CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

Mobile

8 best phones for back to school

Need a new phone to start the school year? Check out CNET's top picks.

samsung-galaxy-note-9-use-1179
Angela Lang/CNET

Now that summer is about to end and the school year is around the corner, it may be time to consider a new phone. To mark the occasion, we gathered some of our favorite phones of the year. Some are super-affordable, like the Moto G7 and Pixel 3A, which make them great for a student on a budget. Others have special features that are ideal for productivity or relaxing after class, such as the Note 9 and Razer Phone 2, respectively. Whatever your needs, these devices will help you start the year off on the right foot.

There is one big caveat on phones this time of year: Many of the top brands refresh their lines in August (Galaxy Note 10), September (new iPhones) and October (the new Pixel 4). If you're looking to go state-of-the-art for back to school, you might want to stick with a current phone for now, and upgrade later in the fall, once those new models hit.

Note that CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products featured on this page.  

Josh Miller/CNET

If you're running around at school, the last thing you need is to scramble and look for a phone charger. Clocking in the longest battery life for all three of the latest iPhones, the iPhone XR lasted a fantastic 19 hours and 53 minutes. It also has an excellent big screen in a comfortable body, fast performance, Face ID and wireless charging, as well as a camera that's mostly as good as the iPhone XS. And if you can wait until September, anticipate a price drop once Apple unveils the next iPhone 11.

Angela Lang/CNET

As the most wallet-friendly Galaxy S10 phone, the Galaxy S10E has a lot to offer. It's a smaller phone, which is great for those looking for a comfortable grip,  and it has a super-fast Snapdragon 855 chipset and a long-lasting battery life. And for that potential meet-cute on campus that one Samsung commercial leads us to believe can happen, it can wirelessly charge other phones and accessories, like a pair of wireless earbuds or a smartwatch. If you want something slightly bigger, check out the Galaxy S10.

Angela Lang/CNET

The new-for-2019 Pixel 3A shaves a few features off of last year's Pixel 3: It's not water-resistant, doesn't have wireless charging, and it maxes out at 64GB of storage. But it adds a 3.5mm headphone jack and keeps the same amazing Night Sight camera that can literally shoot photos in the dark. (Daytime photos look amazing, too.) It's compatible with all the major US phone carriers as well. Google may also discount it more once it officially releases its Pixel 4 in October.

Angela Lang/CNET

While the Note 10 is due out on Aug. 7, the Note 9 is still an outstanding phone. It has a big, bright screen, lots of internal storage and an embedded S Pen stylus -- perfect for jotting quick notes in class or laying out that presentation. The stylus can also trigger the phone's camera shutter.

Sarah Tew/CNET

If you truly want a phone with monster battery life, the $249 Moto G7 Power tops our list. Though it doesn't have dual rear cameras like Motorola's current flagship, the Moto G7, the G7 Power's 5,000mAh battery lasted 23 hours and 10 minutes, making it the longest-lasting phone we've tested this year so far. And if you're looking for something even more affordable, consider the $199 Moto G7 Play.

Josh Miller/CNET

If you need a study break, consider a gaming phone that accommodates heavy graphics and an immersive experience. With a bright 120Hz screen, the Razer Phone 2 adds IP67 water-resistance and wireless charging. It's also compatible with 2TB microSD cards for extra storage and runs a close-to-stock version of Android. Together with its amazing built-in speaker, you have the makings for a great mobile gaming experience.

Angela Lang/CNET

The OnePlus 7 Pro has plenty of features du jour to keep its fans enticed: a pop-up selfie camera, an in-screen fingerprint reader and multiple rear cameras. But it's the phone's $669 (6GB of RAM/128GB) starting price that is the deal maker -- ideal for students who want to save big on top features. There's also an 8GB/256GB variant that costs $699 that's available on T-Mobile.

Angela Lang/CNET

The LG G8 has a bright, sharp screen, a second wide-angle rear camera and a fast processor. It's also water-resistant and has a headphone jack -- a rarity among premium phones.