It's back to school season, even though it doesn't feel like it, and that means it's time for our annual buyer's guide on the best smartphones to pick up. While most kids are going to be staying home and doing classes online, a new smartphone is still going to be needed for a lot of people. There are lots of options available, as you might have expected.
We've rounded up the very best smartphones that you can pick up. Some of these are rather inexpensive, while others have the best battery life, the best camera, or just the best period. So there's something for everyone on this list.
|Cost||Where to buy|
|Samsung Galaxy S20+||$1,199||Amazon, B&H Photo, Best Buy & Walmart|
|Google Pixel 4a||$349||Amazon, Best Buy|
|Moto G Power||$249||Amazon|
|Moto G Stylus||$299||Amazon|
|Samsung Galaxy A51||$325||Amazon|
Samsung Galaxy S20+
- Price: $1,199
- Buy: Amazon, B&H Photo, Best Buy & Walmart
The Samsung Galaxy S20+ is one of the best smartphones to pick up for back to school, even though it might be overkill for most people. But because this is one of the latest and greatest smartphones out there, it will be a good one to use for many years to come. You'll likely get around four to five years out of this one.
The Galaxy S20+ comes with a 6.7-inch Quad HD+ 120Hz display, powered by the Snapdragon 865 chipset with 12GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. It also sports a 4500mAh capacity battery that should keep you going all day long. Not to mention the fact that this also comes with 5G connectivity for all of the US carriers. This is also unlocked, so you can just pop in your SIM card and you'll be ready to go.
Best value smartphone
Google Pixel 4a
The Pixel 4a is the best value smartphone by a long shot. Coming in at just $399, you're getting a phone with one of the best cameras on the market. As well as the latest version of Android, pretty decent battery life, and of course the best of Google.
Pixel 4a is brand new, it just launched this week in fact and you can read our review right here.
It sports a smaller 5.8-inch display, with the Snapdragon 730 chipset, 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage to boot. There is a somewhat small 3140mAh capacity battery inside the Pixel 4a. Which does a good job of keeping the phone running all day long, without any real issues, though.
Best battery life
Moto G Power
- Price: $249
- Buy: Amazon
The Moto G Power is a really great option if you need something that is going to last all day and then some. Motorola claims around three days on a single charge here. But for power users, that might be closer to two days.
There is a massive 5,000mAh capacity battery inside the Moto G Power that is going to last a very long time. It also sports a 6.4-inch FHD+ display, and the Snapdragon 665 which is going to help conserve that battery to last even longer. The TurboCharger is also included in the box, it charges somewhat slow at 15W, but that also means the battery is going to last longer.
Best for note takers
Moto G Stylus
- Price: $299
- Buy: Amazon
The Moto G Stylus is a pretty decent smartphone, but Motorola has included a stylus with it – hence the name. And that makes it a really great option for those that like to take notes.
Like the Moto G Power, this sports a 6.4-inch FHD+ display, and the Snapdragon 665. There is also 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage inside, that should give you plenty of storage. If not, there is also a micro SD card slot available for adding more storage.
While the battery isn't as big as the Moto G Power, the Moto G Stylus does also have a 4000mAh capacity battery that should keep it running all day long and then some.
Best quad-camera smartphone
Samsung Galaxy A51
- Price: $324
- Buy: Amazon
Who would have thought that you could get a quad-camera smartphone at this price? Well you can. And that's why the Galaxy A51 makes the list for the best smartphones for back to school.
The Galaxy A51 features a 48-megapixel main sensor, 12-megapixel ultra wide sensor, 5-megapixel macro and a 5-megapixel depth sensor. Allowing you to take just about any shot you want.
It also sports a 6.5-inch FHD+ display, the Exynos 9611 chipset with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. It's a really decent phone for the price, and having quad cameras definitely helps it out.
Best low cost smartphone
- Price: $199
- Buy: Amazon
The Nokia 5.3 is a pretty incredible smartphone for the money – only $199. It is also unlocked and works on all of the US carrier networks. That includes AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon.
Nokia 5.3 sports a 6.55-inch HD+ display, the Snapdragon 665 with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. There is also a micro SD card slot available and there is support for Adoptable Storage.
HMD Global has outfitted the Nokia 5.3 with a 4000mAh capacity battery that should keep this one running for two days or more.
This comes with Android 10, and it will get Android 11. Which is due to launch next month. Since this is an Android One device, it should get the update pretty quickly.
Best inexpensive flagship
- Price: $699
- Buy: OnePlus.com
The OnePlus 8 is definitely the best inexpensive flagship, and one of only two smartphones on this list that has 5G support.
OnePlus 8 comes with a 6.55-inch FHD+ display, the Snapdragon 865 chipset, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. It also has a 4300mAh capacity battery that does pretty well at keeping it going all day long. It also has Warp Charge 30T for some pretty quick fast charging. So even if it doesn't last all day long, you can charge it up pretty quick.
It also comes with a triple camera setup on the back. With a 48-megapixel main sensor, 16-megapixel ultrawide and a 2-megapixel macro sensor. So you can get some really incredible shots out of this camera setup.
It does also work with all three of the US carriers. Though it doesn't work with Verizon's 5G network, unless you buy it specifically from Verizon.