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Top 7 Best Smartphones For Back To School 2021

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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. This is probably the biggest back to school season ever, as most kids will be transitioning from about a year and a half of taking classes online, to going back into the classroom. So you’ll want to make sure they have a good phone.

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.

Top 7 Best Smartphones For Back To School 2021

This list has smartphones in all kinds of price ranges. So no matter your budget, you’ll have something here that you can pick up for your kid(s).

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CostWhere to buy
Samsung Galaxy S21$699Amazon
Google Pixel 4a$349Amazon
OnePlus 9$696Amazon
Google Pixel 5$599Amazon
ASUS ROG Phone 5$719Amazon
Nokia 8.3 5G$448Amazon
Samsung Galaxy A42$349Amazon

Samsung Galaxy S21

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Samsung Galaxy S21
  • Price: $699
  • Where to buy: Amazon

We chose the cheaper of the trio of Galaxy S21 smartphones this year, because well it’s cheaper. But still a flagship phone, with the latest specs. Meaning it should last many years. The Galaxy S21 has a 6.2-inch FHD+ display, the Snapdragon 888 5G chipset, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.

It also has a pretty capable camera setup on the backside. With a 12-megapixel main sensor, 12-megapixel ultrawide and a 64-megapixel telephoto sensor to boot. This is all powered by a 4500mAh capacity battery that should keep it going all day long.

Samsung Galaxy S21 - Amazon

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Google Pixel 4a

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Google Pixel 4a
  • Price: $399
  • Where to buy: Amazon

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.

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.

Google Pixel 4a

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OnePlus 9

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OnePlus 9
  • Price: $696
  • Where to buy: Amazon

The OnePlus 9 is the latest flagship smartphone to be released, and it is a really good value pick. It has a starting price of $729, which includes a 6.55-inch FHD+ 120Hz display, the Snapdragon 888 5G chipset, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. You can upgrade to 12GB/256GB too for only $829. Though this time of year, you can usually get it for much less.

Of course, the OnePlus 9 series does run on Android 11 and OxygenOS 11. And it should get Android 12 before the end of 2021 (Android 12 isn’t expected to launch until September). Additionally, OnePlus partnered with Hasselblad for their cameras this time around. So you’re getting some really great cameras out of this one too.

All powered by a 4500mAh capacity battery.

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OnePlus 9 - Amazon

Google Pixel 5

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Google Pixel 5
  • Price: $599
  • Where to buy: Amazon

The Pixel 5 is no surprise, the best camera smartphone you can buy today. Sure there are other phones with crazier camera setups like the Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro, or the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. But from a pure photo quality perspective, nothing is able (still) to beat the Pixel.

Pixel 5 is the company’s  latest smartphone. It comes with a 6-inch FHD+ OLED 90Hz display, the Snapdragon 765G chipset, with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. It is available in two colors: Just Black and Sorta Sage. And it is powered by a 4080mAh capacity battery too.

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With the Pixel 5, Google finally gave users what they wanted. An ultra-wide camera. So this one has a 16-megapixel ultra-wide and a 12-megapixel main sensor. It also has 4K60 video support, Cinematic Pans, Night Sight Portait Mode and so much more. All for just $699.

Google Pixel 5 - Amazon

ASUS ROG Phone 5

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ASUS ROG Phone 5
  • Price: $719
  • Where to buy: Amazon

The ASUS ROG Phone 5 is a great phone for the gamers out there. However, it is important to note that it is not officially available in the US yet. This is an international model, and that means that the warranty is basically worthless. It’s important to note that before you think about purchasing it.

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The ROG Phone 5 is a pretty beastly smartphone. It comes with a 6.78-inch FHD+ display that has a refresh rate of 144Hz. Powered by the Snapdragon 888 5G chipset, with up to 16GB of RAM and either 128GB or 256GB of storage. The best part is the battery. It’s massive. Coming in at 6000mAh capacity.

ASUS ROG Phone 5 - Amazon

Nokia 8.3 5G

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Nokia 8.3 5G
  • Price: $448
  • Where to buy: Amazon

The Nokia 8.3 5G is a good no-frills smartphone to pick up for back to school this year. It’s under $500, and offers some really great specs. Like a 6.81-inch FHD+ display, the Snapdragon 765G chipset, 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage along with a 4500mAh capacity battery.

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Like I said, this isn’t one that is going to check a lot of boxes for neat features. But it will get the job done. And since Nokia sticks with stock Android, you’re going to get a nice software experience here. With plenty of updates. You’ll definitely get Android 12 before the end of the year.

Nokia 8.3 5G - Amazon

Samsung Galaxy A42

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Samsung Galaxy A42
  • Price: $349
  • Where to buy: Amazon

The Galaxy A42 is one of the cheaper smartphones on this list. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad option. It’s actually quite impressive for its price.

It is a mid-range device, with a 6.6-inch 720p display, the Snapdragon 750G with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. And a 5000mAh capacity battery inside. It’s not the most powerful smartphone out there, but you are getting a lot of Samsung’s popular features here. That includes a triple-camera setup on the back, and a hole-punch selfie camera. As well as support for a micro SD card. So you can expand the storage.

For the price, the Galaxy A42 is a really good bargain and worth picking up.

Samsung Galaxy A42 - Amazon