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Review: Brilliant – inspiring, interactive learning experiences

Explore math, science, and computer science through Brilliant’s bite-sized courses

Price: Free
Subscription: $120/£96 per year
Version: 5.0.4
Size: 70.7 MB
Platform: iPhone & iPad


If you’re looking to give your brain a math or science boost, Brilliant could be the perfect app. Offering a comprehensive selection of short educational and problem-solving courses covering math, science, and computer science, Brilliant is slick, smart, and could help your brain grow a couple of sizes. The app has been around for some time now, but version 5 recently dropped so we thought we’d give it a fresh look.

Choose your course.

After downloading and signing in, Brilliant takes you to its Courses screen. Here, you can choose an initial course to get started with – options include “Computer Science Fundamentals” and “Introduction to Neural Networks,” to name just a few. The idea here seems to be to make these subjects engaging in a way that schoolrooms often miss, and Brilliant largely hits the mark.

Don’t let the high-brow course titles put you off. Brilliant tries hard to break these complex topics down into the basics, incorporating written text alongside the occasional interactive demonstration or quiz to keep you on your toes. Unfortunately, it’s fair to say that Brilliant’s courses are text-heavy, meaning there’s a lot more reading (and a lot less interaction) than you might hope. You’ll find that settling in for a course is akin to sitting down for a lesson – putting some time aside and giving the app your full attention is highly recommended!

Don’t forget your reading glasses.

Alongside these heavier courses are more traditional brain-trainers, like logic puzzles. These are nicely designed and can be infuriatingly challenging, offering users a full cognitive workout. Usefully, Brilliant includes step-by-step instructions for any puzzles which you find too hard. The app also offers a Practice page where users can access a wide range of math, science, and computer science quizzes – these are also great for exercising and training your brain.

Finally, the Today page shows popular courses and puzzles across a range of domains. The app also tells you how many users are working on each course or puzzle, which could inspire you to have a go, too!

Test your logic.

More generally, Brilliant offers a nice, clean design that fits perfectly with the aesthetic of iOS and iPadOS. It’s worth noting that users can also download courses for offline viewing (which will prove handy for those of us on limited data plans), set daily remainders in the app, or view stats based on your performance. In many ways, Brilliant has all the bases covered.

Not for the faint-hearted, Brilliant is an investment both mentally and financially. While a free trial is available, users need to pay for full access to the app’s content, which is a hefty $120/£96 per year. It’s not currently possible to pay-per-course in the app, meaning you’ll need to go all in even if you’re only interested in a narrow slice of what Brilliant has to offer.

Phone a friend?

If you think you’re tough enough for its math, science, and computer science courses, Brilliant is available free of charge on the App Store for a full seven days.