Headspace vs Calm: which is the best meditation app?

With more people incorporating meditation into their lifestyle, it can be hard to know where to start. Meditation apps abound these days, with Headspace and Calm repeatedly being named the top. But what do these apps do? Are they any good? Which app is right for you and your meditation journey? Read on to find out.

The low down

Headspace was founded by Andy Puddicombe, a former Buddhist monk, launching its app in 2012. The app offers guided meditation and mindfulness advice in audio format that help deal with common problems like difficulty sleeping, processing grief, handling stress and anxiety through the medium of animations and voice recordings.

Calm also launched its app in 2012 and was named Apple’s ‘App of the Year’ in 2017. Alongside support for stress, anxiety, insomnia and more, it’s focused on making meditation a habit, with guided audios designed to be listened to over days and weeks.

Headspace – what does it do?

Headspace aims to improve your health and happiness. Offering guided meditations, Headspace is increasingly used in mental health care in the United Kingdom, has been featured on BBC News, the Today Show and NPR and has multiple series of its own Netflix show.

Calm – what does it do?

Calm is a very similar app to Headspace in that it offers guided meditations, as well as support for sleep, concentration and more. Its efforts are more concentrated in cultivating a meditation habit, rather than providing quick support.

What are the differences between Headspace and Calm?

The key difference between Headspace and Calm is the prominence of meditation as a habit. Headspace is a better starting place for beginners, but more seasoned individuals with meditation and mindfulness experience might get more out of Calm’s varied collection. An annual subscription to Calm is also slightly pricier than Headspace.

Pros and cons of Headspace


• Easy navigation

• Great for beginner meditators who want guided or partly guided meditation

• Family-friendly


• A smaller variety of meditations on offer

• Free content is limited and you have to subscribe to get full access

• Some customers have found trying to cancel or contacting customer service difficult

Pros and cons of Calm


• Their sleep stories are expansive and feature many celebrity voices

• Helps grow daily meditation habit

• Frequently updated with new content, stories and meditations


• Limited access to free content and you must subscribe to access all content

• The ‘short’ daily meditations can be around 10 minutes, which may not be suitable for beginner meditators

Which is the right one for you?

For those beginning to explore meditation and mindfulness, you’ll find more success with Headspace. Clean and inclusive in its content design, the focus is on engaging you in a meditation practice and gaining long term habits to improve your mental health.

For experts who want a little less structure, Calm will likely challenge and engage you more. Calm also has a wider variety of solutions for various issues – from insomnia to self-esteem to anxiety. If you respond to music and nature sounds, their clean design will certainly relax you.