I have always felt that the mobile browser version of Gmail inbox is more than sufficient for my needs. Even on my AT&T 8525, it was more than capable of checking new messages and reply to friends and family. Being a self-claimed gadget freak and having the need to setup my mobile outlook to send emails (pictures, without paying for MMS fees, etc...), I decided to setup Gmail IMAP to see what it is all about, when I had WM5 installed, I was running Timewarner/Roadrunner POP3 mail.
Google offered free IMAP back in late October. This service offers some benefits over traditional POP3 access. I've not tested this service using a desktop email application such as Outlook or Apple Mail, largely because the web-based Gmail works best in its native format within a browser. However, after setting this up on my 8525, I can't say its something to write home about. Here are some of my experience:
1. Setup for Windows Mobile 6 is very easy, following Google's instructions. I was up and running in less than 5 minutes.
2. Logging on to "Send and Receive" mail takes a while. Its not much longer than the standard POP3 procedure but given what I am about to say, it feels like I wasted a lot of time for nothing.
3. Blank emails received: I get alot of messages downloaded turn up blank. Some will give you the option to "download full message next time you sync online". Of all the emails that has prompted this message, only 1 or 2 have actually delievered. The rest of the times, I am still starring at blank messages. In the mean while, Gmail full version is recognizing this message as being Read, further confusing my experience.
4. Not in control: I've checked my Gmail setting to see if I can have a better understanding of how Gmail IMAP works. In a given time, I am not sure how many of the emails are being downloaded to my handset. I know at the time when I activated IMAP, I selected to download all new emails coming after that point in time. However, the actual number of emails downloaded after that point is a mystery to me. It changes in quantity based on its own logic. Even if I wanted to read older emails after my activation date, I don't think it would give me that ability.
Conclusion: my feedback is obviously based solely on WM6 Outlook. Your experience with a full blown Outlook or Thunderbird may be completely different. Perhaps, I'll find some time to explore that in the future just to find out for myself. Google products and applications for mobile are usually superb. I find this IMAP solution on my smartphone cumbersome, slow, and not all that effective. When I think of a cool IMAP solution, I often think of my work computer connecting via VPN or BlackBerry enterprise email and Gmail IMAP on mobile is definitely not that robust. To reliably check my Gmail, I'd still have to go through the mobile IE and I will continue to do so. I am sorry to say this, but at this point, Gmail IMAP, sucks!
(Update 2/15: According to IntoMobile, the problem with Gmail IMAP on WM5/6 is now fixed! GMail Team officially confirmed the problem has been rectified!)
(Update:2/15: I've posted a review of Gmail IMAP on a Symbian S60 Nokia N95, I am very happy with its performance there)