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The number of iPhone email clients has exploded over the last year, ever since Apple’s “no two apps that do the same thing” rule appears to have been retired in favour of common sense. Apple’s default Mail app isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just a little old fashioned.

Even iOS 7’s Mail client doesn’t appear to be a whole lot different according to initial Apple press releases, so it might be time to opt for a third party app. Alternatives range from highly focused companion apps designed to get your inbox to zero in as little time as possible, to hybrid reminder apps that treat your inbox like a big to-do list.

No one solution will be right for everyone, so here are six apps designed to solve a problem like your inbox.

Mailbox (Free)

Mailbox is the iOS email app that kicked up quite a storm at the start of 2013 when it opened registrations and starting building hype as a new way to tackle email on the iPhone. Well, perhaps that should be a “new way to tackle Gmail on the iPhone” because at present Mailbox only works with email accounts from Google (including Google Apps).

The app takes a fresh approach to email (a direction that many have since adopted) in that it allows you to schedule your email, a feature known as “Snoozing”. This means that you can essentially mute certain conversations until you are ready to deal with them, in essence increasing productivity by hiding so-called distractions. The app also allows you to quickly archive and delete messages using gestures, essential for cleaning out inboxes in a hurry.

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Mailbox also features a permanent to-do list, so you can keep track of tasks you have assigned via messages and it allows you to compose outgoing messages too. That might seem like a silly thing to point out, but not all iPhone email apps support it. This means Mailbox is a complete solution for reading, responding, scheduling and composing email on the go – provided you’re a Gmail user, that is.

Read the MakeUseOf Review of Mailbox Take Your Inbox Box To Zero With Mailbox For The iPhone Take Your Inbox Box To Zero With Mailbox For The iPhone The default Mail client for the iPhone has become in my opinion outdated, or it's certainly not as advanced as the hardware it resides in. Mail is not fun to navigate, and its latest features... Read More .

Boxer ($4.99)

Another “complete” solution, Boxer is an email client that’s capable of replacing Apple’s Mail in its entirety thanks to a complete set of features. This includes smart and separate inboxes, the ability to compose new email and send replies and the usual archive, delete and spam controls for quickly eating up the contents of your inbox.

Boxer’s unique selling point comes in the form of quick replies, which can be sent with a tap. These allow you to “Like” a message which sends a generic “Tim liked your Message with Boxer” reply, as well as setting-up your own custom “Quick” replies via app settings. Other features include the ability to add images and even attach a file from your Dropbox account.

Boxer’s to-do list allows you to keep track of email in a similar way to Mailbox, but Boxer works with more than just Gmail and includes: Google Mail (and Google Apps), Microsoft Exchange, Yahoo!, Hotmail, Outlook, AOL and iCloud. Boxer presently only supports push notifications for Gmail.

Read the MakeUseOf Review of Boxer iPhone Mail Client Boxer Includes Quick Replies, Mail Templates and More iPhone Mail Client Boxer Includes Quick Replies, Mail Templates and More At its recent WWDC presentation, Apple demonstrated that it still has the design chops for putting out a classy, eye-catching products but the default iOS email client received comparatively low-grade functional changes. Third-party iOS mail... Read More

Dispatch ($2.99)

Ready for something a little different? Dispatch is an intentionally limited email client. This is because Dispatch bills itself as an action-based email client, that allows you to get things done with your email. It works with Gmail, iCloud, AOL and Yahoo! webmail accounts as well as other IMAP accounts but not Exchange, Outlook or Hotmail.

The app includes quick swiping gestures for quickly clearing an inbox, with quick controls for marking unread, starring, archiving and so on. Dispatch also includes actions, allowing you to take an email and use it to create a reminder, send to your Evernote account or save to Dropbox among others. Similarly, URLs in email can be saved to Instapaper, Opened in Safari or Chrome, added to 1Password and so on. The app also allows you to quickly quote text in a reply, and add snippets from boilerplate text.

It’s an interesting approach, but one that comes with a certain degree of compromise. There are no notifications, and no plans to add them (this is an email reader, not a true client). There is no support for POP or Exchange, with no plans and even basic functions like the ability to search or read your sent mail are absent. For this reason, Dispatch will never replace Mail entirely but might just make the perfect accompaniment instead.

Read the MakeUseOf Review of Dispatch Dispatch Is Your Action-Based Email Client for the iPhone Dispatch Is Your Action-Based Email Client for the iPhone If you check your email a lot on your iPhone like I do, you now have some awesome choices as to which iOS mail client you use. Quite frankly, Apple's default iOS Mail client can't... Read More

Triage ($1.99)

If there’s one member of our team who knows a thing or two about email on iOS, it’s Bakari. In his round-up of time-saving iOS communication apps 6 iPhone Communication Apps to Write Notes, Message and Tweet Faster [iOS] 6 iPhone Communication Apps to Write Notes, Message and Tweet Faster [iOS] The true meaning of mobile for me is pulling out my iPhone and getting something done quickly while waiting in traffic at a stoplight, in line to order fast-food, or in the morning after my... Read More he featured Triage as his favourite “one-trick-pony”. To quote Bakari: “when I want to cut through my emails like slicing up an apple, I launch Triage”.

This is because Triage is a very limiting email app that presents you each message, one by one, and allows you to swipe upwards to archive and downwards to keep. You can quickly reply to messages, and it works with all IMAP email accounts including iCloud, Gmail and Yahoo! Mail. That’s pretty much it – very simple, but very effective (and with a staff recommendation to boot).

Mail Pilot ($14.99)

The most expensive app on this list, Mail Pilot takes the to-do list approach to email effectively turning your inbox into a tightly managed schedule. Just like Mailbox, Mail Pilot uses a combination of swipes and procrastination to hide unnecessary email until a later date so you can get on with items that need your input now. Email can be assigned to a date or a list, all of which sync with your mail account and are accessible from standard mail clients as folders.


The app includes bulk actions, so you can quickly clear whole folders of messages in no time. Mail Pilot is a universal app, and works with all IMAP email accounts including Gmail, iCloud and Yahoo! webmail accounts too. The price is probably the biggest concern, as $15 for an app is construed as expensive these days. Then again if this is the app that will save you time and increase productivity, $15 seems like a small price to pay.

Read the MakeUseOf Mail Pilot Review Mail Pilot Turns Your Inbox Into a To-Do Manager [iOS] Mail Pilot Turns Your Inbox Into a To-Do Manager [iOS] I don't know about you, but I still find checking, writing, and managing email a tedious task. Two recently released iOS mail clients, Mailbox, and now Mail Pilot ($14.99) make great use of the iPhone... Read More

Cloze (Free)

Last but not least, there’s the hybrid app Cloze that is capable of tackling email and social networks. The app takes your inbox, conversations and contacts and links them with social media profiles and “key people”. It does all this while detecting bulk mail like subscriptions and newsletters and adding them to a bulk mail list. A number of factors such as frequency of interaction with a person go toward determining what Cloze supposes your relationship is, and then contacts are ranked accordingly.

By default Cloze condenses social media and email from contacts under the same sorting, but you can specify otherwise and tackle just social or just mail. A range of swipe gestures help you quickly tackle a screen full of correspondance while custom lists of people can be made for friends, family and coworkers to keep personal life and work life separate.

It’s an interesting and feature-packed attempt, and might appeal most to those who rely on social media for more than just posting a quick update. The fact that Cloze is free provides another reason to try it out.

Read the MakeUseOf Review of Cloze Free App Cloze Filters Your Inbox & Social Networks For What's Most Important [iOS] Free App Cloze Filters Your Inbox & Social Networks For What's Most Important [iOS] I've said it before, checking email can turn into an hour-long chore. I'm constantly looking for ways to reduce how much time I spend in my inboxes—clicking, tapping, reading, and deleting messages. Though Triage is... Read More

So Which Did You Choose?

Now you’ve seen my shortlist, which is the right email solution for you? Maybe you’re happy with Apple’s in-built mail app? Add your thoughts and preferences to the comments, below.

  1. Russi
    November 17, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    Thexyz has a pretty good iOS app -

  2. Andy Fuchs
    November 4, 2013 at 9:20 am

    Although this post is already 3 months old, I'd like to add some comments:
    - currently (7.0.3) Apple Mail is really bad (ok - not as bad as in 7.0.2, but still bad). When I connect to my Kerio-Email-Server, the *complete* 'hangs' and doesn't accept any touch, swipe, tap for approx. 30 seconds. No other app exposes the problem.

    MailPilot on the other hand doesn't work at all with most of my email-accounts (hosted at - which is one of Europe's biggest provider) - I can't even create a login-item in MailPilot (their support doesn't even bother to reply or fix the bugs - although I created a test-account for them) -> the worst spent 15€ on my iPhone(s).

    New approaches to Email are welcome - but they should not break standard functionality!

    Any new recommendations? Features needed:
    - Send/receive Mail. (working)
    - Consolidated inbox
    - Tags
    (nice to have)
    - (working) Smart Mailboxes

  3. Justin K
    July 15, 2013 at 12:44 am

    I've tried a few but, when it comes to the end of the day, I just open up Apple's built in mail. I like Mailbox, but I don't use gmail for my day-to-day...

  4. Adi S
    July 12, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    Sparrow is the best if you use "Sparrow+" in Cydia on Jailbroken iDevices.

  5. Bruce K
    July 11, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    I tried Mailbox on the iPhone but was disappointed. 10% of my mail is important; 90% is currently sorted by Gmail into Social, Promotions, or Updates. Only the important 10% activates my notifications.

    If I use Mailbox, I'm notified for all incoming mail (or none). Not so good. At least the Google Mail app allows me to work with Gmail categories to prioritize the mail before dealing with it. Unfortunately, the interface for the Gmail app is not that great.

    • Tim Brookes
      July 13, 2013 at 12:22 am

      I can't help but think that Gmail is causing the issues here, right?

      From my understanding: Mailbox is just another interface for Gmail, so it's bound by filters, rules, priority/non-priority and stuff like that. Doesn't Gmail determine mail "importance"? There's that little ">>" arrow you can click to mark as important in the webmail interface.

      I always find the Gmail app lacking, but then I miss Gmail's labels on my phone. I wish Apple and Google would sort it out.

    • Zimbrul
      September 26, 2013 at 12:22 pm

      All of a sudden all the email accounts from Mailbox got deleted one day. That's the reason for me commenting on this post.

  6. MakeUseOf TechGuy
    July 11, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    I'd love to use on these, but which have an accompanying desktop app? I don't want to manage on my email like that on my phone, only to then use a different kind of desktop app.

    Oh, and it better have a unified inbox too....

    • Tim Brookes
      July 13, 2013 at 12:18 am

      Well you're an IMAP/desktop mail client boy aren't you? So you like good old fashioned (not Gmail coloured tags and silly inboxes) email. Mailbox is no good, it only does Gmail things. Perhaps Boxer might be a good idea as it has a unified inbox, quick replies, To-Do list actions from mail (something I'm probably going to look into myself) and Dropbox support. Shouldn't mess up your folders and stuff or require you to switch from OS X Mail. Review:

      Food for thought: if you find Mail to be sufficient and don't demand quick replies, cloud linking or things like a reminder-hybrid-email system then you'll probably find iOS 7 to be suitable when that lands in a few months. It hasn't gained too much functionality, but there are a number of noticeable improvements in it.

      • MakeUseOf TechGuy
        July 17, 2013 at 10:19 am

        Boxer is only for iPhone! Or am I missing something?

  7. Kaine
    July 11, 2013 at 3:28 am

    I use seed mail for iOS devices

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