iOS 14 now allowing you to change the default app that handles email on your iPhone, it could be time to ditch Apple’s Mail app and find a shiny new replacement. These are our favourite email apps for iPhone, tested and compared so that you can find the best email app to use on your iPhone.
For many people, Apple’s Mail app is the one they will use for the simple reason that it’s already there when you buy a new iPhone. Up until now, there have been other motivations for using Mail too, in that iOS always defaulted to it when you clicked on links to create new messages. Well, now that iOS 14 allows users to select the default app, Mail has to prove its worth. So, what does it have to offer?
The interface is clean and unencumbered, with the Inbox allowing for the inclusion of multiple email accounts or keeping them all in individual ones if you prefer. Swiping on emails in the list will give you quick access to commands such as archive or unread, and these can be set to your personal tastes. Although, you’ll need to leave the app and go to Settings to do so, which feels embarrassingly outdated in 2020.
Creating emails gives you the options of including media from your iPhone or cloud service you have connected on your device, plus you can scan documents or even draw on the screen if that’s your jam.
Dealing with messages that have arrived basically comes down to replying, moving the message into a folder, flagging it, or archiving. There are no management features like auto-reminders or the ability to snooze emails so they return at a preset time.
The notifications are also quite minimal, being either on or off, rather than the more granular controls provided by the apps listed below.
The iOS verison of the Mail app is one example of an app that is so much better on the Mac than it is on the iPhone and iPad. On the Mac you can create Smart Folders which is a fantastic way to organise your inbox by rules so you don’t miss an important email (and can ignore the unimportant stuff!) Sadly these Smart Folders don’t carry over to the Mail app on the iPhone. Luckily your VIPs do but that’s the only useful feature shared by both apps.
Simply put, Mail looks like what it is, an app that hasn’t had to make much effort due to it being the favoured son of Apple. To be honest, anyone with any sense should drop it like a stone and move onto one of its rivals on this list, as their creators have been hungrier and far more innovative for a long, long time.
Google’s email service is one of the most popular around, so it’s not surprising that the Gmail app is a well-designed and mature app. You can setup multiple accounts, not just Gmail but Hotmail, iCloud, Yahoo or other popular services, and have the emails either displayed in individual inboxes or a universal one.
There’s a dark mode available, and definable swipe actions allow you to archive, move or even snooze messages so that they reappear when you have time to deal with them. Creating labels means you can further sort emails into bespoke folders, and when you compose new messages to people, you can make use of the smart compose feature that suggests the next word based on the way you usually write.
When you’re ready to send the message, you can either opt to do so immediately or schedule it to go out at another time or date. If the contents of the email are sensitive, there’s also a Confidential mode that sets expiry limits and requires passcodes for the recipient to access the information.
Spark is one of our favourite email apps, as it not only supports multiple accounts and a universal inbox, but it also has a clever Smart Inbox that sorts incoming mail into various types. These separate out the newsletters and promotional items from those sent by actual humans, placing the latter above the former. You can also pin particular emails, which are then kept at the top of the list until you unpin them.
Notifications are slimmed down, so you only receive alerts when a new message arrives from someone you know. This means no more distractions from companies telling you about their latest sale. You can also schedule emails to go out at a later date, and Spark will give you reminders of important emails to which you’ve not yet responded.
Customisable swipe actions give you fast and easy ways to manage what you do with messages, plus Spark also supports multiple signatures so you can send either personal or professional sign offs to each email. The app can handle a wide range of attachments, but also has the ability to link with a number of services and apps, such as Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud Drive and others, to save attachments directly into your online storage.
With the arrival of iOS 14, Spark now has a widget so you can see your latest messages at a glance, plus there’s a built-in calendar so you can do all your organisation from the app.
Microsoft has been a big player in the email space for a very long time. Many Windows users swear by Outlook, but you don’t need to use that OS to take advantage of what this app has to offer.
As is standard with modern email services, Outlook allows you to bring all of your email accounts to the one app, and in a similar fashion to Spark it provides a Focused Inbox that only shows what it deems are important emails to you would be interested in. You can still access the others of course, and if you don’t like the Focused Inbox then you can switch it off.
Swipe actions are definable, with a good selection of options available, and you can link cloud storage services directly to the app so that you can either share or download files directly to and from them. Outlook provides support for Siri Shortcuts, your favourite calendar apps, and can also incorporate productivity apps such as Evernote, Slack and Trello into the workflow.
You can set the level of notifications you receive, ranging from everything to just your favourite people, and you can now select from within the app which browser and map apps open any links within emails. A dark mode can make the whole experience easier on the eyes and if you prefer extra levels of security then you can enable the requirement of Touch ID or Face ID dependent on the type of iPhone you have.
Another popular email service that offers a great range of features is Boomerang. With a simple, minimalist design, it’s a friendly app to get to grips with. Boomerang supports multiple accounts, but on a more limited list than some of its rivals. At the time of writing you could use Gmail, G Suits, Outlook.com, Office 365, and Microsoft Exchange accounts, but sadly not iCloud, Yahoo or other services.
If you do have a compatible email address though, you’re in for a treat. Boomerang has plenty of configuration options, with swiping right on an email in the inbox triggering one of several possible actions, while swiping left opens a menu from which you can choose one of five commands, including Archive, Move, Snooze or Delete. One of the simplest, but useful traits, is that swiping left and right while in an open email will move you through to the previous or next message, so you don’t have to return to the inbox or stretch for controls at the top of the page like on Apple’s Mail app.
At the top of the page on an open email you’ll see various options, one of which it the Boomerang icon. Tapping this opens a comprehensive menu from which you can select a variety of times or dates when this email will return to your inbox as a new item. Essentially, it’s a reminder, but the configurable nature of it makes the feature very useful, plus there’s a setting that will disable the entire thing if you reply to the message at any point.
Add to this Google Calendar and Outlook Calendar integration, a voice assistant for controlling and working with the app, a helpful analysis of your writing style when composing emails, support for alias Gmail accounts, email scheduling, and a great feature called Brief Me which gives you a run-down of the things you need to do that day, and you can see that Boomerang is a very impressive way to deal with email.
If you’re looking for a way to manage your messages on the desktop, then take a look at our guide to the
best free email apps for Mac. We also have details of
how to set up email on a Mac.