Windows Mobile Email: Which One Works Best?

Windows Mobile Pocket PC (Phone Edition) and Smartphone users have at least six broad techniques to work with email. The problem is finding one that works the way you do (or would like to).

  • Microsoft Outlook Sync: This is the way most of us used to deal with email on Pocket PCs in the old days. Unfortunately, this tethers us to the PC running Outlook. There was some relief in the ability to use ActiveSync over WiFi until that option was removed with the introduction of Windows Mobile 5 and ActiveSync 4.
  • Microsoft Exchange Server: If you are fortunate enough to have a mobile-enabled Exchange server and support staff help you with your device, this is a pretty good option. But, I suspect that this is not an option for many of us. There are some web/mail host services that provide Exchange Server services to individuals, however.
  • Proprietary Client: A number of these are popping up these days. Good Technology for enterprise solutions probably comes to mind. But, there are also add-on clients from Google and Microsoft itself. I’m not a fan of this solution. It is just one more piece of software to take up valuable RAM space on my Pocket PC or Smartphone. And, it is redundant since we already have Inbox.
  • Webmail:  This is an if-fy area. Some work, some kind-of work, and some just don’t work at all. Of the big three (Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo!), I like Yahoo!’s mobile web email solution the best. However, it is also the only one that does not have session persistence. So, I am forever slowly and painfully entering my account name and password.
  • POP3: Windows Mobile Inbox retrieves POP3 email fairly well. The problem is that email maangement doesn’t seem to work (at least for me). Deleting email does not delete from the server (though some people say it deletes things they want to  keep). Sent mail is not saved. And, if you like to keep lots of email on the server, don’t try to send email from Windows Mobile Inbox using SMTP. Everytime you try to send email, Inbox will try to check all the POP3 email first (hundreds or thousands of messages) before sending email out through the SMTP gateway. Google’s Gmail provides POP3 support. Yahoo! provides POP3 support if you upgrade to Yahoo! Mail Plus for $19.95/year. And, I still have no idea what happened to Microsoft’s Hotmail/Live Mail. It kind of sort of works with Inbox. But, it doesn’t look like POP3 to me.
  • IMAP4: This work moderately well though delete and savings sent mail doesn’t work for me. However, sending mail using SMTP works as expected (mail goes out without rechecking the server’s incoming mail again). This is my personal preference for Windows Mobile email service.