In terms of features available with free webmail accounts, Gmail is perhaps the best. The features and capabilities keep improving since the inception of Gmail making most of the competitors to follow suit not to loose subscribers. The features of Gmail accounts have set it apart from competitors especially in regard to storage space, attachment sizes, email forwarding to any email address, free IMAP access and POP3 as well as labels instead of folders. Gmail ads are contextual and unobtrusive with no banners and animations.
When Gmail was introduced it came with a free 1 GB storage space when competitors were offering even less than 10 MB. Gmail kept increasing it up to the current 10.1 GB while the inbox storage size is ever increasing with the Infinity + 1 plan. Even when Yahoo! and AOL have announced unlimited storage space which is highly doubted since their file attachment sizes are still lower, Gmail seems not to go for the “unlimited” marketing strategy but genuinely makes more storage space available.
Labels – No Folders
Unlike other email services, Gmail uses labels to organize email messages and not folders. Many labels can be applied to one message unlike folders since you can’t have the same message contained in many folders at the same time. You can create the labels in many ways while deleting a label does not delete associated email messages.
Gmail allows you to create filters by defining criteria like skipping inbox if it comes from specified email addresses containing certain words and phrases. The filters can automatically label, forward or archive messages.
Gmail boasts of a very effective Spam filter which prevents most of the spamming emails from entering into the inbox. Adding this capability to what the filters you create can do is great.
Gmail is not just a free webmail but also has an inbuilt chat which allows users to enjoy instant messaging. You can see other users online and with just a single click initiate a chat. All this happens in the same area where you can continue performing your mailing tasks.
IMAP and POP3
Both IMAP and POP3 access are available with free Gmail accounts unlike with most of the other big competitors. With the competitor services you may have to pay for POP3 except in some countries while they do not have IMAP access. You can therefore choose how to access Gmail account for free on almost any email client.