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Back to school? Take one of these smartphones with you

Make the end of summer less of a downer with a phone that's great for students.

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jessicadolcourt.jpg

Jessica Dolcourt

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1 of 8 Josh MillerCNET

Make the right choice

Your phone is your lifeline. And whether you're splashing out or keeping costs low, our current favorites will take you from the first day of school to the last.

See more of our back-to-school picks here.

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2 of 8 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Motorola Moto G4 Plus

The Moto G4 Plus blew us away with its high value for the low price. Photos, casual gaming, LTE speeds...the Plus adequately handled whatever we threw at it, and it has a fingerprint reader, which is handy for Android Pay's mobile payments. For $250, you simply cannot find another phone that performs as well for the price.

See more of our back-to-school picks here.

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3 of 8 Juan Garzón/CNET

OnePlus 3

A stellar midprice phone, the $400 OnePlus 3 is cheaper than a $600 flagship and brawnier than a $250 Moto G4 Plus. This is what you get when you want a great all-arounder that will happily last you the next two years. Does it have a fingerprint scanner? Of course. And it's unlocked, so you can take it to any carrier.

See more of our back-to-school picks here.

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4 of 8 Sarah Tew/CNET

Samsung Galaxy S7 Active

Basically a badder-ass version of Samsung's best phone, AT&T's Samsung Galaxy S7 Active has a reinforced housing that protects it from unexpected splashes and drops, no extra case needed. Plus, we love the key you can map to open nearly any app.

See more of our back-to-school picks here.

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5 of 8 James Martin/CNET

Motorola Moto Z

The superslim Motorola Moto Z doesn't just look good, its magnetic backing makes it the ultimate school-life tool. Snap on a JBL speaker attachment (a Motorola Mod) to throw an impromptu party in a dorm room or on the quad, or slap on a projector to take movie night anywhere.

See more of our back-to-school picks here.

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6 of 8 Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple iPhone SE

A terrific, affordable phone, the smaller iPhone SE is so easy to use one-handed, you could practically operate it in your sleep. It's a great all-arounder that plays well with Apple's tools and your Mac, but for less than the brand-new iPhone 7 that we expect in September.

See more of our back-to-school picks here.

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7 of 8 Josh Miller/CNET

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

A phone that comes with its own built-in digital pen, the forthcoming Samsung Galaxy Note 7 was made for jotting down notes, or doodling. It promises to be a pricey one, and it probably won't replace your laptop for class, but it's great for everyday campus life.

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8 of 8 Josh Miller/CNET

Last year’s Samsung Galaxy S6 and Apple iPhone

There's another way to go, too. Buying last year's "it" phone will save you money (up to $100 or more through bundled deals) and still get you a terrific device that does everything you need, and maybe more.

Check out more great Back-to-School tech here!

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