IMAP allows you to access your email wherever you are, from any device. When you read an email message using IMAP, you aren't actually downloading or storing it on your computer; instead, you're reading it from the email service. As a result, you can check your email from different devices, anywhere in the world: your phone, a computer, a friend's computer.
IMAP only downloads a message when you click on it, and attachments aren't automatically downloaded. This way you're able to check your messages a lot more quickly than POP!