Back to School: 5 Phones to Study Up On


School is back in session, and that means it's time to outfit the favorite student in your life with the latest and greatest gear and gadgets. Topping that list should be a brand-new smartphone, capable of navigating the sometimes-challenging waters of post-elementary life. To make sure your student is well-equipped and not left holding something technologically passé, we've compiled a list of five must-have smartphones. Time to study up!

Sony Xperia 1

Unfortunately for students, most dorm rooms don’t provide enough space to house a nice 4K HDR OLED TV comfortably. Luckily though, Sony just released the Xperia 1, which features the world’s first 4K HDR OLED panel in a smartphone. With this incredible screen, students will be able to watch cinema-worthy content in crisp and stunning detail. Of course, that’s not all the Xperia 1 has to offer. In addition to its cinematic screen, the Xperia’s camera system is equally groundbreaking. It features three rear cameras: a 12MP 16mm super-wide, a 12MP 26mm, and a 12MP 52mm telephoto lens with 2x optical zoom. The system draws tech from Sony’s lauded Alpha series to give users features never seen in a smartphone camera before, such as Eye AF (Autofocus). This is a big deal for students who want nice shots of college life, but also budding photographers and cinematographers who need more professional features in their smartphone. To learn more about why the Xperia 1 is such an excellent device—for students and non-students alike—be sure to check out our hands-on review.

Sony Xperia 1 Smartphone

Samsung Galaxy S10/S10+

If 2019 were to end today, the Samsung Galaxy S10 would likely take home top honors as one of the year's best smartphones. The S10 comes in three different variants (the S10, the S10+, and the budget-friendlier S10e), but it’s the two flagships that top our list. The biggest difference between the standard-sized S10 and the larger S10+ is screen size. The S10’s display measures 6.1", while the larger S10+ is 6.4". Both variants feature a 3040 x 1440 QHD+ AMOLED Infinity-O Display, an objectively gorgeous panel that is one of the sharpest smartphone screens we’ve ever seen. Both phones also share the same cutting-edge rear camera setup: a 12MP telephoto lens (f/2.4), a 12MP wide lens (f/1.5), and a 16MP 123-degree ultra-wide lens (f/2.2). Up front, each model features a 10MP (f/1.9) selfie camera, but the S10 Plus also comes with an 8MP (f/2.2) lens for additional shooting options. Powering both handsets is either the powerful Snapdragon 855 chipset or Samsung’s latest Exynos processor. Depending on the model, you have different choices for both RAM and storage, with a maxed-out S10+ configuration going all the way up to 12GB of RAM and 1TB of storage. Regardless of the model or setup, students will be able to text, talk, and multi-task with ease—they might even get some homework done while they're at it.

Samsung Galaxy S10 Smartphone

Google Pixel 3a/3a XL

The most affordable phone on our list also happens to deliver arguably the best overall image quality. The Google Pixel 3a, which gives you the same award-winning camera as its beefed-up big brother, the Google Pixel 3, is a great phone for students who prize photography above all else—especially those who might not be able to afford some of the costlier flagships yet. On top of having one of the best smartphone cameras in the world, the Pixel 3a also features an excellent display, clean UI that’s streamlined, straightforward and always up to date, and long-lasting battery performance. chipset won’t break any benchmarks, and some of the other specs are, on paper, pretty middle of the road, but for students who want good, reliable performance and one of the best smartphone cameras money can buy, the Pixel 3a is it.

Google Pixel 3a Smartphone

LG Thinq G8

This year's G-series phone, the LG G8 ThinQ, comes with many features that should please students of every stripe. For starters, its cinematic 6.1" QHD+ OLED display is great for watching content in a dorm room or, thanks to its vibrancy and excellent brightness, out on the quad. Its rear-camera setup, which includes a main 12MP shooter and a 16MP super ultra-wide lens, is a nice improvement over last year’s setup and performs especially well in low-light situations. Battery life is very solid, so even if you’re in class all day, the G8 won’t die on you. And lastly, the G8 comes with an innovative new feature LG calls Crystal Sound OLED, which, essentially, allows the entire display to act as a speaker. The tech behind this is pretty creative, and the payoff is that calls are crystal clear even in loud environments. So even if students are at a raucous party or noisy concert, they’ll be able to hear their parents when they call to check in.

LG G8 ThinQ Smartphone

Xiaomi Mi 9

Xiaomi might not yet be a household name here in the U.S., but thanks to devices like the Mi 9, that could quickly change. The first flagship of the 2019 calendar year, the Mi 9 was also one of the first smartphones to debut the lightning-fast Snapdragon 855 processor. Its other flagship bona fides include a very sharp 6.4" Super AMOLED display with an inconspicuous teardrop-shaped notch, a pro-level triple rear camera setup, and one of the fastest wireless charging rates ever seen in a smartphone. All these features keep the Mi 9 in the flagship conversation, but it’s the affordable price that really helps it stand out as a great phone for students. At nearly half the price as some of the other devices on the list, the Xiaomi Mi 9 is a great phone for students who want all the premiere features of a flagship, but don’t want to pay flagship costs.

Xiaomi Mi 9 Dual-SIM Smartphone

Do you agree with our list? Sound off in the Comments section, below!


The phone in the photo about 6 phones to consider, the square white phone isn't covered ! Which brand & model smartphone  is it ?  It's shown again with a woman 'using' it in your The connect Pet Article but, again, it looks too generic, i.e.  I cannot make out the brand and, oddly,  it's not mentioned in either article. Looks like an iPhone to me... which you don't se sell. Or is it a Huawei Mate 9 Pro (or something else I cannot afford)? 

that's a Sony Xperia, isn't it ? out of my $eague.