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Email clients have been mostly ignored in the App Store, but if one is going to stir things up, it's Sparrow. A mainstay on OS X, its polished, intuitive interface is tailor-made for multitouch – and as expected, it brings a lot of good things to iOS.
Like the desktop client, Sparrow treats your inbox like a personal social network. Where Mail considers each message in a thread as an individual piece, Sparrow groups them all into a single train of thought, even if pieces are stored in different folders, collecting them behind an ellipsis.
Instead of separate screens and a back button, Sparrow uses a novel sliding pane interface to navigate between accounts, folders, and messages. It's a neat concept, but seems more suited to a larger screen (sadly, no iPad version yet). Still, the interface is elegant and raises the bar considerably for Mail to vault over in iOS 6. Messages are handled much like Tweetie used to, as swiping to the left brings up an array of options, including reply, move, and delete. It's a killer feature, and feels more natural than Mail’s swipe-to-delete inbox.
Sadly, Sparrow current lacks push notifications, due to an inability to meet Apple's regulations on the matter; that's bound to be a deal-breaker, though Mail has its own push woes. But I was more bothered by Sparrow's other shortcomings. It does such an admirable job of organizing emails that you might not need folders – but if you want them, you'll have to head back to Mail to create them. On occasion, messages were slow to appear in the inbox (despite arriving in Mail) and threads appeared wonky, as well. No doubt, Sparrow still comes with some concessions.
The bottom line. Sparrow is an amazing desktop client, and now it's the first legitimate competitor to Mail on iPhone.
iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 5.0 or later
Slick, polished interface. Powerful message organization. Excellent use of multitouch.
Lack of folder organization. No push notifications. Some syncing issues with Mail.