iPhone Review: Email

One of the great things about handheld devices like the iPhone and other, more traditional ones like the Blackberry, is that you can use your device for multiple types of communications - calls, emails, and internet - so that people can reach you anywhere and you can in turn reach them anywhere too. So how does the iPhone stack up to it's competition in terms of email? In a word: disappointing.

Although the email application on the iPhone is fine for anyone who plans to use it for light emailing, it lacks the power and convenience needed by heavy or frequent emailers. For starters, if you have lots of messages in your inbox, lets say 50, scrolling through the messages causes a noticeable delay.

Deleting messages is even more of a problem, since the trashcan button for a given message is only available when the email is open. You can also swipe across the message and then hit the delete button, or tap the edit button then the minus button then the delete button for each message, but these methods all take time and require patience if you want to delete many messages at once. Another issue with message deletion is the Trash folder - you have to go in and delete all the messages manually again from Trash. The automatic deletion feature is hidden deep within settings and gives you options of emptying Trash never, or after a day, week, or month.

The iPhone's lack of integration with Mail.app, OS X's mail client. If you plug in your iPhone to iTunes and it says it's "syncing your mail accounts," you would expect that it was comparing and moving messages between the iPhone and Mail.app. Not so. The POP mail you read on your iPhone doesn't show up as read in Mail.app after sync, sent messages on the iPhone are not synced to Mail.app's sent folder, filers are not synced between the two, and neither are contacts. It seems the only interaction between iPhone and Mail.app is to transferring your settings.

The Gmail integration has similar message-fetching issues and required POP access, but the Yahoo push-IMAP worked quite well.

There is also no spell check option in email, and you can't "retrieve all" messages, only the last 200.

All in all, as a productivity device, because of its email flaws, the iPhone still has some serious kinks to work out.

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