Sharp EL-501XBGR Scientific Calculator

Last updated date: June 11, 2021

DWYM Score

8.8

Sharp EL-501XBGR Scientific Calculator

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We looked at the top Scientific Calculators and dug through the reviews from some of the most popular review sites. Through this analysis, we've determined the best Scientific Calculator you should buy.

Update as June 11, 2021:
Checkout The Best Scientific Calculator for a detailed review of all the top scientific calculators.

Overall Take

This calculator features 131 mathematical, scientific and engineering functions. Large, easy-to-push buttons provide access to the many functions, and a well-designed case protects the back of the calculator when in use and its front when put away.


In our analysis of 15 expert reviews, the Sharp EL-501XBGR Scientific Calculator placed 2nd when we looked at the top 5 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.

From The Manufacturer

Sharp Electronics strives to help you create a balance between work and personal time. Our products enhance life at work, at home, and everywhere in between. Sharp is dedicated to improving lives through the use of advanced technology and a commitment to innovation, quality, value and design. The EL501XBGR is a fully-functional, high quality scientific calculator that performs over 130 scientific and math functions. This conveniently sized calculator fits perfectly on your desk at home or at work, and it is lightweight so you can take it with you wherever you go. Also, it has a large, easy to read display and a hardcover that protects it from scratching and damage. Advanced technology and engineering gives you the pin-point accuracy you expect from Sharp Electronics. This calculator is ideal for students who are studying general math, pre-algebra, algebra, and trigonometry.

Expert Reviews

Expert Summarized Score

8.6
2 expert reviews

User Summarized Score

9.2
560 user reviews

What experts liked

Boasts a streamlined build that feels comfortable in the hand, and doesn't add a lot of bulk to bags or book packs. Perfect for algebraic and statistical equations. Falls on the lower end of the price scale.
- BestReviews

What experts didn't like

Buttons have a bit of a flimsy feel. Display is one line. Some owners gripe about the distracting glossy finish.
- BestReviews

An Overview On Scientific Calculators

Calculators are useful in everyday life for many common tasks such as balancing a budget or calculating tax. However, for students in math or science courses or for professionals in engineering, physics, math or information technology and computer science, more advanced functionality is required.

Scientific and engineering calculators are equipped to handle most operations students and science professionals will need to perform day-to-day, but there are a number of factors that are important to keep in mind.

First and most importantly, if the user is a student, some calculators may have too much functionality and will not be allowed by the teacher or professor. Many algebra classes, for example, do not allow graphing calculators because part of the course material is learning how to graph equations and functions, so a calculator that does it for the student is barred.

Another functionality that is often not permitted in certain courses is the ability to program the calculator, such as to do recursive or serial operations. Both of these abilities are typically not allowed in standardized testing scenarios. On the flip side, some higher level math classes such as calculus instead require graphing and/or programming capabilities.

On the other end of the scale lie calculator apps such as those native to most smartphones. These apps usually only have basic arithmetic functions and a single-line display with no memory. While these are useful for some quick simple math on the go, they are generally insufficient for math and science students and professionals.

The median between these two extremes is the scientific or engineering calculator. These calculators have a number of advanced abilities and functions such as exponentiation, taking roots, logarithmic functions, calculating trigonometric functions and a host of others. These features are generally accessed by an array of buttons that have multiple functions each.

To access secondary or tertiary functions, a shift or function button is pressed to switch the calculator to secondary or tertiary mode. Other common capabilities include converting between units, with conversion between degrees, radians, and grads (and sometimes hour/minute/second notations) being the most common. Conversion between floating and fixed-point numbers is also common. Some scientific calculators can even compute complex numbers or perform advanced statistical functions.

When shopping for a scientific calculator, first make sure it has the functionality you need and does not have any abilities that are not allowed in your context. Next, consider ease of use issues. Are the buttons too small or just the right size? Is the writing showing the functions for the buttons easy to read? If there is additional functionality such as memory or replay capabilities, are they intuitive and straightforward to use?

Another consideration with scientific calculators is the display. Many calculators have single-line displays that show something like ten digits, which is sufficient for many purposes. However, some calculators have multiple lines used for displaying the input alongside the output or for displaying equations and formulas in a “natural” style similar to how they are written in textbooks and standard mathematical or scientific notation. This type of display includes things like stacked fractions, radicals, symbols, superscripts, integrals and so on.

Finally, make sure that the calculator is of a size that comfortably fits in your hand. Many calculators also have protective cases that flip around to protect the back of the calculator when it’s in use. These cases often also provide a comfortable ergonomic grip.

The Scientific Calculator Buying Guide

  • If the calculator is for a student or may be used in tests such as the SAT, ACT or GMAT, find out the exact specifications of permissible calculators before purchasing. What’s required in one context may be banned in another.
  • Ideally, a single calculator will meet all your needs, but some students end up with three calculators: an arithmetic-only simple calculator, a scientific calculator and a graphing calculator.
  • Consider the type of battery and how easy it is to access. Some calculators are solar-powered, but even then may have battery backup.
  • Solar power is convenient and reduces battery waste but can be a hassle if you forgot to charge it (such as by leaving it in a backpack or briefcase) and there is no backup.
  • If there are batteries, make sure they are of a common type (such as AAA) and are easy to access without requiring tools.
  • Display brightness and resolution can be a deciding factor. Some cheaper displays show “ghosts” of numbers not currently displayed and can be hard to read.
  • In bright environments, dim displays can also be a problem. Make sure the display resolution suits your needs and reading preferences, with numbers that are of a comfortable size, style and darkness for you to read.