Email is one of the single most important tools for on-the-go business users. Android's default email client works fine, but some users need more power, an easier to navigate interface, or just more options. If you've tried to find a solid email client app, you know it can be somewhat of a challenge. Which of the clients are viable choices for users who need more? And, even better, which of those clients are free?
I've found three such email clients in the Google Play Store, and they're highlighted in this post. None of them are perfect (for that, you might have to pony up for the likes of TouchDown, which has a 30-day free trial but then requires an Exchange by TouchDown Key for $19.99 USD). However, if you're on a very limited budget, these free apps can fill a number of voids that the default email client cannot.
1. Aqua Mail
Aqua Mail offers outstanding support for IMAP, POP3, and SMTP protocols (no ActiveSync or EWS at the time of this writing). With a simple UI that's easy to use, you can focus on actually reading incoming mail instead of navigating through an interface (Figure A). For the IMAP protocol (for accounts such as Gmail, GMX, and more), Aqua Mail supports push mail. Other features include:
- Save attachments to memory card
- Home screen widget
- Message auto-fit
- Integration with other apps/services (like Tasker, Light Flow, Enhanced SMS, and Cloud Print)
- Smart Inbox allows you to customize what email you see
There are a few caveats for using Aqua Mail. First and foremost, there isn't ActiveSync support. That means, if your company uses an Exchange server, it must have IMAP enabled. Here are some other limitations when using the lite version of the app:
- A signature will be stamped at the bottom of every outgoing email
- You're limited to only two accounts
- It doesn't support identities
- You have a less than standard folder structure on your IMAP account, since Aqua Mail isn't quite as friendly with folders and subfolders as other clients
Aqua Mail on an Android smartphone.
2. K-9 Mail
K-9 Mail is one of the better free replacements for the default Android email client. The layout of K-9 is fairly standard, and power users will appreciate the immense amount of configuration options available. Its feature set includes:
- Support for IMAP, POP3, Exchange 2003/2007 (With WebDAV)
- IMAP push email
- Multi-folder sync
- PGP (this requires you to install the APG app)
- Bcc to self
- Save mail to SD card
K-9 also allows you to quickly filter how you view your email (by
data, arrival, subject, sender, star, read/unread, and attachments) and offers
much better support for folders and sub-folders (Figure B). Another plus with K-9 Mail is
that it is open source. If you're interested in contributing to the project, go
to their wiki page for more information.
K-9 Mail on an Android smartphone.
3. my Secure Mail
my Secure Mail is another entry in the free email client space. The free version does not include Exchange support (if you need that, you can purchase the Exchange Key for mySecure Mail for $7.99 USD). But even without Exchange support, my Secure Mail is still a solid client (Figure C). Here are some of its features:
- Auto setup
- Support for SMTP, POP, IMAP (including Lotus Notes and Exchange – when in IMAP mode)
- Folder sync
- TLS/SSL support
- Gesture support
my Secure Mail falls in line with K-9 Mail in that it's power user friendly, with plenty of settings available. You can set options either globally or on a per-account basis. If you're also interested in cryptographic support, you can purchase a license for my Secure Mail to enjoy encryption and digital signature of emails.
my Secure Mail on an Android smartphone.
If you're looking for a bit more from your mobile email client, give one of these free apps a try. Each one has something unique to offer that the default client doesn't have. And while they may not be a direct, drop-in replacement for every feature and service you need, you'll find something in every one of these clients to appreciate.
What email client do you prefer on your Android smartphone? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.