The computational powers of smartphones and tablets have made the humble pocket calculator pretty much obsolete. Now even more specialized tools, such as scientific and graphing calculators, are under threat by the proliferation of highly capable calculator apps. With the school year looming, we're taking a look at the best calculator apps on Android and iOS. From replacements to the everyday pocket calculator to more powerful specialized scientific and graphing calculator apps, here are our top picks. (Image Credit: Georgejmclittle/Shutterstock)
PCalc Lite for iOS has a well-deserved spot on this list as a free, extremely flexible scientific calculator armed with powerful features. There are also numerous add-ons. The basic package gives you a fair amount to work with, such as trigonometric and logarithmic functions, a radian mode, undo and redo operations, as well as unit conversions and constants. Users looking for more power can purchase additional features and operations through in-app purchases, or spring for the complete version for $9.99.
Soulver is another popular iOS calculator replacement that mimics some of the best features of tape-style office calculator while offering digital extras. Soulver displays all of your calculations in a straight column, allowing you to quickly reference previous calculations, while an editing cursor allows you to go backwards and forwards to change lines, with each modification automatically updated downstream. The app includes support for custom labels, unit and currency conversions and users can save their sheets and share them or work on them later.
Calca does a neat thing by taking a markdown editor and a calculator and turning them into a single app that gives users the benefits of a tape calculator and spreadsheet in an iPhone app. Users can easily set up a variety of variables and equations, as well as work with the app's library of operators for everything from derivatives to trigonometry and complex numbers, while the markdown editor allows you to easily insert notes and explanations right into your worksheet for ease of reference, with iCloud syncing to make it easy to work with multiple devices.
Why should we be slaves to what a calculator looked like decades ago? That's the thinking behind Tydlig, an iOS calculator app that uses a smart and responsive freeform canvas that blends a calculator-tape style view with spreadsheet-style functions like linked numbers and retroactive corrections. Users can annotate numbers and calculations and print or export the canvas to PDF. There's even a graphing feature with a slider for easily tracing values of functions on the graph.
Numerical2 is an app without equals, literally. The app speeds up input by doing away with the equals button, as well as automatically applying brackets to operations. It's not just about speed though. Numerical fields scientific calculator functions as well as fraction operations and special numbers such as Pi, E and infinity. The app supports landscape mode, split-screen multitasking, and even includes a custom keyboard for doing calculations within another app. On top of all that, Numerical also comes with multiple themes and a theme maker.
Apalon's Calculator Pro for iPad has a nice contextual modes, with portrait mode displaying standard calculation operations, while holding your iPad in landscape displays a scientific calculator and special operations. Users can also bring up a unit and currency converter, as well as use the app in split-screen multitasking mode.
MobiCalculator (formerly CubeCalculator) has been a long-time staple for Android users looking for a powerful and customizable calculator app. The main screen covers your basic arithmetic operations and parenthesis, as well as two customizable buttons. A Mode button provides access to trigonometric and logarithmic functions. The app's settings menu provides hexadecimal, binary and octal support, as well as a viewable 50-line operation history. The $3.49 pro version allows for a 1,000-line history, support for five-line expressions, and additional visual themes.