With the back-to-school season fast approaching, selecting a reliable smartphone for your students is becoming as important as choosing their notebooks or desktop PCs.

There’s a wide selection of smartphones available today for every type of user. While many students get hand-me-down devices from their parents, there are also many who prefer specific Android devices or who want an iPhone.

There are a lot of factors that dictate what type of smartphone a student wants. This includes what type of device their friends and family are using, what sort of services or apps they need to have as well as which platform are they most loyal to.

In some cases, a student simply wants an iPhone because iMessage is the de facto messaging app used by everyone else. Or, there’s been a substantial investment of time and money on certain apps and games from a previous device.

Considering a smartphone for students has become more complicated as smartphone makers offer more features and services. Then, there’s also the practicality of choosing a smartphone that’s tough enough and designed around the rigours of day-to-day use. Here are some  great options.

Apple iPhone 6

While it isn’t the latest and greatest from Apple, the iPhone 6 remains an exceptional smartphone and one with a wide selection of cases and accessories available.

Best of all, iPhone 6 still benefits from many of the latest software feature upgrades from iOS and will likely continue to do so for some years to come. iOS 11, the latest version of Apple’s mobile OS, will roll out to existing users for free this Fall.

This is a stark contrast to Android smartphones which offer no guarantee as to how many software updates they will be getting in future.

The iPhone 6 has a fingerprint sensor, or as Apple likes to call it, a TouchID, which helps secure the device and also enables mobile payments via Apple Pay, which could be a great benefit for parents and students alike since this effectively replaces debit and credit cards for touch to pay transactions. Of course, for the newest hardware and features, Apple’s iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are the current standard bearers of the iOS platform.

Apple iPhone SE

Although smaller and more compact, the iPhone SE shares many features of the larger iPhone 6S including the Apple A9 processor and the 12 megapixel camera with all the hardware and software advancements that have made iPhones the most popular cameras today.

Apple’s cheapest iPhone may be small with a tiny (for today’s standards) 4-inch Retina Display, but it packs surprising power under the hood, specially if you consider there are fewer pixels to push around. It does have older display technology (identical to circa 2012 iPhone 5!) but the upside is very good battery life for a smartphone of this size which matches that of the larger iPhone 7 Plus.

Being modelled after an older model, iPhone SE has access to tons of accessories and cases which makes personalization easy. It also features a standard headphone jack, which the latest models do not. It’s the best compromise for iOS users who prefer smaller smartphones.

Samsung Galaxy S8

Fewer smartphones reflect the direction of the smartphone industry more than the Samsung Galaxy S8. With its edge-to-edge display, stunning curved screen, and highly integrated design make it a desirable premium Android device.

Featuring 5.8″ Quad HD+ Super AMOLED Infinite Display spills over the edges and features an immense 2960 x 1440 resolution which is great for video playback as well as looking at photos.

The innovative 10nm processor with 4GB RAM makes the Samsung Galaxy speedier and more powerful than ever while keeping power consumption 20% lower.

An iris scanner safely unlocks the Samsung Galaxy S8 with just a look; biometric authentication technology makes it easy to unlock your smartphone without even touching it. There is also no shortage of accessories including the Gear 360 (360′ Camera), the Gear VR and the DeX, which is a dock that turns the S8 into a pseudo desktop PC.

Beauty is only skin deep and the Samsung Galaxy S8 has an IP68 rating protects your smartphone against dust and dirt, as well as water submersion up to 1.5 metres for up to 30 minutes. To protect that gorgeous display, you will need a case.

Motorola Moto Z Play

Lenovo’s Moto Z Play is a midrange smartphone that brings many premium features as well as an unprecedented modularity solution with Moto Mod accessories.

At its very core, the Moto Z Play   5.5″ AMOLED touchscreen display that offers Full HD 1080p resolution, and up to 50-hour battery life, the Motorola Moto Z Play packed with possibilities.

It features TurboPower charging technology — up to 9 hours of power from a 15-minute charge — and is compatible with a variety of Moto Mods that let you expand its capabilities. this is ideal for students that need to quickly charge up in between classes or doing breaks.

A 16 megapixel laser autofocus camera captures beautifully sharp images, day or night. The 5MP front-facing camera snaps quality selfies.

Students will have various expansion options including a projector, JBL speakers, a zoom camera, and various rear backplates and battery Mods and there will even be a gaming controller coming later this year. Expansion is what makes this smartphone different but even if you just use it without the Mods, it is a very accomplished handset.

Huawei Nova Plus

Experience more with the Huawei nova plus. It features a 5.5″ Full HD enhanced 2.5D touchscreen display with eye protection, 32GB of built-in storages, and runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow with Emotion 4.1 UI.

The 16MP camera features 4K video recording at 30fps and f/2.0 lens with optical image stabilization. It also has an 8MP secondary camera.

Featuring a 14nm Oct-core processor with 3GB of RAM offers a quick and enjoyable smartphone experience

Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) operating system with Emotion UI 4.1 is intuitive and easy to navigate.

For photos, a 16MP main camera features an f/2.0 aperture lens with optical image stabilization with Integrated 4K video support at 30fps. A 3D fingerprint sensor helps keep your phone secure, while offering a quick and convenient way to unlock your device and perform other functions.

For all-day use, the included 3340 mAh battery offers up to 25 hours of talk time.

These are just some of the many smartphones worth considering for students for back-to-school from Best Buy.

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Gadjo is a veteran journalist covering consumer technology, lifestyle and business. He has written for international newspapers, magazines and online publications. He is founder of Canadianreviewer.com as well as an avid photographer and travel enthusiast.

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