iPhone: iOS and the Hidden Scientific Calculator

| TMO Quick Tip

The iPhone and iPod touch include a built-in calculator app that's easy to use and handy since it goes where ever you take your pocket-size iOS device. That calculator is pretty basic, but it also hides a full featured scientific calculator, and all it takes to find it is a little twist.

The calculator in iOS 6 is more than it seems...The calculator in iOS 6 is more than it seems...

You can see the standard calculator view when holding your iPhone or iPod touch in portrait mode, meaning holding the device so it's taller than it is wide. To switch to the scientific calculator, just rotate your device into landscape mode so it's wider than it is tall.

...just rotate to see the hidden scientific calculator....just rotate to see the hidden scientific calculator.

This trick won't work if you have the Rotation Lock on, and it doesn't work for the iPad because in a mystery move Apple decided not to include a calculator app on its tablet device.

For iPad and iPad mini owners that need a calculator app, PCalc from TLA Systems is a nice choice. It's available through Apple's iTunes-based App Store for US$9.99, and a feature-limited free version is available, too.

Popular TMO Stories



The rotation thing would be cool if rotation wasn’t so annoying that I always leave rotation lock on. That makes it too many taps to disable rotation lock and get at the sci calculator. I have a couple other calculator apps on my phone: TouchCalc and MissingCalc.  I think TouchCalc added ads some time recently, because they didn’t used to be there but now they are (yuck, I hate ads flashing at me). It’s a full scientific calculator.  MissingCalc is more of a programmer’s calculator with hex and ascii and logical operations.

Can someone invent a better rotation method? Without rotation lock slight movements as I adjust my sitting position jostle my arm and hand and tip the phone just enough to rotate the web page I was reading, thus causing things to jump all over and make me wait for it to rotate back.  Setting the iPhone on the table does similar things.  Maybe if you had to turn it 45 deg or even 85-90 degrees relative to the ground to trigger the rotation change, then keep it that way regardless of which direction later becomes “down” unless a new direction becomes very down.  Then I can tilt the phone to a new orientation easily but not have the tilt happen accidentally.

Richard Butler

What’s newsy about this?  This has been on iOS since the 1st iPhone was introduced.  Seems to me to be a wasted article, that someone didn’t to his/her homework and was too lazy to write something everyone has known since 2007.

Log in to comment (TMO, Twitter or Facebook) or Register for a TMO account