In a previous article I covered some of the benefits of playing a digital versions of solitaire. But of the many apps that are out there for playing digital solitaire, which ones are the best, particularly if you have an iPad or iPhone? That’s what I’ll be focusing on in this article. But don’t stop reading if you only have an Android device, because the majority of these apps also have a corresponding app for Android. So if there’s an app here that sounds appealing to you, you only have to click the link provided to the developer’s page, to check out whether there’s also an equivalent Android app, or version for Windows or Mac.
My focus in this comparative review is not on apps that offer only one or two solitaire games, like Spider or FreeCell. There are literally hundreds of apps that already offer the classic Klondike solitaire game, for example. Instead, I want to showcase only those apps which offer a collection of different solitaire games that the enthusiast can explore and enjoy. I’ve grouped these into five main categories according to the number of games contained in each app’s collection:
● Ultimate Collections are for the serious expert, and each app offers a minimum of 150 different solitaire games. In most cases it’s a massive collection of hundreds of games, so if you’re the person who wants to see everything that there is, you should head here.
● Superior Collections are for the dedicated fan, and each app offers around 60-100 different games. These are for folks who have more than just a passing interest in solitaire, and like to try a range of different games beyond the usual popular choices.
● Popular Collections are for the keen amateur, and each app offers around 30-50 different games. These are for folks who have more than just a passing interest in solitaire, and like to try a range of different games beyond the usual classics.
● Classic Collections are for the casual enthusiast, and each app offers around 10-20 different games. Each of these collections typically contains only the most popular solitaire games, so this category is for you if you just want to stick with the proven classics.
● Basic Collections are for the occasional dabbler, and each app offers only about half a dozen or so different games. These are typically the bare-bones “staples” like Klondike, Spider, FreeCell, Pyramid, and Golf, which are found on nearly every site that offers solitaire.
Within each category I’ve ranked the apps according to my personal ratings. For each app I’ve included my own rating and the App Store rating. My personal rating is mainly based by judging each game relative to the others in the same category. It is based on an overall impression of factors that include: 1. the number and quality of games included; 2. the graphics; 3. the user interface; 4. special features; and 5. pricing. Any rating is very subjective, so don’t give my rating too much weight. Sometimes one particular gripe may sink a particular app for me, but you might give weight to different factors, so your experience with a particular app may be different from mine.
You’ll notice that nearly all of my ratings have at least three or four stars (out of five), so you might wonder why I’ve rated all these apps quite highly. That’s simply because I’ve only included the apps that I think are actually worthwhile. I play-tested a lot of apps with a view to putting together this comparative review, and I deleted and dismissed any app that performed poorly, that I couldn’t recommend, or simply wasn’t worth your time – they simply didn’t make this list. As a result the only ones included here are those that I have personally enjoyed and made good use of, and that I think are worthwhile in some way.
To give another perspective besides my own ratings, I’ve also listed the App Store ratings. But at times the App Store ratings need to be taken with an even bigger grain of salt. Firstly, sometimes they are based on ratings from just a handful of people. Secondly, sometimes they are significantly impacted by disenchanted regulars who are upset after a particular update to their favourite app. Thirdly, in some instances they primarily reflect ratings from several years ago, and have been contributed by people who haven’t seen more recent apps that might be significantly superior. So while the App Store ratings in many cases can be a helpful guide to popularity and quality, this isn’t always the case. Certainly there are apps with very few ratings that deserve real consideration.
In light of the above, I suggest focusing especially on my overall comments and impressions, and that you consider the various strengths and weaknesses of each app, rather than the ratings alone. For one person the number of games included might be most important; for another person it might be the user interface or the ability to select custom graphics. In other words, you need to give emphasis to the things that are most important to you, and judge accordingly. In writing this comparative review it is my aim to help give you the information you need to do exactly that, and get you enjoying some of the wonderful solitaire games that countless people around the world also love!
Of course anybody can enjoy the apps in this category, not just the serious solitaire expert. But listed here are some of the apps with vast numbers of different solitaire games. So if there is a solitaire game that is slightly unusual, or a variation that other apps don’t have, you may well find it in one of these programs. All of these have over 150 games at a minimum, so if it is sheer numbers you’re looking for, start here.
BVS Solitaire Collection
1. BVS Solitaire Collection by BVS Development ($5.99)
BVS Solitaire is the creation of Boris Sandberg, who has produced software for solitaire on multiple platforms, including Windows and Mac. This fine app has similar functionality to the versions available for PC. Aside from some counter-intuitive menus, the iPad version is very good, with particularly excellent graphics.
While the 280 games it comes with is a total that includes variations, it’s an impressive collection, arranged handily by type. The software also lets you easily create your own solitaire games with custom rules, so there are endless possibilities.
2. Allgood Solitaire by Allgood Software ($0.99)
The first thing that impressed me with this app was the large selection of over 200 solitaire games, and the ability to arrange them by family or by favourites – a very convenient feature that I especially appreciate. There are also handy details for each game like the chance of winning, skill/luck ratio, and statistics.
The graphical look immediately strikes one as clean and modern, and there’s enough customization available here to suit your taste. The user interface is intuitive and works well. It’s just an all-round well done app, and is attractively priced as well. As you can tell, this app impressed me and I liked it a lot.
3. Solebon Pro by Solebon LLC ($4.99)
This iPad-only app is an expanded version of their universal basic app which is free, ad-based, and comes with just 50 games. The interfaces of both games are similar, and while the Pro version doesn’t have some of the bells and whistles of the more basic app, the fact that it comes with a massive 160 different games is a real strength.
It offers a very solid collection of different games, and plays very smoothly. And it has a good range of features, and enough customization to make it pleasing to use regularly.
Solitaire Forever II
4. Solitaire Forever II by Solitaire Forever (free, but $7.99 in-app to unlock games)
This is a newer implementation of the Solitaire Forever app which has been around for a long time already, and was a big success. More recently the developer has been focusing his energies on this much improved and more modern app. The free version comes with only seven games, and the in-app purchase unlocks over 300 more games, each with helpful historical background.
Like its predecessor, the user interface isn’t the most intuitive, and it suffers somewhat from a reliance on iconography. But this app really shows off the graphical capabilities of the iPad, and works best with good hardware. It’s also available for Steam, Windows, Mac, and Android.
Pretty Good Solitaire
5. Pretty Good Solitaire by Thomas Warfield ($9.99)
This app corresponds to the software available for Windows and Mac, and although it doesn’t include all 1030 games that are part of the PC version, the 750 games it comes with is still incredible. The fact that its creator is an expert in solitaire games and has many original games to his credit already speaks volumes; his related web-site is also an excellent resource.
But the software was last updated in 2017, and unfortunately it does have a somewhat dated look which makes it less easy on the eyes than some of the other options. Regrettably these graphical weaknesses do hold it back somewhat, and prevent a higher rating.