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If you’re a math or science student, you need a reliable calculator to help you solve complex problems and visualize difficult concepts. These days, your choice isn’t limited to just traditional handheld calculators anymore because there are many excellent calculator apps online that offer virtually the same features but don’t cost anything.
How to Choose a Calculator?
When choosing a calculator, you need to balance your needs with your budget. To do that, we recommend you follow the five steps below.
1. List Your Requirements
First, make a list of all the features you want your calculator to have. Do you need a high-resolution color display to easily plot multiple graphs at the same time? How about large memory to store your results? By listing as many requirements as possible, you will be able to quickly figure out which calculators are suitable for you and which are not.
For example, if you need the calculator to work without an internet connection, an online calculator app may not be the best choice for you. On the other hand, if your budget is extremely tight but you need a calculator that can help you with college math, an online calculator app might be the only suitable option.
2. Decide on a Budget
Traditional handheld calculators can be very expensive. For example, the Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE graphing calculator, one of the most frequently recommended graphing calculators with a color screen costs around $140, which is not an insignificant sum of money for a student.
The good news is that most calculator apps online are available for free, so there’s no reason for you to break open your piggy bank just to buy a calculator. If you need a handheld calculator for use on an exam like PSAT, SAT, or ACT, you can simply borrow it from a friend or a kind stranger for the day.
3. Compare Available Calculators
With your requirements listed and your budget set, it’s time to compare available calculators and pick a couple of favorites. You should carefully read the specifications of each selected calculator and write down its pros and cons.
Your goal should be to narrow down your selection of suitable calculators as much as possible to save time during the next step.
4. Watch Reviews and Demonstration Videos
You would be surprised just how many calculator reviews you can find online. There are even entire YouTube channels dedicated to calculators, so you shouldn’t have much trouble finding more information about any calculator that sparks your interest.
A video review or demonstration video can help you discover hidden quirks and get a better understanding of how it feels to use the calculator. Just because a calculator looks fantastic on paper doesn’t mean that it’s also easy to use and responsive.
5. Reconsider Your Purchase
Before you click the purchase button, reconsider if you really need a traditional handheld calculator. More specifically, ask yourself if an affordable calculator with basic features plus an online calculator app wouldn’t be able to satisfy your requirements even better than one very expensive calculator.
If you decide that an online calculator is the way to go, you can simply pick one from the list below and start doing math the smart way.
Top 7 Best Free Calculator Apps Online
Trying to pick the best calculator apps online is never easy because there are so many great options out there, and most of them are completely free. To save you time, we did the research for you, and here are the top 7 best free calculator apps online in December 2019.
1. Calculator 1
Calculator 1 is a perfect introductory calculator app because its design closely mimics physical handheld calculators, making it feel instantly familiar. The app works both on desktop computers and mobile devices, and it even supports keyboard shortcuts. If you have issues with how it displays on your device, you can easily change its size.
In addition to the default calculator, Calculator 1 can also display a scientific calculator with trigonometric, logarithmic, exponential, and other functions; a simple calculator with only the four most basic functions; a root calculator; and a percentage calculator.
2. Meta Calculator
As its name suggests, Meta Calculator is a versatile calculator that’s essentially multiple calculator apps online rolled into one. You can graph any equation, use trig or log functions, add, multiply, transpose matrices, and perform standard deviation and other statistical operations.
Meta Calculator claims that its scientific calculator is the most sophisticated calculator app online, boasting multiple advanced features, including a button to calculate the least common multiple, permutations, and combinations. It also has a handy memory button for storing calculations for future use. Meta Calculator’s help page has several videos that explain some of the most complicated functions, and they can really go a long way in helping you use it to its full potential.
Desmos is a no-frills online calculator app that’s perfect for students of all ages who are looking for a calculator that’s both easy to use and powerful. You can start with just the four basic functions, continue with the Desmos graphic calculator, and tackle college-level calculus with advanced scientific functions and geometry tools.
The knowledge center does a fantastic job of explaining all features of this unassuming online calculator app. It even explains how to use Desmos for classroom activities, helping teachers and other educators help students learn math in a more engaging and interactive way.
4. Google Calculator
The Google search page has a hidden calculator that you can reveal by typing the word calculator into the search bar. The calculator can do arithmetic, functions, value of physical constants, base and representative conversion, and it can even graph complicated equations quickly by entering your functions into the search box.
Apart from the calculator that lives on the Google search page, Google also has a great calculator app, called simply Calculator, for Android devices. In addition to basic calculations, Calculator can do scientific operations such as trigonometric, logarithmic, and exponential functions. It has 4.4 stars out of 5 at the time of writing this article, with users praising its elegant design and the ability to display results in real-time.
5. Symbolab Math Solver
Symbolab Math Solver is a heavyweight calculator app whose biggest claim to fame is that it provides automated step by step solutions to algebraic, trigonometric, and calculus topics covering from middle school through college. Because it actually explains how to arrive at the correct solution instead of just presenting the solution to you as a fact, it helps you build your math skills and get used to solving many different kinds of problems.
You can test yourself on pre-algebra, algebra, matrices and vectors, functions, trigonometry, calculus, and word problems. Symbolab Math Solver works great in any modern web browser, but you can also download the Symbolab Practice app to your smartphone and work on your math skills anywhere and at any time.
Omni is a massive collection of nearly 1,000 free calculators covering everything from chemistry to construction, conversion, ecology, everyday life, finance, food, health, physics, sports, statistics, and, yes, even math. For example, you can use Omni to calculate your shower cost, how much money you can save by quitting smoking, or how much time you spend on emails.
Students can use Omni to include interesting factual information in their essays or just to learn more about the world we live in. Omni is constantly expanding its collection of free calculators, striving to remain the largest collection of calculator apps online.
7. Keisan by Casio
Casio is one of the largest manufacturers of handheld calculators in the world, and Keisan (which is the Japanese word for calculation) is the company’s online calculator app for anyone who doesn’t have a Casio calculator with them at the moment.
Keisan can calculate time, interest rate, volume and surface area, regression, trigonometric functions, hypergeometric distribution, zeta function, double exponential, matrix transform, and that’s just scratching the surface, making it one of the most powerful calculator apps online. Unfortunately, it’s definitely not the most user-friendly calculator app, and performing even relatively basic calculations can be a daunting task.
WolframAlpha isn’t like the other calculator apps on our list. Instead, it’s a computational knowledge engine or answer engine that understands natural language and answers factual queries directly by computing the answer from externally sourced curated data.
Its mathematic capabilities cover elementary math, algebra, calculus, analysis, geometry, plotting and graphics, differential equations, data sets, trigonometry, linear algebra, discrete mathematics, number theory, complex analysis, applied mathematics, mathematical functions, mathematical definitions, log and set theory, continued fractions, statistics, probability, and famous math problems.
When WolframAlpha solves a math problem, it always explains the steps for reaching them, helping you learn on your own and improve your math skills.