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 because most of their friends have one.

Smartphone offer a variety of communication, entertainment and even content creation opportunities. The latest cameras, the fastest processors, and now, increasingly larger screens for more immersive use as a reading tool or for watching videos and playing games.

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. Others want the choice and expansion offered by the Android ecosystem, there’s a lot to choose from there.

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 7 or 7 Plus

While it isn’t the latest and greatest from Apple, the iPhone 7 or the larger iPhone 7 Plus remain very good smartphones and  with a wide selection of cases and accessories available.

Best of all, iPhone 7 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 12, 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 7 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. An added plus is water resistance on these devices which makes them able to survive unwanted drops in water.

The iPhone 7 Plus has a dual rear camera ideal for taking both standard and 2X photos. It can also emulate portrait mode which is a popular feature in today’s smartphones.

ASUS ZenFone Max Plus

From talking and texting to Snapchatting and Instagramming, the ASUS ZenFone Max Plushas your teen covered.

The large 5.7″ Full HD 1080p touchscreen display shows your apps, photos, texts, videos, and more in crystal-clear detail. And with the 8MP front camera and dual 16MP/8MP rear camera you’ll be able to video chat with friends and family from anywhere, anytime.

Featuring a 5.7-inch Full HD IPS touchscreen display with a resolution of 2160 x 1080 is sharp, clear, and easy to read

With 32GB of built-in storage (expandable up to 2TB via Micro SD slot), this gives you lots of digital room for tons of photos, videos, and more

A powerful 1.5GHz MediaTek MT6750T octa-core processor and 3GB of RAM combine to deliver speedy and responsive performance that should satisfy the need of any student.



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.

BlackBerry Motion

Credit has to be given to BlackBerry Mobile and to TCL for making it possible to recreate the quality BlackBerry design and construction of devices like the KEYOne and the BlackBerry Motion.

Design is premium in this Android smartphone, with a brushed metal frame, a delightfull glass weave material mimics carbon fibre but without the schintzy shiny finish. Everything about the BlackBerry Motion is built around productivity. It has a home button with an inlaid BlackBerry logo. This also serves as a fingerprint sensor.

I like that the BlackBerry Motion is built for real world situations. It doesn’t need to be babied, you can get by without case. This is such a refreshing departure from the current slew of ultra-expensive, super delicate glass flagship smartphones.

Design and build is purposeful and well thought-out and serves as a great vessel for the Android experience bolstered by BlackBerry’s proud heritage of privacy and security. My only quibble with the BlackBerry Motion’s design is that all the buttons are on the right hand side and sort of closely layed out so its easy to press the wrong button or trigger the convenience key if you’re not careful.

Battery life as well as the QuickCharge 3.0 functionality make the BlackBerry Motion a workhorse smartphone that can weather the longest schooldays and nights. This smartphone has so many unique features that we can only hope can become standard, not just on furture BlackBerry Mobile devices but on all smartphones as well.

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.

Gadjo Sevilla
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.