Google loves to compete against itself, especially when it comes to messaging. When you want to send a text, you can hit up Allo, Android Messages, Hangouts, or Google Voice to do it, with each offering something none of the others have, and presenting wildly different visions for how we should communicate with each other.
The same is true with its email apps. While there aren’t quite as many options to choose from, the two clients it offers couldn’t be more different. On one side there’s the veteran Gmail app that comes pre-installed on most phones, and on the other is Inbox, a modern, innovative concept out to redefine the way we interact with our messages.
So which one is best? Much as it is with Google’s slate of messaging apps, it’s a tricky question to answer, as there’s a high degree of preference and subjectiveness involved. Each client has clear benefits over the other, but it all depends on how you use your email. So I’ve broken them down for you.
Email clients are all basically the same, and the Gmail app follows a pretty standard blueprint. There’s a main inbox window that contains messages as they arrive, with unread messages in bold and circular avatars separating emails by sender. It’s clean and functional, with a useful swipe shortcut that lets you instantly archive or delete a message.
Swiping from the left side of the screen or tapping the hamburger menu opens the usual Google sidebar that shows where you’ll find your inbox categories and labels, as well as settings for things like signature, categories, and sounds. Long pressing on a message brings up a set of basic options, including trash, archive, and mute, but there aren’t too many surprises with the Gmail interface. It’s built for speed and practicality, and it’s a perfectly functional free email app.