Writing negative reviews is something I usually try to avoid, and even when I do share my thoughts, I prefer to express them in a constructive manner rather than being harsh or impolite. Thus, writing this particular review proved to be quite challenging for me, as my personal experience with the email client called Superhuman hasn't left me with a favourable impression.
For the uninitiated, Superhuman is a contemporary email client that promises to revolutionise your email experience by saving you three hours each week. According to their claims, using Superhuman allows you to handle emails twice as quickly as before, and it aims to alleviate email anxiety. This platform is designed to enhance team productivity, responsiveness, and reduce stress levels. These are tall claims for an email client, which is built upon existing email providers like Gmail and Outlook.
When it comes to reviews, I usually don't begin with the pricing aspect, but with Superhuman, it's hard to overlook. The email client is set at a rather steep price of $30 per month ($25/month for the annual plan), which has been the main deterrent preventing me from giving it a try. While I'm generally open to paying for apps and services, this cost felt way beyond what I was willing to invest. However, my situation changed when a kind individual on Twitter offered me a free one-month trial using their referral link. Thus, this review is solely based on my experience with the one-month free trial of Superhuman.
I was genuinely enthusiastic to give Superhuman a try, especially on iOS, as I hadn't yet found a satisfying email client for my phone. So, I downloaded it and linked my two email accounts (Gmail and Google Workspace). However, the initial impression I got, coming from Mimestream, was that Superhuman didn't quite have the look and feel of a native macOS app; it appeared more like a web app wrapped into a Mac application. Despite this, I found the UI design to be refreshingly simple, clean, and minimalistic. Next, I explored the iOS app, and to my surprise, it shared the same design aesthetics. Personally, I felt that the iOS app looked even better than its Mac counterpart. The overall experience was intriguing, and I looked forward to diving deeper into its features and functionalities.
During my time using the Mac app, I noticed that Superhuman was consistently suggesting and encouraging the use of keyboard shortcuts for every action. As I delved deeper into the app, it became evident that a significant amount of effort had been invested in ensuring that nearly every action could be accomplished through keyboard shortcuts. Embracing these shortcuts enhanced navigation, email processing, and overall efficiency. I was truly impressed by how well Superhuman integrated keyboard shortcuts, allowing users to breeze through their email tasks.
After a few weeks of using the app, I received an exciting notification about the Superhuman AI feature. Eager to explore its capabilities, I activated it right away. As expected in 2023, the AI feature didn't disappoint, as it could write emails, improve writing, provide summarisations, and even perform translations. The implementation was seamless and impressive, making it a valuable addition to the app.
When reflecting on my experience with the app, I couldn't help but wonder if I was missing something, as it seemed surprisingly straightforward and easy to grasp. None of the features struck me as particularly groundbreaking to justify the $25/month price tag. Even the standout features, keyboard shortcuts, and AI capabilities, are not exclusive to Superhuman. Other email clients like Spark have also introduced AI, and many apps offer decent support for keyboard shortcuts, including the Gmail web app. Considering these factors, I wasn't entirely convinced that Superhuman truly stood out significantly from other email clients in the market. While the app was user-friendly and functional, I felt that its unique selling points might not be compelling enough to justify the premium cost.
I find myself pondering why this app has gained such popularity or is priced so exorbitantly. While I wouldn't say the claims are false, they certainly aren't exclusive to Superhuman. The app's touted benefits of faster email processing and time-saving can be achieved on other email clients with the right configurations and approach. Indeed, Superhuman's forte lies in its efficient keyboard shortcuts for browsing, triaging, and processing emails. However, apart from that, it doesn't offer much else that sets it apart from other email clients. What it has excelled in is marketing its claims effectively and using an exceptionally high price to create a perception of exclusivity for serious users. Additionally, providing an "Email coach" for onboarding creates a sense of personalised attention. In my assessment, Superhuman may be perceived as a mediocre product, but its premium buying and customer support experience may influence those who haven't explored alternative tools, keyboard shortcuts, or automation options. With a bit of exploration and configuration, it's possible to achieve similar results with other tools at lower costs. Overall, while Superhuman has its strengths, I believe its elevated reputation can be attributed to clever marketing and a high price point rather than unique features or capabilities.
The primary challenge for most people with email isn't necessarily navigating the interface or having instant commands and shortcuts, it's often the lack of an effective email processing system. In this regard, Superhuman doesn't offer much assistance. For those individuals, a different type of email app and service, such as Hey Email, might be a more suitable choice. Hey Email, at almost one-third of the cost of Superhuman, provides an incredibly innovative approach to email processing. Even users without a predefined system can efficiently manage large volumes of incoming emails using Hey Email's unique features.
Superhuman for what it offers, is a glorified keyboard friendly email client, and should be priced in line with other email clients like Newton, Mimestream, and Spark Premium, which typically fall in the range of $50-60 per year. Charging more than that feels to be unjustified, as it may not be worth the higher cost for most users. The app's appeal is seemingly more prominent among Founder and VC types, who prioritise out-of-box solutions and might not want to invest time in exploring alternative solutions. For the average user, I wouldn't recommend Superhuman. For most individuals, exploring other alternatives may be a wiser decision than opting for Superhuman at its current price.