The Android Email Client on the G1, Possibly the Worst App on an "Internet" Phone Ever.

The G1 has been around a few weeks, it’s billed as “The phone that’s built for the internet”, but it would appear that the G1 isn’t built for email which many people consider as being one of the most useful things on the internet for over 35 years.

The G1 has two in-built Email clients; one is for Googles' GMail, the other is for accounts with whichever ISP you’re with. Personally after seeing several stories of problems with Google locking accounts (see here, here, and here for a few) I’d prefer to stay with my ISP, but that leaves me with an Email client which is being described by other G1 users as “the most pathetic attempt I’ve ever seen” and “frustrating”, views which I wholeheartedly agree with.

My email account is hosted on an IMAP server, is around 300MB in size, and has a couple of hundred folders in about 4 or 5 levels. Over the years it’s been handled very well by everything from Outlook, Outlook Express, Thunderbird, Nokia and Sony Ericsson Mobile phones, Windows Mobile PDAs and PalmOS devices, but when I open my account on the G1 mail client all I see is one long list with names like “Company”, “Company\Invoices”, “Company\Invoices\Paid”. There appears to be no concept of folders within folders, just an attempt to force the GMail concept of tags onto the rest of the internet.

My experience of the email client have been so painful I actually prefer using my Sony Ericsson c702 with it’s numeric keyboard an far smaller screen just because I find it more productive. On the G1 I’ve been unable to delete an account which is no longer valid, unable to read PDF files people have sent because the G1 does not have a PDF reader, and when I try to access a mail account which doesn’t exist I don’t get an error; just get a button which says “Retry loading more messages”, which is not the best way I’ve seen of indicating a major problem.

So if you’re looking for a phone thats “built for the internet”, email is a big part of your ‘phones life, and your email isn’t GMail, you might want to think again.


Some third-party developers are working on better Email clients (k9 being one such example), my problem is that this is billed as an “internet phone” so surely should support one of the oldest uses of the internet straight out of the box.