Graphing Calculators vs. Smartphones

In summary: If you don't have a smart phone, buy one. MOST math applications for smart phones are available from free to cheap, with the option buy even better if you really want (I would advise to stay with free or cheap). A smart phone is a necessity in today's world. You need one.
  • #1
mech-eng
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I was wondering about to buy a graphing/scientific calculator but I have some hesitations. Should I really buy one to make math study better or would buying a smartphone be a better choice? I have an win 8.1 smartphone with 512 mb ram and 4.5-inch screen. Would it be a better choice to buy a math application to use with it? When I update my phone in the future, graphing and calculation power will be most important criteria for choice.

I was also wondering that the graphing/scientific calculators are still being sold even though there are lots of very advanced smartphones which have up to 4 GB ram and multicore processing unit (I do not know if they can be classified as CPU and I do not know if they have a GPU or something like that) Which one would be stronger and faster for complex calculations and graphings- smartphones or graphing calculators? I am not an experienced person on this topic.

Graphing calculators and smartphones are both powerful devices used for various purposes, including mathematics and education. Here's a comparison of the two:

Graphing Calculators:

  1. Specialized Tools: Graphing calculators are designed specifically for mathematical and scientific tasks, making them highly specialized devices for students and professionals in these fields.
  2. Functionality: They excel at performing complex mathematical operations, graphing equations, and solving equations. They are particularly useful for calculus, trigonometry, and statistics.
  3. Long Battery Life: Graphing calculators often have a long battery life, allowing students to use them throughout the school day or even during exams.
  4. Approved for Exams: Many standardized tests and exams, such as the SAT and AP exams, permit the use of specific models of graphing calculators.
  5. Durability: Graphing calculators are designed to withstand the rigors of a student's backpack, making them durable for academic use.
  6. Limited Connectivity: They typically lack internet access or smartphone-like features, which can help reduce distractions during classes and exams.
Smartphones:

  1. Versatile Devices: Smartphones are multi-purpose devices that serve a wide range of functions, from communication and web browsing to productivity and entertainment.
  2. Math Apps: Smartphones can run a variety of math-related apps, including graphing calculators, equation solvers, and educational tools. These apps often provide interactive and visually rich experiences.
  3. Internet Access: Smartphones provide access to a vast amount of information online, making them excellent for research and learning beyond basic calculations.
  4. Portability: Smartphones are compact and lightweight, fitting easily into a pocket, which makes them more convenient to carry around.
  5. Regular Updates: They receive regular software updates, improving functionality and security. Math apps can also be frequently updated.
  6. Connectivity: Smartphones offer connectivity to the internet and other devices, enabling data sharing and collaboration.
Considerations:

  • Cost: Graphing calculators can be expensive, while smartphones may already be owned for other purposes.
  • Acceptance in Education: Graphing calculators are widely accepted in educational settings. However, some educators allow smartphone apps with restrictions.
  • Distractions: Smartphones can be distracting in educational settings due to their non-academic features.
  • Screen Size: Graphing calculators often have larger screens better suited for graphing and displaying equations.
The choice between a graphing calculator and a smartphone for mathematics largely depends on individual needs, budget, and the specific requirements of academic or professional tasks. In many cases, students and professionals use both devices to complement each other.
 
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  • #2
It's been awhile for me, but there are certain tests (SAT for example) where I think some models of graphing calculator are permitted. I doubt you could have a phone available on Any test. Something to think about
 
  • #3
Given your history and struggles, I think you'd be happiest with a single-purpose device like a calculator.
 
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  • #4
I think smartphones are, in general, by a large margin more powerful than graphics calculator.
Here's a way to setup a TI 89 emulation on smartphones: https://www.lifehack.org/articles/technology/use-android-89-graphing-calculator.html.
The downside is that they aren't as allowed as graphics calculators in university exams. So it depends on your use. If it's just for you, at home and everywhere you want to do some calculations, I'd go for a smartphone setup.

If and only if the usage is university exams, I'd go with a graphics calculator unless the professor agrees that you use a smartphone.

Smartphones have many math programs to plot and do calculations. Maxima CAS has been ported to Android for instance.
 
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  • #5
fluidistic said:
I think smartphones are, in general, by a large margin more powerful than graphics calculator.
Here's a way to setup a TI 89 emulation on smartphones: https://www.lifehack.org/articles/technology/use-android-89-graphing-calculator.html.
The downside is that they aren't as allowed as graphics calculators in university exams. So it depends on your use. If it's just for you, at home and everywhere you want to do some calculations, I'd go for a smartphone setup.

If and only if the usage is university exams, I'd go with a graphics calculator unless the professor agrees that you use a smartphone.

Smartphones have many math programs to plot and do calculations. Maxima CAS has been ported to Android for instance.

So is the only superiority of calculators versus smartphones is that they are allowed in the exams? Might this remark imply that when time pass, some technologies become unimportant or even unnecessary?

Thank you.
 
  • #6
mech-eng said:
So is the only superiority of calculators versus smartphones is that they are allowed in the exams? Might this remark imply that when time pass, some technologies become unimportant or even unnecessary?

Thank you.
I think calculators have other strong points. For instance battery life. It may or not be relevant to your use, but they wins hands down vs smartphones.
They only have that purpose to do calculations/plotting. This means no distraction (unless you install games, which is possible...). This may be a good point or a bad point.

Nevertheless, I think calculators are overpriced for what they do and what they are.
But well, if you need a calculator in your courses (I barely had to use a calculator in the undergraduate physics exams I've had), there might be no other option than to buy one.
 
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  • #7
Some well-designed scientific calculators have been easier/quicker to use than equivalent apps on a smart phone, at least for fairly routine/familiar functions. Even just having real buttons can be advantageous. Unfortunately, many of the "advanced" graphing calculators, especially those designed for classrooms (as opposed to professional science/engineering use) have not been particularly quick to use.

Of course, if you are intending to use it on an exam — well then, you better get familiar with it! (And for those purposes I think it's unlikely that smart phones will be allowed anytime soon, just for security reasons).
 
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  • #8
This is a personal preference, but I like how the buttons react. I can type many calculations on .y calculator without looking
 
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  • #9
If you don't have a smart phone, buy one. MOST math applications for smart phones are available from free to cheap, with the option buy even better if you really want (I would advise to stay with free or cheap). A smart phone is a necessity in today's world. You need one.

However, if you are taking a class that requires a calculator, buy that too. Buy cheap if you are on a budget. $15-$25 will get you a very capable pocket calculator. If you want fancier, buy a graphics. Casio graphing calculators can be purchased for $50 new in the USA. Better costs more, but a low end graphing calculator can be very beneficial in a math class. Spending more usually buys more capability, but no calculator can match a PC with math software. Where do you plan to draw the line?

While I do appreciate a high end graphing calculator, I most often use a pocket calculator and move to a PC for complex calculations.
 
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  • #10
CalcNerd said:
If you don't have a smart phone, buy one
I have one of them but it has 512 MB Ram and it is with win 8.1.
CalcNerd said:
Spending more usually buys more capability, but no calculator can match a PC with math software.

I was also wondering about calculation and graphing power of modern calculators over smartphones. Which one is stronger? Can calculators match smart phones with advanced features?

Thank you.
 
  • #11
Certainly, most calculators have apps that work on a smart phone ie you can make the smart phone clone the calculator. Also there is math software available for smart phones, so yes, smart phones can be made to be more powerful than graphing calculators. However, the physical interface of the calculator is most preferred for most applications as stated by others above. And most exams or academic settings will NOT allow a smart phone vs allowing you to use a calculator.

If $$$ are not an issue, the three high end graphing calculators currently available are the Hp Prime, the Ti Nspire and the Casio ClassPad 500?? (not sure which ## the Casio's new high end).

Since you already have a smartphone, you should be able to load some type of graphing calculator app to try and if acceptable, should be fine. However, as others have said, a good keyboard can't be beat.
 
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Related to Graphing Calculators vs. Smartphones

1. What is the main difference between graphing calculators and smartphones?

The main difference is their primary purpose. Graphing calculators are specifically designed for mathematical and scientific calculations, while smartphones have a wide range of functions including mathematical calculations.

2. Which device is better for students, a graphing calculator or a smartphone?

It depends on the subject and level of study. For advanced mathematics and science courses, a graphing calculator may be more suitable due to its specialized functions. However, for general math or lower level courses, a smartphone may suffice.

3. Can a smartphone replace a graphing calculator?

In terms of basic mathematical calculations, yes. However, for more advanced features such as graphing, solving equations, and creating tables, a graphing calculator may be necessary.

4. Are graphing calculators more expensive than smartphones?

It depends on the brand and model. Generally, graphing calculators can be more expensive than smartphones due to their specialized functions and durability.

5. Can I use a graphing calculator on my smartphone?

Yes, there are graphing calculator apps available for smartphones. However, they may not have all the features and capabilities of a physical graphing calculator.

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