Whether you travel frequently or trade multiple currencies on a daily basis, a currency converter will always come handy. There’s a handful of them on the App Store, but I’ve realized many aren’t intuitive enough when you need them the most. Indeed, when you’re trying to bargain a price in a local flea market and have to fight with your handheld device to get the conversion rate, you’re not at an advantage. The same applies when converting large amounts you’re trading, especially when you need to do it fast. Thankfully, Smart Coin solves the problem as it’s a gorgeous and intuitive app that takes a one-screen approach, so you get all the information you need at a glance.
Smart Coin has one of the simplest user interfaces for a currency conversion app. Indeed, the application takes a one-screen approach to display all the information. Therefore, the main screen shows the currency list on the left, which can be set to show all the 175+ currencies the application supports or the favorite ones only, and the converted rates on the right. It’s relevant to note the exchange rate is displayed under each currency when you scroll down the list, without even having to move the currency to the right side of the screen.
Underneath the converted currencies there’s a virtual calculator that allows you to either enter the amount you’d like to convert or actually have Smart Coin calculate it for you. This feature is particularly useful if you’re converting monthly payments or have to check the price of items you’re buying in bulk.
Smart Coin also supports gestures: you can drag and drop currencies to reorder them or even take one from the list on the left and place it wherever you want in the conversion zone. You can also pinch to zoom on the converted numbers to change the font size — handy when converting important amounts, and double tap on the numbers to clear them.
You can easily check when the rates have been updated, as the application displays it at the top of the screen. Lastly, decimal places and separators can be adjusted according to your preference.
Even though Smart Coin is a simple application, it offers a range of advanced features that make it a very powerful currency converter and a reliable tool for online transactions. Nevertheless, most of the advanced features are offered at an additional fee, or can be purchased all together in the Pro bundle for $3.99.
The first additional feature the application offers is the currency graphs, which costs $1.99 and allows you to compare the evolution of various currencies against a base currency you set. While such graphs can easily be found online, Smart Coin combines them all on a single screen, making it particularly easy to analyze. The option’s price is, however, relatively high, as the Graph feature costs more than the application itself!
Another extra feature Smart Coin lets you purchase for $0.99 is the ability to select Premium exchange rate providers. These come in addition to the free ones, such as Yahoo and the various central banks. With this option, you’ll be able to check rates provided by PayPal, MasterCard, Visa, Bitcoin and a few others. This is particularly useful when using your credit card abroad, as credit card companies use slightly different exchange rates than the market ones.
Lastly, there is a $0.99 option that allows you to check currency rates at a custom date. I find this option particularly useful, as it allows you to check if a transaction has been billed correctly and in accordance with the day’s rate. You can even combine it with the Premium Provider option in order to check if MasterCard billed you properly!
As much as I like Smart Coin, I have to tell you about its drawbacks and what I didn’t like about the application. The first annoying point about the app is due to iOS restrictions, which prevent the application from automatically refreshing rates in the background. It will still update them according to the frequency you define in the settings if you leave the app open, but most people will only open it when they need to convert something. Thankfully, you’ll remember to leave the app open overnight for it to automatically refresh the rates, so you can have the latest ones before heading to the local market!
With Smart Coin, you can’t convert more than four currencies at once. Although this isn’t an issue for most people, many other currency converters are able to display a lot more simultaneously. Also, while the calculator application is great, it lacks brackets, preventing you from computing more complex formulas. Lastly, Smart Coin is not usable in portrait mode and I simply don’t understand why, as the iPhone app does work in this orientation.
Smart Coin is an excellent app and its few shortcomings can definitely be overlooked — I like being picky! It is by far my favorite currency converter thanks to its simplicity and eye-candy interface. The Pro features are somehow pricey and come in addition to the app’s price, but are rather useful and well-thought. If you convert currencies frequently, then Smart Coin will be one of your best investments!