Gmail vs the iOS Stock Mail app for iPhone. What should you use?

iOS Stock mail app versus the Gmail app showdown

What do you use email for?

Is it for a behemoth of corporate message exchanges or just for website sign-ups? Or do you use email simply to enjoy the platter of scandalous fishnets that lure you in for either page views, subscriptions, or downright money?

No matter what, an email app should be able to handle every use case efficiently.

That said, a good email app should have three main characteristics. First, it should perform any task quickly. Many email apps ignore speed for features, and sooner or later, they meet their fate. Then, it should handle emails intelligently and efficiently. Most email apps these days induce AI into their algorithms that personalize your email feed. Google’s Inbox was similar in that it offered important information like flight details, files, and documents right in the inbox. Unfortunately, though, Google decided to shut it down.

Finally, and most importantly, it must double down on security and spam blocking techniques. You don’t want your primary inbox to overflow with people proposing you to marry a Ugandan prince.

That said, a plethora of email apps are always omnipresent. Just with a tap on the “Get” button, you could order yourself a freshly baked email app. But, in a survey conducted by me, I discovered that most iPhone users either use Google’s mega-Gmail app, or never grow past the minimalism of the stock iOS mail app that already exists on every iPhone.

How do both fare in offering email services?

Both apps offer standard e-mail services. Though Google’s Gmail came in late with the allowance of adding e-mail accounts that are not on Google’s own service, it is now available.

With the stock iOS app, you can add these accounts as listed in the screenshot below:

Stock iOS app email accounts
These are the e-mail accounts offered by the stock iOS mail app.

With Gmail, you get these:

e-mail services offered by the Gmail app.
These are the e-mail services offered by the Gmail app.

In this round, it seems like the stock iOS app wins as it features one service more than what Google offers. Although, AOL is not a popularly used e-mail service nowadays.

Which is better in handling emails?

This is probably the most crucial part of the whole experience. If there is improper e-mail handling, where most of the tasks have to be done manually by yourself, the app is unquestionably not worth it. Let’s see what each of the apps here has got.

Gmail offers a better experience with e-mails divided into sections based on what type the e-mail is. If the mail is a promotional one, it goes into the ‘Promotions Section’. Similarly, social mail goes to the ‘Social’ section. The app also has separate sections for ‘read’ and ‘unread’ mail.

While this is not the case with the stock iOS app. e-mails are not segregated type-wise but rather displayed under one single label which is your account name. It does not happen to have separate sections for ‘read’ and ‘unread’ e-mail as well. But, it has a small advantage against the Gmail app. And that is the ability to club all the inboxes and display messages altogether, which is kind of useful at times.

I guess Gmail is a clear winner here!

Which is the most functional?

Both the apps are highly functional but one is slightly better than the other one. It’s time to find out which one’s which.

Gmail app functionality
These are the swipe options from the Gmail app

By functionality, I mean the ability of the app to perform certain functions. On the Gmail app, you can swipe right or left on the e-mail listings to archive the e-mail. A long press would result to display a slew of options which include archiving, trashing, marking the e-mail as ‘unread’ and many more useful options.

The stock iOS mail app is much easier to interact with as compared to the Gmail app. The main power of the app endures in the inclusion of 3D touch. Using 3D touch, you can take a quick preview of the contents of the e-mail through a slight press. A further increase in pressure will result in revealing all the contents of an e-mail. For a busy person like me, it is the perfect feature.

Stock iOS mail app functionality
These are the options available while swiping left on an e-mail listing in the stock iOS mail app.

Additionally, you can swipe left to unveil some options such as flagging the e-mail, archiving the e-mail and many more options. If you swipe right, you’ll get an option to mark the e-mail as unread.

Also, e-mails in the stock iOS app look more minimalistic while those in the Gmail app look more colorful. It all depends on personal preference from here on.

Who helps composing emails better?

Composing is the essential part of the e-mail process on which a lot of factors of a company’s success are related to.

Gmail app e-mail composoing screen
Gmail app e-mail composing screen.

The Gmail app has a clean interface consisting of three text boxes asking you to enter the e-mail recipient, the subject, and the main message respectively. Alternatively, it has a one-tap option to include attachments into the e-mail. A simple drop-down beside the recipient input box allows you to add the ‘cc’ and the ‘bcc’ addresses. However, the Gmail app doesn’t offer text customization as it does on its web address.

Stock iOS mail app e-mail composing screen.
Stock iOS mail app e-mail composing screen.

The stock iOS mail app is a bit complicated to use. It shows the ‘Cc/Bcc’ option as default and can be changed in the settings. Apart from that everything is similar to the Gmail app’s interface except it is more minimalistic. The biggest drawback here is that you cannot easily include attachments.

It took me nearly 4 days to find out how to actually include attachments. Unlike the Gmail app, sending an attachment is not a ‘one-tap’ process. You have to tap and hold the blank space in the composing area until the regular text-editing black bar appears at the top. From there, you can select the option to include attachments.

And just because of the inability of the stock iOS mail app to easily append attachments, this round goes to Gmail.


This is not the most important feature to be considered in an e-mail app, but it surely is dependent on personal preference. As for me, I’m a person that wants immediate e-mail notifications from the app. I get worried if an e-mail takes even 5 seconds longer to arrive and I’m not notified about it through the app.

Speaking of which, the Gmail app is by far the best app that I’ve ever come through. It has a perfect notification system. I instantly get notified of new e-mails. Although, it doesn’t go well with the rich notifications of iOS.

For those who don’t get what I mean, rich notifications are notifications that you can interact with without opening the app. For example, when a WhatsApp notification arrives, you can 3D touch on it and get a longer preview of the message and in turn reply to it. The Gmail app sucks at providing rich notifications.

The stock iOS mail app indeed supports rich text notifications, but the whole thing becomes pointless. I’ll explain why. You can only get instant notifications if you have an iCloud e-mail account. Gmail does not support instant notifications on the stock app. The closest option is to push notifications containing e-mails that arrived 15 minutes earlier. While this couldn’t be a problem for most of the people, but it’s surely a problem for people who widely use their Gmail account.

Although, for those who don’t care about getting e-mails in time, the iOS stock mail app is good for you.


In the end, it’s certain that personal preference matters. But, logically speaking, the Gmail app is a better option for most users. It offers more flexibility and efficiently more features than iOS’ stock mail app. And if the design is one of the choosing factors for you, Gmail’s colorful interface is a boss against Apple’s plain, but minimalistic approach.

However, most people would bounce off of Apple’s stock iOS mail app after learning it doesn’t offer true push notification functionality for emails. That’s truly a bummer for me. If you share the same feelings as me, Gmail is what you must choose.

The one thing I can conclude from this comparison is that Apple needs to roll out frequent updates to be relevant to users, as opposed to Google’s Gmail app that receives updates almost every month. What do you think?

Get Gmail for iOS and Android.

Interested to know what’s on my iPhone? Read this:

What’s on my iPhone? Episode 1.

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