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Mobile Apps

Better email apps for your iPhone

Ditch Apple's mail app for these helpful, feature-packed alternatives.

Apple's included Mail app for iOS is gets the job done, but it doesn't include many tools to help you manage your email. Whether you're a power user who craves more control over how you organize your email, or you feel overwhelmed by your inbox, there's an app that can help you.

I've rounded up five valuable email apps for your iPhone or iPad that can help change the way you deal with your inbox, or just make the process of reading and responding to messages more productive. All of these apps are available for Android as well, though Acompli is still in beta.


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Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

Gmail, free

The best feature of the official Gmail app is that it works just the same way that Gmail does on the Web. If you use the tabbed Inbox setup, you can easily use the same setup here, as the app divides your email into Primary, Social, Promotions, Updates, and Forums. All of your custom labels are available in the app as well.

You can sign into multiple Google accounts in the app and get access to your Gmail contacts to send emails. Other features include setting up a vacation responder and customizing your email signature. One of the only downsides of the app is that there's no unified inbox. If you have multiple accounts in the app, it gets tedious switching between them. Google recently updated the app so that it's compatible with the larger screens on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, and it works well on the iPad, too.

What's great: The app has the same familiar design and features as Gmail on the Web, making it a great choice for dedicated Gmail users.

What's not: There's no unified inbox, and the swipe-to-archive gesture is finicky.


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CloudMagic

CloudMagic, free

Sporting a very light and clean design, CloudMagic has a lot going for it as an email app. First, there's a unified inbox, if you prefer to see all of your email from multiple accounts in one view. CloudMagic also integrates with many different productivity services to help you take action on your emails, whether that's sending them to Evernote, creating a new to-do list item in Todoist, or adding a new lead to your Salesforce account.

You can use gestures to manage your mail, and select multiple conversations at once to be archived or deleted. The app supports Gmail, Microsoft Exchange, Outlook, Yahoo Mail, iCloud and IMAP accounts.

What's great: The app clears out any clutter from your inbox and displays your email in a clean, simple state.

What's not: You can't mark Gmail messages as spam.


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Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

Mailbox, free

Owned by Dropbox, Mailbox has made a name for itself with it's inbox-zero approach. The goal of the app is get all of the email out of your inbox as quickly as possible by categorizing it, instead of letting it languish in your inbox. For each email, you're encouraged to reply if necessary, delete the message, archive it, or set it aside for later.

You can schedule messages to return to your inbox when you're ready to deal with them, in a few hours, days, or a specific date and time. That's helpful for reservations or tickets, so you have the information you need at the appropriate time.

What's great: The minimal design and inbox-zero approach is great for anyone who gets easily overwhelmed with their email.

What's not: You can't easily access folders or labels in your email, and it supports only Gmail and iCloud accounts.


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Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

Boxer, free or $9.99

Boxer gets a lot of love on the Internet for its feature-packed email app. Like others, it takes a minimalist approach with the design and gives you tools to get your email organized quickly. Boxer also excels at letting you customize its features, including choosing an action for different swiping gestures in the app.

You can turn emails into to-do list items, and even assign to-dos to other people. The app also lets you send out emails and attachments to Evernote. Other features include Quick replies, which sends a prewritten email response, and the ability to "Like" a message, which sends a note to the sender that you like what you read.

With the premium version, you get support for Exchange accounts, you can add multiple email accounts, connect your Dropbox or Box cloud storage account and customize your quick replies.

What's great: Boxer's nearly endless list of features makes it great for email power users.

What's not: The free app doesn't let you add more than one email account, and $10 is a bit steep for the paid app.


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Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

Acompli, free

One of the more business-focused apps on this list, Acompli helps you organize your email, calendar, and files. You can view your calendar in the app and see all of the attached files in your email, as well as your Google Docs and Dropbox files, in one dashboard. There's also a tool that lets you schedule emails to send whenever you want.

Acompli's inbox also has a unique approach; All of your messages are organized into two categories, Focused and Other. Focused are messages that the app thinks you want to read right now, such as personal messages and important updates. Other encompasses everything else, including newsletters, pesky promotional emails, and anything that Acompli deems less important. While Acompli automatically drops your emails into each category, you can move messages around, and the app gets smarter about what message goes where the more you use it.

What's great: Acompli gives you access to your calendar and files without leaving the app.

What's not: The app's design isn't the prettiest, and it can take some time to find your way around.