5 Excellent Email Apps For Android, Compared

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android email appsI recently wrote an article about smartphone addiction and how it can be detrimental if it’s interfering with your everyday life. One of the biggest contributing factors to smartphone addiction is the ability to receive notifications and check messages at a whim. This is especially true for emails, which fly into your inbox all throughout the day.

Assuming you aren’t addicted to your smartphone or you don’t care if you are, you may want to find the best Android email apps to manage your emails and control all of the hectic activity it brings. You could use the default Email app, but there are so many better options out there and they’re all free, so why not? If you check email on the go, you should really consider these apps.

Note: I do not include the default email app in this comparison because everyone can check that out on their own, plus different phones often come bundled with different versions of the default email app. If you want to try it out, just give it a whirl.

Gmail

android email apps

The Gmail app is the official Android app for interfacing with Gmail, which isn’t much of a surprise since the app is developed by Google themselves. A lot of Google’s design philosophy revolves around the idea of minimalism and whitespace, and the Gmail app brings a lot of that to the table. It’s very clean, easy to navigate, and pleasant to look at.

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The feature set isn’t all too impressive, which also isn’t a surprise. After all, Google isn’t known for putting a lot of flashy features in their products. However, the app does have push notifications, multiple account management, searching through emails, composition, labels, and attachments, so it’s not as barebones as I’m making it out to be.

The actual interface for viewing an email chain is quite good. The app tracks conversations just like web-based Gmail does, and with a simple menu drop, you can navigate between messages within a conversation extremely easily. I love it and use it on a daily basis.

Overall: B+

Yahoo! Mail

email apps for android

Yahoo! Mail used to be one of the leading free email services way back in the day, but that quickly fell by the wayside when Gmail proved to be the superior force. Nowadays, Yahoo! Mail is still alive and they’ve gone through a few revamps over the years, and I guess people are still using their Yahoo! accounts because they do keep their Android app updated.

Having given the app a test run, I was first struck by the difficulty I had in using it. Now, to be fair, the app wasn’t ugly or aesthetically abhorrent. In fact, I found the gray-and-purple scheme to be quite nice and calming. The theme is modern and clean and I would totally use it if it weren’t for the poorly designed layout.

Yahoo! Mail gets it right by having only a few buttons with recognizable icons, but they’re placed in weird spots that aren’t very intuitive. For example, I thought the “back arrow” button would return me to the previous screen but it replied instead. A “down arrow” in the top bar should’ve brought a new menu down, but it navigated to the next email. Small things like that made the experience a little hard to learn.

Now, email apps don’t have very high learning curves in general, so keep in mind that Yahoo! Mail isn’t difficult to use at all. But compared to other email apps, it’s enough of an inconvenience to lose a few points. Plus, I couldn’t find a way to browse a whole email conversation chain in one go.

Overall: B-

Aqua Mail

email apps for android

Aqua Mail is the first app on this list to support multiple email services, including the main three: Gmail, Yahoo!, and Hotmail. However, if you use your own email server, you can still use Aqua Mail since it supports any service using IMAP, POP3, and SMTP. If you use many different email accounts and want to sync them under one app, Aqua Mail does the job.

Account creation is very simple (I managed to do it in under 2 minutes) and the “Smart Inbox” feature is great. Basically, it aggregates all of your unread inbox messages into a single inbox so you can browse through them quickly and painlessly at your leisure. Other great features include widgets and lots of settings customization.

The downside to Aqua Mail is that the free version, while unlimited in length, limits you to 2 accounts and adds a promotional signature to all outbound emails. And on a more preferential note, the aesthetics aren’t the best. If you want to upgrade to Pro version, it’ll cost you $4.95 USD.

Overall: B

K-9 Mail

email apps for android

Like Aqua Mail, K-9 Mail is another multi-service email app that can track multiple accounts. On first glance, it looks too primitive to be useful, but after using it for a while, you can really begin to appreciate the way in which it approaches email. Account setup was really easy (it automatically detected my Gmail settings) and I got it up and running almost instantly.

The interface is designed to maximize the amount of information you can see on the screen without leaving you confused and lacking options. There are a TON of customizable settings and you can alert the way messages are displayed. Even though the inbox shows each email individually (not grouping them into conversations), you can easily go from one email to the next in the conversation with one button.

Perhaps the coolest aspect about K-9 Mail is that it’s a community-developed project. There’s a group of people dedicated to improving the app and they’re open to bug reports and feature suggestions, so if you’re into that sort of community feel, you could fit right in. For a more in-depth review, check out Saikat’s K-9 Mail article.

Overall: B+

MailDroid

android email apps

If you’re looking for an aesthetically minimal Android email app, I don’t know if it gets any more minimal than MailDroid. It utilizes a lot of whitespace – so much so that some may be tempted to think of it as unfinished or boring. Underneath that simplicity, however, there’s a good amount of power in features and performance.

MailDroid is a multi-service app that can handle multiple email accounts. Unfortunately, as much as I searched, I couldn’t find a way to unify the accounts under one unified inbox. On the other hand, it does support combining multiple emails into conversations, which makes it a lot easier to read through big chains.

It’s definitely a powerful app: you can do a lot in terms of signature control, full WYSIWYG editor, split screen support for tablets, and you can also create Quick Responses, which allow you to set up a number of template responses in case you make the same replies over and over again.

Again, don’t be turned off by the lack of pretty eye candy. This is a beast of an app and it’s only getting better over time. The only downside is that the free version is ad-supported and the Pro version costs a whopping $17.99 USD. A bit too heavy for my wallet, but I’m sure some people find it useful enough that the price is justified.

Overall: B+

Conclusion

There you have it: five of the best email apps available on Google Play today. What are you looking for? Aesthetics? Features? Reliability? Speed? Each of these apps has their ups and downs and hopefully you now know just a little more of what you can expect from these apps. Ultimately, before you make a decision, you’ll need to try them out and see if they fit your needs.

Know of any other free email apps that deserve a mention? Feel free to share them in the comments. It never hurts to have more variety in the mix.

Image Credit: Smartphone Email Via Shutterstock

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35 Comments - Write a Comment

Reply

Jim Carter

I own a PC repair/sales business and depend heavily on Kaiten Mail to communicate with customers. It’s one of the “must have” apps on my Android phone.

http://kaitenmail.com/

Joel Lee

Thanks for the suggestion. It looks like Kaiten Mail is $4.99 unless you want to try the beta for the next version, which is temporarily free. Kaiten is based on K-9, so that’s a potential fallback for those not wanting to pay.

Moris Kahan

I would Definitely add Emoze to this list
I’ve done benchmarks with the stock ICS email client and with several third party clients like Touchdown, Moxier, K9 and I find that Emoze has the advantage in almost every aspect.

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Ramandeep Singh

“I thought the “back arrow” button would return me to the previous screen but it replied instead. A “down arrow” in the top bar should’ve brought a new menu down, but it navigated to the next email.”
You really think differently. I never had that problem. AquaMail also do similar thing. Aqua Mail is my fav. for now.

Joel Lee

Yeah, perhaps it’s just me. Glad you like Aqua, though. It’s a great client!

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Gideon Waxfarb

I use K-9 on my phone and it’s good, but it looks like ass on tablets. Looking for a good alternative that works with regular POP3 accounts.

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Nevzat Akkaya

No matter how many e-mail service and app I try, I always come back to Gmail official app, I’m addicted to it somehow.

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Harshit Jain

No A+? There is a lack of good alternatives.

Joel Lee

I like to use a B as the standard rating. In other words, a B rating implies that the app does everything you’d expect it to do with acceptable quality. Anything higher is bonus. I’ve rarely given an A+ rating to apps. :)

Augustine Correa

Perhaps a new post can be spun off as to what is needed for an Android app to get that coveted A+. I’m with you, in that, right now no app comes close to it. which is a pity since major email usage is on the mobile

Tim from Radio Clash

I think this is perfectly fair. There are good email apps for Android but not many, well any GREAT A+ ones. I mean – email filtering? Standard on many clients to have rules for folders, spam marked emails, etc. Android? Nothing.

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Jacques Knipe

I’m trying to move away from Yahoo Mail entirely so I can get all my mails in one central and easily accessible place using the Gmail application. Actually trying to convert my whole phone to Gmail’s applications and services.

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rcpffm

I use K+@ mail (aka formerly K10).
It’s similar to K9 (which is one of the best for sure), but it has a much better surface.
Try it!

Reply

MailDroidDev

Appreciate the feedback. There are a number of major features that MD has including custom rules set with wildcards, online search for IMAP and offline for IMAP and POP, as well as a combined inbox for all inbox mail (not sent mail yet). Also, feel free to long-press things as that will show some menus that people don’t often see such as long-pressing a folder allows IMAP subscription. Of course there is a ton more, but you would need to play with the app a bit.

This year has a ton of plans of new features and requests, but one of the biggest will be some UI changes :-) They have already started, but the goal is to remain a functional app first.

Joel Lee

That’s great to hear! I’m glad that you guys are keeping functionality’s priority over aesthetics. I’m interested to see how MailDroid evolves over time. Keep up the good work! :)

Reply

MailDroidDev

Appreciate the feedback. There are a number of major features that MD has including custom rules set with wildcards, online search for IMAP and offline for IMAP and POP, as well as a combined inbox for all inbox mail (not sent mail yet). Also, feel free to long-press things as that will show some menus that people don’t often see such as long-pressing a folder allows IMAP subscription. Of course there is a ton more, but you would need to play with the app a bit.

This year has a ton of plans of new features and requests, but one of the biggest will be some UI changes :-) They have already started, but the goal is to remain a functional app first.

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Yang Yang Li

Enhanced Email is very good. I use it exclusively for multiple accounts on my Android. It’s UI is very friendly and makes emailing from my phone easy.

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Yang Yang Li

Enhanced Email is very good. I use it exclusively for multiple accounts on my Android. It’s UI is very friendly and makes emailing from my phone easy.

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Saurabh

I am using GMail. It is the best. Actually we people need to access a lot of Google services so it becomes mandatory to have a Google/GMail account and also GMail is comfortable too :)

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Márcio Guerra

I have an Android device and have the first two apps installed, Gmail and Yahoo!, and I must say this. I hate Yahoo! for not allowing me to log off. I still can’t log off. I’ve installed it a few weeks ago, nearly when it arrived, Yahoo! is my oldest email, and the professional one, and that is one thing that is «driving me crazy». I can’t log off. If anyone knows, please tell me. Despite that, it is fairly similar to the current version of the web layout, so, after some habituation to the UI, I now go correctly to each arrow to send, reply, next email, but I admit they were poor choices for the job. At least not intuitive…

Cheers!

Márcio Guerra

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Tito

It would be great to find one that supported GPG signing and encrypting emails.

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Sean Michaels

I’m using Aqua, K9, Gmail and the regular stock email client right now for 7 different accounts … matching up the strength of the client with the way I use the various accounts. If an email address gets tons of emails that you just scan over and need to ‘mark as read’ you can get any faster than Aqua Mail (paid version). It also does great with attachments and flawlessly handles gmail. K9 I find to be easiest when creating/sending an email. I use one gmail account with the gmail client — the only gmail account that keeps history, has location enabled, handles calendar notifications and the like. Finally, I have a ‘911’ email address (ie: 911@mywebsitedomain.com) that friends know they can use in an emergency. Having it solo on it’s own client makes it easier to configure to ALWAYS play a loud notification 24 7 when it’s an urgent message.

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Moris Kahan

I would definitely add Emoze to this list
I’ve done benchmarks with the stock ICS email client and with several third party clients like Touchdown, Moxier, K9 and I find that Emoze has the advantage in almost every aspect.

Reply

Bart

I like the Inomail app the most. It’s perfect for reading all the mail from Yahoo, Gmail and others.

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bill

The problem I had with K-9 is that it didn’t allow configuration for an outgoing SMTP server. The default email app for Droid doesnt allow for unlimited “Signature”, which makes it a problem for investment advisors and stock brokers, or anyone who is regulated.

This is where Blackberry ruled.

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Benjamin

Thank you for writing an article on Email client/apps. I have been particularly interested in MailDroid. I’m currently using Aqua Mail and quite satisfied with its Smart Inbox that consolidates all Inboxes of my email account. I move around quite easily and fast within the app a few days after I first installed it. attachments “panel” is a short swipe from the body of the email itself. Quite convenient and cool feature to swipe. The grey theme fits my taste. The interface is definitely elegant, yet robust where it matters. Highly configurable to the point where you wonder where you are within the settings. I dread apps that are “highly configurable” because I tend to get so deep in configuring that I get lost in the mayhem of it all. The color badges should have been paired already as a default and if the user wants to tweak then allow in export mode. It’s too tedious for my eyes. How much more uncomfortable for those color blind who would end up taking primary colors just so to be done with it. I actually later realized after choosing color badges that bold primary colors didn’t fit well with the quite elegant UI. They might be bold primary colors but to me they are fuzzy and need the shade to be easy on the eyes with muted colors that are not bright. I bet a lot users in the end went cross eyed with all the configuring including familiarity with those color badges. I will get use to it later but I preferred that color choosing be an expert mode setting. A fast pick up and go with the least amount of worries at the start of any app experience is well appreciated. Usually, email apps have the most number of settings that must be configured, and it’s just too much to even ask users who have problems with colors and it’s aspects to choose a color. I would be happy with a default setting for this.

Forgive my gripe on such a small matter. AQUA MAIL is definitely a five star app nonetheless-_- Did I mention that AquaMail is quite FAST ?

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Bill

Dissatisfied with the new yahoo android app since it will not allow me to edit my contacts or edit an email before I forward it. Lately, I was able get the two chores done using an earlier version of app yahoo android mail which does not allow me to send the mail out. I was able to save the edited email as a draft which was accessible with the newer version. Now yahoo is blocking me from going to the older version. The older version was perfect for all that I needed email to do before yahoo destroyed it. It appears that yahoo is driving people to their new dumbed down version so that they will have customers for a yet to be released paid version. Am I mistaken or has yahoo mail simply “gone to hell”?

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Bill

I have gmail, but have minor dissatisfactions with it. I need an email with the above edit functions and space for years of received email. I am willing to pay. Where is a review with a cross-reference (#) layout to compare the different attributes of the major email services. It should not be this hard to find the best email services.

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Gordon

On my PC I use Eudora, and have for years. One major thing I like is that it downloads my emails to my PC, and keeps them. I have the option of retaining copies on my server, or not (I choose to auto-delete them after downloading.) With my Nexus 7 tablet, every email app I have tried only reads them at my server. If I delete them from the server, they also disappear from my Nexus. Is there an email app that will download and retain them on my tablet?

Kees de Wit

This option is available in most pop3 e-mail clients.

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Jeremy

I’m looking for an email app that only supports one email account. Any ideas?

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Jack

No matter I am satisfied with my apps, I periodically check for better ones. For instance, I was happy with BitDefender antivirus app but by checking android benchmark performances at av-test.org, i just ‘discovered’ Comodo Mobile Security free av app, which is way better in performance and free features like backup of data, anti-theft and many more. It comes with a free battery saver which to my surprise is also way better than the previous one I was using. Following this same path, I am happy with Extended Email app with Android, but…looking for something better. By googling ‘best email app android 2013′ or similar, I found everybody is talking about the apps listed in this (excellent) article by Joel. By reading the comparison and features (thank you Joel) I found that in fact Enhanced Email pro – at US$9.99 it is powerfull with much more options than MailDroid, but cheaper. By reading the article I found that Enhanced Email has most if not all features listed for the other email apps. It can also be used by corporate users because it can sync with Exchange server. I personally find it simple to use. Option to unified inbox. I can chose the colour the led blinks when email arrives in one of your (unlimited in the pro version) inboxes. Just by looking at the color of the LED blinking I know which client/business is contacting me: is it one of my clients or is my girlfriend? I know in one second without need to open the inbox and can prioritize things. Enhanced Email accepts html signature, though it has not a WYIWYG editor. It can be used with pop, imap, gmail, yahoo mail and many other. User interface has not an amazing design, it is true, but it works perfectly well: I can configure color background for read, send, etc. emails. I can attribute a colour to each email account. There are many additional configurations that facilitate the life of users, like calendar and contacts sync for those that have an Exchange server (not my case). However, it is very simple to use: most of the time I just use it and with a couple of clicks I know quickly exactly what is going on with all my email accounts. I use it since around one year ago. Last time I ‘lost my time’ configuring it was around 8 months ago and since then using it extensively from 8AM-7PM for business and for leisure in the evenings without any issues. I was amazed to find that Enhanced Email is almost always not listed in the top search google list. After looking for alternatives in the last days, I chose to stay with it. Hope to have helped you decide by sharing my personal experience with Enhanced Email. The

Joel Lee

Wow, thanks for sharing your experience with Enhanced Email. I haven’t heard of it before but it’s getting good reviews now and your endorsement has piqued my interest. I’ll definitely be checking it out soon. :)

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