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It is noticeably faster to send and receive mail on my iPhone than on my MacBook, both through a Gmail IMAP account. (I'm still using Leopard, though.) I have a few rules set up in Mail, but it seems like the slowdown on the Mac is in the communication to Google's servers.

Any explanations?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

From my experience, it seems like the iPhone downloads only headers by default over IMAP while may download the full e-mail. This would make syncs appear faster on the iPhone, but take longer to appear when viewed in full.

The iPhone may also be doing more work in the background that you may not realize, and just not displaying progress bars for such work, while you should be able to see all such activity on the macbook app. Logically as long as the connection speed is comparable between the two devices, and both use IMAP, the speeds should be similar.

If you're experiencing an actual slowdown on your Macbook when IMAP is syncing, there may be issues with your setup, but just comparing progress bars to judge speed may be an unfair comparison.

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Also, is syncing your entire mailbox. iPhone mail keeps some much smaller portion of your mailbox on the device (mine is 100 I think). So instead of syncing, it just downloads the latest 50 or 100 messages, which may require less data transfer. – runako Sep 25 '09 at 18:27

I don't use a Mac (I have an iPhone though), so this is just a theory. The iPhone/iPod Touch Mail app is a very light program, because it's slimmed down to fit on the devices. If you compare it's feature list to that of, it's very bare. So you have a device that is 33% as fast (3GS)/ 16% as fast (others) as an average computer running an app that does about 2% of the stuff.

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They are two completely different apps for different OS's and different hardware sets with a different range of features.

They are simlilar, but they technically serve different purposes, so I think it is natural to have performance differences.

Mail on the iphone is meant to be quick and simple with all the basic email needs met. Mail for os x on a full computer has every feature we have available for email and is much more complex code wise. So depending how you use it, it can be a different experience.

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I notice the same thing. I just got an email on my 3gs at 10:00 and it's 10:09 now and my mac mail still hasn't registered it. So weird. I mean i agree with ya'll that it's a lighter ap and only downloads the preview at first, but i'm on a mac book pro 2.4 with 4GB of memory... you'd think that would compensate for the difference. a computer shouldn't be slower than a phone.

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I agree with Jesse Clark. I have 3 Imap accounts and there is a difference between the 3 on how quickly (or slowly) they appear on my iPhone vs MacBook. Google is the fastest and Charter is the slowest. I notice with Google, if I read an email, that almost instantly it is marked as read on my Macbook. The speed of receiving emails on both devices is practically the same. But once I loaded up an IMAP account from Charter - I have a 10:00 to 15:00 minute difference sometime. I think it is a setup / Charter issue.

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-1, Please refine your answer a bit to more directly answer the OP question, otherwise its in danger of being closed as not an answer. – dav May 17 '13 at 18:29

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