I find the Pre mail application to be fine for my fairly limited needs. I use Gmail although I also have a mobileme account and have set up Gmail to drag across my mobileme mail. The latter is not push as Gmail only checks the Mac account every half hour or so but I’m happy to continue on this basis to get the benefits of Gmails excellent built in spam filtering.
Comparing it to the mail app on the HTC Hero is appropriate but at the same time a bit unfair as there is a dedicated Gmail application on the former and not one on the Pre. On the Hero the interface is simple and you have the option, when a message is downloaded, to display any inline images or not. I’m discounting the other mail app on the Hero, the built in HTC effort as I find that to be buggy and clunky. On the Hero you can assign “labels” to emails, the Google version of Folders, and can also archive them or delete and it syncs back to the desktop. Or at least it is meant to but I find that if I “label” an email on the Hero it does not get replicated on the desktop. Often, deleted emails on the Hero still show up on Gmail desktop…I don’t know, it’s all a bit inconsistent but perhaps I am missing something.
Anyway, back to the Pre. One nice touch that a lot of people, but not especially me, appreciate is the unified inbox. This shows at the top of the screen and as the name suggests collects all emails in the one place if you have set up more than one account. Below that is my Gmail account which lists an Inbox, Outbox and then all my Gmail folders (Labels). If I open an email I can choose from the menu to move that into a Folder and that immediately syncs back to the desktop as it is taken out of Inbox and placed directly into the Folder. Hoorah. I like that. I can’t however archive emails on the Pre yet which some will find annoying.
Okay, when you open an email it opens as HTML and reflows to fit the screen. I find that it does so much in a superior manner to the iPhone way and on a GPRS connection, a heck of a lot quicker. Tapping on the message header gives you the option to add the sender to your contacts whilst tapping the small arrows to the left and right help you navigate to the next or previous email. Screen buttons include a “delete” option, a “forward” and “reply” buttons and the option to reply “all”…I think so anyway. It’s all a bit basic and those mythical “power-users” will no doubt find at least 167 things/features missing (no email search is a bummer for them) but it does the job for me quite well. I certainly prefer it to the HTC Hero Gmail app. Folders can be “starred” so that they show up at the top level of that particular account, quite handy for oft accessed folders.
Notifications for new emails show up on the main screen, bottom right hand corner. Tapping the little mail envelope icon shows who the email is from and if you want to read it straight away you can tap again. If you want the notification dismissed, swipe to the right to shove it out of sight. You can also set the prefs to show mail alerts when the screen is locked.
The Pre supports imap, Exchange and POP accounts and in the options can fetch as push or you can pick a checking interval to match your needs. Attachments can be downloaded and viewed with the built in PDF or Docstogo applications and handily they show up at the top of the email so you won’t miss one.
I really like the Pre email app as it is easy to set up and syncs well with Gmail but it is a little slow to fire up but you can say that about all other web OS apps. This doesn’t really bother me but will annoy those who need a lot of quick access to their email although they could of course just leave the email “card” open. Certainly, the Hero Gmail app is much quicker in everyday useage