For some reason, Apple decided not to include a calculator app for the iPad, as they do for the iPhone. So I signed into the App Store to hunt one down and was a little surprised – though I shouldn’t have been – at the number and variety of apps available in the genre. Though there are little variations in the names of these apps, the design and functions vary enough that you will want to browse the many offerings to see what might fit your needs. I ended up purchasing Soulver, which I will explain why below, but many of the free offerings will suffice if your calculator needs are pretty basic.
Please note however that this post is written by someone who hasn’t done even algebra calculations in over twenty years. So I haven’t reviewed much about scientific function features such as the root, power, exponential, factorial, logarithm, and other operations in advanced calculators. Instead, I have presented a sample variety of the free offerings. I did however try to focus on calculators that also include at least memory functions, such as the M+ function that adds a number on display to its memory, which enables that number to be recalled by the MR (Memory Recall) button.
Calculator++ was one of the first apps that caught my attention because of its simple design and user interface. The buttons are nice and large, and you can actually change the skin of the app – eight different themes to choose from.
When you rotate your iPad in the landscape position you get access to a wide range of advanced trigonometric and scientific functions. Don’t ask me to explain them, but they are there.
Some user comments in the App Store complain about ads in this app, but I didn’t see any in the latest update.
Simple Calculator & Converter Free
This ad-supported Simple Calculator won’t win any awards for design, but it does include a handful of number crunching features that you might find useful.
In addition to doing very basic calculations (there are no memory functions), Simple Calculator also includes a calculator for metric conversions, another one for splitting a tip, and if you are a worldwide shopper there is a feature for finding the equivalent clothing shoe size from different countries.
If you’re looking to get beyond the geeky design of traditional calculators, Pocket Calculator delivers something different. This is a basic arithmetic calculator with a sort of retro design. It also includes a paper tape to keep track of your calculations, which you access in the landscape position of your iPad.
The biggest turnoff however to this free version is that the ads pop up at the top of the user interface and are very obtrusive. The ad-free premium version is 99 cents.
Simple Loan Calculator
This app does only what is named to do – compute the loan, interest rate and number of years over a fixed time with fixed monthly payments. Sure, anyone could do the same calculations with pen and paper, but for most of us this ad-supported app will do the numbers faster.
No calculator can increase your tax refund, but if you want to get a quick estimate of your return, TurboTax’s TaxCaster calculator might very well be of help.
According to the developers, TaxCaster “uses the same tax calculator found in the best-selling TurboTax tax software“. If the results are not to your liking, you might make a few last-minute moves to get more money back.
Calculator Pro seems to have received the highest customer ratings (2,801) for this type of app. Its design is similar to Calculator++. It includes basic calculations in portrait mode and much more advanced functions including degrees and Radians calculations in landscape mode.
This is also an ad-supported app, but the ads are not too obtrusive at the bottom of the screen. The premium version costs 99 cents, and you can also order some beautifully designed skins.
The best apps for the iPad are ones that beautifully designed and make effective use of the screen size. Jumbo Calculator is a large buttoned calculator that makes computing a breeze. The buttons and functions, including squaring and square-rooting, are nice and large so you don’t have to hunt for them. Best of all, it’s free.
There are several tip calculators to choose from for both the iPhone and iPad, but I chose this free offering because it includes a pretty good design, nice sized keyboard, and a record display of your most recent calculations.
I purchased Soulver ($5.99), the notepad calculator, because it is what I use on my desktop Mac. It saves all your recent computations, and if you make a mistake as you type numbers, you don’t have to start over because the app allows you to edit computations in the text editor. You can even use descriptive words in your compensations (e.g. $199 for an iPhone + Voice plan is $55 a month x 24 months.)
You can also see running totals and other statistics as you crunch the numbers. Soulver has many more advanced features and functions than an average user like myself will ever use, but it is great if your math skills have declined over the years.