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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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From my experience, it seems like the iPhone downloads only headers by default over IMAP while Mail.app 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, Mail.app 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
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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 Mail.app, 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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