Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Graphing Calculators vs. Smartphones

  1. Apr 12, 2018 #1
    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.

    Thank you.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2018
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 12, 2018 #2

    scottdave

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member
    2017 Award

    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
     
  4. Apr 14, 2018 #3

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2017 Award

    Given your history and struggles, I think you'd be happiest with a single-purpose device like a calculator.
     
  5. Apr 14, 2018 #4

    fluidistic

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    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.
     
  6. Apr 14, 2018 #5
    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.
     
  7. Apr 14, 2018 #6

    fluidistic

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    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.
     
  8. Apr 14, 2018 #7

    olivermsun

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    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).
     
  9. Apr 14, 2018 #8

    scottdave

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member
    2017 Award

    This is a personal preference, but I like how the buttons react. I can type many calculations on .y calculator without looking
     
  10. Apr 16, 2018 at 9:13 AM #9

    CalcNerd

    User Avatar
    Education Advisor
    Gold Member

    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.
     
  11. Apr 16, 2018 at 9:49 AM #10
    I have one of them but it has 512 MB Ram and it is with win 8.1.
    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.
     
  12. Apr 16, 2018 at 11:08 AM #11

    CalcNerd

    User Avatar
    Education Advisor
    Gold Member

    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.
     
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?
Draft saved Draft deleted



Loading...
Similar Threads for Graphing Calculators Smartphones Date
Do I need Mathematica or a CAS graphing calculator? Aug 4, 2015
What do people still use graphing calculators for? Oct 8, 2014
Calculators Do graphing calculators still make sense? Jun 18, 2014
Calculators Graphing Calculator-worth it? Feb 21, 2013
Calculators Good non-graphing calculator Jan 26, 2012