App Review: Brain Trainers

brain-trainerAny kind of gaming is good for your brain. Sudoku, Candy Crush, the latest AAA blockbuster, they’re all based in problem solving and working through them helps keep your brain active (to varying degrees of course). Lately though, there’s been a new subset of games that are designed to maximize this benefit of gaming. The “brain trainer.” These are apps that have a series of challenges designed to make you think in different ways. Apps designed to make you think better. (Or at least that’s the promise.)

I’m always interested in self improvement, so these brain trainers are very appealing to me. I’m approaching this review different than ones I’ve done in the past. Instead of going through all the options, finding something I like, and reviewing it, I’m going to compare some of the ones I tried. Each of us approaches these apps with different goals in mind, hopefully this will give you some guidance. For all of these, I used the free version of the app on Android.


Platforms: iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Web
Cost: Limited free version; App Version: $59.95 a year, $11.95 a month; Web Version: $79.95 a year or $14.95 a month (According to Lumosity, they’re doing price structure testing)

Lumosity is the app that started this whole thing for me. I see the ads on TV/Hulu frequently and decided to give it a try. The interface is beautiful and the games are simple and quick (but fun enough). When you complete a game, it shows you your personal best for that game as well as where your score ranks your history. Initially, I thought Lumosity was missing personalization, but that’s actually on the web. Most of Lumosity is based on the web actually. Even in the pay version there are 9 games on mobile and 45 on the web. That’s just not what I’m looking for. These apps are made to be used daily (Lumosity says 3-5 days a week for best results). I want it to be convenient, which means I want most of the app on my phone. If you’re fine playing on the web, and want those extra games? You’re looking at basically $80 a year. It’s ridiculous.

Fit Brains

Platforms: iOS, Android, Web
Cost: 5 day limited free version; App Version: $49.98 lifetime, $9.99 a year, or $5.99 for 3 months; Web Version: $399.99 lifetime, $150 for two years, $99.96 for one year, or $19.95 per month

Fit Brains is a brain trainer created by Rosetta Stone. It’s very similar to Lumosity but adds language training which I like. Also like Luminosity it has three games you can play a day, and they change each day. But only for five days. I don’t understand why they give you a time limit and limited functionality. It seems like it should be one or the other. But I enjoyed it and was thisclose to paying the $10 a year to get access to the 12 mobile games and 30+ web games…but when I went to the website none of my progress was synced. That seemed odd. I looked at the web “subscribe” section, and there was a huge price discrepancy. As it turns out, each subscription is separate. You pay in the app, you only get the app. If you pay on the web, you get everything. Having a cheaper “mobile only” price is a great idea. What really annoys me though, is that this isn’t clear. I found out by contacting the company.


Platforms: iOS, Android
Cost: Limited free version; $44.99 a year or $4.99 a month

There’s a reason Apple named Elevate the best app of the year it’s amazing. Elevate sets itself apart by focusing on more concrete skills of speaking, writing, reading, listening, and math. (Opposed to abstract skills such as memory, attention, and problem solving.) Skills that, in my opinion, are easier to see an improvement in for your day-to-day life. It’s also completely mobile based, opposed to Luminosity and Fit Brains that have a high percentage of content as “web only.” The free version sticks with the pattern of three games for that day’s session, and you can play only those games for that day. But those games are very engaging and I don’t feel “stuck” for the day with them. For $45 a year you can unlock an additional 9 games (bringing the total to 27) and have unlimited play of any of them. But as much as I love Elevate (it’s my favorite of the three) I just can’t bring myself to pay the yearly fee. It still feels like too much. When I think about it in comparison to console games, that’s the average price of a AAA title game that has been out for a few months. Or comparing it to other mobile games, Final Fantasy games are $15.99 each, as is Civilization Revolution. I would be willing to pay $45 a year if multiple users could have accounts under that fee. If both my husband and I could access it for $45 a year, I’d be much more tempted.

Bottom Line

So which one am I going with? I’m going to use the free versions of Elevate and Lumosity. The games are quick, engaging, and different from each other. I would have paid for Fit Brains too, but their lack of clarity concerns me. If the sign-up process is that confusing, I worry about how the unsubscribe would eventually be.

2 Responses to “App Review: Brain Trainers”
  1. Andrew Konietzky says:
    • Nicole says:

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