In search of the best scientific calculator for Librem Phone/Pinephone

While many apps do run on Librem 5 phone, there are many yet to be fully working on the small screen. In this post we explore the various calculator apps for Linux and see which might best work as a student/engineer’s go-to calculator:

Built in Calculator

You would think this one that comes with it would work great, and it does… but even this one has an issue with the screen size and only the top row of buttons in landscape mode! In most other phones you would have a more advanced keyboard that works instead of having to type the function with the keyboard from the rightmost bottom keyboard button.

Deepin Calculator

Built for Deepin linux, this one works and is simple.

Genius Math Tool

This tool basically doesn’t work – The keyboard seems to conflict with it. The dialogs like in many apps, does not scale to show everything on the small Librem Phone screen. See Gitlab bug.

MATE Calcuator

This works only in basic mode and only in Landscape mode on your phone. See Github bug.

WXMaxima

This is not just a calculator but a computer algebra system capable of integrate, differentiate, etc. The menu and toolbar are clipped and unfortunately the on screen keyboard can’t work with it most of the time. See Github bug.

Qalculate

This is another advanced calculator that brings frustration to a smaller screen. It does work but the keypad, history and conversion tabs at the bottom are unusable without tapping exactly on the triangle, not so usable with a finger without a mouse. You must also switch the keyboard on or off to see the result in landscape view. See github bug.

Galculator

This calculator works fairly well, at least in the paper mode and Basic mode. Bug reported for Scientific mode.

SpeedCrunch

Speedcrunch is a simple terminal based one, a color coded console with some extra features like units and variables and functions and equation library. The input keyboard generally works for this one! The sidebars are accessible from the View menu and they generally work but seem to mess the input keyboard sometimes. It also looks a little blurry like it is not using the full retina resolution of the screen.

BC

BC is a terminal application and you probably won’t want to open terminal on phone and enter “bc” for your calculator. It does work however just like on desktop Linux if you enter at terminal

sudo apt install bc
bc

and enter an expression.

Conclusion

Out of all these calculators the best advanced calculators for the Librem phone are the ones that are a terminal interface. There is a lot of room for a company like Wolfram to build and sell a better graphing/calculating app! As you can see, the general majority of Linux apps still don’t have the best consideration for mobile screens or tablets, perhaps because there were not so many of these devices in the past. With more Librem 5’s shipping to consumers this is going to be much more important in the future. If you are a developer please see the article on making your app mobile-friendly. Just like developers needed to make their websites into mobile-responsive-websites when smartphone use started growing years ago, developers are going to need to be considering small screen when building their desktop apps now. If you are looking for a summer project to assist a lot of students or professionals using a Linux phone, the above mentioned bugs would be a good place to start to improve an existing project.

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