Aqua Mail closes the gap on Android email shortcomings

The main in-folder view of Aqua Mail, a mail client for Android.

The main in-folder view of Aqua Mail, a mail client for Android.

Most of you Android users out there probably have no need for anything other than Google’s own outstanding Gmail application. It has nearly everything you’d hope from a mail client, including conversation threading and full access to your web mail folders, etc.

But there are a few thing that Gmail doesn’t quite do and for that I need to find a better email client. Gmail generally works great for my personal use, but I like to use a secondary client to keep work email in its own silo.

The problem

The main problem I have with Gmail and the standard Android mail client is one of the most peculiar and vexing issues I’ve had since Android moved to version 4.x — you cannot download compressed files from email. No .zips. No .rars and no .apks. Try and download an attached compressed file and you’re warned that it’s a security risk. That’s it. There’s no option to acknowledge the threat and download anyway.

I really hate that. I can understand that people are prone to downloading and unpacking bad executables, but I’d much prefer the freedom to put that risk into my own hands.

The only other issues I’ve had with mail clients are very slow server side search and poor tablet layout. Aqua Mail has solved all those problems well and so far, I’ve found only one small tradeoff (more on that below).

Aqua Mail to the rescue

Aqua Mail is free to use with some caveats, namely a limit to two accounts and a compulsory “This was sent with Aqua Mail” message tagged to the bottom of all outgoing messages. These issues can be resolved with a $4.99 unlocker. I’m on the verge of buying the unlocker — I believe in supporting good developers — but I’m going to keep testing to be sure some new frustration doesn’t crop up. So far, my experience with the app has been great.

First, the issue with compressed files is solved. When someone sends me an attached, compressed file, Aqua mail will extract it and save it to the folder of your choice. That folder is set to Download by default. If you’ve ever run into the problem of not being able to download a compressed file, this feels like a major victory. Even though people generally don’t trade compressed files via email anymore, it’s nice to have the option when you need it.

The attachment tab opens a pane at the right from which you can save or preview all attachments with a message.

The attachment tab opens a pane at the right from which you can save or preview all attachments with a message.

Look, feel and server search

Aqua is a vast improvement over other non-Google clients I’ve tried in the layout department. It looks much better than K9, an excellent client that just is not designed for tablets (though developers say tablet conscious design is on the way). Aqua doesn’t do anything too original, there’s a list on the left and the message window to the right. It looks good, even on the 10-inch Asus Transformer Infinity.

One of the best features of Aqua Mail is a handy attachments tab at the top of each message and selecting it opens a drawer from the right side that contains all the attachments, including thumbnails of photos, provided the image is not to large a file size. It’s a very useful bit of UI.

And finally, server side search is much, much faster than it is with the Gmail or the stock email client. Engaging it is a little clunky — search from the main window is only local and you must select a message to get into an individual folder in order to search server side. It’s not what I would call intuitive, but it works and works well. Not sure how they do it, but results come much quicker.


The only issue, and this might be a deal breaker for many, is that Aqua Mail does not have threaded conversations, a feature many of us Gmail fans love. So far, I’m prepared to forgo that feature in favor of the other amenities Aqua has to offer. So far, it is the best looking and performing Android mail client I’ve used.


Aqua Mail closes the gap on Android email shortcomings
User Rating: 2.7 (4 votes)
  • Kev Quirk

    “Conversation view” is actually the first thing I turn off in Gmail. I loath it.

  • Jerri Piscis

    Conversation view is the most retarded thing ever

  • Kev

    Aqua not being able to do pgp/agp is not a shortcoming in your opinion?