Back to school shopping guide: phones, tablets, headphones, all the tech you need

The back-to-school season is upon us and kids and young adults are preparing to return to their respective educational institutions. And that often requires a set of new gear to aid in the learning process or help with relaxing activities, which are equally important.

Now, obviously, we’re not here to tell you which textbooks to get and how many notebooks and pencils will get you through the year. That’s boring. We’re here to suggest some cool gadgets and a few other items that will make your room a nice place to be in while studying. 

The new school year is a good opportunity to not only get some new clothes but also replace your kid’s broken smartphone, or buy a new tablet or laptop if you’re a student. Whatever the case, we’ve got you covered with useful advice and the best deals there is.

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Apple iPhones

iPhone 12

The iPhone 12 is the best all-around value proposition by Apple. The 2020 released smartphone is still pretty good and we recommend it over the iPhone 11, as the differences between the two are significant enough. The 12 is powered by Appel’s A14 processor, coupled with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of base storage. There are plenty of colorful options to choose from too. It has two 12MP back cameras, which do a fine job even in 2022. The iPhone 12 is also an excellent performer in terms of battery life. All of this means that this phone is perfect for your teenager or if you’re a student that’s on the go during the day, especially considering how much cheaper it is than an iPhone 13 or an iPhone 13 Pro.

iPhone 13 Mini

The iPhone 13 Mini is the cheapest iPhone in Apple’s 13 series lineup, but it doesn’t compromise on almost anything. Its small size and lightness make it perfect for children, while the Apple A15 chip inside guarantees the best iPhone performance you can wish for. To make the iPhone 13 Mini smaller, Apple also fitted it with a smaller battery. But this is a very power-efficient phone, so if you’re at school for most of the day you should be fine in terms of battery life. If not you can always go for the larger iPhone 13. A dual-camera system with two 12MP wide and ultrawide sensors is present on the back of the phone, while the selfie shooter is 12MP as well. For the best offers, make sure you check out our Best iPhone 13 deals article.

iPhone SE (2022)

The smallest of them all, the iPhone SE (2022) has a great value and can be purchased for less than $500. It is powerful too, with the Apple A15 chip under its hood, combined with 4GB of RAM. Its compact size of course means a small battery has been put into the iPhone SE (2022). We’re not gonna lie, its battery will last only a day, but that way your kid will use it less in order to get through the whole day. Of course, you can always provide the phone with an external battery.

Android smartphones

Google Pixel 6a

The Pixel 6a is probably the best Android option in terms of value. It has everything you could need from a smartphone, a fast Google Tensor processor with 5G, 6GB of RAM, and a nice 6.1-inch OLED display with an FHD+ resolution. The cameras are one of the best, with the main one being a 12.2MP sensor. This phone also has a pretty good battery life, with its 4,410mAh battery. The only thing you might not like about the Pixel 6a is the fact that it’s made out of plastic, but we are sure your kid won’t care. It is a good choice for college freshmen too. Also, it being a Google phone means that you will have years of Android updates, which is very important. 

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G

This phone is the best selling Samsung for a reason. The Galaxy A53 is perfect for college students, as it has a long-lasting battery life, a nice camera setup, and a good Exynos 1280 processor. It also won’t break the bank, as it is much cheaper than the Galaxy S22 series and it even often sees some nice discounts. Its 6.5-inch 120Hz AMOLED display with FHD+ resolution makes the phone feel quite snappy. The 32MP punch-hole front camera guarantees quality selfies – perfect for that first year of college.

Motorola Moto G Power (2022)

If you are looking for a smartphone for your kid, but you know he or she is prone to break it sooner than later this phone is for you. The 2022 Moto G Power is an entry-level smartphone costing less than $200 for its base variant with 64GB of storage. But just because it is cheap, that doesn’t mean it is a bad phone. The Moto G Power (2022) is built very well and it has a snappy enough MediaTek Helio G37 processor coupled with 4GB of RAM. 

Speaking of storage and memory, this phone features both a microSD card slot and a headphone jack. Even though this phone has a big 6.5-inch 90Hz screen, its chunky 5,000mAh battery will last you at least two days. Camera-wise it isn’t the worst either, with its 50MP main camera being more than okay for this price.

Apple iPads

iPad 10.2 (2021)

The 9th Gen iPad is by far the best Apple tablet you can buy for your kid. With prices starting at only $299, this is the cheapest new iPad you can get. But don’t think for a second that there’s a catch. This iPad is powered by Apple’s A13 chip, which is still pretty fast. The chip is coupled with 3GB of RAM. The 10.2-inch LCD screen of the cheapest iPad isn’t bad either, with its 2160 x 1620 resolution being plenty. The battery will last you a while, with Apple promising up to 10 hours of use on a single charge. This tablet is also perfect for every student’s classes.

iPad Air (2022)

Apple’s 5th Gen iPad Air is a wonderful tablet for education. It offers a big, 10.9-inch screen which gets very bright. This iPad has borrowed its design from the much more expensive iPad Pro series, which is a great thing. The stereo sound system of the 5th Gen iPad Air is great too. Apple’s M1 chip makes sure the tablet is a performance beast and will stay that way for the years to come. The chip has also been borrowed from the Pro iPads, so what’s even the point of spending all that extra money on one anyway?

With the iPad Air (2022) you can count on up to 10 hours of screen time and faster charging times than the cheaper 10.2-inch iPad. We won’t recommend it for your kid, as it is a bit too expensive, but we think it’s perfect for young people that are studying.

iPad mini 6

The 2021 iPad mini is a perfect companion at school with its small and lightweight design. This tablet is a pretty good option for students that are often on the go, as it can fit in most purses, and also for people that read eBooks on their tablet a lot. The newest iPad mini has an 8.3-inch LCD display and stereo speakers. The iPad Mini 6 is powered by the Apple A15 processor, coupled with 4GB of RAM, which are more than enough for iPadOS. Sometimes you can find this tablet having some good discounts, making the mini iPad great in terms of value. Because of how small and light it is, you can throw on a nice case and give it to your children too.

Android tablets

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8

This 11-inch Android tablet has a good 120Hz 2560 x 1600 display. The processor is pretty good too, a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 with 5G connectivity on the cellular version Galaxy Tab S8. Even though it isn’t the smallest tablet on this list, it is light enough to carry in any backpack. Its large 8,000mAh battery is another strong point of the Tab S8. You can often find great deals on this tablet, making it an even better choice. The Galaxy Tab S8 also supports Samsung’s S Pen, making it even better for taking notes and studying.

Amazon Fire HD 10 (2021)

The 2021 version of Amazon’s 10-inch tablet is of great value. This tablet is a perfect choice for your kid because of its affordable price. It’s not bad in terms of specs either. The Fire HD 10 (2021) has a 10.1-inch Full HD LCD screen and a MediaTek Helio P60T processor coupled with 3GB of RAM. The only downside of the Fire HD 10 is its mediocre front and back cameras, but who’s into tablet cameras anyways? 

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE

This large 12.4-inch tablet offers great value and design. The Galaxy Tab S7 FE has a pretty good 2560 x 1600 resolution TFT display and a Snapdragon 750 processor, which has 5G connectivity for its cellular version. The battery is a large one, 10,090mAh to be exact, which offers you long battery life, perfect for every student on the move. The Galaxy Tab S7 FE’s 4 stereo speakers combined with its large display make it perfect for watching videos and movies, but it will perform pretty well at school too.


 

Laptops

Apple MacBook Air M1

The MacBook Air (2020) might not be the newest laptop by Apple, but it still has an excellent 13.3-inch LCD display and performance that matters. Apple’s M1 chip keeps on being blistering fast, and combined with 8 or 16GB of RAM, the MacBook Air is one of the best laptops in terms of performance. Its battery life is also among the best, lasting an astonishing up to 18 hours of use. If you’re a student and want to buy a laptop that will last you a long time, then this is your best choice. You can always go for the newer Apple MacBook Air M2, which is $200 more expensive and features a shiny new design, but when it comes to performance, display, and battery life, differences aren’t that drastic.

Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5

This 13.3-inch laptop has a pretty good LED touchscreen display with a Full HD resolution. Its performance is also great, with the Chromebook Flex 5 powered by an Intel i3 10110U processor combined with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. You can expand the storage capacity via a MicroSD card. As its name suggests, the Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 runs ChromeOS and can flex its screen up to 360 degrees. The battery lasts up to 10 hours of use. Like every ChromeOS laptop, this one is pretty affordable too, making it perfect for a student on a budget or your kid’s schoolwork.

Dell Latitude 3410

This 14-inch laptop offers everything you need in terms of functionality. It runs Windows 11 and has a Full HD LCD screen. It is powered by Intel’s i5 10210U processor coupled with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage. These specs are more than enough for every student task you throw at it. The Latitude 3410 offers plenty of ports, including USB-C, USB-A, a memory card slot, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. If you’re looking for functionality rather than design, and at a good price, then stick with this one.

Smartwatches

Apple Watch SE

The Apple Watch SE offers almost everything its more expensive sibling the Series 6 has but at a more accessible price. This watch is offered in 40 and 44mm size versions, making it suitable for everyone, including children. Apple’s WatchOS guarantees stability and lots of features, while its 1.78-inch OLED screen is sharp and easily readable outside. The battery should last you at least a day, with wireless charging support present for more convenient charging using an Apple proprietary standard.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

This smartwatch runs TizenOS on its 1.4-inch AMOLED screen and is perfect if you own a Samsung smartphone. It is practical, unproblematic, and very light (42g), making it perfect for children. Galaxy Watch Active 2’s battery lasts at least a day, and the watch supports Qi wireless charging. As this is a smartwatch from 2019, great deals are easy to come by, making it a great choice in terms of value.

Apple Watch Series 3

The 2017 Apple Watch is a great choice for your kid or someone on a budget. This watch still holds its ground, with its excellent 1.65-inch OLED display and latest watchOS. The Watch Series 3 is offered in 38 and 44mm size versions, making it suitable for younger children. There are lots of deals on the Series 3, but even without those, it is the most affordable Apple smartwatch ever, and it is almost impossible to distinguish it from its successors in terms of design. The Watch Series 3 is a nice smart toy your kid can brag about when he or she goes back to school.

Headphones and earbuds

Apple AirPods

These true wireless earbuds are a great choice if you want some peace and quiet but your kid wants to watch Frozen on a loop. They are mostly suitable for Apple devices and have a great battery life, decent audio experience, and sturdy design. Two versions of the Apple AirPods exist – one with both wired and wireless charging and another with Lightning cable charging only.

Apple AirPods 3 

The newest AirPods are also the ones that offer the best value. These feature Apple’s Transparency mode, improvements in the battery department, and a new and more compact than before design of both the earbuds and their charging case. The charging case supports wireless charging too, which is very welcome. The weight and practicality of these earbuds make it one of, if not the best earbuds a student can get.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus

The Galaxy Buds Plus are a great pair of earbuds. They come in plenty of color options and often see discounts among retailers. These are great for Android smartphones, and nowadays pretty cheap too. Battery life is also more than okay. The earbuds won’t easily come off of your or your kid’s ears too.

Speakers

JBL Flip 5

JBL has established itself as one of the best Bluetooth speaker manufacturers and with good reason. The Flip 5 looks cool, has respectable bass for its size, and can take a dive in a pool like it’s no big deal with its IPX7 waterproof rating. It also offers up to 12 hours of playtime, perfect for both children and adults.

Anker Soundcore Motion+

This bluetooth speaker has everything that counts: powerful sound, battery life, durability. It offers up to 12 hours of playtime and supports Hi-Res 30W audio. The Soundcore Motion+ is an excellent choice for student parties and road trips.

Bose SoundLink II

If the other suggestions don’t fit you, maybe the SoundLink II will. We find the design a bit boring, but if that’s not important to you then some of its other qualities might convince you to buy it. It has excellent audio output, supports Siri and Google Assistant, and comes in a bunch of color options.


Source: phonearena.com

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