Android IMAP clients review

My Galaxy Tab was run­ning Android 3.1 since I bought it. The includ­ed EMail client (not the GMail APP) was fine for me. Not as com­fort­able as a real desk­top EMail client (I use Sylpheed-Claws), and not as good as my web­mail inter­face (Horde/IMP), but OK to han­dle 100 – 300 EMails a day. I liked the split into day/week/month in the list-view for the EMails, being able to select a whole day (and des­e­lect a sub­set) for quick actions (delete/move).

Yes­ter­day I updat­ed the Tab to Andorid 3.2. While there is now a nice trans­parence effect avail­able in some places, and the Play-Store has a dif­fer­ent user-interface, the big dif­fer­ence for me is, that the behav­ior of the EMail client changed. When I view a mes­sage the message-list moves the message-list in a way that the select­ed mes­sage is in the first posi­tion of the message-list. This is annoy­ing, and I have not found a set­ting how to change this. This way I can not view the last dis­played mes­sage, select it (or not), view the sec­ond last, select it … and so on … and then delete all mes­sage at once.

I also noticed that the folder-list is mov­ing. I have not noticed a spe­cif­ic pat­tern, but when I return to the folder-list I found the incom­ing fold­er being the first one dis­played, even if I was in a fold­er sev­er­al pages down. This is annoy­ing too.

Well… this gave the oppor­tu­ni­ty to have a look at oth­er EMail clients. The first one was K‑9 Mail. The first bad impres­sion was, that the box­es to select EMails are too small. I select a lot of EMails to either delete them direct­ly (a sub­set of ver­sion con­trol com­mit logs), or to move them to a dif­fer­ent fold­er. It is a nice app, but as I need to select a lot, it is not real­ly suit­able for my work­flow.

For the next app, Mail­Droid, I did not had the pos­si­bil­i­ty to accept the self-signed cer­tifi­cate of my IMAP-server, so I delet­ed it imme­di­ate­ly.

The next app was Mel­win Mail (tri­al ver­sion). It is based upon K‑9 Mail. The message-selector box­es are big­ger, but the mesasge-list does not dis­play the full sub­ject. This does not allow me to see if I can delete the EMail unread or not. I also did not find a way to enlarge the message-list to see more of the sub­ject (and I want to have the font-size not too small). Well… this means it is not suit­able too.

I also want­ed to look at Kait­en. It is based upon K‑9 Mail too. Unfor­tu­nate­ly I do not find a tri­al ver­sion. Based upon my expe­ri­ence with Mel­win Mail, I do not want to pay for some­thing, I may not want to use. On the web­site I do not see a link to screen­shots or sim­i­lar, only a change-log.

All the “best EMail app” postings/articles I was able to find (and have a look at) told that K‑9 Mail, is the best free one, and a lot of peo­ple rec­om­mend Mel­win Mail or Kait­en. I can not agree for my work­flow. EMail apps have to go a long way until they reach a niveau which allows to han­dle more than a hand­ful of mails per day and a not so sim­ple work­flow like “read all EMails as they flow in”.

Based upon this, I switched back to Android 3.1 on my Tab. While the includ­ed EMail client is not per­fect (e.g. I can not select all EMails at once in search-results), it is still bet­ter suit­ed than what I have seen so far.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly I can not real­ly test 4.0.x on my Tab, the cam­era does not work in community-based Android 4.0.x ver­sions, and I do not want to miss the pos­si­bil­i­ty to do a video-call with my deaf broth­er.

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