Why doesn't the calculator in iPhone have a backspace? It only has a 'AC / C' button which clears the complete entry that was made.

If a user wants to get rid of the last digit / last few digits that was entered, it's impossible. The user has to clear the complete entry and start all over again.

  • 3
    From what I have read, you can delete single digits by swiping from left to right on the screen. This leads me to think there simply wasn't any room on the screen for a backspace button. The buttons on the calculator are logically grouped and colour coded, so adding a backspace button may have broken the grid-based grouping.
    – Brendon
    Dec 26, 2013 at 19:28
  • you can swipe left on the screen for backspace fyi
    – user73334
    Sep 15, 2015 at 4:30

2 Answers 2


Apple tend to try and mimic real life behavior as much as possible in their UI.

For example, while casing is reflected on the keyboards of all OSs, in iOS, the keyboard always shows the letters as capital letters, even if the shift button is not pressed. The logic is that on the physical keyboard, the cases of the letter printed on the button do not change.

I assume the calculator follows that as most non-advanced calculators do not have a backspace button and so Apple decided to mimic that.

  • 5
    Agreed! But that's not to say it's good reasoning. Most old calculators likely don't have a backspace because of limitations in their logic/memory, and keyboards don't change case simply because they can't (unless you have one of those fancy keyboards with LED screens on the keys). These are limitations due to their design being tactile. A poorer UX shouldn't be translated over to a digital interface just because its real-world counterpart has it.
    – Nathron
    Jan 24, 2014 at 21:14
  • Completely agree!
    – Tarek
    Jan 27, 2014 at 8:58

Because the iPhone calculator is based on the design of the Braun ET-44 which didn't have a backspace either.

  • Are you sure that's what it's based on? They don't look the same, and the buttons are in different places too (5 per row for the Braun, 4 per row for iOS). However if you've got a reference where you heard about that then that'd be good.
    – JonW
    May 6, 2014 at 8:53
  • 1
    @JonW: I added a link to a blog article which compares a few designs of braun with apple. The similarities are quite striking but afaik apple never confirmed any of this. Also, note that in earlier iOS versions the designs were more similar (e.g. round buttons). May 6, 2014 at 9:03

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