Features and performance may differ by device. Feature lists are not exhaustive, but meant to give you an idea of how the apps differ from each other and what are the best (or worst) points of each. All apps should display both simplified and traditional characters (you may be able to choose or toggle between them). Most keep a history of your searches. Most use the cc-cedict.
Please remember that prices and features are subject to change.
- BuMang — More of a testing app, but it does have a basic dictionary. The same company makes the free dictionary Mandarin (and the Chinese-German dictionary Tangerine); see below.
- DianHua Dictionary — Saved word lists (“bookmarks”) and basic flashcard functionality. Back-up lists to their website and export as csv or xls from there. Find other entries containing the search result. Character zoom view. Adjustable font size. Numbers feature. Audio Module is a paid add-on.
- Flashonary — Saved word lists and basic flashcard functionality (configurable “reading” vs. “writing” flashcards, but no apparent way to choose between them and no way to export the lists). Novel features: can edit details of word (including adding the measure word or an example) before saving to flashcard; can narrow search by number of characters. Also includes German HanDeDict. Adjustable font size. Audio and color-coding by tone as paid add-ons. iPad-sized.
- HanCard — More of a flashcard app than a dictionary, but the dictionary includes info from the UniHan database. Free; ad-supported (Sept. 2011).
- HanYu Chinese Dictionary — Character zoom view. Novel features: can add your own notes to words, edit or add to the definitions, add your own examples. Saved word list and basic flashcard functionality (start on any one side; keeps stats; but no way to export the lists) free for 5 words, then as a paid add-on.
- Huaying — Character and pinyin zoom views. Find other words pronounced the same as the search result (exactly the same, including tone, ony). Novel feature: button to copy character, pinyin with tone marks, or pinyin with tone numbers from the entry. Can add some audio files. Can add French CFDICT, German HanDeDict, Adsotrans dictionary, as well as CC-CEDICT. iPad-sized.
- iCED Chinese Dictionary — Any text you have on the clipboard gets automatically pasted and searched when the app is launched. Saves word lists and exports to e-mail. Character zoom view. Find other entries containing (or starting with) the search result. Find other words pronounced the same as the search result (with or without the same tone). Adjustable font size. iPad-sized. Free with ads; word lists limited to 4 in free version. Also an iCED+ Chinese Dictionary with no ads and unlimited word lists. Other dictionaries as paid add-ons to either version.
- KTdict – Character zoom. Search for individual characters in a longer expression. Also a version with flashcard functionality (KTdict+ C-E (Chinese-English dictionary with flashcard trainer)) – Untested.
- Look-App — Must choose either simplified or traditional character display. Saved word lists (“Categories”) and basic flashcard functionality. Compound words/expressions broken down into individual characters so that you can go to the entry for each. Also includes German HanDeDict.
- LRDict — Must choose either simplified or traditional character display. Keeps history. “Bookmarking” of words (only one set). Mysterious color-coding (does not seem to be by tone). Novel features: OCR from a photo but invariably causes app to crash in my experience (another user reports this issue in iTunes comments). Also includes German HanDeDict. iPad-sized. LRDict Lite.
- Mandarin Chinese-German version is Tangerine.
- nciku Chinese Dictionary — Untested. See also their web dictionary, described on the web dictionaries page.
- Pleco Chinese Dictionary — Includes Pleco’s own dictionary, which has good usage examples, as well as cc-cedict. All characters in the examples are clickable and will give a pop-up view of the entry. Has its own handwriting recognition system, which is less dependent on proper stroke order. Unfortunately, looks pretty much like it did on a Palm Pilot years ago. iPad-sized. Many other dictionaries and features (audio, flashcards, OCR, document reader, stroke order diagrams) as paid add-ons.
- Qingwen Chinese Dictionary — Good for fast searches since any text you have on the clipboard gets automatically pasted and searched when the app is launched. Saves word lists and exports to e-mail. Find other entries containing (or starting with) the search result. Find other words pronounced the same as the search result (with or without the same tone). Click on any character in an entry heading to go to the entry for that character. Includes audio with choice of Mandarin or Cantonese pronunciation.
- trainchinese: Dictionary & Flash cards – Seems to use its own dictionary, which includes example sentences. Audio for individual words and example sentences (although this audio an internet connection). Stroke order animations. Good, but very limited, flashcard functionality unless you keep paying for a subscription. iPad-sized.