Apple vs Google vs Microsoft for custom domain email

Apple vs Google vs Microsoft for custom domain email

Choosing a custom domain email provider sucks. They all cost money and are a faff to set up - I've used all three of the main ones (Apple/Google/Microsoft) so here are your options.

There is also a secret "Exchange Online" plan by Microsoft that I'll link to at the end.

iCloud+ by Apple

Apple's iCloud has significantly improved over time, offering an appealing package for those invested in Apple's ecosystem.
Its cracking with iPhones, iPads and Macs, but not so great if you are on Windows.

PricingLess than $1/month for the basic plan, focused solely on email.
Domain SupportUp to 5 domains per account.
Email AddressesLimit of 3 per user, with custom domain support for up to 5 users.
IntegrationSeamless with Apple devices (iPhones, iPads, Macs).
ConsIMAP required for non-Apple mail clients, potentially delaying email delivery. Issues with Microsoft Exchange may affect calendar invites.

Google Workspace

Google used to offer custom domains on Gmail, but you are now forced to pay for Google Workspace if you want it.

I can't personally recommend it as its tricky to use the personal Google services with it.

PlanPriceStorageCustom DomainsIntegrationCons
Business Starter$6/month30GB600 domains (1 primary + 599 additional), 20 aliases per accountStrong across Apple and Windows devicesLacks family sharing, partial support for Google Home and Assistant.

Microsoft 365

Microsoft 365 (previously Office 365) is the one I personally use. It has the best integration with all platforms.

Pricing$6/month for the basic plan, $112/year for higher-tier plans.
Storage1TB for the basic plan.
Domain SupportUp to 5,000 domains per subscription.
Email AddressesEssentially unlimited.
IntegrationFull support across devices, including push email via Exchange Active Sync.
ConsDesktop Outlook requires a more expensive plan. Adding a domain restricts the creation of personal Microsoft accounts.

The Secret Plan - Exchange Online (Plan 1)

A lesser-known option within Microsoft 365, dubbed "Exchange Online Plan 1", offers a 50GB mailbox for just $4 a month. This plan is particularly hard to find on their website but offers a cost-effective solution without the need for desktop applications. An $8 option is available for 100GB, though it's less economical compared to the full plan - don't get it.

If you just need the best email and don't need the rest of the apps that Microsoft offers, just get Exchange Online.