Calm is a fairly user-friendly and visually impressive mindfulness and meditation app that earned 4 out of 5 stars overall from our independent review. The Calm app features meditations on a range of topics, has excellent content for kids, and offers some beginner-level meditations. Calm has a limited free version as well as a premium subscription. Calm offers a seven day free trial and costs $69.99 per year.
Rating of Calm Meditation App
Over the past year, I have dedicated a considerable amount of time to researching, personally using, and reviewing meditation apps. Not only do I use these apps for at least two weeks before writing a detailed review, I also reach out to the individual companies to ask numerous questions about their products that users are likely to want answers to. All of this is done to ensure that consumers get the information they need to make intelligent purchases. I have been using meditation apps as a staple in my life since 2015 and the Calm app was a challenge to me at first. Calm earned 4 out of 5 stars overall during our independent review due to it’s meditation library, extra features, and cost. However, many of the meditations feel geared toward more intermediate level meditators and the app can be challenging to navigate.
Pros & Cons of the Calm App
Calm is a visually beautiful app, but can also be overwhelming to new users. Finding free content in the app can be a challenge and has led some users to think there isn’t any. The topic-specific meditations and music playlists in the premium version are great. However, the numerous celebrity appearances throughout the app can be distracting.
Where To Download Calm
You can sign up for an account on the Calm website.
If you have an Android device, you can download the Calm app in the Google Play Store.
For those with Apple devices, you can download the Calm app in the Apple App Store.
What Is Calm?
Calm is a mindfulness and meditation app, but it offers so much more. While the free version of Calm only offers select meditation courses, mood check-ins, and breathing techniques to learn, it does give new users a taste of what Calm is like overall. This is why Calm earned a well-deserved 5 out of 5 stars in the “Cost & Free Trial” category of our meditation apps scoring criteria. When you are ready, you can sign-up for a subscription and receive a seven-day free trial. This will allow you to explore all of the premium content, like full meditation courses, kid’s content, and more!
Calm doesn’t feel as traditional as other meditation apps, as much of the content in the app covers more than meditation. There are yoga videos in the “Movement” area, celebrity audio sessions discussing mental health, a fairly large music section, and a great area kid’s section. The kid’s section features meditations for toddlers to teens and bedtime stories from beloved story books like The Velveteen Rabbit.
Calm’s mood check-ins incorporate some light journaling, and the breathwork section helps you learn how to properly incorporate various techniques into your practice. The area dedicated to workplace well-being is dynamic with mindfulness exercises to help you focus, lo-fi music playlists to listen to as you work, and expert guidance on how to reset and rest after a long day. All of these great extras are why Calm earned 4.5 out of 5 stars in the “Extra Features & Resources” category of our scoring criteria.
While the Calm app can feel overwhelming and a little chaotic at first, it does become a little easier to navigate the more time you spend in the app. However, the sense of disorganization and lack of guidance on a defined place to start is why Calm earned a 3 out of 5 stars in the “Interface Design & User Experience” category of our scoring criteria. Calm really seems more geared towards bringing mindfulness into your day versus building a strict meditation routine.
Scientific Basis for Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness and meditation can teach you to slow your thoughts, reign in your emotions, and focus fully on your present moment. When you practice mindfulness, you intentionally focus on deep breathing and turn your attention to the moment, which helps override your brain’s stress and anxiety responses.
In a 2010 study conducted at UCLA, researchers examined trait mindfulness, a natural tendency to keep thoughts and emotions rooted in the present moment rather than running amok in automatic negative thoughts about the past or future. 1 They discovered that this tendency can be learned, honed, and practiced. The more people develop this ability, the more they experience a pervasive sense of inner peace because they learn to respond less negatively and emotionally to stressors. 2
Who Is the Calm App Right For?
Calm is great for anyone who wants dedicated meditations for anxiety or stress. There are longer meditation courses that can help those who are struggling to find inner quiet and calm.
Great for Families
Families looking to explore mindfulness with their children for the first time should definitely check out Calm. The kid’s section is great and has easy-to-understand meditations for all ages. There are bedtime and naptime meditations, meditation mini-courses for toddlers to teens, and classic stories that the entire family can enjoy.
Helps with Workplace Stress
Calm has really great content for those who are dealing with workplace burnout or stress, or for those who need more focus in their workday. There are mindfulness exercises to help you concentrate and reconnect with the passion in your work, as well as awesome ambient music playlists to help keep you focused.
New to Breathwork
If you are brand new to breathwork and unsure what it is or how to do it properly, Calm can help you learn. The is a dedicated area just for breathing techniques and it will teach you what each breath sequence is called and how to do them properly while using a visual aid. Breathwork is an important mindfulness technique for all levels of meditators to practice and this is why Calm earned 4 out of 5 stars in the “Mindfulness” category of our scoring criteria.
To Keep Building Your Practice
Calm has great meditation sessions and courses for those who already have a strong basic meditation foundation. Those who are moving into an intermediate or semi-advanced practice will find great content to explore that will help build further upon their existing skills.
Who May Want an Alternative to the Calm App
While the Calm app can be a great fit for many meditators, it is not always the best fit for everyone, like advanced meditators, those needing more structure, and kids under 13.
Not for Advanced Practitioners
Calm may not be a great fit for those more advanced in their meditation practice. Advanced practitioners may want to use a different meditation app, like Insight Timer. To learn more about their large meditation library, you can read our in-depth review of Insight Timer.
If You Need a Structured App
If you are looking for well-defined starting and ending points to your meditation practice, Calm may not be the right fit for you. The Calm app is fluid and lacks a clear structure, which allows you to choose and guide your own experience. Someone looking for a more structured meditation program may benefit more from Headspace. You can learn all about this and more when you read our comprehensive review of Headspace.
While there is great content for kids and teens, only those over the age of 13 may have their own accounts. In order to pay for a premium subscription, you must be 18 or older.
What Are Calm Users Saying?
Currently, Calm has a fairly high star rating in both app stores. It has a 4.8-star rating from 1.4 million reviews in the Apple App Store, and a 4.4-star rating from 460,000+ reviews in the Google Play Store.
One user mentioned that the Calm app was inaccessible for those with sight impairments. They mentioned that while the screen reader was great at reading any of the text, it couldn’t describe anything else about the app, like pictures.
Hard to Find Free Content
Users said that Calm used to offer more free content in previous years, but has since been taken away. They complained that there was no free content, but this is actually untrue. I had the same first impression, but it’s actually just hard to find.
Cost is High and Free Trial is Short
Many users complained that at $69.99 per year, Calm was not worth the money. While Calm is actually comparable in cost to apps like Headspace, there are also discounts available in-app or via email for 40% off the first year’s subscription making it more affordable.
People also complained that seven days is not long enough to decide if you want to pay for a subscription, especially since the interface is confusing. I agree that the interface is confusing and lacks a defined starting point. However, there are several meditation courses that you could complete in seven days, which would allow you to decide if you want to keep the subscription.
Excellent for Families
A lot of parents consistently reviewed the app as great for kids and teens. They also really love the sleep stories geared toward kids and the short daytime meditations. I absolutely agree with this and both of my younger children have asked to listen to the sleep stories from Calm by name (they like the Transformers meditation best).
An Awesome Investment in Yourself
One user mentioned that the fees/cost of Calm is actually a great investment because they use the app daily. They also mentioned that there is new content daily (located in “The Daily” section). Every day a new meditation appears on different topics and it is fun to see what will pop up next.
Helps With Anxiety
Several users mentioned that the meditation courses in Calm really helped them manage their anxiety. Some users also said that the app taught them how to actually meditate and that the course “How to Meditate” is awesome for beginners. And I absolutely agree with both of these sentiments. Calm has really great content for specific mental health issues, like meditations for depression and meditations for anxiety.
Learn Tools to Become Unstuck
An especially moving user review mentioned that Calm helps them shift gears, re-center, and reconnect during challenging times like bedtime, illness, self-doubt, and mental fatigue. This struck me personally because I use meditation apps for similar reasons and I am always happy when someone finds something that truly works for them.
How Much Does The Calm App Cost?
Calm features select meditation courses, mood check-ins, and breathwork exercises for free. The premium subscription costs $69.99 annually and comes with a seven-day free trial. This is why Calm earned 5 out of 5 stars in the “Cost & Free Trial” category of our scoring criteria! You can also explore various subscription options for families, students, and teachers through the Calm website.
Is the Calm App Free?
Yes, the app is free to download and offers a select number of meditation courses, mood check-ins, and breathwork exercises for free. Note that none of these are geared towards kids. The free version of Calm would be good for those who want to see what the app has to offer and to experience what a meditation course with Calm is like before purchasing a subscription.
Calm Premium Subscription
Calm’s premium subscription is $69.99 annually and comes with a seven-day free trial. There is an option for a monthly subscription of $14.99, but only to those who sign up through the app stores. In order to select this plan, you must go to “Manage Subscriptions” and choose it manually while you are in the free trial period. There is also a lifetime membership available through the website for $399.99.
The premium subscription unlocks all the content in the app. There are numerous meditation courses, celebrity audio stories, yoga, sleep content, an awesome kids section, and music in the premium version. All of the content is great for those already familiar with meditation and for those looking to find ways to bring mindfulness to their daily life.
Pro Tip: I highly recommend you do not choose the free trial and yearly subscription right away. In my experience, you will receive an in-app offer of 40% off the yearly subscription or an email with the same discount. This will bring your total to $41.99 for the first year, a truly amazing savings opportunity.
Calm for Families
The Calm Family Plan is $99.99 per year and allows the account holder to invite five users. These five users can be any friend or family member and they do not have to live with you. Everyone will get their own login information, with the bill going to the primary account holder.
Calm for Students
Calm for Students is a partnership with the Amazon Prime Student Account program. Students will receive three months free, after which it is $8.99 per year. For more information about how to sign up please visit Amazon Prime Student for details.
Calm for Teachers
Calm currently offers free resources for teachers to use in their classrooms with their students. This includes 30 days of mindfulness activities and a downloadable self-care guide for teachers. Teachers are also eligible for 40% of their yearly premium subscription.
Calm for Business
There are two different plans for businesses: “Teams” for companies of 100 people or less, and “Business”, for companies of 101 people or more. The Teams plan will give you access to everything the app offers, plus engagement resources, reporting and analytics, and special content for work.
The business plan will give you everything in the Teams plan PLUS digital events and webinars and additional account management options. It is a per-employee cost and varies depending on how many employees are added to the plan.
|Free Trial of Premium Plan||Yes|
|Student Discount||Yes, but only with an Amazon Prime Student Account|
Does Calm Take Insurance?
Some insurance companies, like Kaiser Permanente, offer a premium subscription to Calm as part of their wellness programs. To sign-up for your free subscription, simply search for “Kaiser Calm App”.
To find out if your insurance provider offers a free subscription to the Calm app, contact your insurance provider.
How to Cancel the Calm App
You can cancel your monthly or yearly subscription at any time. If you sign up for an account through the website, you must contact Calm at [email protected] to cancel your subscription.
If you signed up through the Apple or Google App stores, you can manage your subscriptions through the store.
Does Calm Offer Refunds?
Calm does not offer refunds on any subscriptions.
For more information, please visit Calm’s Terms of Service.
How to Get Started With the Calm App
Calm is available through the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store, or you can sign up on their website. To take advantage of the Calm Family Plan or the Amazon Prime Student + Calm Plan, you must sign up on the appropriate websites. If you want to be able to have a monthly subscription, you must sign up through the app stores.
To download the Calm app, go to the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.
To sign up for a free account, you will enter your name, your email address and create a new password. You will also share what type of content you are looking for in the Calm app and you will be offered a free trial and subscription.
You can choose to sign up for your free trial and subscription right away or choose to wait. If you wait, you will only have access to a select number of free meditation courses and audios, but you will be able to fully explore the app and figure out where everything is.
You will be offered a 40% discount in the app if you choose to wait to sign up for the premium subscription.
When you are ready, simply click on any locked content or go to your profile to sign up for a premium subscription.
Calm App Free Subscription: Detailed Review
Calm’s free app has a very select number of meditation courses and other content available. However, it can be very difficult to find this free content, especially when you are new to the app and don’t know where to look. The free version gives you access to some select meditation courses on anxiety and stress, however, you must sign up for a premium subscription to experience everything the app has to offer.
The 11 main areas to explore in the Calm app include:
- Calm Kids
- For Work
Feature 1: Calm’s Free Content
When you log in to Calm for the first time, you will see area buttons on your screen with names like “meditation”, “wisdom”, “check-ins’, and “sleep”, which are the spaces you can find the free content in. You can click through each one to search through subsections and eventually find the free meditation courses, or you can use the list I made which will get you meditating much faster.
When you click the “Discover” hub, a search bar will automatically appear at the top of your app. Using the list below, simply type in the name of the free meditation you want to explore.
Free Meditation Courses
Most of the free meditation courses are geared more towards beginners than intermediate or advanced meditators. Most are 7 days in length with a few being longer than 10 days. They cover topics from stress and anxiety to focus and sleep. There are also a couple of short audio series led by big-name celebrities discussing their journeys into mindfulness.
The free meditation courses are:
- 7 Days of Sleep
- 7 Days of Calming Anxiety
- 7 Days of Managing Stress
- 7 Days of Calm
- 7 Days of Soothing Pain
- 7 Days of Focus
- 7 Days of Happiness
- 7 Days of Self-Esteem
- 10 session course on Radical Self-Care
- 21 Days of Clam
- 30 session course of How to Meditate
The Radical Self-Care course was really insightful about how to be kind to yourself. Teacher Lama Rod Owens talked about how we can learn to love the body we are in, how to care for ourselves, and how it all takes practice.
There are also a few celebrity-led audio sessions in Calm’s free version that include:
- Breath Into It With Shawn Mendes – a short series on how he stays grounded and his mental health journey
- Breath Into It With Camila Cabello – a short series on how she started and maintains her mindfulness journey.
- Train Your Mind Vol. 1 With LeBron James – a short series on what his internal playbook for mental fitness looks like.
Between the lack of intuitive navigation of the Calm app and the several celebrity appearances, Calm earned 3 out of 5 stars in the “Interface Design & User Experience” of our scoring criteria.
There are additional free mindfulness resources available for download from the Calm website.
In the aptly named “Breathe” section, you will be able to practice one breathwork technique that is often used in beginner meditations. It is called “Relax” and it will teach you the technique called “extended exhale”. Here you will inhale for four seconds, hold for two, then exhale for six. The entire exercise can be as long or as short as you want, as you can set the timer yourself.
Check-ins are the journal and mood tracking area in the Calm app. These are available in both the free version of Calm and the premium version. There are four journals to use and you can note how you are feeling, how you slept, what you are grateful for, and a daily reflection. You can even see how often you journal in a graph on your personal profile.
A favorite journal of mine is the gratitude journal. You are given a prompt and the space to note three things in response to that prompt. A great thing about this journal is the button where you can shuffle prompts and pick one that fits your mood the best.
Calm App Premium Subscription: Detailed Review
Calm’s premium app has a lot of content to offer, from meditation courses and sleep meditations to a kids section and music to aid with focus. Both of the main hubs in Calm feature the same meditation areas, which makes it quick and easy to find your favorites.
Feature 1: “Home” Hub
The “Home” hub varies ever so slightly from the “Discover” hub. In fact, you can access the same meditation areas in each hub. However, your “Home” hub does feature a couple of unique sections.
These sections are:
- Daily Sessions: The “Daily” meditations are on four main themes: Move, Calm, Jay, and Trip. Each one focuses on moving the body, calming the body, expert advice from meditation teacher Jay Shetty, and new meditation adventures for your mind.
- Recently Played: This will be a list of meditations or audio’s you most recently listened to.
- Favorites: This will be a list of anything you have given a “heart” to in the app.
- Scene Change: You will be able to change the background of the Calm app by clicking on the mountain icon on the “Home” hub. There are several nature scenes to choose from that are accompanied by ambient music.
Feature 2: “Discover” Hub
Much like the “Home” hub, you will be able to access any of the meditation areas as well as a couple of unique sections to explore. The “Discover” hub also has a search bar at the top, which is great for quickly finding meditations or teachers that you like best.
The unique sections of the “Discover” hub are:
- Start a Daily Habit – All of the “Daily” meditation categories (Trip, Move, Jay, and Calm) will be available in this section and is great to revisit if you miss a day of your favorite meditation.
- Meet Our Instructors – Scroll through and learn more about the top meditation teachers at Calm. Each teacher will have a short blurb about their background and a list of the meditations they teach.
- Recommended Collections – A shortlist of meditation sessions and courses recommended by Calm.
- Popular Collections – Two collections called “Best of Calm” and “New Releases” can be found in this section.
- Calm Kids – All of the content for kids and teens will be in this section. There are bedtime stories for all ages and meditations for all ages, too.
- All Collections – Meditations are grouped by topic and offer meditations, yoga, music, and more.
A really interesting and unique feature in Calm is called “Masterclass” and you can find them in the “Wisdom” area. These are topic-specific, short courses taught by mindfulness experts and other respected professionals from doctors to authors. All of the courses are understandable and approachable for anyone wanting to examine their relationships with their daily life.
Calm’s Masterclass courses are:
- The 4 Pillars of Health
- Better Sleep
- Breaking Bad Habits
- Conscious Parenting
- Creative living beyond fear – free companion journal
- Discovering Happiness –
- Embracing Stillness
- Gratitude –
- Mindful Eating – free companion journal
- Peak Performance – free companion journal
- The Power of Rest
- Radical Self-Compassion
- Rethinking Depression
- Social Media & Screen Addiction
- Stoic Wisdom for Modern Life
Calm vs. Headspace
Calm and the Headspace app both teach the basics of mindfulness and meditation and they both offer similar sections for kids, music, and movement. However, there are some key differences between Headspace and Calm that may help you decide between the two. Headspace uses the same five meditation teachers over and over again, which can give the app a monotonous feel. Calm, on the other hand, has a bigger variety of teachers and features a lot of celebrity audios on mental health and mindfulness. Headspace’s app is very structured while the Calm app is more fluid and allows for more free choice. Calm’s kids and music sections are also more dynamic and engaging than Headspace’s sections on the same topics.
Costwise, Headspace, and Calm are the same, both with annual subscriptions at $69.99. Headspace, however, has a readily available monthly subscription whereas the monthly subscription for Calm is more difficult to sign up for. Both monthly subscriptions are $14.99 per month. Headspace offers two different free trials, a seven-day free trial for a monthly subscription and a two-week free trial for a yearly subscription, while Calm only offers a seven-day free trial. Headspace earned 4.5 out of 5 star overall and Calm earned 4 out of 5 stars overall on our scoring criteria.
Calm vs. Insight Timer
While Calm and the Insight Timer app are both mindfulness and meditation apps, Insight Timer delivers a better product, especially for those who want to create a serious, daily meditation practice. Not only does Insight Timer have far more free content available, but they also have one of the widest varieties of teachers and meditation lenses I have seen. Because of these reasons, Insight Timer earned 4.5 out of 5 stars overall on our scoring criteria.
Calm is great for intermediate meditators but Insight Timer can cater to any level, especially once you figure out how to navigate the app. Calm seems to be more focused on overall happiness and mindfulness in your day-to-day life, whereas Insight Timer consistently shows that its main goal is helping you find success in your meditation practice.
Costwise, both apps are similar in price at $60 – $70 annually, and both offer seven-day free trials. A difference worth noting is around discounts – if you sign up online for Insight Timer, you will get a 30-day free trial and if you wait to sign up for the premium subscription with Calm, you often get 40% off of your first-year subscription.
For more about how this app works, please read our in-depth review of Insight Timer.
How Has the App Changed Over the Years?
Micael Acton Smith and Alex Tew co-founded Calm in 2012 and is based in San Francisco. Tamara Levitt, a Toronto native, joined the Calm family in 2014 and became the head of their mindfulness department. 3
As of 2020, it was reported that Calm was worth an estimated $2.2 billion. 4 In that same year, Calm partnered up with HBO Max to launch the series “A World of Calm”. The show features 10 episodes of nature scenes narrated by big-name celebrities like Idris Elba, Nicole Kidman, and Keanu Reeves.
The cost of a Calm subscription has remained fairly consistent, with small hikes over the year. A few years ago, the price per month was $12.99 and the yearly subscription was $60. They have added new sections over time, like in 2016 when Calm launched their first Sleep Stories, which are marketed as bedtime stories for adults. 5 One of their newer additions to the app is called “Wisdom” which features inspiring stories by celebrities and expert guidance on different topics.
Calm for Business
Calm has two different plans for businesses. One is called “Teams” and it is geared towards companies of 100 people or less. With a “Teams” plan, an administrator can purchase premium subscriptions for everyone at a discounted rate and Calm provides marketing tools to help promote the program. All accounts will receive their own login and have full access to the Calm Premium app. You can learn how to sign up for Calm for Teams on the website.
The second plan is called “Business” and is geared towards larger companies of 101 people or more. With a “Business” plan, you will receive everything in the “Teams” package, plus special access to analytics, dedicated account managers, and access to digital webinars and events. You can request a demo of the Calm Business Plan on their website.
Final Verdict on Calm
Initially, I found the Calm app to be really disorganized and slightly overwhelming. It was frustrating that the free meditations were not clearly labeled and that it took a concerted effort to hunt them down. And while the diversity in the meditation teachers was really awesome, the big-name celebrities throughout the app made for a somewhat distracting experience. That said, once you purchase Calm’s premium subscription, you have access to great content. The music area is really dynamic and offers great playlists to listen to during the workday. The area for kids is also a lot of fun and I can foresee listening to the classic stories on road trips with my kids.
Overall, Calm is a really great app and definitely earned its 4 out of 5 stars based on our scoring criteria. The meditations are engaging and fun to listen to and the app itself is really gorgeous. It is worthwhile to download the app, create a free account, look around and try some free meditations. Plus, that 40% off coupon makes signing up for a year subscription absolutely worth the cost.