In March 2019, Google will shut down Inbox for good. We'll still be using it until then, but when it comes time to transition to a new email client, your best bet will likely be Gmail. Here's why.

Our pick

Gmail

The closest you'll get to the Inbox experience.

Although many of us used Inbox because it had lots of features that were lacking in Gmail, this has steadily changed over the years. With plenty of useful features and far greater stability than anything else on our list, Gmail is the best Inbox alternative.

Who should use Gmail?

If you haven't checked out Gmail since Inbox stole you away from it in 2014, a lot's been added that makes Google's primary email app worth revisiting. Emails are sorted into specific categories so you can focus on what matters, it's easy to switch back and forth between multiple accounts, you can use Smart Replies, and more. It may not be a perfect Inbox clone, but it's already pretty great and only going to get better.

Is it a good time to try it out?

Absolutely. Gmail's changed a lot since Inbox was first released and is now more polished and feature-rich than ever before.

Reasons to use Gmail

  • It's free
  • Very fast and smooth
  • Smart Replies
  • Customizable swipes
  • Undo sent emails

Reasons not to use it

  • Fewer categories/bundles than Inbox
  • Can't see reminders

Google's building Gmail into a version of Inbox that'll be around for years to come

When Google released Inbox a few years back, many users flocked to it because it offered a considerably better experience on both mobile and desktop compared to Gmail. In fact, even now in 2018, there are some things Inbox continues to do better than Gmail.

Over the years, however, Google's brought Gmail back up to speed and has now grown it into an email client that's steadily becoming a more effective Inbox replacement with every passing day.

With Gmail, you can now snooze emails, use Smart Replies, customize your swipe actions, view all of your accounts at once, and view your emails in three pre-made bundles. Those bundles are what really sold Inbox for a lot of people, and while Gmail's Social, Promotions, and Updates bundles aren't quite as extensive as what Inbox offers, they still do a good job at helping your inbox feel a bit less cluttered.

Google's slowly bringing Inbox's best features to Gmail one at a time.

Gmail's Android app looks and feels great, and at any second now, we're expecting it to get a complete visual refresh to match Google's Material Theme UI. If you prefer checking email on your computer, the big Gmail update that landed earlier this year still works great and continues to feel much better than the old version.

Other niceties include rich notifications on Wear OS, integration with the Google Assistant, and — as always — Gmail is 100% free to use.

Lastly, there's something to be said about the stability of Gmail going forward. While Google's been known to launch and kill off services fairly often as we're seeing with Inbox, Gmail's been around since 2004 and is one of the most popular email clients in the world. In other words, it's not going anywhere.

There are lots of other email apps that try to replicate Inbox's formula, but with small, third-party clients, there's no telling how long they'll be around for.

Alternatives to Gmail

Despite all of the progress Google's made with Gmail, we understand that it still won't be a good fit for everyone. As such, we've outlined a few other options that are worth checking out.

Runner-up

Microsoft Outlook

A clean UI and built-in calendar make this a great pick.

Another good alternative to Inbox is Microsoft Outlook. Outlook is a very pretty app that runs smoothly, keeps you focused on the emails that matter, and even view your calendar. In addition to Microsoft Exchange, Office 365, and Outlook.com, the app also supports Gmail and Yahoo Mail accounts.

If Gmail doesn't offer enough to tickle your fancy, Microsoft Outlook might do the trick. The Focused inbox filters out non-priority messages, things like flight info and files are easy to find, and we love having a built-in calendar to quickly view any upcoming appointments without having to leave the app. Outlook is probably the best choice for users of Microsoft services, but we love that there's also support for Gmail and Yahoo Mail users, too.

New kid on the block

Edison Email

A promising client with lots of powerful tools.

Edison Email doesn't have the backing up Google or Microsoft, but even so, it's still a really great client that's worth checking out. Edison works with all popular email services, has a powerful tool for unsubscribing from newsletters, a built-in package tracker, and a ton more.

If you don't mind putting up with a few bugs here and there, Edison is a new email client that may be the perfect fit. There's a feature that makes it easy to unsubscribe from emails, a dedicated travel page so you can easily see flight & hotel info, and even a package tracker! Edison works with just about everything, too, including Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Exchange, Hotmail, Outlook, AOL Mail, IMAP, Alto, iCloud, and many more.

Bottom line

There are a lot of cool, experimental features in our above picks, but if you want an email client that works well, is super stable, and still offers some powerful tools, Gmail is the way to go for most people.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Joe Maring is Android Central's News Editor and has had a love for anything with a screen and CPU since he can remember. He's been talking/writing about Android in one form or another since 2012 and often does so while camping out at the nearest coffee shop. Have a tip? Send an email to joe.maring@mobilenations.com!

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