive now, but it’s still an extremely useful and important feature to the layman and business user alike. There are a ton of mail apps for iPhone and iPad available that get the job done, but which of them get the job done best? We’ve rounded up our list of the 5 best mail apps for the iPhone/iPad. Check them out, and if we missed your favorite, be sure to let us know in the comments below so we can give it a shot.
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When it comes to email, everyone has their own strategy to maintain their sanity. Airmail, an app that has been around for a while on Mac, and has recently made its way to iPhone and iPad, helps out with that. There are a ton of customization options available in this app that lets you apply labels and colors, smart folders, customizable swipes and more to tailor the experience to your liking. You can also customize certain UI items such as menu items, and action items.
Airmail takes full advantage of the latest in Apple hardware and software. Support for 3D touch, as well as interactive notifications are all baked into the app, adding more efficiency to the overall workflow. This is an excellent app for the email power user, but if you’re used to using Airmail on desktop, you might be like other users who are disappointed to find a few Mac features missing in the the iOS counterpart. The most notable of those being the lack of “auto-advance” which automatically populates the next message after you delete or archive a message.
Boxer has been around as an email client for iPhone an iPad since 2013 and has become one of the best options for people looking for an effective way to manage their inbox. The app is incredibly quick and intuitive out of the box, but if you care to customize, there are plenty of options to do so. For each email in your inbox, you have four swipe actions available by short or long swiping to the left and to the right. Each of these swipes can be customized to perform a dozen different actions.
Two other features that make Boxer stand out to me is the built-in calendar support and the to-do function. I don’t need to explain the benefits of having your calendar accessible in the same app as your email. Boxer handles this like a pro, sycing your calendars from various accounts and keeping them all one touch away as a tab at the bottom of the app. Even Google doesn’t offer a good solution like this. Finally, the to-do function is perfect for teams that share tasks. Be default, a long-swipe from the left will send an email to the to-do list. Before it is sent off, you can choose who that email/task should be assigned to, when it is due and what the priority is. This makes project delegation a breeze. It’s worth noting that without buying the Pro version, you will be limited to only one email account.
Inbox by Gmail, though relatively new to the email space, has quickly become the preferred mail app for many users. In the spirit of transparency, Inbox is my daily driver across all devices – iOS, web and Android. The power of Inbox, and what lands it on our list of best mail apps for iPhone and iPad, is its simplicity. Gmail introduced “bundles” to its users a while ago in their primary app, but have taken it a step further in Inbox. What this means is that all of your incoming emails are automatically sorted into one of seven pre-set bundles (i.e. Purchases, Updates, Social, Promos, etc.).
When opening the app, you can jump right to the message type you are looking for. On that same note, you can manage like-types of email in one go. The checkmark button (Done) can be applied to anywhere from one, to all emails in a bundle. So for instance, I can quickly clear those pesky Twitter notification emails by marking my entire “Social” bundle as done. Reaching “inbox 0” is as easy as ever with this app.
Spark is another mail app for iPhone and iPad that takes a stab at a better management system for your inbox. Spark’s Smart Inbox gives you a look at all of the new emails in your multiple accounts in their own section. Some apps will combine all of your messages from various accounts into one inbox, but I personally find that confusing and inefficient, so Spark’s methodology works great for me.
Similar to Inbox by Gmail, Spark will also group like messages into bundles including newsletters and notifications. Though not as robust as Boxer Pro, you will find a calendar view built into the app. More useful though is the attachments view. There’s nothing more annoying than digging through your inbox looking for that file someone sent you. Spark’s attachment view solves this problem.
Spark also made our list of the 10 Best iPad Apps – go check that out for other iPad essentials!
Newton Mail, previously known as CloudMagic, rounds out our list with a beautiful interface a ton of “supercharger” options. At its core, Newton Mail is just like many of the apps on this list. You’ve got your spilt-screen view, synchronized labels, and basic customization. But, once you dive in and find your way in the “Superchargers” menu, you’ll unlock the magic of Newton Mail. For instance, you can connect this app with a handful of other apps including Asana, Trello, OneNote, Evernote and more. With these apps enabled, you can send email content to them directly for later reference or management.
In addition to app integrations, you’ll find some other hand features like read receipts, undo send (we’ve all needed this at some point,) email scheduling, and the ability to view more info about the sender of an email you received such as job title, organization and social profiles. The biggest thing holding be back from making this my daily driver is the price. If these “superchargers” are something you’re interested in, after a 14-day trial, you’ll have to cough up $49/year. You know what they say – you have to pay to play.
Ah Microsoft Outlook. I’ll admit that I have always frowned upon the desktop experience of Microsoft Outlook, but I’ll also admit that I quite enjoy the iPhone/iPad experience. For many businesses, the Microsoft Office Suite is the standard for productivity, and in that case, you can’t beat the Microsoft Outlook app for iPhone/iPad. Microsoft’s email app offers all the normal features you would come to expect, but users rave about the Focused inbox. The Focused inbox is a place to view only the most important, actionable emails, and not all the junk. Meaning, it separates out things like newsletters, social media notifications, etc. You also have quick access to a calendar that syncs multiple accounts, and a file view that is incredibly useful if you use multiple cloud services such as Dropbox, OneDrive or Box.
What interests me most about the Outlook app is how Microsoft might continue to improve upon it moving forward. Microsoft is building a reputation of buying up tech startups and successful app developers such as Sunrise calendar and Wunderlist. With the acquisition of these types of tools that have gained a lot of ground with users, they can implement some of the best features into their own flagship app. If you’ve developed the same bad taste for Microsoft Outlook in the past, I suggest you give it another go with the iOS app. You might be pleasantly surprised, as I was.
Whether you are a casual “emailer,” or you are a power email user for business or in your personal life, there are certainly a lot of solid options to help you master your inbox. The important thing to look for in an app is how much more efficient or productive the app will make your experience. Any of the mail apps for iPhone/iPad in this list are sure to do just that. Did we miss your favorite mail app? Be sure to let us know about it in the comments below!