What Are the Best Email Clients?



When your mission is to make email as efficient, productive, and fun as it can be, there’s one question you get asked — a lot. What is the best email client?


Here at SaneBox, it’s a question we take pretty seriously. Although we provide an awesome suite of products designed to make you an email ninja (Judo Chop!), we know that the email client you choose has a huge impact on your email productivity and happiness.


That’s why we completed an independent review of over 20 email clients across four operating systems — all designed to give you the information you need to choose the perfect one. Here’s the process we used.


Review email clients across four different operating systems — Windows, Android, iOS (iPhone, iPad) and Mac OS.

Test each email client on each platform.

Score each email client in several different areas.

Create an overall score for each email client on each platform.

Present the information back to you.


Scoring Email Clients — The Criteria We Used


Here’s what we scored each email client against.


User Interface and beauty — how well designed and easy to use is the email client? Does it look good on the device?

Navigation — how intuitive is it to use the email client? Is getting around and doing stuff easy?

Features — How feature-packed is the email client? Does it give you enough options while keeping everything simple and straightforward?

Syncing — how does the email app or client sync with your email data and across devices?

HTML rendering — does the email client handle HTML and CSS in an email in an elegant way? Does it present HTML emails in the way the sender intended?

User Experience — how does the app “feel” to use? What’s the day-to-day experience like?


We extensively reviewed and scored each email client against each of these criteria, then came up with an average score for each.


Enough Explanation, Show Me the Money!


We know you’re not here just to read explanations about which email client is best, you want to know the results. Fear not, here are our top three recommendations for email clients across each platform.


Best Email Clients for Windows


Windows Score UI Quality Navigation Features Syncing HTML Overall UX
Gmail webmail 4.54 4.5 4.5 4 5 4.75 4.5
eM Client 4.08 3.75 4 4 4.75 4 4
Thunderbird 3.92 4 4 3.5 4 4 4
MailBird 3.50 3.5 4 3 4 3.5 3
Outlook 2016 3.08 3 3.5 3.5 2.5 3 3
Windows 10 Mail 2.83 2.5 3 3 3 2.5 3


Here are the top three email clients for Windows.


  1. Gmail for the web — no surprise for the top spot for Windows. Gmail by Google is the standard when it comes to a well-designed, responsive, easy to use email client. Gmail has flawless syncing combined with a great UI, and excellent HTML rendering.
  2. eM Client — although it’s not as well known as Outlook or Thunderbird, eM Client packs a lot in. Excellent syncing, easy navigation, and a good user experience make eM Client a solid choice.
  3. Thunderbird — scoring just under eM client, Mozilla’s Thunderbird keeps getting better and better. Good HTML rendering combined with an intuitive UI and strong navigation make it an excellent choice.


Best Email Clients for Android


Android Score UI Quality Navigation Features Syncing HTML Overall UX
Alto 4.29 4.5 4 4.25 4 4.5 4.5
Gmail app 4.25 4.25 4 4 4 5 4.25
Nine – for Exchange 4.17 4.25 4 4.25 4.25 4 4.25
Newton 4.13 4.25 4 4.5 4 4.25 3.75
MailDroid 3.88 3.75 4 3.75 3.75 4 4
Outlook 3.83 3.75 4 3.75 3.5 4.25 3.75


Here are the top three email clients for Android.


  1. Alto — Alto is just about the perfect Android email client, narrowly beating out Gmail for Android to take the top spot. It’s built around simplicity, with an elegant, minimalist UI. It also just feels great to use, with a strong user experience score.
  2. Gmail for Android — as you’d expect, Gmail scores very highly on Android (no surprise as both the OS and the Gmail are developed by Google.) Since this is likely the app you already have installed on your Android phone, rest-assured that it’s one of the best ones out there.
  3. Nine for Exchange — if you’re using Microsoft Exchange (likely if you work in a corporation), you can’t go far wrong with Nine. We really liked the quality of the UI, features, and how it felt to use. It scored considerably better than Outlook, which is the “standard” MS Exchange email client.


Best Email Clients for iOS (iPhone, iPad)


iOS Score UI Quality Navigation Features Syncing HTML Overall UX
Edison Mail 4.38 4.25 4.25 4.25 4.5 4.5 4.5
Alto 4.21 4 4 4.25 4.5 4.25 4.25
AirMail 4.13 4 4 4.5 4.25 4 4
Newton 4.13 4 4.25 4 4.5 4.5 3.5
Outlook 4.08 4 4 4.25 3.75 4.5 4
iOS Mail 3.79 4 4 3.75 3 4.25 3.75
Gmail app 3.75 3.25 4 3 4.25 4.5 3.5


Here are the top three email clients for iOS.


  1. Edison Mail — a surprise winner here (Gmail and iOS mail are languishing at the bottom), Edison Mail is the clear winner for iOS email apps. A combination of great syncing, an excellent user experience, and strong performance across the board makes it our top choice.
  2. Alto — in addition to being our top pick for Android, the Alto app is also a great option for iOS devices. It syncs beautifully, renders HTML very well, and is a joy to use.
  3. AirMail — another surprising entry, Airmail on iOS is very good indeed. It’s the most feature-packed of all the iOS email clients we tried and has a great UI and is simple and easy to use.


Best Email Clients for Mac OS


macOS Score UI Quality Navigation Features Syncing HTML Overall UX
Gmail webmail 4.54 4.5 4.5 4 5 4.75 4.5
AirMail 4.17 4.25 4 4 4.5 4.25 4
Apple Mail 4.04 4.25 4 3.5 4 4.5 4
Canary Mail 3.92 3.75 4.25 3.75 4 4 3.75
Thunderbird 3.88 3.25 4 3.75 4 4.25 4
Nylas N1 3.88 4 3.75 4 4 4 3.5


Here are the best three email clients for Mac OS.


Gmail for the web — unlike the other operating systems we tested, where the top three clients scored close to each other, when it comes to Mac OS, there’s a very clear winner. That clear winner is Gmail for the web. It’s just the easiest to use, most elegant option for Mac OS email needs.

AirMail — it’s one of the top scorers on iOS, and it’s one of the top scorers here. AirMail is easy to get around, has excellent syncing, and displays HTML beautifully.

Apple Mail — Apple’s native email client, Apple Mail, performs well too. Although it’s not as feature-packed as other email clients, it renders HTML well, feels good to use, and has an intuitive user interface.

Conclusion and Summary — The Best Email Clients for each Operating System


Here’s a quick summary of the best email clients by OS/platform.


Windows — Gmail for the web, eM client, or Mozilla Thunderbird.

Android — Alto, Gmail for Android, or Nine for Exchange.

iOS — Edison Mail, Alto, or AirMail.

Mac OS — Gmail for the web, AirMail, or Apple Mail.

So, the next time you need to know what the best email client is, you can answer the question with confidence.


For even more email productivity power, check out what else SaneBox can do for you. Enjoy features like smart and simple email filtering, SaneLater for unimportant email, SaneNoReplies for tracking what you still need to reply to, and SaneReminders for setting follow-up reminders.